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Accepting "Early Shabbat"

Rav Doniel Schreiber
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By Rav Doniel Schreiber



This week’s shiurim are dedicated by Mr Paul Pollack
in honor of Rabbi Reuven and Sherry Greenberg



Shiur #4: Accepting "Early Shabbat"



I.  Items to be aware of when accepting "early Shabbat"


1.  As mentioned in the previous shiur, one cannot accept Shabbat prior to pelag ha-Mincha.  Thus, one cannot fulfill the mitzva of nerot Shabbat, nor kiddush, until pelag ha-Mincha.


2.  "Early Shabbat" minyanim often daven Mincha (recite the afternoon prayer) close to pelag ha-Mincha.  When bringing in Shabbat early, it is important that Mincha be recited prior to pelag ha-Mincha, and Ma'ariv (evening prayer) be recited after pelag ha-Mincha.  The reason is as follows.


            There is a Tannaic debate as to when the time for Mincha ends and the time for Ma'ariv begins.  R. Yehuda opines that this time is pelag ha-Mincha, while Rabanan assert that it is nightfall (Berakhot 26a).  The gemara (Berakhot 27a) rules that one can choose either position, but with one caveat.  Whichever practice one chooses, one must not deviate from that practice from then on.  Indeed, this is the ruling of the Shulchan Arukh (OC 233:1).  [Mishna Berura ibid. for further discussion.]  Since our practice today is to daven Ma'ariv at nightfall, in accordance with Rabanan, the very custom of "early Shabbat" is questionable, for how can one daven Ma'ariv during the time of Mincha?  In fact, those who act stringently and do not accept an "early Shabbat" do so for this reason.  [See the Peri Megadim, Mishbetzot Zahav Laws of Pesach 489:5 and the Vilna Gaon in Ma'aseh Rav note 65 who are not in favor of the "early Shabbat."]


            Nonetheless, poskim permit the "early Shabbat" despite this apparent contradiction (Magen Avraham, cited in Mishna Berura 267:3).  Their reasoning is that since there is a mitzva to add Shabbat onto the weekday, one can rely on the halakhic decisors who understand that accepting Shabbat early triggers the onset of nighttime, and thus it is no longer zeman Mincha (the time of Mincha).  However, in the event that one is to rely on this leniency and daven Ma'ariv of Shabbat before nightfall, one should daven Mincha of erev Shabbat prior to pelag ha-Mincha, to avoid an outright contradiction of rulings between R. Yehuda and Rabanan.  According to Moreinu Ha-rav Aharon Lichtenstein shlita, this should be done even if one must recite mincha without a minyan.


            In the event that this cannot be accomplished, and Mincha must be recited after pelag ha-Mincha, there are poskim who allow a tzibur (gathered group for a minyan) to daven Ma'ariv before nightfall in the interest of tefilla be-tzibur (praying with a quorum) (Derekh Ha-chaim, cited in Mishna Berura ibid.; Arukh Ha-shulchan, OC 235:1-5 who justifies this practice; Mishna Berura 235:8).  The Mishna Berura (267:3), however, is stringent even in this case: he will only be lenient for a tzibur, in a sha'at ha-dechak (pressing circumstances), and if the Ma'ariv is recited during bein ha-Shemashot (dusk).


3.  While it is true that with regard to the Ma'ariv amida one can at times fulfill his obligation by praying before nightfall, this is not the case, according to most poskim, with regard to Keriat Shema, which must be recited during zeman shekhiva (the time people go to sleep) i.e., at nightfall (Mishna Berura 235:8, 14; 267:6).  Thus, one who accepts "early Shabbat" and davens Ma'ariv before nightfall does not fulfill his obligation to recite Keriat Shema.


            However, the blessings which precede Keriat Shema which one recites at this early Ma'ariv are not considered berakhot le-vatala (blessings made in vain), since they were not formulated primarily for Keriat Shema, but rather have the status of tefilla (MB 235:7).  Moreover, the recitation of Keriat Shema, instead of being a hefsek (an interruption), apparently constitutes tefilla as part of the system of birkot Keriat Shema.


