Halacha for Sunday 19 Av 5780 August 9 2020

Eating a Meal on Erev Shabbat

Question: Is one permitted to eat a bread meal after halachic midday on Erev Shabbat (Friday afternoon)?

Answer: The Gemara (Gittin 38b) states that there were two wealthy and important families in Jerusalem and both of them sinned to the extent that they were eventually uprooted from the world. The first family would hold a large meal on Shabbat afternoon at the same time the entire community would file into the Bet Midrash to study Torah; as the rabbi would sit to lecture on Torah, they would sit down to eat. The second family would hold a large meal on Friday and as a result, the entire family was full on Shabbat night and they would not eat with enjoyment as prescribed by Halacha. Both of these families eventually perished.

The Poskim explain that the prohibition to hold a large meal on Erev Shabbat refers to a meal one is not accustomed to eating during the rest of the week. For instance, the custom that some families have that the entire family gathers in the grandmother’s home on Friday to eat a large meal and partake of what she has cooked is contrary to Halacha since this is an affront to the honor of Shabbat since one will not be able to enjoy the Shabbat night meal properly as a result. This is especially true during the winter when the days are short.

However, a meal which is normally eaten during the rest of the week, such as if one always eats a meal at four o’clock in the afternoon, may be eaten on Erev Shabbat as well. Nevertheless, it is a Mitzvah to abstain from eating such a meal beginning from the ninth hour of the day (meaning that the day is divided into twelve parts from sunrise to sunset and each one of these parts is one seasonal hour; from the ninth seasonal hour of the day, one should not eat anymore until nightfall). Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes, as follows: “Although halachically speaking it is permissible to eat until sunset, nevertheless, this should only be done as needed and only occasionally; however, to do so on a constant basis is forbidden beginning from the ninth hour of the day, for doing so constitutes a disrespect for Shabbat.” (Chazon Ovadia-Shabbat, Part 1, page 32)

The Mishnah Berura (Chapter 249) states that if one knows that eating or drinking will cause one to be full at night, it is a Mitzvah for one to abstain from eating or drinking profusely even before the ninth hour of the day, especiually during the winter months, for we can see that one who eats or drinks profusely (especially wine) on Friday is not hungry at night. It is therefore a Mitzvah to abstain from such eating and drinking.

Summary: A meal normally eaten throughout the rest of the week may be eaten on Friday as well. A meal not usually eaten during the rest of the week may not be eaten on Friday, even at an early hour of the day. Beginning from the ninth hour of the day, i.e. approximately three hours before sunset, it is a Mitzvah to abstain from eating even a small meal. Nevertheless, eating small things or tasting some of the Shabbat food and the like is completely permissible.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

The Customary Order of the Night of Shavuot

The Source for the Order of the Night of Shavuot The widespread custom among the entire Jewish nation is to stay awake the entire night of Shavuot and immerse one’s self in Torah study until dawn. Indeed, the holy Zohar states: “The earlier righteous individuals would not sleep on this ......

Read Halacha

Blessings of Enjoyment and Keri’at Shema on the Night of Shavuot

In the previous Halacha, we have discussed the order of learning for the night of Shavuot during which it is customary to remain awake all night and study Torah. Reading the Order of the “Keri’eh Mo’ed” Let us first discuss that which we have mentioned that it is proper t......

Read Halacha

The Mitzvah of Counting the Omer

The Torah states (Vayikra 21, 15): “And you shall count for yourselves, from the day following the Shabbat, from the day the waved Omer offering is brought, seven complete weeks shall they be.” Our Sages (Menachot 65b) have a tradition that the “day following the Shabbat” ref......

Read Halacha

Praying Repeatedly-A Spark of Ruach Ha’Kodesh

Question: Is it correct for one to plead and beseech Hashem for the same thing every single day or is it more proper to pray for a certain matter only several times and if one sees that one has not been answered, one should cease praying for that specific matter? Answer: The Gemara (Berachot 32b)......

Read Halacha


Donating Tzedakah (Charity) in Order for One’s Son to Recover From an Illness

Question: Is it permissible to donate a sum of money to charity in the merit of which someone should become healed or for any other personal request or is it improper to do this since the Mitzvah is not being performed for the sake of Heaven, rather, for one’s personal purposes? Answer: The......

Read Halacha

Walking a Dog on Shabbat

Question: If one has a pet dog at home, either for leisure or as a seeing-eye dog for a blind individual, may one move it on Shabbat? Similarly, may one walk the dog in the street on Shabbat? Answer: We have explained in the previous Halacha that all animals are considered Muktzeh on Shabbat as M......

Read Halacha

The Laws of the Chazzan’s Repetition of the Amida

-------------------------------- Along with the rest of the Jewish nation, we are heartbroken and mourn the loss of those who passed in the horrific Meron tragedy on Lag Ba’Omer. May their souls be bound in the binding of eternal life and may Hashem send consolation to their families and ma......

Read Halacha

The Laws of the Bedtime Keri’at Shema Regarding Women and Following Halachic Midnight

In the previous Halacha, we have explained that one should recite the “Hamapil” blessing before reciting the bedtime Keri’at Shema. This blessing should be recited along with Hashem’s name like all other blessings. We have also explained that although one should preferably ta......

Read Halacha