“Early Shabbat”: Pushing the Halachic Envelope – Part II

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By: Rabbi Ari Enkin

(Continued from here: here)

Another problem with making “Early Shabbat” is that one forfeits the preferred time for reciting Ma’ariv – which is after nightfall.[1] In fact, it is so important to recite Ma’ariv at the proper time that some authorities rule that it is preferable to recite Ma’ariv alone after nightfall than to do so with a minyan before nightfall.[2] Although it is ultimately permissible to recite Ma’ariv before nightfall on Friday nights, as the Talmud[3] itself clearly rules, one who does must repeat the Shema after nightfall.[4] Unfortunately, many people forget or fall asleep before doing so, thereby neglecting a Biblical mitzva.

The halachic issues with reciting Ma’ariv early on Friday night are even more complicated when Rosh Chodesh falls on Shabbat. This is due to the Ya’aleh V’yavo insertion that is made in the Shemoneh Esrei on Rosh Chodesh. Inserting Ya’aleh V’yavo into a Ma’ariv Shemoneh Esrei that is recited before sunset is problematic, as it is simply not yet Rosh Chodesh.

Although one may recite Ma’ariv early on Shabbat it is not necessarily permitted to do so on Rosh Chodesh. The reason one is able to recite the Shabbat Ma’ariv before sunset even though it is not yet “officially” Shabbat is due to the principle of “Tosefet Shabbat” (“Extending Shabbat”). Tosefet Shabbat is a unique concept that allows one to begin Shabbat before it actually begins. Indeed, one is obligated to begin Shabbat slightly earlier than it truly begins each week and to conclude it slightly later than it truly ends.[5] On Rosh Chodesh, however, there is no such concept; one cannot accept or begin Rosh Chodesh earlier than it officially begins.[6] It follows therefore, that Ya’aleh V’yavo should really not be inserted into an early Shabbat Ma’ariv Shemoneh Esrei when Shabbat and Rosh Chodesh coincide. Although common custom is indeed to include Ya’aleh V’yavo when reciting Ma’ariv early on Shabbat Rosh Chodesh,[7] the quality of one’s Shemoneh Esrei is compromised by doing so.

Making “Early Shabbat” also compromises the mitzva of Sefirat Ha’omer. The Shulchan Aruch rules that “those who are meticulous [with mitzvot]” will refrain from counting the Omer before nightfall.[8] While it is true that one can also simply count the Omer after nightfall, just like the Shema is repeated after nightfall when Ma’ariv is recited early, it is preferable to count the Omer together with a minyan.[9] Unless ten people intend to gather together after nightfall in order to count the Omer together, this double-advantage (with a minyan and after nightfall) is lost when making “Early Shabbat”.

Another major issue that one must consider relates to the Shabbat evening meal. A number of authorities hold that the Shabbat evening meal may only be held after nightfall.[10] According to this approach, one who eats the Shabbat evening meal before this time does not fulfill his obligation and will be required to eat three additional meals on Shabbat day.[11] Complicating matters even more is the prohibition of beginning a meal within a half-hour before nightfall. The rabbis decreed that one may not begin a meal at this time lest one forget to recite Shema after nightfall.[12] This will often be an issue throughout the summer if one begins the Shabbat meal immediately upon arriving home from the synagogue. Even if one makes the necessary adjustments in order to circumvent the problem of when to begin the Shabbat meal, one should also eat some bread/challa after nightfall in order to ensure that one eats the Shabbat “meal” after nightfall.[13]

To be continued…


[1] Mishna Berura 235:12; Pri Megadim M.Z., 489:5; Biur Halacha 489 s.v. vayivarech..
[2] Pri Megadim, MZ 589:5; Biur Halacha 235; Ma’aseh Rav 65.
[3] Berachot 27a.
[4] OC 235:1.
[5] OC 261:2.
[6] Magen Avraham 419:1.
[7] Mishnat Ya’avetz, OC 12; Eretz Tzvi 1:25; Teshuvot V’hanhagot 1:87.
[8] OC 489:2.
[9] Shlah, Pesachim 3b; Yeshuot Moshe 2:76.
[10] Bach, OC 472; Mishna Berura 267:5.
[11] Pri Megadim MZ, OC 267
[12] OC 235:2; Mishna Berura 235:16, 18. See also OC 267:1; Mishna Berura 267:2.
[13] Mishna Berura 267:5.

