When Is the Earliest and Latest Time to Pray?

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Earliest Time for Some Parts of Shacharit

  1. One can only say Korbanot during the day, meaning after Olot HaShachar which is 72 minutes (in Shaot Zmaniot) before HaNetz. [1]
  2. In cases of need, such as a worker who needs to daven early, one can say Korbanot from 96 minutes (in Shaot Zmaniot) before HaNetz. [2]
  3. The earliest time to say Birchot HaShachar is from Chatzot (halachic midnight). [3] Initially one should say Hanoten Lesechvi Binah after Olot Hashachar and after the fact one fulfills one's obligation anytime after Chatzot.[4]
  4. The earliest time to say Baruch SheAmar is Olot HaShachar which is 72 minutes (in Shaot Zmaniot) before HaNetz. [5]
  5. The earliest time that one can put on Tallit is MeSheYakir, which is one hour (in Shaot Zmaniot) before HaNetz. [6]
  6. Ashkenazim, in a case of need, can be lenient to say the bracha on Tallit from Olot HaShachar which is 72 minutes (in Shaot Zmaniot) before HaNetz. [7]
  7. If one puts on Tzitzit before alot HaShachar, he should not recite a berakha until the proper time, and should feel the Tzitzit after making the berakha once the proper time arrives.[8]
  8. If one begins to daven before misheyakir with Tallit and Tefillin on, one should wait to make the berakhot until between Yishtabach and Kaddish.[9]
  9. One should avoid saying Yotzer Or before misheyakir.[10]
  10. One who cannot avoid reciting Shema before misheyakir may do so after alot hashachar.[11]However, one may do so from alot hashachar at the earliest.[12] One may certainly say Shemone Esrei after misheyakir, even if it is before sunrise.[13]

Times for Shacharit

Earliest Time

Vatikin

  1. The ideal mitzvah is to start praying Shmoneh Esrei of Shacharit at HaNetz HaChama (sunrise). [14]
  2. If a person can either daven at Netz without a minyan or later with a minyan, according to Ashkenazim one may daven at Netz if one regularly davens at Netz.[15] According to Sephardim one should daven with a minyan later unless one will pray with kavana.[16]

After Olot Hashachar

Netz

  1. Ideally one should pray after Netz. If one did pray anytime after Olot HaShachar (dawn, about 72 minutes before sunrise) one has fulfilled one’s obligation.[17]

Pre-Netz

  1. If one needs to travel or in a cases of extreme difficulty one may pray Shacharit after Olot HaShachar before HaNetz, but nonetheless one may not make the bracha on Tallit and Tefillin or say Kriyat Shema until MeSheYakir. [18]
    1. Therefore, a person who needs to pray early in the morning in order to get to work should pray with a minyan that starts praying after Mesheyakir before Netz.[19]
    2. If that isn't possible then the minyan should use the following schedule: say up to Birchot Kriyat Shema without Tallit and Tefillin (except for Shaliach Tzibbur who should put on Tallit and Tefillin before Yishtabach), when MeSheYakir arrives put on Tallit and Tefillin, then continue from there. [20]
  2. If the choice is to pray with an early minyan that davens before Netz after Msheyakir or to pray later by oneself, such as in one's office, one should rather pray earlier with a minyan.[21] Some disagree and say that you should pray on your own rather than daven before netz. [22]
  3. If a person who is not in a rush to pray before sunrise is needed for a minyan that is praying before sunrise there is a dispute whether he is allowed to join or not. [23]

Pre-Msheyakir

  1. If a person has a choice to daven with a pre-Mesheyakir minyan or afterwards by oneself one should pray oneself he should daven by oneself.[24] Some disagree.[25]

After the Fact

  1. If one prayed before Olot HaShachar, one has not fulfilled one’s obligation. Nonetheless, one should pray again on condition that if one is exempt then one is praying voluntarily. [26]

Latest Time

  1. The latest time to say Shmoneh Esrei of Shacharit is the end of the fourth hour (in Shaot Zmaniot). [27]
  2. If one has not prayed until the end of the fourth hour, one should pray Shacharit before the end of the sixth hour (midday, in Shaot Zmaniot). If one intentionally did not pray in the first four hours one should still pray before midday but one should stipulate that if one is exempt that one is praying a voluntary prayer. [28]
  3. One may not pray past the end of the sixth hour (but rather one should wait to say Tashlumin at Mincha). [29]

