Halacha for Monday 6 Tevet 5781 December 21 2020

Praying Very Late-The Custom of Some Chasidic Rebbes

In the previous Halacha we have explained that the time for praying Shacharit spans until the end of the fourth seasonal hour of the day. If one erroneously did not pray by this time, one may still pray until halachic midday which is at approximately 11:35 AM during this time of year in Israel and in New York, it is at approximately 11:55 AM.

All Poskim agree that no one, neither man nor woman, may recite the Shacharit prayer past halachic midday, as we have discussed.

In previous generations and in ours, there are certain individuals who do not possess fear of Heaven and pray Shacharit after halachic midday; this is certainly contrary to Halacha. On the other hand, there have been and still continue to be some holy rabbis who pray Shacharit after the latest time for prayer or after halachic midday on a constant basis (and they behave in general regarding the various times for Mitzvot however they wish) and they support this behavior with explanations from both the hidden and revealed Torah.

Some great Acharonim discuss this idea. Indeed, the Responsa Eretz Tzvi-Frummer discusses this matter and defends those righteous individuals who pray after halachic midday by explaining that the reason for this is because before Adam ate from the Tree of Knowledge, all hours were equally good and appropriate for prayer and only after Adam sinned were the times ruined. Avraham then came and established that the morning hours be worthy for the Shacharit prayer, Yitzchak established the Mincha prayer, and Yaakov established the Arvit prayer. However, righteous people whose actions are pure and complete are tantamount to Adam before having committed the sin and the entire day is equally good and worthy for prayer in their eyes.

Nevertheless, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l rebuffs this opinion in his Yalkut Yosef-Volume 1 and writes that explanations are worse than the actual sin and G-d-forbid should one rely on such weak explanations to treat the laws of the Torah lightly. There is certainly no one in our generation or in any one of the previous generations who can proclaim that he is greater than Maran Ha’Bet Yosef and all the other Poskim who absolutely forbid praying Shacharit past halachic midday. Therefore, those who customarily pray in this manner are doing so contrary to Halacha and are reciting blessings in vain and although there may be certain righteous individuals who do so, they are nevertheless incorrect. All of the great Poskim concur.

We must nevertheless discuss whether or not one who wishes to begin praying close to the time of halachic midday may begin praying if one knows he/she will conclude one’s prayer only once midday has passed. (Clearly, our discussion revolves around the Shacharit Amida prayer which is the primary part of the prayer service.)

Maran zt”l discusses this question in his Responsa Yabia Omer, Volume 7, Chapter 34 and he quotes the Sefer Batei Kennesiyot authored by Hagaon Harav Avraham ben Ezra who is in doubt regarding one who has not yet prayed until right before halachic midday such that if one begins, one will surely finish after halachic midday has passed. Maran zt”l concludes that, halachically speaking, although halachic midday will pass while one is still praying, one may nevertheless begin praying before midday, for regarding this matter we follow the beginning of one’s prayer. He proceeds to support his opinion.

Summary: Under no circumstances should one pray Shacharit following halachic midday. However, if it is a minute or two before halachic midday, one may begin the Shacharit Amida prayer although one will conclude it once halachic midday has already passed.

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