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Minha Ma'ariv Davening


March 29, 2019 -- 22 Adar II 5779

Dear CBINT Community,

Our 7:30 AM service (Monday through Friday) is a reliably good time to daven Shaharit. Even in darkest December, by 7:30 it’s clearly morning. From the perspective of Jewish law, however, which service to say at 6:00 PM is less obvious. Consider:

- On the first day of spring, sunset was about an hour after minyan.

- On the first day of summer, sunset will be 2 ½ hours after minyan.

- On the first day of autumn, the sun sets about 45 minutes after minyan.

- On the first day of winter, by 6:00 the sun will have been down more than 1 ½ hours.

So 6:00 PM is a reliably good time to daven minha (the afternoon service) in spring, summer, and autumn, but that opportunity has passed long since in winter.

But what about ma’ariv (the evening service)? In winter, 6:00 PM is night, so we daven ma’ariv only. At the spring and summer equinoxes, the sun sets not far beyond our 6:00 PM service. It’s on its way down for the evening so we say ma’ariv. On the first day of summer, though, sunset is still more than 2 ½ hours away at 6:00 PM. It’s a stretch to call it evening.

While it’s not obvious where to draw the line in between seasons, but calculating based on the proximity of sunset to 6:00 and on halakha, I have established a calendar for CBINT, as follows:

Through Thursday, September 5, 2019 we are davening minha but not ma’ariv at our 6:00 PM weekday service.

We will resume davening both minha and ma’ariv on Sunday, September 8, 2019.

From Monday, October 21, 2019 until the conclusion of Standard Time next year, we will daven ma’ariv but not minha at our 6:00 PM service.

What this Means for Saying Kaddish: A mourner, or one with a yahrzeit, has three daily services at which s/he might say kaddish: ma’ariv, shaharit, and minha. If one is coming to CBINT to say kaddish for a yahrzeit on a specific day on the Hebrew calendar, it’s important to know which of that day’s services we will daven at shul.

Let’s say one has a yahrzeit that falls on 25 Adar II this year, which coincides with the evening of Sunday, March 31st and daytime on Monday, April 1st. By davening minha but not ma’ariv at our 6:00 PM service on Sunday, we are saying the final service of 24 Adar II but not the first service of 25 Adar II. So the mourner will be able to say kaddish at shul at the 7:30 AM and 6:00 PM services on April 1st, but not at 6:00 PM on the 31st.

Those with a Yahrzeit may want to check with Hazzan Stein or me to confirm the proper timing of their Kaddish for a loved one, but know that the Yahrzeit reminders from the shul will now clarify which service/s will be said at 6:00 PM on a given day.

A Note about Shabbat and Yom Tov: One is expected to bring in Shabbat and Yom Tov before sunset, effectively cutting short the weekday afternoon and rendering it an extension of the holy day. This practice is called Tosefet Shabbat/Yom tov. For this reason, no seasonal adjustment is needed to our 6:00 PM service in the early spring, summer, and early fall: we can daven both the minha and ma’ariv services on those days. Once the sun is down, though, is it too late to daven minha on any day of the week. We will continue to daven minha following Kiddush lunch on Shabbat and Yom Tov.

Please note that even if the timing of our services does not align with one’s availability, we may be able accommodate you another way. And a mourner may always recite the special kaddish for Torah study, Kaddish d’Rabbanan, if one engages in a session of Torah study with a minyan of Jews, even independently of a service.

Looking forward to davening with you here at shul,

Rabbi Joel A. Alter