Halacha Date: 2 Tevet 5781 December 17 2020
In the previous Halacha we have established that one should pray the Shacharit prayer before four seasonal hours beginning from sunrise have elapsed such that at this time of year in Israel, this latest time to pray is at approximately 10:00 AM. In New York, this time is at approximately 10:20 AM during this time of year.
One Who Has Delayed Past these Four Hours
If one is late and has not yet prayed Shacharit until the four seasonal hours since sunrise have passed, although this is halachically incorrect since one has missed the proper time for prayer, one may still pray until halachic midday which is six seasonal hours after sunrise. During this time of year in Israel, halachic midday is at approximately 11:30 AM and in New York it is at approximately 11:50 AM.
Nevertheless, preferably one may not delay praying until such a late hour; rather, one should always be meticulous to pray within the four seasonal hours from sunrise. Some say that if one intentionally delayed praying until after these four seasonal hours past sunrise, although one may in fact pray until halachic midday, nevertheless, one may only pray while making a condition that this prayer is a “donation,” by stipulating that if one is still permitted to be praying now, one has in mind to pray the Shacharit prayer and if one is no longer permitted to pray at this time, then this prayer should be considered a “donated prayer.”
The Shacharit Prayer Past Halachic Midday
Once halachic midday has passed, one may no longer pray the Shacharit prayer. If this was done unintentionally or due to circumstances completely beyond one’s control, one must pray a compensational prayer. Although immediately following halachic midday it is not yet time for the Mincha prayer until another half-hour elapses, nevertheless, one may not pray Shacharit after halachic midday, even if is immediately past this time.
Prayer Past Halachic Midday Regarding Women
We have already discussed several times that the Sephardic custom is that women are only obligated to pray one daily prayer. This prayer can be either Shacharit, Mincha, or Arvit as the woman wishes. After halachic mid-day, one can no longer pray Shacharit and Mincha prayers cannot be recited until another half-hour passes. The question arises: May a woman pray at such a time that is neither the appropriate time for Shacharit or Mincha? Seemingly, since a woman is only required to pray one daily prayer, it can be any one that she chooses, and she should be able to pray at such a time. We have posed this to question to Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l in the past and he replied that a woman may not pray her daily prayer at this time, for since she is ultimately obligated to recite one prayer according to the edict of our Sages, it must be either Shacharit or Mincha, but it may not be a prayer at a time that is associated with neither of them.
Summary: One should preferably pray the Shacharit prayer within four seasonal hours of sunrise. If one was delayed and has not prayed by this time, one may pray Shacharit until halachic midday. There is no distinction between men and women regarding this law.