About Ari Enkin

Rabbi Ari N. Enkin, a resident of Ramat Beit Shemesh, is a researcher and writer of contemporary halachic issues. He is the author of the “Dalet Amot of Halacha” series (8 volumes), Rabbinic Director of United with Israel and a RA"M at a number of yeshivot. www.rabbienkin.com

31 comments

  1. While you are correct that the Talmud permits one to daven maariv before nightfall, this may only be for those who always daven maariv from plag, and furthermore, it may be only referring to the the Shmoneh Esrei and not the Shema and its accompanying Brachot.

    According to many, including Rav Moshe Feinstein (per IM OC 2:60) and Rav Hershel Schachter (per R Gil Student http://hirhurim.blogspot.com/2008/08/turbulent-maariv.html) it is preferable to say Shmoneh Esrei with the tzibbur and say keriat shema with its brachot later after dark, when the tzibbur is davening at a time where one sometimes would daven mincha. (For more discussion about this see my post here: http://goo.gl/sOXDX )

    I find that when utilizing this method, it better reminds me to say keriat shema after dark, as I have a broader obligation of things to say.

  2. “Although common custom is indeed to include Ya’aleh V’yavo when reciting Ma’ariv early on Shabbat Rosh Chodesh,[7] the quality of one’s Shemoneh Esrei is compromised by doing so.”

    What is your source for “compromising the quality of one’s Shemoneh Esrei”? Do the sources you quote in footnote 7 say this?

    “According to this approach, one who eats the Shabbat evening meal before this time does not fulfill his obligation and will be required to eat three additional meals on Shabbat day.”

    If he eats three additional meals on Shabbat day, he will end up eating five meals. I assume you mean one additional meal.

    Your objection based on sefirat haomer is very weak. B’rov am hadrat melekh applies to all mitzvot. Indeed, Sephardim are particular to make birkat ilanot b’tzibbur. If you are not makpid about that, I see no reason to be more makpid about counting the omer b’tzibbur.

    Basically, the Gemara permits one to daven Shabbat maariv early. In Ashkenaz and other places, this was the minhag for hundreds of years, without protest by the great Rishonim who lived in these communities. Your objection to this practice is a classic case of championing textualism over mimeticism, and shakey textualism at that.

    Another great advantage of bringing in early Shabbat you have not mentioned is that it enables parents to do the mitzva derabbanan of chinuch by allowing children to stay up for kiddush and the meal. In places like northern Europe, this is simply impossible for much of the summer without praying maariv early on Friday.

  3. AA-

    True. But changing around the order of the siddur is a HUGE no-no al-pi-kabbala. Its called “mehapech hatzinorot” and is said to be the cause of prayers not “finding their way”.

    Ari Enkin

  4. Hadardai-

    1. Re: Yaaleh V’yavoh on an Early Shabbat – Yes. See those sources in #7.

    2. Re: Sefirat Ha’omer: Yes, techincally speaking B’rov am hadrat melekh applies to all mitzvot BUT it is not explicitly cited for most mitzvot. Sefirat Haomer is one mitzva where it explicitly says it should be done b’tzibbur.

    3. I dont “object” to Early Shabbat. I beleive that many people are not aware of all the issues to properly weight the decision to make Early Shabbat when doing so simply out of convenience.

    4. RE: “championing textualism over mimeticism” is a good point in which there is no clear resolution when to follow what is written vs. what is/was practiced. We all know that our great-grandparents did not sit at the Seder with these rediculous marror-measuring charts….etc.etc.

    5. I did note the adavantage of Early Shabbat for children in the opening of my first post on this subject.

    Ari Enkin

  5. This post is just another example of how Rabbi Enkins excels in collecting and summarizing, but lacks in analysis and perspective. Citing “mehapech betzinoros” as a serious objection is itself not serious. How many people reject the pesak of the Shulchan Aruch and do not abridge pesuke de-zimra in order to say tefilla betzibbur because of mehapech betzinoros? Is the concern of Shabbos dinner, first raised i the 16th century, a “major” concern? (didn’t seem to bother the Terumas HaDeshen!). Issues related to davening ma’ariv early have been discussed since the times of the geonim, and the clear custom in both Sefarad and European lands was to daven maariv early, even during the week.
    I accept R. Enkins methodology- using early shabbos as a spring-board to raise related issues, its his treating each issue as a “problem”, or a big “nono” which lacks a certain of perspective.

  6. IIRC in very northern europe they accepted shabbat before plag? I also seem to recall that there is a shitah that specifically for shabbat early acceptance turns friday afternoon into shabbat (thus the 7PM minyan is not tartei dsatrei as it would be during the week)
    KT

  7. Joel-

    This is the Terumat Hadeshen’s approach. See my first post and the comments there.

