[Avodah] How early can one make an “early Shabbos”?
Prof. L. Levine
llevine at stevens.edu
Fri Jun 21 07:32:57 PDT 2019
>From Today's OU Kosher Halacha Yomis:
A. There are three main opinions among poskim for the earliest time to light candles and recite kiddush on Shabbos (See Mishnah Berurah 233:4 and Mishnah Berurah, Beiur Halacha 263, s.v. Kodem) :
1. Vilna Gaon and Levush: after plag ha’mincha, which in their opinion, is one and a quarter halachic hours before sunset. In this view, a halachic hour is calculated as one twelfth of the time-span between sunrise and sunset.
2. Shulchan Aruch and Magen Avrohom: after plag ha’mincha, which they maintain is one and a quarter halachic hours before tzeis ha’kochavim (nightfall). In their opinion, a halachic hour is one twelfth of the time-span between alos ha’chama (dawn) and tzeis ha’kochavim (night fall).
3. Rav Eliezer Mi’metz: two hours before tzeis ha’kochavim. (See Mishnah Berurah, Beiur Halacha 263, s.v. Kodem). He reasons that just as we find that certain laws of Shemita begin a month (a twelfth of a year) before Rosh Hashanah, so too Shabbos can begin two hours (a twelfth of a day) early (see Darkei Moshe OC 261:1).
The difference between these three opinions can be very significant. For a day that is 12 hours long from sunrise to sunset, the Vilna Gaon, Levush and Rav Eliezer Mi’metz would allow lighting candles more than an hour before sunset, while the Shulchan Aruch and Magen Avrohom would not permit lighting until approximately 18 minutes before sunset.
It should be noted that all three positions agree that Maariv cannot be recited before plag ha’mincha. As noted in 1 and 2, the time of plag ha’mincha is a matter of dispute.
In practice, many people light candles, daven Maariv, and recite kiddush significantly before sunset. They are following the position of the Vilna Gaon and Levush in item 1. Other segments of the Jewish community follow the more stringent position of the Shulchan Aruch and Magen Avrohom in item 2 and begin Shabbos considerably later. Both customs are firmly rooted in mainstream Halachic viewpoints.
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