Times for Mincha

Earliest Time

  1. The ideal time to pray Mincha is from nine and a half hours (Mincha Ketana), however, after the fact one fulfills one’s obligation by praying from six and a half hours (Mincha Gedola). [30]
  2. If one needs to travel or have a meal (which one should not do before praying Mincha once the time for Mincha arrives), then one can pray from after six and a half hours. [31]
  3. If one will only be able to make a minyan for Mincha after six and a half hours and one will not make a minyan after nine and a half hours, it is preferable to pray with a minyan after six and a half hours. [32]
  4. If one prayed prior to six and a half hours, according to many one has not fulfilled one’s obligation, however, some say that one has fulfilled one's obligation after the fact. [33]

Latest Time for Mincha

Ideal Time for Mincha

  1. According to Ashkenazim it is better to daven mincha after Mincha Gedola (6.5 hours into the day). According to Sephardim, it is preferable to pray mincha after Plag Mincha (10.45 hours into the day).[34]
  2. One should pray Mincha before sunset.[35]

After Sunset

  1. Even though ideally one should pray mincha before sunset, if the only options are to either pray mincha before sunset himself or with a minyan after sunset, Ashkenazim hold that one should pray oneself on time, while Sephardim hold that one can wait to pray with the minyan as long as it is within 13.5 minutes after sunset.[36]

Tachanun

  1. If one reaches tachanun after sunset, there is debate amongst the poskim if it should be recited.[37]
  2. If mincha lasts until after nightfall, tachanun is not recited. [38]

If One Hears Kedusha of a Late Mincha Minyan

  1. If one prayed maariv before nightfall and then hears another minyan pray mincha many authorities hold that one should answer kedusha even if this happened on Friday night. [39]

Times for Arvit

Earliest Time for Maariv (Plag)

  1. If one prayed Arvit prior to ten and three quarter hours one has not fulfilled one’s obligation. [40]
  2. If one made a mistake and prayed Arvit thinking that it was nighttime but really it was earlier one must pray again at the proper time. [41]

Maariv Before Sunset If One Davened Mincha Early

  1. According to Rabbi Yehuda, the latest time for mincha is ten and three quarter hours and from then on begins the time for maariv. According to Rabbanan, the cutoff point is sunset.[42] The halacha allows one to follow either opinion, however, one must be consistent and always follow Rabbi Yehuda or always follow Rabbanan. [43]
  2. Therefore, the regular minhag of the world is to pray mincha until sunset. Accordingly, one may only begin to pray maariv after sunset. In extenuating circumstances, one can pray maariv before sunset if that day he prayed mincha before plag hamincha. The reason that works is because even though usually he follows the Rabbanan today he followed Rabbi Yehuda. [44]
  3. If the only minyan for maariv available is davening before sunset after plag hamincha one should daven with them and repeat Shema after Tzet Hakochavim. Some would say to skip birchot kriyat shema and repeat them after tzet hakochavim with shema.[45]
  4. Even Sephardim allow praying Arvit early after Plag Hamincha of the Gra.[46]

Early Maariv on Friday Night

  1. Regarding praying Arvit early on Friday night see Making early Shabbat.

Maariv Before Sunset If One Davened Mincha after Plag

  1. An individual may not pray before mincha after plag mincha and maariv before sunset in one day under any circumstance.[47]
  2. A minyan may be lenient to pray both Mincha and Arvit between plag hamincha and sunset, even though it is a self-contradictory practice following both Rabbanan and Rabbi Yehuda.[48] If the only minyan available is such a minyan an individual shouldn't join such a minyan for both mincha and maariv, but only for one of them. If they need you to complete the minyan you can join them.

