Today's Halacha is dedicated for the merit and protection of
All Our Dear Soldiers
May Hashem give them strength and courage to vanquish our enemies and may they return home safe and sound amid health and joy. May Hashem protect all the captives and have mercy upon them so that no harm befalls them and may they be released quickly, Amen!
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Question: If when I arrived at the synagogue on Friday evening, I realized that the congregation had already accepted Shabbat (through Kabbalat Shabbat), however, the sun had not yet set. May I still pray Mincha for Friday?
Answer: Let us first discuss the basis of this question, as delineated by the Poskim.
One Who Answers “Baruch Hashem Ha’Mevorach”
The great Mordechi (Shabbat, Chapter 2, Section 296) writes that one who has not yet prayed Mincha on Erev Shabbat by the time the congregation reaches Arvit of Shabbat eve, and one answers “Baruch Hashem Ha’Mevorach” with the rest of the congregation, one may no longer pray Friday’s weekday Mincha prayer, for one has already accepted the sanctity of Shabbat. This individual would therefore be required to recite the Amida prayer of Arvit of Shabbat twice.
This means that when the congregation reaches Amida of Arvit of Shabbat, one should pray with them, and when one is finished, one should pause for a few seconds, take three steps forward, and pray the Arvit Amida again in compensation for Mincha.
Thus, if one arrives late to the synagogue on Friday evening without having prayed Mincha yet and sees that the Chazzan is about to recite “Barechu Et Hashem Ha’Mevorach” prior to Arvit, one should make sure not to answer “Baruch Hashem Ha’Mevorach” in order not to lose one’s ability to pray Mincha. Rather, one should remain silent and then immediately pray Mincha.
Several Rishonim concur, including the Sefer Agudah (end of Chapter 2 of Shabbat, Section 50) who writes, as follows:
“The Gedolim write that one who has not yet prayed Mincha on Erev Shabbat and finds the Chazzan about to recite “Barechu” should not answer “Baruch Hashem Ha’Mevorach” with the congregation, for if one does so, one will not be able to pray Mincha of Erev Shabbat any longer and one will have to pray Arvit of Shabbat twice.”
The Poskim, among them Maran zt”l (Chazon Ovadia, Shabbat- Volume 1, page 295) rule accordingly.
One Who Arrives at the Synagogue After Kabbalat Shabbat
Regarding our question where one arrives at the synagogue after the congregation concludes reciting “Mizmor Shir Le’Yom Ha’Shabbat” which serves as an acceptance of Shabbat, if one has not yet prayed Mincha, one may not do so inside the synagogue since the congregation has already accepted the sanctity of Shabbat. Rather, one may exit the synagogue and pray his weekday Mincha outside or in a side room.
One Who Arrives at the Synagogue at the Beginning of Kabbalat Shabbat
If one arrives at the synagogue at the beginning of Kabbalat Shabbat, one may begin one’s own Mincha prayer inside the synagogue although one knows that the congregation will reach “Mizmor Shir Le’Yom Ha’Shabbat” or “Bo’ee Kallah” before one is finished. (Chazon Ovadia ibid. page 298)
Summary: One who arrives at the synagogue after the congregation has already recited “Mizmor Shir Le’Yom Ha’Shabbat” and one has not yet prayed Mincha of Erev Shabbat, one must exit the synagogue and pray Mincha outside. If the congregation has already begun Arvit and one answered “Baruch Hashem Ha’Mevorach” with them, one may no longer pray Mincha and one must pray the Shabbat Arvit Amida prayer twice to compensate.