Monday, June 05, 2006

Part II: Tartei D'Sosrei - Jewish Law and Time Conflicts

Tartei D'Sosrei (תרתי דסתרי) refer to two actions which are halachically mutually exclusive. For example, in a situation when Rosh Chodesh falls on Motzei Shabbos, if one is eating Seuda Shlishis (final meal of the Sabbath), only to conclude the meal on Rosh Chodesh, in Birchas HaMazon, he/she must recite either recite the supplication for Rosh Chodesh or for the Shabbos. Since Shabbos and Rosh Chodesh fall on separate days, it is either Shabbos or Rosh Chodesh.

This article deals with tartei d'sosrei with regards to praying two tefillos during the same time period; specifically on Erev Shabbos when many people daven mincha and ma'ariv in the same time slot - between plag ha'mincha and shkiah. In a situation when shkiah separates between mincha and ma'ariv, the halacha applies differently. If possible, it is best to daven with a minyan that begins after tzeis ha'kochavim. However, Rav Moshe Feinstein rules that it is preferable to daven with a minyan that begins ma'ariv after shkiah, rather than daven on one's own (i.e. w/o a minyan) after tzeis. (Orach Chaim, Siman 60) In any case, if one did not say Krias Shema after tzeis, they should repeat the first three paragraphs after tzeis.


During the year, generally during the summer, some synagogues arrange a set time for the Friday night Shabbos tefillos. Often in an attempt to suit the largest portion of the congregation with the "best" time for tefillah, a set-time is arranged that is considered not too early and not too late. For example, a 7 pm mincha may be arranged throughout the summer, thereby allowing congregants to begin their Shabbos meal at a reasonably early hour, while allowing many congregants to conclude their pre-Shabbos activities with ample time to arrive in shul. If, for example, sunset is at about 8 pm during part of the summer and plag ha'mincha is at about 6:30 pm, the following scenario would likely occur (with great consistency):

Shimon arrives at shul at 7 pm and prays with the minyan. By 7:50, just about everyone is on their way out of shul. All of a sudden it occurs to Shimon that he davened mincha and ma'ariv in the same time period, a clear issue of tartei d'sosrei. What should he do in the future?


Rav Moshe Feinstein (Orach Chaim - Siman 60): "...If [one is davening ma'ariv] during the same time period of the day that, at times, he davens mincha, it would be tartei d'sosrei. How much more so [is this the case] when [both tefillos] are recited on the same day, though the congregation is lenient [due to time-constraints] with regard to tefillah, it is not so clear that tefillah b'tzibur (prayer with the congregation) is preferable even in this instance and the individual is permitted to wait until after Tzeis HaKochavim to daven. See in Ma'aseh Rav of the Vilna Gaon, where he holds that tefillah in its proper time always is preferable to tefillah b'tzibur. Since his [view] is contrary to most rishonim, one only follows the Vilna Gaon if that person consistently follows his rulings. However, the Vilna Gaon's ruling shows that it is good for one pray individually rather than with the congregation in the issue of tartei d'sosrei, as it is a lacking in the law of tefillah. If one is unsure in this matter, saying that it is better to daven with the congregation, as [he reasons that] prayer with the congregation is on a higher level even though it is tartei d'sosrei, since it was permitted (given a heter) [specifically] for the congregation, he should refrain from reciting the Shema and Birchos Krias Shema until after Tzeis HaKochavim, as they do not have the law of tefillah b'tzibur. (The fact that Shema and its brachos do not have the law of tefillah b'tzibur is demonstrated in tractate Brachos by the father of Shmuel and Levi)."

Rav Ya'akov Kaminetsky, zt"l: It has been heard a rav that is familiar with Rav Ya'akov Kaminetsky, zt"l, that in the early 1970's he used to daven along with a minyan that davened mincha and ma'ariv during the same time-slot. Clearly, based on the ruling of Rav Moshe Feinstein and the action of Rav Ya'akov Kaminetsky, when there is a need, it is permissible to daven with a minyan that is in the category of tarte d'sosrei. However, in general, if possible, it is preferable to join a minyan that avoids the issue of tartei d'sosrei.


The best thing to do is to join (or start) a minyan that prays mincha prior to Plag HaMincha and/or sunset, while beginning ma'ariv after Plag HaMincha or sunset separate between the two prayers. If one joins a special mincha minyan that begins prior to Plag HaMincha, that would also allow one to avoid the issue of tartei d'sosrei. Finally, if there are no non-tartei d'sosrei minyonim offered in the area (or one can't make it to one), he should pray on his own, or, at the very least, recite Shema and its berachos after tzeis. Only in an instance when there is a necessity to pray during the tartei d'sosrei time period, should one do that. Otherwise, he should do what is possible to avoid tartei d'sosrei.


Rosh Chodesh: Beginning of each of the Jewish months.

Motzei Shabbos: Generally refers to the night following the Shabbos.

Birchas HaMazon: Grace after Meals.

Erev Shabbos: The day immediately preceding Shabbos.

Plag HaMincha - 1.25 halachic proportional hours before sunset.

Shkiah - Sunset.

Tzeis HaKochavim - The time when three medium sized (or small) stars are visible to the naked eye.


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