By: Rabbi Ari Enkin
Continued from here: link/
Some authorities frown on making “Early Shabbat” due to the possibility that some women might mistakenly light the Shabbat candles before the earliest permissible time. They argue that many women do not always know what time plag hamincha is. So too, women may not understand the severity of lighting Shabbat candles before this time and do so anyway. A woman who lights Shabbat candles before plag hamincha accomplishes nothing and the blessing recited upon the candles is in vain.
A Bar-Mitzva boy who is turning thirteen on the upcoming Shabbat should not make “Early Shabbat” that week. This is because the Shabbat related mitzvot that one performs before nightfall are only considered to be discharged on a rabbinic level. In order for a Bar-Mitzva boy to discharge the mitzva of Shema and other Shabbat evening related mitzvot for the first time in his life in their ideal manner, he must wait until nightfall when they are binding on a Torah level. So too, by waiting until nightfall the Bar-Mitzva boy will be able to lead the services — something that is not possible during the “Early Shabbat” time period. Similarly, a person who has yartzeit on Shabbat should wait until nightfall to lead Ma’ariv and recite the Kaddish. This is because it is preferable to discharge the customary yartzeit customs on the actual date of the yartzeit. Keep in mind that the “Early Shabbat” time zone is still essentially Friday, the “previous” day.
A woman who makes “Early Shabbat” must remember to perform her Friday hefsek tahara before accepting Shabbat. According to a number of authorities, a woman who accepted Shabbat early but forgot or was unable to do her hefsek tahara beforehand has lost the opportunity to do so. Other authorities permit her to perform Friday’s hefsek tahara even after having accepted Shabbat, as long as it is still before sunset. Similarly, some authorities allow one who forgot to count Friday’s Sefirat Ha’omer, but already accepted Shabbat and even recited Maariv, to count Friday’s Sefirat Ha’omer, without the accompanying blessing, as long as it is still before sunset. A woman who must light the candles before performing her hefsek tahara should stipulate that she does not intend to formally accept Shabbat until after she performs the hefsek tahara.
It seems that a woman who is scheduled to immerse in a mikva on Friday night may not make “Early Shabbat” at all. This is because once a woman completes her chafifa, she may not eat until after she immerses. Since the primary advantage of “Early Shabbat” is the ability to begin the Shabbat meal before dark, while immersion in a mikva can only take place after dark, “Early Shabbat” is simply a non-starter.