Selected halachos relating to Parshas Chayei Sara
By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt
The following is a discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the week.
For final rulings, consult your Rav.
Time of Mincha
The Daily Mincha Service Our Sages attach special significance
to Tefillas Mincha, the afternoon prayer service instituted by
Yitzchak Avinu (1). The Talmud (2) notes that of the three daily
prayer services, Mincha is the most readily accepted by G-d.
The time period allotted for Tefillas Mincha, however, conflicts
sometimes, especially during the winter months, with a person's
work-day schedule. It is important, therefore, to review the
Halachos which are associated with the scheduling of Mincha.
There are two time periods during the day in which one is
permitted to daven Mincha. The earliest time one can daven
Mincha is six and half hours (3) after sunrise (4). This time,
which is one half hour after Chatzos (5), is known as Mincha
Gedola. The second time period, known as Mincha Ketana, begins
three hours (Zmanios) later (6), nine and half hours after
There are conflicting opinions in the Rishonim as to which of
these time periods is the preferred choice for davening Mincha.
Some Poskim (7) prefer Mincha Gedola, while others (8) hold that
Mincha Ketana is the preferred time to daven. As there is no
decisive ruling on this question, either custom may be
followed (9). The Poskim agree, however, that it is better to
daven Mincha Gedola than to daven without a Minyan. Similarly,
before embarking on a trip or sitting down to a main meal, it is
better to daven Mincha Gedola first (10).
If, B'dieved, one davened Mincha before six hours of the day
elapsed, he must repeat the davening. If, B'deived, he davened
after six hours but before six and half hours elapsed, he should
not repeat the davening (11).
One should be extremely careful to finish davening Mincha by
Shkiah, sunset, since many early Poskim (12) hold that it is
forbidden to daven Mincha after that time (13). It is better to
daven on time without a Minyan than to daven after the proper
time with a Minyan (14).
B'dieved, one may daven Mincha up to 20 minutes (15) after
sunset. Some Poskim suggest that when davening Mincha this late,
the following condition (Tnai) should be stated: If the present
time is still "day", then my Tefillah is Mincha and my next
Tefillah will be Maariv. If, however, the present time is
already "night", then this Tefillah should be counted as Maariv
and the next one will be Tashlumim (a makeup) for Mincha (16).
One who enters a Shul where Maariv is davened early, and he
hasn't yet davened Mincha, should daven Mincha Shmone Esrei
while the Minyan is davening Maariv Shmone Esrei. He should then
daven Maariv with a later Minyan (17).
In some places, most notably in Yeshivos, it has become customary that the Chazan does not repeat the Shmone Esrei of Mincha. What, if any, is the justification for this custom?
If the hour is
late and the Tzibbur realizes that they will not be able to
finish Mincha--including Chazoras Hashatz--on time, the
correct procedure is to daven a "short" Mincha (18). According to
our custom, that means that the Chazan starts by reciting
Shmonei Esrei aloud until Kedusha, and the Tzibbur follows with
their own silent Shmonei Esrei after the Kedusha has been said
in unison (19).
Under normal circumstances, however, there is no justification
for not repeating Shmone Esrei at Mincha. The Poskim (20) are
very critical of Shuls who have abandoned Chazoras Hashatz at
Mincha, since it is a Takana (ordinance) of Chazal to repeat the
silent Shmonei Esrei so that those who cannot daven themselves
can hear the recitation of the Shliach Tzibbur. Even though the
reason may not be applicable today since there are few
illiterate congregants, the Takana is still in force, as is
every Takana of our Sages which remains in effect even when the
circumstances that caused the Takana to be issued, have
There is, however, a major difference if the Shmone Esrei is not
repeated in a Shul or if it is not repeated in a Yeshiva. The
original Takana of Chazoras Hashatz, which was made for the sake
of the Amei H'aratzos, the illiterate people, was enacted only
in Batei Knaisios, in synagogues, where the Amei H'aratzos
congregated. In the Batei Midrashos, where only Talmidei
Chachomim davened, there was never such a ordinance. The
Yeshivos, therefore, which are the continuation of the Batei
Medrash of yesteryear, need not be stringent about observing
this Takana which was never really intended for Torah
1 Brachos 26b.
2 Brachos 6b.
3 Halachic "hours" are not necessarily 60 minutes long but
rather one twelfth of the day (Zmanios). An "hour" could be
as long as 116 minutes (in June) or as short as 46 minutes
(in December). See Igros Moshe OC 2:20 for a detailed explanation.
4 This is the custom in most places. There are some Poskim
who count the begining of the day from Alos Ha'shachar.
5 It is questionable if the half hour is
Zmanios or exactly 30 minutes (Shaar Hatzion 233:8). The custom
is to figure the half hour as Zmanios (Luach Eretz Yisrael).
6 OC 233.
7 Rabbeinu Seadya Gaon, Rif, Ritva, Rosh, Tur.
8 Rabbeinu Chananel, Rambam, Archos Chaim, Meiri.
9 Mishnah Berurah 233:1 and Aruch Hashulchan 233:12 quote both views and
do not clearly rule in accordance with either one.
10 Mishnah Berurah 233:1; Aruch Hashulchan 233:12. See Yechave Daas 4:19
that Sefardim, too, should conduct themselves in this manner.
11 Mishnah Berurah 233:2.
12 Rabbeinu Yona, Shiltei Giborim, Levush, Gra.
13 Mishnah Berurah 233:14; Aruch Hashulchan 233:9;
Igros Moshe OC 1:24
14 Mishnah Berurah 233:14. Many other Poskim, however, hold that
it is better to daven with a Minyan even if the Minyan will
commence after sunset, see Mor Uketzia 233;
Minchas Elozer 1:23; Einayim L'Mishpat Brachos 27a.
15 Mishnah Berurah allows one to daven Mincha B'dieved up to 15
minutes before the stars come out. Since, according to some
views, the stars are out 35 minutes after sunset, the latest
time Mincha may be davened is up to 20 minutes after sunset.
16 Biur Halacha 233:1.
17 Mishnah Berura 236:11.
18 OC 232:1. See earlier Discussion for the definition of "on time"
in regard to Mincha.
19 Biur Halacha 124:2; Aruch Hashulchan 232:6.
20 See Bais Yosef (OC 234) who reports that a Cherem was issued in
Tzfat against those who do not repeat the Shmonei Esrei at
Mincha. See also Radvaz 4:94 and Chasam Sofer 6:86.
21 The only justification we find in the Poskim for not repeating the
Shmone Esrei is when there will not be 9 people listening and
answering Amen to the Chazoras Hashatz. When the Rambam and his
son R' Avrohom resided in Egypt, they canceled Chazoras Hashatz
in the entire country because of the severity of this problem.
22 Explanation heard from Harav Yaakov Kamenetsky as to why many
Yeshivos do not repeat the Shmonei Esrei at Mincha.
Weekly-Halacha, Copyright © 1997 by Rabbi Neustadt, Dr. Jeffrey Gross and
Project Genesis, Inc. Rabbi Neustadt is the principal of Yavne
Teachers' College in Cleveland, Ohio. He is also the Magid Shiur of a daily
Mishna Berurah class at Congregation Shomre Shabbos.
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