            The proper practice, then, for one who accepts "early Shabbat" is to recite Ma'ariv as one normally would, including birkot Keriat Shema and Shema, with one exception - do not have in mind the intention to fulfill the mitzva of reciting the Shema at this time.  One should only intend to fulfill mitzvat Keriat Shema bi-zmana (in its proper time) - after nightfall (MB 235:9).


            What is the procedure for this second recitation of Shema?  At nightfall, i.e., the time when mitzvat Keriat Shema is operative, one should recite the Shema again but without birkot Keriat Shema, which were already recited properly, as noted above (see OC 235:1).  In fact, technically, it is sufficient to merely repeat the first two paragraphs of Shema, and omit the third parasha relating to tzitzit.  This is because parashat tzitzit is recited in order to fulfill the daily obligation of zekhirat yetziyat mitzrayim (remembering our exodus from Egypt) and this obligation was already discharged with the earlier reading.  From pelag ha-Mincha and on, one satisfies the nighttime requirement of zekhirat yetziyat mitzrayim since this obligation is not limited to zeman shekhiva, unlike the first two paragraphs of Shema.  Nonetheless, poskim suggest that optimally one should repeat all three paragraphs of Shema at this time (MB 235:11).


4.  Another issue that one must address when making "early Shabbat" is the timing of the first se'udat Shabbat (Shabbat meal).  The gemara (Shabbat 117a) learns the requirement of shalosh se'udot (three Shabbat meals) from the threefold emphasis of "yom" (day) in the pasuk in Shemot (16:25).  This might imply that one must dine the Shabbat meals on Shabbat itself, i.e., the seventh day of the week, or it could mean that the obligation of seudat Shabbat applies whenever there is kedushat Shabbat (sanctity of Shabbat), which exists also in the time of tosefet Shabbat.


            Indeed, while all poskim agree that one can begin the se'uda rishona (first meal) in daylight (i.e., late Friday afternoon), they dispute whether the above gemara rules out the possibility of eating the entire se'uda rishona during daylight.  Optimally, one should act in accordance with the former opinion and be sure to eat at least a kezayit (olive-sized piece of food) after nightfall (MB 267:5).  If this is too difficult, one can opt for an alternate solution.  The Pri Megadim (Mishbetzot Zahav, OC 267) suggests that one eat three meals the following day.  [Note: We will discuss the amount of "ke-zayit" in our shiur about se'udot Shabbat.]


5.  We have mentioned that one may begin the se'uda rishona after accepting Shabbat, even though there is still daylight outside.  We have also pointed out that one does not fulfill his obligation to recite Shema when he davens Ma'ariv in daylight.  How does the fact that one has not yet fulfilled his obligation min ha-Torah (according to biblical law) to recite Shema impact on his eating of the seuda rishona, since the sages ruled that one may not eat one-half hour prior to zeman Keriat Shema?  Must one stop in the middle of the meal - at the onset of nightfall - to recite Keriat Shema?


            In most cases the answer is no, since the Shulchan Arukh (OC 235:2) states that it is only forbidden to START the meal one-half hour prior to zeman Keriat Shema (lest one forget to recite Keriat Shema).  Thus, in the event that one made "early Shabbat" but began the meal be-issur (in violation), i.e., within one-half hour prior to tzeit ha-kokhavim (nightfall), one would indeed be obligated to stop eating and recite Keriat Shema at nightfall.  However, if one began the meal be-heter (permissibly) by asking someone (who will not be eating the meal at this time to remind him to say Shema later, or if one began his meal more than a half-hour prior to nightfall, he may complete his meal, even through the arrival of nightfall, and then recite Keriat Shema later (MB 235:16, 18; 19-21).


            It should be noted, however, that since a minority of poskim consider one to have fulfilled Keriat Shema the first time, one should not protest against those who are accustomed to be lenient in beginning their se'uda rishona a half-hour prior to nightfall.  Nonetheless, they too must interrupt their meal at nightfall to recite Keriat Shema, and cannot rely on the above minority opinion, since Keriat Shema is obligatory min ha-Torah (MB 267:6).