    Ari Enkin

  8. regarding fn 7- that is an unfair quotation of both rav shternbuch and rav zolti as both of them state clear tzdadim lhakel as well to say yaale vyavo when you daven early. This is a machlokes with major players on each side. We have seen from your earlier posts that many times you only quote the mekilim when there is a clear machlokes. what makes you choose to only quote the machmirim in this situation. More in depth research would have shwon that there are clear poskim on both sides.

  9. Dear Source-

    I think I was fair and clear on this issue in the main body of the post. (eg: “…common custom is indeed to include Ya’aleh V’yavo”)

    Ari Enkin

  10. pushing the envelope

    I think the title is somewhat extreme; of all the things which can be viewed as “pushing the envelope”- early shabbos isn’t really one of them. Too much drama!

  11. to “early shabbat”, ad hominem attacks are not appreciated. R’ Ari’s broad knowledge is much appreciated by all of us readers, and his insights are based on the numerous halachik sources he has analyzed. you may disagree on how important a source he cites is, or how much weight should be given to it, but that does not mean R’ Ari is lacking in his analysis; you just disagree!

    separately, re Ha’dardai’s comment about children and chinuch, although R’ Ari did mention it in the first post, it seemed that he did not give it as much halachic significance as others (like me) would like:
    “[early shabbat] is usually done in order to allow for the Shabbat meal to begin at an earlier hour and for the younger children to experience the Shabbat meal and atmosphere, as well. Nevertheless, the halachic suitability of this practice is not as simple as it may seem.”
    i think a big problem with certain halachic sources is the occasional lack of pragmatism and strict reliance on on the book rulings. Even without bringing in the mitzvah derabanan of chinuch (which one can argue does not apply where you’re chinuch will not be 100% al pi halacha, which can be a claim based on the sources), because thoughtfulness/shalom bayis is not an explicit mitzvah, it occasionally is not mentioned in rulings, though the sources would defintitely take it into consideration in a specific teshuva.

    thus, if you’re kids will be asleep by the time you get home from “late” ma’ariv, and your wife will be totally zonked from putting them to sleep while you shuckle in shul, leaving you with little oneg shabbos and your family life significantly hurt (couldn’t spend this important time with kids/help and communicate and sing zemiros with wife), that halachic consideration has to be taken into account against these on the book statutes.

    Especially in these days of extreme familial issues, OTD children and divorce, i would think these points need to be considered in each individual’s assesment of his religious obligations. of course it would be nice if the Rabbinate would focus on this more, but any rational jew must anyway make his own cheshbon, knowing his situation.


  12. True. But changing around the order of the siddur is a HUGE no-no al-pi-kabbala.

    And since when do we pasken like kabbala?


    Its called “mehapech hatzinorot” and is said to be the cause of prayers not “finding their way”.

    This sounds like one of those “they say” ideas. Why did you not include a source reference for this? The rest of your article seems replete with references, that I often (with your articles) find myself very suspicious of any un-referenced line.

  13. oh please your bias against early shabbos is already clear from the title. citing “common custom” but not citing the plethora of poskim who hold that there is no issue with each of your points is dishonest.
    How do you decide on which issues to quote the mekilim (and leave out the machmirim) and which issues to quote the machmirim (and not the mekilim). ican provide examples of previous posts of yours if you would like.

  14. R Enkin-

    I appreciate your concern with switching the order of the siddur, but the fact is we are already dealing with a somewhat bedieved situation. Apparently, Rav Hai Gaon, Rabbeinu Yonah, Rosh, Tur, through to the Chofetz Chaim, Rav Moshe Feinstein, and Rav Hershel Schachter (among others along the way) all felt that under the circumstances it is better to pray out of order than to not have prayed at all (viewing the brachot as brachot levatala). Furthermore, people switch the order of maariv relatively often if arriving late, per the psak of the Shulchan Aruch OC 236:3, so it seems when necessary we do not worry about this.

    While there may be kabbalistic concerns, we usually paskin based on halacha, especially when we are stuck in a bedieved situation. Such an important opinion should not have been left out of your essay.

  15. “True. But changing around the order of the siddur is a HUGE no-no al-pi-kabbala. Its called “mehapech hatzinorot” and is said to be the cause of prayers not “finding their way”.”

    True, but it is not a halakhic concern. To sharpen the point: Even when a kabbalistic notion is cited in halakhic works, that does *not* turn it into a halakhic concern.

