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Accepting Shabbat Early

By Halacha Hotline  

Q) During the summer months, our family generally accepts Shabbos "early" (after plag haminchah),[1]before the standard time for candle lighting. If my husband davens (prays) in shul (synagogue) and accepts Shabbos "early," may I still do melachah (labors prohibited on Shabbos, including driving and cooking) after that time, until the start of Shabbos (or standard candle lighting time)?

 

A) There is a dispute among the Poskim (halachic authorities) whether a man's acceptance of early Shabbos automatically creates an acceptance of Shabbos for his family members (e.g., his wife and his unmarried children who live in his home). Accordingly, it is preferable for his family members to act strictly and not performmelachah after his early acceptance of Shabbos, and his wife should light candles before he accepts Shabbos (see note 5). If doing so would involve too much inconvenience for his family members, they may rely on those Poskim who rule that family members are not bound by his early acceptance of Shabbos

 

 

Understanding the Sh'eilah (question/inquiry)

During the summer months, when sunset is later, families often elect to accept Shabbosearly out of convenience, to accommodate either the early bedtime of young children, or adults who prefer not to eat Se'udas Shabbos (Shabbos meal) at such a late hour. Although Shabbos begins automatically at sh'kiah (sunset), one may accept Shabbosbefore sh'kiah, at any time after plag haminchah (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim261:2 with RemaMishnah Berurah end of 261:19).

 

In fact, according to many Rishonim (early authorities), there is a Biblical requirement of Tosefes Shabbos, requiring individuals to add time to Shabbos, every week, both at its commencement and at its conclusion (RoshYoma 8:8; RanShabbos page 15a in

RifS.A. O.C. 261:2);[2] that is, to begin Shabbos before sh'kiah on Friday and to end it later than tzeis hakochavim (halachic nightfall) on Motza'ei Shabbos (Saturday night) (M.B. 261:19). The exact amount of time one must add to fulfill this requirement is not clear (see note).[3] After accepting Shabbos, it is forbidden to do melachah (Sha'arei Teshuvah O.C. 261:1; M.B. 261:19; cf. M.B. 259:26).[4] After accepting Shabbos one may not do even actions that are prohibited Rabbinically on Shabbos (S.A. O.C. 261:4 with M.B.Shulchan Aruch HaRav O.C. chapter 261, Kuntrus Acharon note 3).

Depending on one's intent, any of the following may constitute accepting Shabbos

halachically: the conclusion of Lecha Dodi (Mishnah Berurah 261:31; see note);[5]reciting Mizmor Shir L'yom HaShabbos (S.A. O.C. 261:4); reciting Barchu inMa'ariv (ibid.); declaring verbally[6]that one is accepting Shabbos (M.B. 261:21); or a woman's lighting Shabbos candles[7],[8] (S.A. O.C. 263:10 with Rema).

 

Although a woman accepts Shabbos by lighting candles, the Rema (Orach Chaim263:10) writes that her lighting does not automatically constitute an acceptance of earlyShabbos on behalf of family members. The Pri Megadim (Mishbetzos Zahav 263:1) and other Poskim[9] take it for a given, however, that when a man accepts Shabbosearly, it constitutes an automatic acceptance of early Shabbos for his family members.[10] Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky (Koveitz HalachosShabbos vol. 1, 6:16 with 21) explains the basis for their ruling as follows: Just like the husband is the gadol ha'bayis (head of the household) with regard to the establishment of minhagim (customs) within the family,[11] so is his acceptance of early Shabbos binding on the rest of the family. Rav Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe O.C. vol. 3, #38) and other contemporary Poskim,[12]however, differentiate between a case in which a man accepts Shabbos early always because that is his minhag, and a case in which he accept Shabbos early solely due to convenience (such as only in the summer months). These Poskim rule that in the latter case, the family members are not bound by his early acceptance, and they may continue to do melachah.[13] Rav Moshe explains that just as a husband's personal neder (vow) to be strict in a particular area of halacha is not binding on his wife, so his acceptance of Shabbos is not binding on her. The Sh"UT Sheivet HaLevi (7:35) rejects this differentiation and asserts that the ruling of the Pri Megadim applies in all cases. 