Maariv After Sunset Before Tzet

  1. If one is davening in a minyan immediately after sunset one should pray with them completely. One should repeat Shema after Tzet. Some have the practice to just pray with them Shema and Shemona Esrei and skip birchot kriyat shema and repeat brichot kriyat shema and shema after tzet hakochavim.[49]
  2. If the only option is to daven at a minyan that is praying Arvit after immediately after Shekiya before Tzet Hakochavim and there's no later minyan one should pray with the minyan rather than daven later without a minyan.[50]

Ideal Time for Arvit (Tzet)

  1. One should make sure to say Kriyat Shema after Tzet HaKochavim.[51] Since Kriyat Shema is Biblical one should be strict for Rabbenu Tam to repeat Shema after Tzet Hakochavim of Rabbenu Tam.[52]
  2. Ideally, one should pray Arvit after Tzet HaKochavim and not immediately after sunset.[53] However, the minhag of many places is to daven Arvit immediately after sunset.[54]

Latest Time

  1. After the fact, one may pray Arvit all night until Olot HaShachar.[55]

Sources

  1. S”A 1:6.
  2. Halacha Brurah 1:16 (based on Sh”t Yacheve Daat 2:8) writes that in cases of need (for example a worker who needs to daven early) it is possible to say Korbanot 96 minutes before HaNetz.
  3. Magen Avraham 47:13, Kaf HaChaim 46:49, Or Letzion (vol 2, 4:9)
  4. Rosh (Teshuva 4:1) writes that initially one shouldn't say Hamotzei Lesechvi until Olot. Shulchan Aruch 47:13 codifies this. Magen Avraham 47:13 cites the Arizal who says that all of the brachot can be said after Chatzot but the Magen Avraham qualifies this to where one actually heard the rooster crow. Either way he concludes that it is better to be strict to wait until olot. Mishna Brurah 47:31, Biur Halacha 47:13, and Peninei Halacha (Tefillah 9:5) agree.
  5. Halacha Brurah 1:16
  6. Shulchan Aruch 18:3 rules that the time to make the bracha on Tallit is from MeSheYakir. There is a dispute among the achronim about when exactly MeSheYakir is. Because of Safek Brachot LeHakel, Halacha Brurah 18:6 one may not make the bracha earlier than a fifth of an hour (in Shaot Zmaniot) after Olot HaShachar.
  7. Rama 18:3 says that bedieved if one wears a Tallit after Olot HaShachar one should make a bracha and concludes that such was the minhag. Aruch Hashulchan 18:9 agrees. Mishna Brura 18:10 says that ideally though one should wait until Misheyakir.
  8. Rama 18:3
  9. Rama OC 54:3, Piskei Teshuvot 30:1.
  10. Mishnah Berurah 58:17. Piskei Teshuvot (58:10) notes that some are lenient when it is unavoidable. However, Beiur Halakha (s.v. Zeman Kriat Shema) notes that this discussion may be irrelevant for men if they are going to only say Pesukei D’zimra before misheyakir and say the berakha on Tzitzit and Tefillin before Yotzer Or, and certainly it is preferable to not begin davening until one can make the berakha on Tzitzit and Tefillin.
  11. Shulchan Arukh OC 58:3.
  12. Shulchan Arukh 89:1, 8. Mishnah Berurah (89:4) notes that this may be lekhatchila for those who have no other choice, but for one who could say Shemoneh Esrei later he would only fulfill his obligation b’diavad by davening early.
  13. Piskei Teshuvot 89:4
  14. Gemara Brachot 26a writes the ideal time to pray Shacharit is at HaNetz HaChama and that was the practice of the Vatikin (those who fulfill the מצות early and in the proper time). This is codified by the Rambam (Tefillah 3:1), Rosh (Brachot 4:1), Tur and Shulchan Aruch 89:1
  15. Biur Halacha 58 s.v. umitzvah
  16. Yalkut Yosef 89:19
  17. The Rosh (Brachot 4:1) writes that even though ideally one should pray at HaNetz (sunrise) if one prayed after Olot HaShachar one would have fulfilled one’s obligation. This is also the opinion of many Rishonim including Tosfot 30a (s.v. Avuha), Rambam (Tefillah 3:7, Sh”t Rambam 27), Rabbenu Yerucham (according to Bet Yosef 89:1) and the Tur 89:1. This is codified in Shulchan Aruch 89:1.
    • The Rosh (Brachot 4:1) writes that even though ideally one should pray at HaNetz (sunrise) if one prayed after Olot HaShachar one would have fulfilled one’s obligation. This is also the opinion of many rishonim including Tosfot 30a (D”H Avuha), Rambam (Tefillah 3:7, Sh”t Rambam 27), Rabbenu Yerucham (according to Bet Yosef 89:1) and the Tur 89:1. This is codified in Shulchan Aruch 89:1.
