of the Rabbinical Assembly in Israel


Bet Midrash Virtuali



Even though the congregation may not yet have recited the [evening] service, if an individual has already recited the Sabbath [evening] service while there was still daylight the reception of Shabbat falls upon him and he may perform no 'task' [melakhah] - even if he says that he does not [thereby] wish to accept Shabbat.

When the majority of the community have accepted Shabbat the minority must follow whether they wish to or no.


There are several more paragraphs to Section 163 that follow on after paragraph 12, but they do not have immediate relevance to our present theme and so we shall skip them. This means that paragraphs 11 and 12, which we have translated above, are the last two paragraphs of this section that we shall relate to. They are very simple and straightforward and will require little or no explanation. They are concerned with the very last moments before the onset of Shabbat.

We have already established that Shabbat begins for the congregation when the cantor recites Barekhu at the start of the evening service. (This is assuming, of course, that the cantor recites Barekhu before sunset, as was the custom during the middle ages; it need hardly be added that if the cantor recites Barekhu after sunset all the strictures of Shabbat already apply to all the congregation.) This was certainly the case for centuries. However, during the middle ages two liturgical items were prefaced to the recital of Barekhu. The first addition was the recital of Psalm 92, which is an appropriate preface to the Shabbat ritual because its heading is "A psalm, a song for the Sabbath day". (Psalm 93 was also tacked on for reasons that are not entirely clear, and this need not delay us here.) Thus, since this addition was generally accepted, all the references to Shabbat commencing with the recitation of Barekhu should be understood as now applying from the recital of Psalm 92. The second addition was a much longer preface, which we now call Kabbalat Shabbat (Reception of the Sabbath). This consists of the recitation of Psalms 95 to 99, Psalm 29 and the hymn "Lekha Dodi". This addition dates from the 16th century and the present arrangement was made by Rabbi Moshe Cordovero [1522-1570], one the most prominent members of the kabbalistic community of Safed in Eretz-Israel at that time.

Paragraph 11 states quite succinctly that if an individual chooses to recite the Sabbath evening service earlier than the rest of the congregation he or she thereby accepts the sanctity of Shabbat. (This assumes that they have recited the service after pelag ha-minĥah. In Shabbat 013, explanation 6 I gave a brief explanation of the time of pelag ha-minĥah.) Making a mental reservation to the effect that one does not yet wish to assume the sanctity of Shabbat is of no avail. We have seen that according to some authorities one can make such a mental reservation when lighting the candles; but all concur that the recital of the Shabbat evening service (after pelag ha-minĥah) makes all the strictures of Shabbat apply automatically.

We cannot have a situation in which Shabbat is deemed to have begun for most of the worshippers in the synagogue, while others claim that for them it has not. Therefore, paragraph 12 states quite simply that when Shabbat has begun for the majority of the worshippers it has also begun for the minority (who may have joined the service late and not yet reached Psalm 92).

Sections 264 through to 270 deal with various topics that are either no longer really relevant (such as what fuels and wicks may be used for the Shabbat lights) or are beyond the scope of our theme (such as details concerning the Sabbath Evening Service). Since our theme is "Shabbat Eve in the Home" in our next shiur we shall continue with the topic of Kiddush. However, if anyone has questions or comments concerning the Sabbath evening service in the synagogue I will do my best to respond to them.


In Shabbat 020 Yehuda Wiesen asked whether there is a general rule or set of rules that lets us know to say a bracha before a ritual. In my response I wrote that We recite a berakhah when about to perform a positive commandment ... We do not recite a berakhah when the ritual act also serves as preparation for a further ritual act. Yehuda now asks:

You say writing a Torah is only a preparatory mitzva, but I have heard writing a Torah is the 613th mitzvah, per Rambam. Which is it?

I respond:

There is no contradiction here. Most certainly the duty to write a Sefer Torah is one of the 613 commandments of the Torah (a duty which, incidentally, in theory devolves upon all of us). But no berakhah is recited when writing a Torah scroll because the writing is only prefaratory to the reading. It is when we read from the Torah that we recite a berakhah.

In Shabbat 021 we discussed in passing where the Shabbat candles should be lit. Derek Fields writes:

There seems, from your explanation, to be a linkage between where one lights candles and where one eats Shabbat dinner. In the case where a person is a guest in someone's home over Shabbat, but takes his meals elsewhere (for example, if a person is an out-of-town Bar Mitzvah guest who is being lodged by a friend in the community), where does one light Shabbat candles? At the home of his/her host or at place where the Shabbat meal will be eaten? To take this a step further, if my wife and I are guests for Shabbat dinner at sommeone else's home in our own community, close enough so that we will return home after the meal, should we light in our own home prior to leaving for the Shabbat meal or should we arrive at our hosts home in time to light Shabbat candles?

I respond:

Most definitely there should be Shabbat lights burning in the place where one eats the Shabbat festive meal. It is most likely that the "lady of the house" will light candles there. She may have no objection to her guests (who are staying in her home for the whole of Shabbat) also lighting candles in that place. If, for any reason, she does object the guests should light their candles in the place where they shall sleep. When the guest will be sleeping in a place (i.e. house) other than the place where they will be eating they must light candles in the place where they will be sleeping (assuming that there will be candles lit by the family in the place where they will be eating). It follows that if one is taking one's Shabbat meal as a guest and afterwards will be returning home that the candles should be lit at home. (It is preferable that they be long enough to ensure that they will still be burning when you reach home; but in this day and age of electric lights and time switches that requirement is less pressing.)