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.
SELECTED HALACHOS RELATING TO PARSHAS LECH LECHA
TOSEFES SHABBOS: HOW AND WHEN
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:
HOW MUCH TIME SHOULD BE ADDED AS TOSEFES SHABBOS?
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).
HOW EARLY CAN ONE ACCEPT TOSEFES SHABBOS?
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).
WHAT IS THE PROCEDURE FOR BEING MEKABEL TOSEFES SHABBOS?
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).
HOW LATE CAN ONE BE MEKABEL SHABBOS?
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
WHY ARE WE NOT MEKABEL SHABBOS BEFORE MINCHAH?
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.
WHAT ARE THE ALTERNATIVES
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
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
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
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
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
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