    • There is a minority of Rishonim who hold that in extenuating circumstances one is permitted to pray Shacharit before Olot HaShachar. The basis of this approach is Rashi (Brachot 30a s.v. VeLayaved), Sh”t Raavan (176), and Raavad (quoted by the Sefer Hashlamah).
    • Shulchan Aruch 89:8 rules that in cases of extenuating circumstances such as where one has to travel early one may pray Shacharit Shmoneh Esrei immediately after Olot HaShachar and then say Shema while traveling if one is able to have kavana (proper intent) while traveling. This is also mentioned in Mishna Brurah 89:1.
  18. Shulchan Aruch 58:3
  19. Rabbi Yisrael Belsky (OU Kosher Webcast, min 19:30-28:30). Sh"t Igrot Moshe 4:6 writes that a person who needs to make it to work is considered to be in an extenuating circumstance in which Shulchan Aruch 89:8 writes that one may pray Shacharit after Olot Hashachar See also Iggrot Moshe OC 1:10 and Yechave Daat 2:8.
  20. Rabbi Yisrael Belsky (OU Kosher Webcast, min 19:30-28:30), Igrot Moshe 4:6 s.v. im ken, Peri Yitzchak 1:2, Sh"t Yaskil Avdi 5:10, Sh"t Minchat Yitzchak 9:10. Chazon Ish (Ishei Yisrael 13:note 21) ruled likewise. Rabbi Yisrael Belsky (OU Kosher Webcast, min 19:30-28:30) said that if one feels that it is just too dark and one cannot understand what the people are relying on to put on Tefillin so early one should say up to Baruch SheAmar before traveling and then pray at one’s office.
  21. Sh”t Sheilot Shmuel OC 12, Rav Elyashiv (quoted in Avnei Yashfei Tefillah page 167), Yalkut Yosef (Tefilla pages 137-139, 89:14).
  22. Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv quoted in Tefilla Kehilchita page 78 and in Avnei Yashfe (Tefilla page 169 89:14) says that although he can answer for their minyan he cannot pray with them. This is true even if he is the sixth one who would be praying (a minyan requires ten but a minimum of six praying at the time) and his refusal to pray would prevent there being a minyan. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach in Halichot Shlomo 1:5-13 (and Avnei Yishfe p. 169) though ruled that if the refusal to join will prevent the minyan he may pray with them as long as it is not on a consistent basis.
  23. Avnei Yishfe p. 167 quotes Rav Elyashiv that it is better to daven oneself later rather than davening before Mesheyakir. He also cites Pri Yitzchak s.v. nachzor 1:2 who agrees.
  24. Avnei Yishfe p. 168 quotes Rav Ben Tzion Abba Shaul who says that if that's the only minyan available one should daven with a pre-mesheyakir minyan relying on the Pri Chadash rather than daven by oneself. Igrot Moshe 4:6 s.v. im ken agrees.
    • What is the earliest time for Shacharit? The Rosh 4:1 writes that even though ideally one should pray at HaNetz (sunrise) if one prayed after Olot HaShachar one would have fulfilled one’s obligation. This is also the opinion of many Rishonim including Tosfot 30a (D”H Avuha), Rambam (Tefillah 3:7, Sh”t Rambam 27), Rabbenu Yerucham (according to Bet Yosef 89:1) and the Tur 89:1. This is codified in Shulchan Aruch 89:1.
    • There is a minority of rishonim who hold that in extenuating circumstances one is permitted to pray Shacharit before Olot HaShachar. The basis of this approach is Rashi (Brachot 30a s.v. VeLayaved), Sh”t Raavan (176), and Raavad (quoted by the Sefer Hashlamah).
    • [Interestingly, the Derisha argues that the Rabbenu Yerucham holds that there are three levels, ideally one should pray at HaNetz, it is permissible to pray after MeSheYakir and it is only effective, after the fact, after Olot HaShachar.]
    • Mishna Brurah 89:2 writes that based on Shulchan Aruch, if one prayed before Olot HaShachar one has not fulfilled one’s obligation.
    • Yalkut Yosef (Tefillah pg 136, see also Sh”t Yechave Daat 2:8) writes that even if one prayed altogether before Olot HaShachar one should still pray again at the proper time with a stipulation that if one is not obligated that it should be a voluntary prayer. So writes Sh”t Otzrot Yosef 5:3.
  25. The Mishna (Brachot 26a) writes that the latest time Shacharit could be said according to Rabbi Yehuda is the fourth hour and according to the Rabbis is the sixth hour. The Gemara (27a) writes that we hold like Rabbi Yehuda because there is a Mishna in Ediyot that supports Rabbi Yehuda. This is codified by the Rif 18a, Rosh 4:1, and Rambam (Tefillah 3:1). The halacha is brought in Tur and Shulchan Aruch 89:1
