When does Shabbat start?

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When does Shabbat start?

  1. It is strictly forbidden to do any Melacha (activities forbidden on Shabbat) after sunset. (See footnote for background)[1]
  2. There is an obligation to accept Shabbat early in order to add from the weekday onto Shabbat. Some say that it's sufficient to add any amount of time before sunset, while others hold that one should add 20 or 30 minutes to Shabbat. (See footnote for background) </ref>
  • Gemara Rosh Hashana 9a learns from Vayikra 23:32 that there is an obligation to add from the weekday onto Yom Kippur called Tosefet Shabbat. The gemara then continues to include all other holidays and Shabbat in this halacha.
  • How long is Tofeset Shabbat? S"A 271:2 and 608:1 rules that there's no minimum requirement of time one needs to add to Shabbat to fulfill Tosefet Shabbat. 39 Melachos (vol 1, pg 150) rules like S"A that there's no specific minimum time for Tofeset Shabbat.
  • However, the Mishna Brurah 271:22 quotes the Rosh who argues that a certain amount of time is needed. Biur Halacha D"H Ayzo Zman posits that this period of time should be no longer than 3/4 of a mil (which is 13.5 minutes). However, Mishna Brurah 271:22 explains that according to the S"A who holds that it's not nighttime until Tzet HaCochavim Tosefet Shabbat and Ben HaShemashot is 30 minutes.
  • The Mishna Brurah 271:23 concludes that in order to fulfill the mitzvah of Tofeset Shabbat (adding onto Shabbat) one should refrain from work from the time that the sun is seen at the top of the trees, or to be strict 30 or 20 minutes before Shekiyah. 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat, vol 1, pg 145) writes that it's not practical to rely upon the method of determining the beginning of Shabbat by looking at when the sun hits the tree tops but rather one should rely upon times printed on calendars made by halachic experts. 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat, Hakdama LeMelachat Shabbat, note 667) quotes that in order not to violate Shabbat and in order to fulfill Tosefet Shabbat one must add a few minutes before Shekiyah refraining from Melacha and agrees with this opinion. </ref>

How to accept Shabbat early

  1. Some hold that in order to fulfill the mitzvah of adding from the weekday to Shabbat one doesn't need to make any verbal declaration, while others hold that one should verbally accept Shabbat. [2]


    • S"A 261:2 writes that one should accept shabbat early during the time between Shekiyah (sunset) and Ben HaShemashot (twilight) to fulfill the mitzvah of Tofeset Shabbat. S"A explains that this time period is the length of time it takes to walk 3.25 mil. Then Ben HaShemashot (twilight) lasts for a period of 3/4 of a mil which is followed by Tzet HaCochavim (emergence of the stars). For this discussion, we're assuming that a mil is considered 18 minutes like the ruling of S"A 459:2 and Mishna Brurah 459:15. If so, S"A holds that one must accept Shabbat 13.5 minutes before Tzet HaCochavim which is 58.5 minutes after Shekiyah.
    • However, Mishna Brurah 271:23 quotes many Rishonim and the Gra who hold that between Sheiyah and Tzet HaCochavim there is a short Ben HaShemashot of 3/4 of a mil (13.5 minutes) and afterwards it's considered nighttime Deoritta. According this opinion the Mishna Brurah writes that one may absolutely stop doing Melacha (activities forbidden on Shabbat) before Shekiyah.
    • The 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat, vol 1, pg 145) writes that the accepted practice is in accordance with the Gra and so it's strictly forbidden from doing Melacha from the time of Shekiyah.
    • Mishna Brurah 261:21 based on Rama 608:3 holds that a verbal declaration is needed and a acceptance in one's heart isn't sufficient.
    • 39 Melachos (Rabbi Ribiat, vol 1, pg 150) writes that no verbal declaration is needed rather once one resolves to accept Shabbat early Shabbat takes effect. This dispute may be reflected in a dispute in Mishna Brurah 553:2.