The Ten Days That Disappeared in 1582


by Rabbi Yair Hoffman for

A reminder:  Sunday night, December 4th – we start saying vesain tal umatar in the bracha of Baraich Aleinu. In Eretz Yisroel, it began on the 7th of Cheshvan.

Generally speaking, the actions of leaders of foreign religions do not affect what Orthodox Jews do, but here, one Pope’s actions did.  It affected the secular date of when we do things. Read on for clarification.

In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII acted upon a suggestion of  an Italian doctor named Aloysius Lilius. and initiated three changes to the calendar that did have some repercussions in our halachic observance, at least in the way we record the secular date as to when in the year we begin amending one line in the Shmoneh Esreh in Chutz La”aretz. In Israel itself, we began saying it at Maariv of the 7th of Cheshvan.

In Chutz la’aretz we say vesain tal umatar 60 days after the Tekufah, which was Sept 21st in the Julian calendar.  That would have been Dec, 1st. .

The Pope made these three changes to the Julian Calendar, but at first, only the Catholic countries followed it.  Most of what was to eventually become the United States of America did not adopt it, however, until the year 1752.

1] He fast-forwarded the calendar ten days. In 1582, there was no October 5th through October 14th.

2] He ruled that every 100 years there would not be a leap year. There was no February 29th in the year 1900, nor in the years 1700 or 1800.

3] He ruled that every 400 years there would be a leap year and that rule number two would not apply. Rule #3 has only be used twice in the year 1600 and in the year 2000.

What this boils down to is that in the year 1701 we said it on Dec. 2nd.  In 1801 we said it on  Dec. 3rd.  In 1901 we said it on Dec. 4th.

until the year 2100 we continue saying v’sain tal umatar on the night of December 4th and before a leap year we begin saying it on the night of December 5th.

In 2100 we will say it on December 5th and before a leap year on December 6th.

As an interesting note, if ArtScroll would have existed in the 1800’s it would have said to add in v’sain tal uMatar on December 3rd and before a leap year on December 4th.


What happens if you forgot to add it in?

There are actually two major brachos of the 19 brachos in Shmoneh Esreh where it can be added in – Baraich Alainu and Shmah Kolainu. Ideally, we shoot for the first, but if not we can do it in the later one.


So the answer to what you should do if you did forget, depends upon when you remembered that you did not add it in. If you remembered before saying Hashem’s name at the end of the bracha of Baraich Alaynu, then just go back to v’sain tal umatar and continue from there (MB 117:15).


If you remembered after saying Hashem’s Name, then you just continue on until the Bracha of Shma Koleinu and add the words, “v’sain tal umatar livracha” right after “vkabel berachamim veratzon es tfilasainu” and before “ki attah shomaya tfilas” (MB 117:16). If one still forgot and did not yet say Hashem’s name at the end of the bracha, then just say “v’sain tal umatar livracha and continue saying Ki Attah shomaya.

If you have already said Hashem’s Name – then we have a debate between the Mishna Brurah and Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l as to what to do. The Mishna Brurah (117:19) says to say “Lamdeini chukecha” – a Pasuk in TaNach and then to say v’sain Tal uMatar livracha and finish with Ki Attah Shomaya.

Rav Moshe Feinstein questions this and asks how it is possible to just recite random Psukim in the Shmoneh Esreh? [He recommends that one just finish up the bracha and add it before one says Retzai, like the Shulchan Aruch recommends to do if you did end up finishing Shma Kolainu.] Unless you are a talmid of Rav Moshe, most people follow the Mishna Brurah.

If one has already completed the entire Shmah koleinu bracha without having said v’sain tal uMatar, then the Shulchan Aruch rules that you just say it then and recite Retzai.

If you forgot to say it before then and actually started retzai – then you are now in for some major repeating. You have to stop where you are and just go back to the beginning of Baraich Aleinu and continue saying the Shmoneh Esreh from there.


If you forgot it and completed the Shmoneh Esreh – then repeat the entire Shmoneh Esreh from the beginning (See SA 117).


If you are not sure what you said, we assume you didn’t say it for the first 30 days. After 30 days, we assume that you did say it properly. The Mishna Brurah (114:40) suggests that if you sing the words “v’es kol minei s’vu’asah l’tova v’sain Tal uMatar livracha” 90 times then the assumption changes. We assume that you did say it. On Maariv of January 3rd (or January 4th of a leap year) is the day when the assumption changes if you did not end up following the 90 times recommendation.

My father-in-law, Rabbi Yaakov Hirch zt”l, used to keep a piece of paper in his siddur at Baraich Aleinu for those thirty days in order to remind him to add it in. This is a good idea. It also saves on not having to say the formula 90 times.

So was Gregory XIII good for the Jews?  No.  He wasn’t.

He was the one who forced Jews to attend mandatory sermons trying to get Jews to convert.  The Catholic Church has not apologized for this.

He was the one who forced the Jewish community to pay for the costs of this institution as well.  The church never paid restitution for this either.

Perhaps these moves on his part set the tone for the forced kidnapping of a six year old Jewish boy named Edgardo Mortara, who eventually became a priest, r”l.

When the idea of making a movie about these three items came up, my father z”l, said that it could possibly increase anti-Semitism.  He suggested instead that a movie be made about someone making a movie about these three issues.  It is an interesting idea.

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  1. Interesting article! Just a minor comment, the switch to December 5th will start in 2100, not 2101.
    The following is a timetable of the switch, not taking Shabbos into account (which woukd obviously delay the start by a day).

    2098- December 4th
    2099-December 5th (year before what would be a secular leap year since 2100 is divisible by 4…)
    2100- December 5th (Since 2100 will NOT have been a leap year, the switch remains on December 5th as there was no leap day to push back to December 4rh)
    2101 and 2102- December 5th
    2103-December 6th
    2104- December 5th
    By the way, in Eretz Yisrael, Tal uMatar always starts on 7 Cheshvan since that date cannot fall on Shabbos.

  2. In Eretz Yisroel, it began on the 7th of Cheshvan. Hence we lucky people who were in Israel after ז” מרחשון but couldn’t stay put in Israel thru December 4th, notwithstanding:- already commenced ותן טל ומטר on ז” מרחשון not to be פורש מן הצבור in a time of desperation in Israel when rain is desperately needed, and then once have commenced ותן טל ומטר then the הלכה of אין מפסיקין kicks in, and simply continue reciting ותן טל ומטר even after coming back to the Diaspora albeit prior to December 4th.

  3. Actually, if ArtScroll existed it the past it would have been more confusing. While the English speaking countries (at the time England, Scotland, Ireland and the various English colonies) didn’t switch until the mid-18th century, several countries with large Jewish populations didn’t switch until the 20th (Russian and Ottoman Empires). The problem with the previous calendar (adopted by the Romans, who had previously used one similar to our own, but they found adding extra months to be too much bother – problems we avoided by not letting politicians control the decision process) is that it was obviously not in touch with the equinox (meaning the prior to the Catholics changing their calendar, we would have been adjusting the secular date for the tekoufah at a rate of roughly 1 day every 125 years).

  4. There are only two changes. Removing 10 days and years that are divisible by 100 and not by 4 will not be leap years anymore but does that were divisible by both (100 and 4) 1600 and 2000 did not change. Currently there are 13 days difference to be added back.

  5. The 13 days above are the 10 days and the years 1700, 1800 and 1900 where changes were made in the number of days in February to 28 from 29.