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Weekly Halacha

Selected Halachos Related to Parshas Lech Lecha

By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt

A discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the week. For final rulings, consult your Rav.



The majority of Rishonim maintain that the mitzvah of mosifin mi-chol al ha-kodesh - starting Shabbos early in order to incorporate a small part of the weekday into Shabbos - is a mitzvas assei min ha-Torah, a Biblical command(1). Although this seems to be a relatively easy mitzvah to perform, a mitzvah which most people assume that they perform routinely and correctly, this is hardly the case. In order to know how to perform this mitzvah correctly, we must answer the following questions:


The Rishonim do not clearly define a particular amount of time as the minimum addition required to fulfill this mitzvah. Latter-day poskim suggest various amounts of time, ranging from a minimum of two(2), four(3), and five(4) minutes, up to twelve(5) or even fifteen(6) minutes. One who is particular to fulfill the mitzvah according to the views of all poskim is to be commended(7). Tosefes Shabbos is equally incumbent upon men and women(8).


One may be mekabel Shabbos as early as pelag ha-Minchah, which is an hour and a quarter (zemanios) before sunset, but not earlier. Any kabbalas Shabbos made before pelag ha-Minchah, including lighting candles, is null and void and must be repeated(9).


The correct manner, l'chatchilah, of performing this mitzvah is to state that one is being mekabel Shabbos for the sake of the mitzvah of tosefes Shabbos(10). This statement can be made in one of the following ways(11): by reciting the entire Kabbalas Shabbos, by reciting Mizmor shir l'yom ha-Shabbos, by reciting Bo'i b'shalom, by answering Borechu, by davening the Shabbos Ma'ariv, by lighting candles [for women(12)], or even by stating aloud: I am mekabel Shabbos for the sake of the mitzvah of tosefes Shabbos(13). According to some poskim(14), it is sufficient to be mekabel Shabbos in one's mind - without actually expressing it in words.

There are poskim who imply that the mitzvah of tosefes Shabbos is not dependent on actual [either spoken or silent] kabbalah; as long as one refrains from doing forbidden work before sunset, it is considered as if he added some time on to the Shabbos day and he has fulfilled the mitzvah(15).


According to our custom, Shabbos begins at sunset. Once the sun sets it may already be night according to the halachah - the beginning of the Shabbos day. Obviously, in order to perform the mitzvah of adding to the Shabbos, one must be mekabel Shabbos before sunset. After sunset, one is not adding to the Shabbos since it is already Shabbos - regardless of his kabbalah.

The vast majority of shuls, especially during the winter, daven Minchah on Friday evening 10-15 minutes before sunset and then begin the Kabbalas Shabbos service. By the time Bo'i b'shalom is said, it is usually well past sunset. Thus, the majority of men, contrary to their assumption, are not fulfilling the mitzvah of tosefes Shabbos according to the opinion of many poskim.


The Shulchan Aruch(16) rules that once Kabbalas Shabbos has been said in shul, Friday's Minchah may no longer be davened. If an individual came late to shul and answered Borechu or said Mizmor shir l'yom ha-Shabbos, he may no longer daven Minchah, but must rather daven Ma'ariv twice. According to the opinion of the Mishnah Berurah and many other poskim, this rule applies also to any expression of Kabbalas Shabbos made individually, such as lighting candles, or to any statement of Kabbalas Shabbos(17). Once Shabbos has been ushered in, the weekday Minchah service may no longer be davened(18).

This leaves us with a dilemma: The mitzvah of tosefes Shabbos requires us to be mekabel Shabbos before sunset. On the other hand, one cannot be mekabel Shabbos until after Minchah, and most shuls do not finish Minchah until after sunset. Thus, one is faced with two mitzvos that [apparently] conflict with each other - davening Minchah and being mekabel Shabbos.