6.  In the period of early Shabbat when most Jews have not yet accepted Shabbat, one who has accepted Shabbat is permitted to ask non-Jews to perform melakha for him even if it is not for the purpose of a mitzva.  However, once most Jews have accepted Shabbat, it is permitted only if it is for the needs of Shabbat, up until tzeit ha-kokhavim (OC 261:1 and MB 261:17).  May a person who has accepted early Shabbat ask Jews who have not yet accepted Shabbat to perform a melakha for him?  Is there a form of forbidden agency created in this scenario?  Rishonim debate whether this is permissible or not (see Sha'arei Teshuva 263:5), and the Shulchan Arukh (OC 263:17) rules in accordance with the lenient opinion.  This seems to be the accepted view among most poskim (MB 263:64, and SSK, vol. 2, 46:21).  However, one may only ask another Jew to do melakha for him when it is not yet close to sheki'a; otherwise most Jews in the community may have already accepted Shabbat and the individual asked to do melakha will automatically be forbidden to perform melakha even though he has not yet accepted Shabbat (see OC 263:12, and Mishna Berura 263:64).  For further discussion of this topic see the Magen Avraham 263:30 and the Taz 263:3.  See also SSK vol. 2 46:21 note 109.  We will discuss the laws of amira be-akum, i.e., asking a non-Jew to do melakha, in a later shiur.


7.  Recitation of Ya'aleh Ve-yavo on Rosh Chodesh - When Rosh Chodesh occurs on Friday night, does one recite Ya'aleh ve-yavo in one's "early Shabbat" Ma'ariv amida?  While, unlike Shabbat and Yom Tov, there is no tosefet Rosh Chodesh (Magen Avraham OC 419:1) R. Betzalel Zolty rules (Mishnat Ya'avetz OC 12, p. 8) that one may recite Ya'aleh Ve-yavo in one's early Ma'ariv amida.  This is so since even though it is not yet Rosh Chodesh, one's ma'ariv relates to the next day and is thus sufficiently related to the Rosh Chodesh theme to justify the recitation of Ya'aleh Ve-yavo.


8.  When a man accepts early Shabbat, does his wife automatically accept it as well?  There is a common misconception that when a man plans to attend an early Shabbat minyan, his wife should light candles before he leaves for Mincha.  This is obviously an error, since the man will be davening Mincha prior to pelag ha-Mincha (as noted above), and it is impossible to accept Shabbat before pelag ha-Mincha (as noted above).  The Shabbat candles, therefore, may be lit only after pelag ha-Mincha.


            A further misconception is that a woman must accept Shabbat when her husband does, and thus it is thought that she must light Shabbat candles around the time her husband will be accepting Shabbat.  This is an error.  All individuals determine for themselves how much before shekia they accept Shabbat.  Thus, though her husband may have accepted "early Shabbat", a woman may still perform melakha until she decides to accept Shabbat, which, if she so chooses, may be as late as candle lighting time, near sheki'a.  (See Igrot Moshe, OC, vol. 3, no. 38.)  Rav Moshe zt"l, however, adds that it is proper that a woman be stringent to not perform melakhot designated for the benefit of her husband, since he has already accepted Shabbat.  This stringency is questioned by other poskim (SSK 46:7, note 42).


            [Note: The only exception to this is the law (OC 263:12) that the minority must subordinate itself to the majority when accepting Shabbat, as discussed in the previous shiur.  However, as noted in that shiur, according to Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l (Igrot Moshe OC, vol. 3, no. 38) this law is only operative close to sheki'a when Shabbat is accepted in order to enhance the sanctity of Shabbat, but not when we accept early Shabbat out of personal convenience.]


For further study, see Rabbi E. Shlesinger, Techumin, vol. 10, pp. 391-404, for a detailed overview of the problems with making early Shabbat, and the possible justifications.



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