Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Davening Maariv Early On Shabbos On Erev Pesach

This Shabbos erev Pesach, both RJC (Riverdale Jewish Center) and Etz Chaim of Kew Gardens Hills davened maariv shel Motzai Shabbos early. They did the same the next day. This so as to be able to start the seder on time, at the earliest possible time.

The rabbis of these shuls did this in consultation with Rabbi Willig, who told them (if I understand correctly) that he could not tell them that it was forbidden, and that if one does this, one should say exactly what one would say at night. (This would include vaTodienu, which is the equivalent of Ata Chonantanu when Motza'ei Shabbos is a Yom Tov.) Meanwhile, Rabbi Willig did not do this in his own shul, the Young Israel of Riverdale.

The basis for this seems clear. If we look in the gemara in Berachos 27b, we read:
א"ר חייא בר אבין רב צלי של שבת בערב שבת רבי יאשיה מצלי של מוצאי שבת בשבת רב צלי של שבת בערב שבת אומר קדושה על הכוס או אינו אומר קדושה על הכוס ת"ש דאמר רב נחמן אמר שמואל מתפלל אדם של שבת בערב שבת ואומר קדושה על הכוס והלכתא כוותיה רבי יאשיה מצלי של מוצאי שבת בשבת אומר הבדלה על הכוס או אינו אומר הבדלה על הכוס ת"ש דאמר רב יהודה אמר שמואל מתפלל אדם של מוצאי שבת בשבת ואומר הבדלה על הכוס אמר ר' זירא אמר רבי אסי אמר ר' אלעזר א"ר חנינא אמר רב בצד עמוד זה התפלל ר' ישמעאל בר' יוסי של שבת בערב שבת כי אתא עולא אמר בצד תמרה הוה ולא בצד עמוד הוה ולא ר' ישמעאל ברבי יוסי הוה אלא ר' אלעזר בר' יוסי הוה ולא של שבת בערב שבת הוה אלא של מוצאי שבת בשבת הוה:
Note that while there is a vehilchesa kevasei for the former, it is lacking by the latter. But that does not mean that we don't rule in accordance with it.

Rather, we have Rabbi Yoshiya, Rav Yehuda, Shmuel, Ulla, and Rabbi Eleazar beRabbi Yossi who all appear to say it is permitted to do this.

And this would include, apparently, saying havdalah on wine even on Shabbos. So certainly one should say vaTodieinu. (I have in the back of my mind a different reading of this, but this certainly seems the most straightforward reading.)

Tosafot writes that this is specifically where there is need to do a mitzvah after Shabbos, such as going to perform a circumcision on an infant.

The intent here was to perform the seder on time, surely a mitzvah. And if one does not start on time, it is absolutely conceivable that children would go to sleep in the middle, especially given the shift due to Daylight Savings Time. And also, given the long maggids we have, it is possible not to get to the mitzvah of achilat matzah and marror before chatzos halaylah. I would say that maggid as currently formulated is too long, and we should pare it down, or else put much of maggid discussions and perhaps even the body of haggadah text within the meal. But no one is going to listen to me, so this would seem to be another way of approaching this goal.

Rif also cites this gemara lehalacha. Rabbenu Yonah cites Rav Hai Gaon that this is only for purpose of mitzvah.

Rosh also cites this gemara lehalacha. He says that they held like Rabbi Yehuda. We too hold like Rabbi Yehuda about the time for maariv but there is an extra issue about Tosefes Shabbos, Yom Tov and Yom Kippur before each of these to consider. Rosh also suggests they did this because of Ones, some duress.

Importantly, Rosh even addresses matzah. He cites Rabbi Yaakov from Korvil who says that in terms of the mitzvah of eating matzah, one cannot do this early. This because there is a Tosefta in Pesachim 2:16 that says as follows: הלל הזקן היה [כרכן] שלשתן זה בזה ואוכלן מאימתי אוכלן משתחשך.

