Halacha for Thursday 9 Tevet 5784 December 21 2023

Mincha Prayers on the Fast of the Tenth of Tevet

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!
* * * * * * * * * *

By popular request: This year when the Fast of the Tenth of Tevet coincides with Erev Shabbat, what is the best time for Mincha prayers to be held?

The Custom Throughout the Year
In general, Mincha on Friday afternoons is held in the synagogue approximately twenty minutes before sunset, after which Kabbalat Shabbat and Arvit are recited as well.

When a public fast day falls out on a Friday, some wish to pray Mincha early, go home, and then return to the synagogue later in the afternoon/evening for Kabbalat Shabbat and Arvit. However, as we shall explain, this is incorrect.

Birkat Kohanim During Mincha
On all weekdays, Kohanim only recite Birkat Kohanim during the Shacharit prayer and not during Mincha, for Birkat Kohanim resembles the service in Bet Hamikdash, which could not be performed by a Kohen who was intoxicated. It is for this reason that our Sages forbade reciting Birkat Kohanim during Mincha, for a majority of people (in their times) would drink wine during their meals. This is why there is generally no Birkat Kohanim during Mincha.

Mincha on Fast Days
The Gemara (Ta’anit 26b) describes that during the times of the Gemara, it was customary for the Kohanim to recite Birkat Kohanim during the Mincha prayer of a public fast day, for since the Kohanim would not be eating or drinking anything on that day, there would be no concern for intoxication. Nevertheless, the Gemara states that the Sages decreed that Birkat Kohanim should not be recited even during Mincha of a fast day, lest Kohanim mistakenly come to recite Birkat Kohanim during Mincha of non-fast days as well. It is for this reason that the Kohanim do not bless the congregation with Birkat Kohanim during Mincha of Yom Kippur. Only during the Ne’ilah prayer did the Sages allow the Kohanim to recite Birkat Kohanim since it was recited close to the end of the day and does resemble everyday Mincha services.

On the other hand, regarding other public fast days, Kohanim would recite Birkat Kohanim during Mincha, for in those days, Mincha on fast days would be prayed just minutes before sunset. The Gemara therefore says that since they would be reciting Birkat Kohanim so shortly before sunset, it resembles the Birkat Kohanim during the Ne’ilah prayer, which is permissible.

Based on the above, a congregation praying Mincha early on a public fast day would not be eligible to have the Kohanim recite Birkat Kohanim and bless the congregation. Thus, even when the fast falls out on Friday, if Mincha would be held in an early hour of the afternoon, Birkat Kohanim would not be recited. Only if Mincha were held as it usually would any other Friday closer to sunset would Birkat Kohanim be recited.

The Bottom Line
It is therefore preferable for the congregation to pray Mincha closer to sunset (no earlier than forty minutes before sunset) so that the Kohanim will be eligible to recite Birkat Kohanim. Maran zt”l rules likewise in his Chazon Ovadia- Arba Ta’aniyot (page 93).

However, the Friday night prayers should move at a quicker pace than usual so that the congregation can return home promptly and recite Kiddush immediately at nightfall so as not to extend the fast into Shabbat, as we have discussed yesterday.

May Hashem turn all of these fast days into days of rejoicing and may we witness the salvation of Israel through the Ultimate Redemption, speedily and in our days, Amen!

8 Halachot Most Popular

Parashat Ki Tetze

Gathered from the teachings of Maran Rebbeinu Ovadia Yosef ztzvk”l (from the years 5744-5772) (written by his grandson HaRav Yaakov Sasson Shlit”a) (translated by our dear friend Rav Daniel Levy Shlit”a, Leeds UK) Ellul is the Time to Engage in Battle Against the Yetzer Hara, ......

Read Halacha

Eating Cake on Shabbat Morning

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......

Read Halacha

 The “Shehecheyanu” Blessing

Our Sages teach us (Eruvin 40b) that one should recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing upon seeing a new fruit that renews once a year. Even if one sees this fruit in the hands of another person or on the tree, one should recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing. Nevertheless, the P......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Blood Found in Eggs

Blood in Eggs Blood found in eggs is forbidden for consumption, for this blood indicates the beginning of the embryotic development of the chick and this chick has the halachic status of “fowl” whose blood is forbidden for consumption by Torah law; thus, the opinion of the Rosh and Tosa......

Read Halacha


Parashat Terumah

From HaGaon Rav Zevadia HaCohen Shlit”a, The Head of the Batei Din in Tel Aviv (translated by our dear friend Rav Daniel Levy Shlit”a, Leeds UK) The Difference Between Moshe and Betzalel [Understanding Why Betzalel Was Able to Make the Menorah, Whilst Moshe Couldn’t] This Sh......

Read Halacha

The Proper Method for Reciting Blessings

During the days preceding Tu Bishvat, we have discussed some laws of blessings. We shall now discuss the law that the food must be in front of the individual before reciting a blessing, for this is the first law in reference to the laws of blessings. Waiting Until the Food is Brought Before the I......

Read Halacha

The Scent of Lemon

Question: If one smells the pleasant scent of a lemon, which blessing should one recite? Answer: The Gemara (Berachot 43b) states: “Mor Zutra said: One who smells the fragrance of an Etrog  (citron), or a quince recites the blessing of ‘Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech Ha’......

Read Halacha

Parashat Vayechi

From HaGaon Rav Zevadia HaCohen Shlit”a, The Head of the Batei Din in Tel Aviv (translated by our dear friend Rav Daniel Levy Shlit”a, Leeds UK) The Power of a Good Word In the weekly Parashah, Yaakov Avinu gathered his sons and blessed them before he passed away, as the Torah sta......

Read Halacha