    We may think all kinds of things about kabbalah. We may enjoy numerous kabbalistic customs (or not). We may continue the generations-old debate about if kabbalah should have halakhic weight, and if so then how much. But that very debate is ultimately an ideological one, not a halakhic one. To “pasken” on the proper halakhic weight of kabbalistic ideas is not truly to “pasken” but rather to draw an ideological line in the sand. And that has been true for many centuries.

    The bottom line is that nothing of kabbalistic origin is a source of halakhic obligation unless a person voluntarily decides to grant it that power.

    “I believe that many people are not aware of all the issues to properly weight the decision to make Early Shabbat when doing so simply out of convenience.”

    Well, when it comes to mehapekh ha-tzinnorot I am perfectly aware of the issue and find its proper weight to be exactly zero.

  16. “Unless ten people intend to gather together after nightfall in order to count the Omer together, this double-advantage (with a minyan and after nightfall) is lost when making ‘Early Shabbat’.”

    This double advantage usually does not occur even with “regular Shabbat.” It is clear from Sh”A that the ideal time for Sefirat Ha-omer — as for Keriat Shema — is after tzeit, not merely after sh’kia. How many shuls — except for Carlbach minyanim — are makpid to prolong Kabbalat Shabbat so that they can count Omer after tzeit?

  17. Yonatan, Anon E Mous, and AA-

    1.Mehapech hatzinorot IS cited in halachic sefarim, including Mishna Berura, as a consideration. So it does have halachic weight or at least halachic consideration.

    2. Yes, it is true that Shulchan Aruch allows you to reverse the order of Ma’ariv – no one is denying that – but there is plenty of discussion about not moving the order in normative halachic works.

    3. The Lubavitch influence in me has never allowed me to skip parts of davening or change the order of prayers.

    Ari Enkin

    3.

  18. Josh-

    All on-time Friday night minyanim that I know of only start barchu after tzeit, or at the very least, conclude all of maariv by tzeit, thereby allowing the counting of sefiara both with a minyan and after tzeit.

    Ari Enkin

  19. R Enkin-

    The Mishna Berura (52:1) does indeed mention it. However, he immediately dismisses the concern when tefillah betzibbur is at stake. So for someone who’s only option is an early shabbat minyan, the Mishna Berura would agree that mehapeich betzinnorot is not an issue preventing you from switching the order. If you really held of mehapeich betzinnorot stronger than tefillah betzibbur, it would seem you should daven maariv beyichidut at night, because according to those I mentioned, you cannot say the brachot of shema during the day. We see that independent of one’s psak about mehapeich betzinnorot, there is a large nafka minah if one holds the brachot may be said then or not.

    I don’t mean to disregard your view; however, I do think that the view I brought earlier which is very solidly founded in the most well accepted sifrei halacha does deserve a parallel mention.

    -AA

  20. william gewirtz

    Joel Rich, It was not that far north, (about 48 degrees) around the banks of the Rhine around Vienna, IIRC. R. Isserlein, who could not justify the practice, calculated plag ala what we now call the MA. in that area, in the summer, using what we call the Gra, might have (almost) justified the practice. (he says 3-4 hours, 3 works according to the gra,4 does not.) In any case, in our environs, (around 40 degrees) using the Gra or the “modified” MA (not the kenahug) as I noted, is sufficient to allow families to enjoy a shabbat meal.

    if you go as far north as Poland and on to Lita (around 55 degrees), it gets a bit dicier. reading the halakhic literature independent of knowing practice is not optimal. When i retire, I will try a paper in the style of prof. katz’s study of an early maariv on an early shabbat. I have assembled a number of impacts in this area that makes reading the literature, given a variety of factors, hard to do absent knowledge about the posek’s position on a number of halakhic issues, knowledge of science, etc.

    There is a chumrah as R. Enkin noted, if you make an early shabbat to eat something after chashekha. This became relevant when R. Schechter (who observes this chumrah) was a scholar in residence in the summer and was scheduled to speak friday night, I suggested that one need only wait for 3 medium stars without any chumrot for part of the meal; he agreed. We waited around 15 minutes less than we did not the end of shabbat.

  21. >1.Mehapech hatzinorot IS cited in halachic sefarim, including Mishna Berura, as a consideration. So it does have halachic weight or at least halachic consideration.

    *That is precisely what we disagree upon. For you, just being cited gives it weight. I disagree. Rather, when the Mishnah Berurah or any other halakhic work cites a factor of kabbalistic origin, it has no weight other than the non-halakhic weight that people or communities choose to give to such factors, regardless of the Mishnah Berurah. In fact, it seems that there is a double-assumption we are disagreeing upon:

    a. Does the fact that the MB said something make it obligatory just because he said it? (I say no.)

    b. Does kabbalah being cited in the MB or other works make it obligatory just because it is cited? (I say no.)