The full citation is:
החזרת והמצה והפסח לילי יו"ט [הראשון חובה ושאר ימים] רשות ר"ש אומר לאנשים חובה לנשים רשות הלל הזקן היה [כרכן] שלשתן זה בזה ואוכלן מאימתי אוכלן משתחשך לא אכלן משתחשך אוכלן כל הלילה לא אכלן כל הלילה לא יאכלם מעתה החזרת והמצה והפסח אין מעכבין זה את זה.

Thus, the matzah, marror and pesach are specifically at night, once it gets dark.

This would seem to suggest that it is specifically matzah which can only be eaten when it gets dark. And thus I would bolster what I said earlier about making an early seder. But Divrei Chamudos on the Rosh in Brachos says that in his own commentary on Avrei Pesachim, he explains why this also refers to kadeish. I am unconvinced, and think the Tosefta says otherwise, but then I have not seen this argument in the Divrei Chamudos on Pesachim inside.

(According to this Tosefta at least, by the way, it would seem that the time for eating the matzah is all night -- כל הלילה. If we would rule in accordance to this, we have plenty of time, at least, for the eating of matzah. In terms of keeping seder participants and children awake, on the other hand, it might be more difficult.)

Shiltei haGiborim says that even though the halacha is that one can make an early maariv of Motzai Shabbos, we do not practically do this. And further where the Tannaim or Amoraim did it, is was a case of Ones.

Push comes to shove, at the moment I think that these shuls acted properly. I did not end up davening at the shul on either night of early maariv, but not because I think that one should not daven early. The first seder I attended went I think until about 2. The seder of the second night ended at 4:50 AM.

I suggested to the rabbi that if they wanted to end early, they should eliminate Hallel, as is specified by Rema and is Ashkenazic custom, and the opinion of the Beis HaLevi and on. (I think chassidic custom is otherwise.) To cite a summary of the inputs into this idea:
The Yerushalmi in Berachos (1:5, 10b) also makes reference to reciting Hallel with a Beracha in Shul on Pesach night; the Tur (Ibid.) thus writes that it is an excellent Minhag. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 487:4) likewise rules that this should be done, and the Sephardim follow this ruling. The Ramo (Ibid.) however, says that the Minhag is not to say Hallel in Shul on Pesach night at all. The Vilna Gaon (Biur HaGra Ibid. s.v V'Kol Zeh). notes that the original idea of saying this Hallel in Shul was in order to help fulfill the obligation of (be Motze) those who wouldn't be able to recite it on their own, but it was never intended for those who could. Elsewhere, however, (Biur HaGra to Orach Chaim 671:7 s.v. Madlikin) the Gaon implies that saying Hallel in Shul on Pesach night is a means of publicizing the miracle, which is proper. There are indeed many Ashkenazic communities that do say Hallel with a Beracha in Shul on Pesach night.
The rav replied that such, not saying Hallel, is indeed his custom, but when he got to the shul, their practice was to say Hallel.

In fact, this minhag of the shul developed organically. Initially it was not the custom of the shul to say Hallel. Then, two specific congregants (who shall remain nameless here) within the same family stayed after davening to daven Hallel by themselves. Eventually, some people decided to stay and daven Hallel to keep them company. And slowly more and more did, until they finally decided to change the official policy such that everyone davened Hallel.

At any rate, an interesting halachic ruling here.

Note: Please do not take anything I said here as halacha lemaaseh, even though this was apparently acted upon. I claim no responsibility in the matter.


Anonymous said...

I don't know what time they davened on Motzsh, but something else to be taken into account (and that RMW has mentioned many times) is that our conception of the end of shabbat (42 minutes after shkiyah) is not solidly based on poskim, and constitutes a chumra in terms of tosefet shabbat.

Depending on how early they davened, it is possible that they didn't daven the tefillah of motzash on Shabbat at all!

joshwaxman said...

Perhaps true. I always get confused about the intricacies of zemanim.

I did not attend, but this was the plan:

Maariv on Shabbat is going to be at 7:45 pm, not 8:25.

Maariv on Day I should be 7:45 pm, followed by candles and Seder after 8:25 pm."

Candle-lighting for April 19 was at 7:21 and shkia was at 7:39, if I understand correctly. Tzais was 8:21, fixed 42 minutes, and 8:51, fixed 72 minutes. And it takes a while to get up to Shemone Esrei.


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