Halacha for Tuesday 27 Cheshvan 5782 November 2 2021

The Proper Time to Pray Mincha

Question: Until what time may one pray Mincha?

Answer: In order to properly understand the answer, we must preface this discussion by saying that anytime we use the word “sunset”, this refers to the time of sunset as printed in all halachic calendars worldwide.

The Gemara (Berachot 29b) states: “Rabbi Yochanan said: It is a Mitzvah to pray with the rising and setting of the sun, as the verse states, ‘They shall fear you with the sun’-which refers to the Shacharit prayer, ‘And before the moon for all generations’-which refers to the Mincha prayer.” This means that according to Rabbi Yochanan, it is especially preferable to pray Mincha as the sun sets. The Gemara then proceeds, “The sages of the Land of Israel spoke derogatorily of one who prayed [Mincha] as the sun set” lest a situation arise as a result of which one will miss out on praying Mincha entirely.

It seems, therefore, that one should make sure to pray Mincha well before sunset, as opposed to waiting until just before sunset to pray. This would stand in contrast with the prevalent custom among many synagogues which customarily pray Mincha right before sunset and pray Arvit immediately afterwards. Similarly, many righteous women pray Mincha right before sunset, as well.

Indeed, the saintly Ari z”l would likewise pray Mincha slightly before sunset and he would then pray Arvit right afterwards. It would seem that the Ari’s custom is also in contrast of the comment of the Sages of the Land of Israel quoted above. Hagaon Rabbeinu Yosef Haim zt”l writes in his Ben Ish Hai (Parashat Ki-Tissa) that the reason why the Ari z”l was not concerned with the opinion of the Sages of the Land of Israel is because the whole reason they said not to pray too close to sunset is because something may happen and one may miss the time for prayer; regarding the Ari z”l, on the other hand, who had a designated Minyan who prayed with him every day and would wait specifically wait for this time, there was no concern that he (or his Minyan) would neglect the Mincha prayer in any way.

Thus, according to the Ben Ish Hai, one should not pray too close to sunset and one should make sure to pray Mincha somewhat earlier. Only the Ari z”l, who had a special Minyan that prayed specifically at this time, could pray close to the time of sunset.

On the other hand, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l points out in his Halichot Olam (Volume 1, page 248) that it seems from the words of the Gemara that there is no distinction between different people regarding this Halacha and it seems that the law of not praying the Mincha prayer too late applies to all people at all times.

Maran Ha’Bet Yosef (beginning of Chapter 232) quotes in the name of the Hagahot Maimoni that when the Gemara states the Sages of the Land of Israel said that one should pray Mincha as the sun set, this refers to one who prays at the time the sun is already setting. However, if one prays before sunset, even if it is only several minutes before, there is nothing wrong with such behavior. Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l proves that the great Ari would likewise pray Mincha close to sunset but not as the sun actually set, for the saintly Ari would pray Mincha with his Tefillin (according to the Shimusha Rabba’s opinion) on and he was always careful to remove his Tefillin before sunset. Thus, the custom of the Ari to pray Mincha later does not mean he prayed along with sunset; rather, he would pray slightly before sunset.

Thus, when the Sages of the Land of Israel said not to pray Mincha too late, this refers to praying at the actual time of sunset. Thus, the custom observed by many synagogues, as was the practice of the great Ari z”l, to pray Mincha late refers to praying several minutes before sunset and there is no concern in this regard at all.

Halachically speaking, it is permissible to pray Mincha slightly before sunset, as is the practice in many synagogues and that of many righteous women. However, one should not postpone praying Mincha until past sunset, lest something happen and one will miss the time for prayer entirely.

Nevertheless, if the time of sunset passes, one may pray Mincha until thirteen-and-a-half seasonal minutes after sunset (which ranges between ten and twenty minutes after sunset).

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

Taking Haircuts and Shaving During the Omer Period

Abstaining from Taking Haircuts During the Omer It has become customary among the Jewish nation to refrain from taking haircuts during the Omer counting period: According to the Ashkenazi custom, until the 33rd day of the Omer and according to the Sephardic custom, until the morning of the 34th day......

Read Halacha

Producing Sound and Whistling on Shabbat

The Gemara in Masechet Eruvin (104a) tells us that our Sages banned producing sound on Shabbat and Yom Tov, for instance, by playing a musical instrument, for they were concerned that while the tune is being played, the player will come to fix the instrument. This decree would certainly apply eve......

Read Halacha

Clapping and Drumming on a Table on Shabbat and Yom Tov

The Gemara in Masechet Beitzah (30a) states that one may not drum, clap, or dance on Shabbat lest one come to fix a musical instrument (ibid. 36b). This means that just as we have discussed in the previous Halachot that our Sages have decreed that one may not play musical instruments on Shabbat ......

Read Halacha

Toys Which Produce Sound and those Which Operate Using a Spring or Coil

Question: Is it permissible for one to allow one’s young children to play with toys which produce sound, such as a doll which makes noise when shaken, on Shabbat? Answer: In the previous Halacha we have discussed the prohibition of producing sound on Shabbat, such as by banging on a board, ......

Read Halacha


Praying in Pajamas

Question: Can one pray while wearing pajamas? Answer: Approximately one week ago, we have discussed that, before praying, one must prepare a fitting place, proper attire, and cleanse one’s body and thoughts, as the verse in the book of Amos states, “Prepare yourself before your G-d, I......

Read Halacha

Praying Barefoot

Question: May one pray while wearing sandals or while one is barefoot? Answer: When one prays, one must prepare one’s environment, clothing, body, and thoughts accordingly, for one will be standing before the King of all kings. Respectable Garments While Praying The Gemara (Shabbat 9b) ......

Read Halacha

Question: How many “Kezayit”s (olive’s volume) of Matzah must one consume during the Pesach Seder?

Answer: One is obligated to eat altogether three “Kezayit”s of Matzah during the Pesach Seder. Every Kezayit amounts to approx. 30 grams of Matzah. Nevertheless, there is room for stringency to eat four or even five “Kezayit”s of Matzah, as we shall now explain. The Order......

Read Halacha

Kissing One’s Parents’ Hands on Shabbat Night- The Students of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai

Question: Should one kiss the hands of one’s parents and receive a blessing from them on Shabbat night and does the same apply equally to one’s father and mother? Answer: The Gemara in Masechet Avodah Zarah (17a) tells us that when Ulah (a sage who lived during the Talmudic era) would......

Read Halacha