    >3. The Lubavitch influence in me has never allowed me to skip parts of davening or change the order of prayers.

    That is absolutely fine as long as you realize that it is you, and that it reflects the attitude of a certain important group, and that you are open about it. But don’t make it into a supposedly “objective” argument for pesak or “pushing the envelope.”

    Chag Sameakh!

  22. 3. The Lubavitch influence in me has never allowed me to skip parts of davening or change the order of prayers.

    Well then the same Lubavitch part of you would presumably feel fine to daven whenever it suits you and completely forget about the basic Halachic time restrictions that Chazal placed around our davening. Since we are taking about Shabbat, maybe you can explain Chabad davening at 10 am on Shabbat morning. And no excuses about them saying the Shma at home first – what about the issue about all the Chabad-house attendees?

  23. Anon-

    Guilty as charged. (but I do follow normative halacha for almost every other ‘zman’ issue)

    Ari Enkin

  24. R. Enkin: you are blessed to live in such a place. Except for the Carlbach-type minyan in my community, maariv typically ends before about 10 minutes before tzeit. Nahara, nahara

  25. Jonathan B. Horen

    I live in the Far North… “North of 60”, as they say (Fairbanks, AK). Right now, we’re only a week, week-and-a-half, into Spring, and already shkiya isn’t until 10:16PM, with hadlakat neyrot @9:58PM and zeyt hakochavim a very-late 11:22PM. By 21 May (Summer Solstice), shkiya is 11:31PM, alot hashakhar is 1:48AM, and you’re gonna have to wait another month if you want to see any kochavim in the night-time sky!

    All of which is to say that up here, “early Shabbat” is the reality, and this discussion is interesting, yet, irrelevant. When there are no stars to be observed, how does the Litvish world paskin times for minkha, ma’ariv, and the rest?

  26. Jonathan, shalom!

    I’m touched to have a reader of my column so far away!

    Yup, you should definately be doing ‘early shabbat’.

    Id be interested in hearing what the halachic precedents in Alaska are. Im sure Chabad of Anchorage has some documentation on this.

    Please consider making Aliyah!

    Ari Enkin

  27. william gewirtz

    Jonathan, send regards to the green’s from raymon’s and us. at your latitude rabbeinu tam is inoperative, as is the normal definition of alot hashakhar and even the classic definition of the geonim for chashekha as the end of shabbat. None occur around the summer solstice. use halakhic midday/midnight around 2am at the solstice for the end of shabbat and alot hashkhar, as i assume is practiced. BTW, i watched for chashekha up north, to see how the gemara’s astronomy applied; fascinating accuracy if understood like the geonim. as to early shabbat, i cannot help you. even the Gra would give you only a tad more than 2 hours before sunset. there were communities up north, where gedolai olam were more maikil. enjoy shabbat and have three meals during the day.

    or make aliyah as rabbi Enkin suggests.

  28. MiMedinat HaYam

    a few comments (having printed this out and read over shabbat — awaiting a “shabat kindle”):

    1. kabalah / halacha discussion — dr marc shapiro was going to write about ariazl vs mechaber (and i presume ben ish chai and (early) ROY who tend to kabbalah vs halacha.)

    2. “mehapech” — means “catching up” by saying what was skipped, afterwards (though the MB doesnt say that). and
    2b. many (chassidim mostly) dont “go back” for that reason though SA says otherwise. thus, the maariv argument doesnt work.

    3. discussion of rosh chodesh fri nite — but if rosh chodesh starts sat nite (or wed nite), we also say ya’aleh ve’yavo (no dispute) even if earlier (even in fairbanks).

    note too, chassidic custom (maybe not chabad) to add a cake (actually, it says kugel, though not everbody in europe was into kugel) after nitefall in “shallishedus” and then say “ya’aleh ve’yavo” and “rtzei” in birjkat hamazon. and the dont consider it “tartei de’satrei” to add a yaa’aleh ve’yavo.

    5. if omer is so not-to-unduly-delay-dependent, why is it postponed to way after end of the seder meal?

  29. Jonathan B. Horen

    Rav Ari and William Gewirtz, Shalom!

    Regarding aliya: תאריך עליה 09 ינואר 1980 (and stayed for 25 years)

    Here’s an interesting article in today’s Fairbanks “Daily News-Miner”: http://www.newsminer.com/view/full_story/18658106/article-Fairbanks-basking-in-24-hour-civil-twilight?instance=home_news_window_left_top_4

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