Monday, June 05, 2006

Part I - Jewish Law and Time Conflicts

The famous saying - "timing is everything" - may be derived from the famous teaching of the Great Hillel: "im lo achshav, eimasi" - "If not now, when?" - "אם לא עכשיו, אימתי" (Pirkei Avos: 1; 14).

In light of the above, there are at least two types of mitzvos (commandments) that the above statement of Hillel's apply to:

1) Timebound mitzvos: These include mitzvos which only apply during limited times, such as the Jewish festivals. In contrast, for example, the mitzvah of tzedakah (charity) can be performed at any time one wishes (with the exception of the Jewish festivals) and is not considered timebound.

2) Even among non-timebound mitzvos, an opportunity to perform a specific good deed could "fly by". For example, in the case of tzedakah, one may lose an opportunity to give tzedakah. Imagine, a needy person knocks on the door. By the time the person gets to the door, the individual had to leave. This is an example of a lost opportunity (unless of course you can track down the needy individual).

There are three prayers (tefillos) during the day - Ma'ariv (evening prayer), Mincha (afternoon prayer), and Shacharis (morning prayer) - each of these tefillos have their own designated time slot.

Please note: The below is a very brief description of the halachic times for davening and therefore may be lacking. Also, "halachic hour" varies based on the length of the day. The longer the daylight, the longer the "hour". For example, in a day (from sunrise to sunset) that is 12 hours long, each halachic hour would be 1 hour (60 minutes). However, when there are 13 hours between sunrise and sunset, each halachic hour would correspond to 65 minutes (780/720 minutes), and so on.

Shacharis: One should complete this prayer by sof zman tefillah, or before one-third of the daylight hours have passed. If it was not possible to pray by then, the prayer should be completed by chatzos or the middle of the daylight hours.

Mincha: May be recited from 1/2 halachic hour after chatzos until sunset.

Ma'ariv: May be recited at night time, though it should not be pushed off past chatzos of the nighttime (the "same time" as the chatzos of the day, just switch the "am" to "pm" and vice-versa). The earliest time to recite ma'ariv is from plag ha'mincha which is 1.25 halachic hours (שעות זמניות) prior to sunset. Note: One may only begin ma'ariv from plag ha'mincha if they conclude mincha prior to plag ha'mincha. For a further discussion, see "Part II: Tartei D'Sosrei - Jewish Law and Time Conflicts".

For precise halachic times (for example, plag HaMincha), please visit (The halachic times vary based on location and elevation. Though the times provided are very close to the exact times, please note the disclaimer.)


Post a Comment

<< Home