    • The Rif 18a originates that even though we hold like Rabbi Yehuda that the latest time for Shacharit is the fourth hour one could still pray after the fourth hour and receive the reward for praying (albeit having lost the reward for praying in the proper time). The Rosh 4:1, Rambam (Hilchot Tefillah 3:1), and Tur 89:1 hold like the Rif.
    • The Bet Yosef 89:1 writes that it seems as though the Rosh and Rif base their halacha on the general language of the Gemara (Brachot 26a) “one could pray all day and receive reward for prayer but would loose the reward for prayer in its proper time.” Because this phrase was the Gemara’s way of explaining the halacha of Tashlumin, the Bet Yosef, rules that according to the Rif and Rosh one would not be able to pray after the fourth hour if a person intentionally did not pray in the first four hours.
    • However, the Rambam and Tur 89:1 hold that if a person intentionally prayed after the fourth hour he still receives reward for prayer. The Bet Yosef 89:1 explains that the Rambam tried to minimize the dispute between רבנן and Rabbi Yehuda so that there would not be an argument as to whether one totally fulfills the mitzvah or does not fulfill it at all in the period between the fourth and sixth hour. Rather they both agree that it is still time for Shacharit but according to Rabbi Yehuda one who prays at that time only receives reward for prayer but not that of prayer in its proper time while רבנן hold that one would also receive the reward of it being in its proper time. According to this explanation, one should be able to pray in this period even if one intentionally did not pray beforehand.
    • Additionally, if one holds like the Rif then one would be able to daven at any time even between six and sixth and a half, while according to the Rambam one should only be able to pray as long as there is some opinion which considers it the time for Shacharit. The Bet Yosef adds that the Rashba agrees with the Rambam. (It seems that the Bet Yosef understands the Rashba to say that you certainly may not pray during the half hour after Chatzot. The Bach argues that the Rashba meant something else entirely, namely that one should pray the Tashlumin right after having prayed the obligatory Tefilla.)
    • The Mishna Brurah 89:6 writes that because of the dispute one should still pray after the fourth hour even if one intentionally missed praying earlier but nonetheless should stipulate that if one is exempt, one should be considered praying voluntarily.
  26. Rama 89:1 (based on the explanation of the Bet Yosef of the Rambam and Tur, see the previous footnote)
    • The Tur 233:1 writes that the primary time to pray Mincha is after six and a half hours while the Rambam (Tefillah 3:2-3) writes that it is preferable to pray from nine and a half hours and after the fact one fulfills one’s obligation if one prayed before then from after six and a half hours. The Rambam's reasoning is that the Tefillah of Mincha is comparable to the korban which was brought at the end of the day. This dispute is explained in the Bet Yosef 233:1.
    • Shulchan Aruch 233:1 rules like the Rambam. The Mishna Brurah 233:1 also holds like the Rambam but adds that there are some rishonim who allow one to pray earlier and in certain cases (see further) one may pray earlier. Kaf HaChaim 233:1, Yalkut Yosef (Brachot page 637) and Halichot Olam (vol 1 pg 253) concur with Mishna Brurah.
    • See the BeYitchak Yikra 233:1 (notes of Rav Nevinsal on Mishna Brurah) who adds that the Rambam holds that the only preferable time is after Mincha Ketana before Plag Mincha (10 ¾ hours) and it would be preferable to say Mincha individually at Mincha Gedola rather than with a minyan at Mincha Ketana after Plag Mincha. Nonetheless, he agrees that the minhag is not like this.
  27. Mishna Brurah 233:1 writes that if one needs to travel, have a meal, or one will only be able to make a minyan for Mincha earlier, then one can pray from after six and a half hours. Kaf HaChaim 233:1 also writes that there are those who are lenient to pray early if there is a need. Yalkut Yosef (Brachot page 637) and Halichot Olam (vol 1 pg 253) writes that it is preferable to pray after six and a half hours in order to avoid having a meal before praying Mincha (after the time for Mincha has arrived).
