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Past Articles:
ACCEPTING SHABBAT EARLY

By: Rabbi Daniel D. Levy

1

          What are some basicguidelines
           for one who accepts Shabbat early?

a)Once one accepts Shabbat early, it is forbidden for him or her to do any melachah(work which is forbidden to be done on Shabbat) from that time onwards, regardless of the fact that it is still light outside.

b)One who accepted Shabbat is forbidden to eat or drink anything until hearing kiddush(unlike havdallah, where one may drink water in time of need before hearing havdallah).

c)One should be careful to begin the Shabbat night meal at least half an hour before the night to avoid halachic issues regarding eating a meal too close to the time of the reciting of Shema or the Omer. If one has a shomer(reminder) to recite Shema or Omer at the proper time, one may begin the meal less than half an hour before nightfall if need be.

d)If one relies on the lenient opinion and finishes his meal before sunset (see answer#6) he must recite Retzehin Birkat Hamazon (and Yaaleh Veyavohif Shabbat is also Rosh Chodesh).

2

 

           Why does the Shulhan Aruch (267:2)
           say that it is customary to pray Arbit
           earlier on Friday night than any other
           night of the week?  

a)The Beit Yosef explains that there is a mitzvah to infuse the holiness of Shabbat onto the mundane weekday that comes before it. Therefore, it is advisable to pray Friday night Arbit earlier than during the week. Another way we accept the holiness of Shabbat is by refraining from melachah. More than that, it’s preferable to verbally declare “I am accepting the Shabbat.”

b)The Magen Avraham explains that since the prayer of Arbit corresponds to the fats and limbs on the altar, which were consumed in the evening time and on Friday night, the prayer must be finished before nightfall. Though that is not the case during weeknights, we make it a practice to pray earlier on Friday night.

c)The Chayei Adam explains that we are lenient in allowing the acceptance of an early Shabbat because of shalom bayit– marital harmony. Especially on late, long summer days, people in the household are interested in eating earlier, given that there are often children to take into account.

It should be noted that there are numerous halachic authorities who object to making an early Shabbat. These include R’ Elyashiv, zt”l, and R’Eliyahu Shleizinger (the current Rabbi in Gilo and author of numerous sefarim, including Yom Shabbaton). According to Kabbalah, one should not make early Shabbat. It is advisable for one to consult a competent halachic authority on whether he should make an early Shabbat given his particular situation.

3

 

           What is the earliest time possible
           for one to accept  Shabbat?

The earliest time possible for one to accept the Shabbat, whether it’s a man praying Kabbalat Shabbat/Arbit or a woman lighting candles, is Pelag Haminchah– 10 and three-quarter hours into the day (also known as sha’ot zemaniyot). One who lights candles before Pelag Haminchahmust extinguish the candles and re-light with a new berachah. Making a blessing upon candles before Pelag Haminchahis considered a berachah levatalah–a blessing made in vain. (Siman 263:4 Mishnah Berurah263:20). Note: Mincha should be prayed before Pelag Haminchahand Arbit afterwards when making an early Shabbat.

 

4

 

           If one has already said Lecha Dodi,
           is this recitation equivalent to a full
           acceptance of Shabbat? What if one
           has forgotten an important item in his                     car? Is he allowed to go back and get it?

There are many halachic authorities who consider the reciting of the end of Lecha Dodi(specifically the words Bo’ee Kallah) as fully accepting Shabbat. There are others who consider the later reciting of Barechuas fully accepting Shabbat. Therefore, one should ask either another Jew who has not yet accepted Shabbat, or a gentile, to remove the desired item out of his car.

5

 

           If a woman already lit the candles
           and fully accepted Shabbat, may her
           husband or child turn off the oven
           or light that she left on?  

When a woman lights the candles, the rest of the household members are not automatically bound by her lighting thecandles and may still do melachah. Hence, when necessary, a child or a husband may indeed do an act which requires melachah, such as opening or shutting a light or an oven.

 

6

 

           What actions must one be careful
           to do after dark if one prays and
           accepts Shabbat early?

a)One must recite Keriyat Shemaover after dark to properly fulfill the positive commandment to recite Shema in the proper time (Mishnah Berurah 267:4).

b) Many halachic authorities require that one eat a significant part of the meal – meaning an ounce of bread – after dark (Mishnah Berurah267:5, Hacham Ovadiah).

c)During the weeks of Sefirat Ha’omer(between Pesach and Shavuot) one should be careful to recite the Omer after dark.

7

 

           May a woman light candles and make
           a condition that she is not accepting
           Shabbat yet for any specific reason?  

The Rabbis instituted that the act of a woman lighting candles is equivalent to her accepting Shabbat. Only in time of true need, and very rarely, may a woman make a condition not to accept Shabbat by candle lighting, allowing her to do melachahafter the fact. Hacham Ben Tzion Abba Shaul, zt”l, writes that it is better for a woman not to light and then take a taxi to go to the Kotel (Western Wall), than to pray Mincha at home and then light. However, when a woman is constrained for time, there are leniencies she can rely on. If she is unable to complete both praying Mincha and lighting before sundown, or if she can’t manage to finish preparing for Shabbat and light before sundown, she has permission to light first and then either pray Mincha or finish up preparing for Shabbat. In such a case, it is recommended that she verbally declare that she is not yet accepting Shabbat with the act of lighting. In fact, she will not officially accept Shabbat until after she finishes her preparations or praying Mincha – whatever the outstanding mitzvah.

8

 

           If one fully accepted Shabbat early
           and prayed Arbit, may he ask another
           Jew who did not yet accept Shabbat to
           do an action which requires melachah?

There is no prohibition in asking another Jew who has not yet accepted Shabbat to do an action which requires melachahsuch as turning on or off a light that is needed for Shabbat.

 

9

 

           If one is in a town where there is
           only one minyanwhich happens to
           accept Shabbat early, is this individual
           (nigrar) bound by the congregation’s
           early acceptance of Shabbat and
           prohibited from doing melacha?

One who is in a place where there is only one minyan in town is bound by that congregation’s acceptance of Shabbat, even if it is early. As such, he would be forbidden from doing melachahafter they accepted Shabbat. However, if one is in a place like Brooklyn, NY, where there are both earlier and later minyanim, then one may still do melachah when adhering to Shabbat at its regular time, despite the fact that other minyanim are making an early Shabbat.

 

10

 

            If one missed the early minyan and
            his family and guests are waiting,
            may one eat the Shabbat meal
            before praying Arbit?

Technically, it is permissible to eat the Shabbat meal before praying Arbit and might even be advisable in the above scenario for the sake of shalom bayit. However, in general it is highly discouraged. According to Kabbalah and some halachic authorities it is not appropriate to do this.