Baltimore, MD - Mar. 27, 2020 - The following article and expanded list of times for this Shabbos was prepared by Rabbi Dovid Heber for his kehila, Khal Ahavas Yisroel Tzemach Tzemach. The article expands on some of the issues addressed in last weeks article. (To print this chart, click on the graphic below.)

As we begin the second Shabbos with shuls closed and no minyanim due to COVID-19/coronavirus, we continue to be mechazek ourselves in the area of tefilla on behalf our families, community, and the entire globe which has been effected by this illnees r”l. Our tefillos are critical, so we must make every effort to daven with kavanah.  In general, one should daven in a quiet, designated place (makom kovua applies even at home), with shoes and proper attire, as is appropriate for kavod hatefillah. One should not daven facing a mirror or pictures. It is preferable to daven facing a wall. As is well-known, unfortunately, we are unable to recite devorim shebekedusha (e.g., Kaddish, Borchu, etc.) when there is no minyan.

The following is an overview of various additional halachos that address our unique situation. [Note: Specific times for each city can be found in a luach or on various websites.]

General Halachos

Erev Shabbos/Leil Shabbos:

The earliest time to daven Mincha is Mincha Gedolah (half hour [in the spring and summer it is sha’os zemanios] after chatzos).

If one is making an “early Shabbos,” it is important to begin Mincha at least 10 minutes before plag hamincha to avoid a “tarti d’sasri.” Certain possible leniencies in this inyan only apply to tefillah b’tzibbur.

The earliest time to light Shabbos candles, begin Maariv or recite Kiddush is plag hamincha (one and a quarter hour [sha’os zemanios] before sunset).

If one is making an early Shabbos, the order is as follows: Start Mincha any time between Mincha Gedolah and 10 minutes before plag hamincha. One (the wife or anyone else lighting) may light candles any time after plag hamincha. If the wife is lighting, she should light candles before her husband reaches Bo’i b’shalom/Mizmor shir l’yom haShabbos in Kabbolas Shabbos. So, if the husband is towards the end of Lecha Dodi and his wife has not lit candles, he should wait until she lights before finishing. He can then finish Lecha Dodi and the rest of Kabbolas Shabbos and daven Maariv. Alternatively, one can finish Kabbolas Shabbos, recite Kiddush, eat the seudah, and then daven Maariv after tzeis hakochavim.

Regular candle lighting time is 18 minutes before sunset. It is praiseworthy to light candles a few minutes before this time to bring in Shabbos a bit earlier than usual, especially during these difficult times. See the paragraph above regarding the need for the husband to be mekabel Shabbos after the wife lights candles. It applies to lighting candles at the regular time as well.

Maariv – Vayechulu is recited after Shemoneh Esrei is recited, ideally together with someone else. Magein Avos is not recited (some say Magein Avos without the brocha before or after).

Seudah – Although one did not walk home from shul with the malachim, one should still sing Shalom Aleichem.

Repeat Krias Shema after tzeis hakochavim (if one davened Maariv before tzeis hakochavim).

Shabbos Morning:

Shacharis is regular. Krias Shema must be completed before sof zeman Krias Shema and Shemoneh Esrei should be completed before sof zeman tefillah. Under certain shaas hadchak conditions (e.g., one is ill), one may daven Shacharis until chatzos.

One is not obligated to read the parsha from a Chumash after Shacharis (in lieu of Krias HaTorah), but it is praiseworthy to do so. If one does so, it can count as one of the times for shnayim mikra. It is also praiseworthy to read the haftorah. No brachos are recited.

Yekum Purkan – When davening alone, one does not recite the second Yekum Purkan or the following Mi Shebeirach (as they relate to the tzibbur). Some are noheig to say the first Yekum Purkan. Others are of the opinion to also not say the first Yekum Purkan, as Aramaic tefillos are not said when davening alone.

Mussaf – It is preferable to finish before the end of the 7th hour (one hour after chatzos). However, if necessary, one can daven until sunset. Anim Zemiros is only recited with a minyan and is not recited when davening b’yechidus.

The earliest time to daven Mincha and eat seudah shlishis is Mincha Gedolah. Although there is no laining, Va’ani Sefilosi is still recited.

Maariv and Shabbos ends after tzeis hakochavim.

Kiddush Levanah can be recited b’yechidus. If no one else is present, one should still say Shalom Aleichem.

Note the following that also applies to weekdays:

There are certain leniencies regarding eating before Mincha or Maariv that only apply to when one attends a regular minyan. However, when davening b’yechidus, note the following. Once it is somuch l’Mincha Ketana (i.e., a half-hour [sha’os zemanios] before Mincha Ketana), eating a meal or even more than two kezeisim of mezonos, conducting work, or lying down to take a nap is not allowed until one davens Mincha. If one appoints a shomer to remind him or sets an alarm, then one may do the above activities. The same is true regarding Maariv – once it is a half-hour before tzeis hakochavim.

When davening alone, it is advisable to daven as soon as possible (in the lechatchilah zeman). The ideal time for Shacharis is kevosikin. This means beginning Shemoneh Esrei at sunrise. If on a weekday you use your cell phone for the exact time, it is advisable to set a watch or clock before Shabbos with the exact time. Some compare the zechus of vosikin to tefillah b’tzibbur. However, this is only a hiddur. One should be careful to get enough sleep, especially during this difficult period of time when we need to stay as healthy as possible.

Mincha – The earliest time is Mincha Gedolah (a half hour [in the spring and summer, it is sha’os zemanios] after chatzos). There is a hiddur to wait until after Mincha Ketanah (2.5 sha’os zemanios before sunset).

The earliest one should daven Maariv b’yechidus on a weeknight is tzeis hakochavim. If this is too difficult (shaas hadchak), one may daven after shkiah, and for a major shaas hadchak even after plag hamincha.

Some say that it is proper to daven at one’s regular time. For example, if one regularly davens Mincha at 6 p.m., one should continue to do so now (assuming he is confident that he won’t forget to daven. If he is concerned to wait, he should daven earlier).

If one normally davens Shacharis before sunrise because one needs to go to work early, this leniency may not apply at this time if he is not leaving his home to go to work. One should evaluate whether this leniency still applies to him. 

If one normally davens Maariv before tzeis hakochavim, now that he is home and davening b’yechidus, on weeknights he should wait until tzeis hakochavim to daven, unless it is a shaas hadchak, as indicated above.

Note that when there are regular minyanim and one needs to daven b’yechidus, it is mehudar to daven b’shaah shehatzibbur mispallelim, at the same time as the tzibbur. Unfortunately, since there are no minyanim now, we are unable to do this. Some kehillos have indicated specific times for people to daven “together,” each person in his own home.

May we be zoche to return to our botei knesses bekarov and be zoche to the binyan Bayis Shlishi bimeheirah beyomeinu.

Special thanks to my son, Rabbi Yehuda Heber, for his assistance in preparing this article.