Start Minchah earlier, about 20-25 minutes before sunset. This will allow the congregation to be mekabel Shabbos before sunset; After finishing the silent Shemoneh Esrei, an individual may be mekabel Shabbos upon himself. He may still answer the Minchah Kedushah etc., although it is already Shabbos for him(19). This solution, however, will not help the Sheliach Tzibur who must repeat the Shemoneh Esrei; If an individual realizes that he will not be able to finish the silent Shemoneh Esrei before sunset, he should daven alone before sunset(20), be mekabel Shabbos, and then go to shul to answer Kaddish, Kedushah, etc. There is a disagreement among latter-day poskim concerning one who failed to follow any of the above options and finds himself - just before sunset - faced with a choice of either davening Minchah or fulfilling the mitzvah of tosefes Shabbos. Some poskim advise that he should daven Minchah(21), while others rule that he should first be mekabel tosefes Shabbos and then daven Minchah(22).


1 Beiur Halachah O.C. 261:2.

2 Eretz Tzvi 70; Igros Moshe O.C. 1:96.

3 Avnei Nezer 4:98.

4 Minchas Elazar 1:23; Maharsha"g 38.

5 Siddur Ya'avetz.

6 Mishnah Berurah 261:22 and Beiur Halachah, based on Chayei Adam 5:2, maintains that tosefes Shabbos together with bein ha-shemashos (which is about 14 minutes long) is half an hour long.

7 Mishnah Berurah 261:23.

8 See Kaf ha-Chayim 261:16.

9 Mishnah Berurah 261:25.

10 Tosefes Shabbos 261:13; Tehillah l'David 263:8-10; Chelkas Yoav 30; Mishmeres Shalom 26:2; Mishnah Berurah 261:21 (as understood by Shoneh Halachos 261:3; Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah 46:2; Az Nidberu 1:1). See Ritva Rosh Hashanah 9a as a possible source.

11 See O.C. 261:4 and Mishnah Berurah 21 and 31.

12 Men who light candles are not automatically mekabel Shabbos - Mishnah Berurah 263:42.

13 Possibly, just saying "Gut Shabbos" is sufficient, if by saying "Gut Shabbos" one means to actually usher in the Shabbos and not merely to express a greeting - see R' Akiva Eiger O.C. 271.

14 Bach and Gr"a quoted in Mishnah Berurah 553:2. Tehilah l'David 263:10, however, rules that this is invalid.

15 See Aruch ha-Shulchan 261:2; Eretz Tzvi 60; Yabia Omer 7:34. See Chidushei Ra'ah (Blau) Berachos 26b, Beiur ha-Gr"a O.C. 393:2 and Chayei Adam 5:2 as possible sources for this view.

16 O.C. 263:15.

17 Mishnah Berurah 263:43.

18 Often, people wish their family "Gut Shabbos" before going to shul for Minchah. One should be mindful not to be mekabel Shabbos with that statement. If his intention was to be mekabel Shabbos, davening Minchah now becomes questionable.

19 Tzitz Eliezer 10:15; Yabia Omer 6:21.

20 Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah 46:5.

21 Harav S.Y. Elyashiv (oral ruling quoted in Avnei Yashfei 1:56). This is based on the ruling of Mishnah Berurah that it is forbidden to daven Minchah after Kabbolas Shabbos. This person must therefore rely on the poskim quoted above who hold that refraining from forbidden work constitutes tosefes Shabbos.

22 Eretz Tzvi 60; Mishmeres Shalom 26:2 quoting the Minsker Gadol; Minchas Yitzchak 9:20; Tzitz Eliezer 13:42; Bris Olam, pg. 13. This is based on the ruling of several poskim that an individual's kabbalas tosefes Shabbos does not preclude his davening Minchah later.

Weekly-Halacha, Copyright © 2001 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.

The Weekly-Halacha Series is distributed L'zchus Hayeled Doniel Meir ben Hinda. Weekly sponsorships are available--please send email to the moderator, Dr. Jeffrey Gross

The series is distributed by the Harbotzas Torah Division of Congregation Shomre Shabbos, 1801 South Taylor Road, Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118--HaRav Yisroel Grumer, Marah D'Asra



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