 

Due to the dispute amongst the Poskim regarding this matter, it is preferable to follow the strict opinion that the family members consider the husband's/father's acceptance of early Shabbos an automatic acceptance for them as well, and not perform melachahafter his early acceptance of Shabbos. Accordingly, his wife should light Shabboscandles before he accepts Shabbos (see note 5). If doing so would involve too much inconvenience for his family members, they may rely on those Poskim who rule that the family members are not bound by the husband's/father's early acceptance of Shabbos.

 

 

[1] Plag Haminchah is halfway between minchah ketanah and the beginning of the night. Thus, it is 1 ¼ proportional hours before the end of daytime. One proportional hour is calculated by dividing the hours of daytime into twelve equal portions. There is a dispute among the Poskim (halachic authorities) whether daytime for this purpose is defined as beginning at alos hashachar (daybreak) and ending at tzeis hakochavim (halachic nightfall - when three stars medium are visible) (Magen Avraham), or as beginning at haneitz hachamah (sunrise) and ending at sh'kiah (sunset) (GR"A). See M.B.23.3:4.

[2] The Bi'ur Halacha (O.C. 261:1 s.v. yeish omrim shetzarich) asserts that even the Rambam, who holds that there is no Biblical requirement to add to Shabbos (only to Yom Kippur), agrees that there is a Rabbinic mitzvah to add to Shabbos.

[3] The Rosh (Yoma 8:8) proves that it is certainly more than just a moment, but writes that the precise amount is unknown. The Bi'ur Halacha (261:2 s.v. eizeh z'man) writes that it is certainly less than ¾ of a mil (i.e., 13.5 minutes; see Bi'ur Halacha 163:1 s.v. b'richuk; cf. Aruch Hashulchan O.C. 459:6 and Bi'ur Halacha 459:2 s.v. havi revi'is sha'ahRav Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe Orach Chaim 1:96) takes it as a given that it is slightly more than two minutes.

[4] See note 15 in Dirshu Mishnah Berurah (n.e.) to 259:26.

[5] Chut Shani (vol. 4, 82:2 note 3) understands the Mishnah Berurah to mean that the acceptance of Shabbos is effective at the conclusion of Lecha Dodi, with the recitation of the stanza Bo'i veshalomRav Elyashiv is quoted (in Sh'vus Yitzchak, Tosefes Shabbos chap. 17, note 49; cited in Dirshu Mishnah Berurah n.e. chap.261 note 39) as ruling that in locales in which the custom is to comfort mourners who enter shul (synagogue) after Bo'i v'shalom with the supplication of "Hamakom y'nachem eschem..."  ("May Hashem comfort you..."), the recitation of Bo'i v'shalom does not constitute acceptance of Shabbos. By comforting mourners in the usual manner - which is prohibited on Shabbos - after Bo'i v'shalom, they demonstrate clearly that they do not intend yet to accept Shabbos.

[6] There is a dispute whether accepting it only mentally suffices; see Rema O.C. 553:2 and M.B. 553:2.

[7] Unless she made a tenai (stipulated condition) before lighting that she is not accepting Shabbos at that time (Rema O.C. 263:10). Since the validity of making such a tenai is not universally accepted by all Poskim, it is permitted only when extremely necessary (M.B. 263:44).

[8] Thus, when a woman lights candles at the standard time (18-20 minutes before sh'kiah), she thereby fulfills the mitzvahof Tosefes Shabbos.

[9] Mekor Chaim (263:17 s.v. v'nir'eh li) and Yeshu'os Yaakov (end of 263:4).

[10] It is fairly evident that the Aruch Hashulchan (O.C. 263:22) rules similarly.

[11] I.e. the customs of the family follow the customs of the ba'al habayis and his ancestors. E.g., how much time to wait between eating meat and eating milk; whether to eat kitniyos (legumes and similar) on Pesach, which is permitted forSefardic Jews from certain countries of origin; whether to eat gebrokts (products made with matzah-meal and the like) onPesach; et al.

[12] Sh"ut Be'er Moshe vol. 2, addendum to #16; Teshuvos V'hanhagos 3:85.

[13] Rav Moshe asserts, however, that although the husband may have a Jew who did not yet accept Shabbos performmelachah for him(see S.A. 263:16), a woman is prohibited to perform melachah on her husband's behalf after he acceptsShabbos. See Sh"uT Sheivet HaLevi (7:35) who challenges the basis for R' Moshe's assertion.



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