  28. Mishna Brurah 233:1, Yalkut Yosef (Brachot pg 639)
  29. Mishna Brurah 233:2 writes that this is implied from Shulchan Aruch 233:1 (and is agreed upon by many achronim), however there are some achronim who say that after the fact one has fulfilled one’s obligation. Kaf HaChaim 233:2 quotes the dispute of the achronim but concludes that because Tefillah is derabbanan one does not have to pray again.
  30. Rambam (Tefillah 3:2) writes that since they instituted Tefillah corresponding to korbanot the primary time for mincha is mincha ketana, 9.5 hours in the day. Shulchan Aruch OC 233:1 follows the Rambam. Kaf Hachaim 233:3 adds that really the best time is after mincha ketana at plag mincha, 10.45 hours into the day. Rav Nevinsal (BeYitzchak Yikra on Mishna Brurah 233:1) argues that according to the Rambam one should pray after 9.5 hours before 10.45 hours and only pray after 10.45 hours in extenuating circumstances. He even writes that it is preferable to pray before ten and three quarter hours rather than pray with a minyan, however, the minhag is not like this.
  31. Mishna Brura 233:14
  32. Mishna Brurah 233:14 writes that it is better to pray Mincha before shkiyah without a minyan than to pray with a minyan after shkiyah. Igrot Moshe 1:24 writes that one shouldn't pray mincha after sunset. However, Chacham Ben Zion Abba Shaul (cited in Ishei Yisroel page 296) and Chacham Ovadia Yosef (Yechave Daat 5:22) say that it is preferable to pray with a minyan even if the minyan as long as they are praying within the first thirteen and a half minutes after sunset.
  33. The Mishneh Brura (131:17) holds one should say it. Rav Avigdor Neventzal in B’Yitzhak Yikareh on Mishna Brura (footnote to 131) quotes Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach who thinks one should not.
  34. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 69:8, Mishna Brurah 131:17
  35. Magen Giborim 237:1, Amudei Esh 3:19, Yaskil Avdi 5:30, and Tiferet Adam 8 hold that even after saying maariv one may answer kedusha of a minyan saying mincha unlike the opinion of the Erech Shai 236, Yagel Yacov, and Aruch HaShulchan 232. Yismach Lev 16 writes that even on Friday night if one said maariv one may still answer kedusha. Sh"t Tzitz Eliezer 10:16 and Sh"t Yabia Omer 6:21 agree with the Yishmach lev.
  36. Mishna Brurah 233:10, Kaf HaChaim 233:11 as is implied by Shulchan Aruch 233:1
  37. Gemara Brachot 27b writes that on Friday afternoon someone who made a mistake and said Arvit early thinking it was nighttime according to Abaye he would have to pray again. The Rabbenu Yonah 18b s.v. Rav explains that since one made a mistake and did not intend to pray Arvit early one does not fulfill one’s obligation. The Magen Avraham 263:26 and Mishna Brurah 263:55 agree that this halacha applies equally to a weeknight as to Friday night.
  38. The Mishna (Brachot 26a) writes that according to Rabbi Yehuda one must pray Mincha prior to ten and three quarter hours while according to Rabbanan Mincha may be said until nighttime. Tosfot Brachot 27a s.v. Ta Shma writes that according to Rabbi Yehuda the earliest time to say Mariv is ten and three quarter hours while according to Rabbanan the earliest time is nighttime. [This is also evident in the Gemara there (27a-b) and the upcoming Rishonim. The Maharsha (27a s.v. Tah Shma) asks why Tosfot needed to prove something which was so obvious from the Gemara.]
  39. The Gemara (27a) writes that since there is no explicit ruling as to whom the halacha follows, one who follows Rabbi Yehuda has done properly and one who follows Rabbanan is correct too. The Rabbenu Yonah (Brachot 18b s.v. DeAved) writes that whichever opinion one follows one must be consistent and always follow the same opinion. This is also opinion of the Rosh (Brachot 4:3) quoting a Gaon. Additionally, the Kesef Mishna (Tefillah 3:4) says that this is implicit in the Rambam and furthermore that it is the simple explanation of the words of the Gemara. Tur and Shulchan Aruch 233:1 codify the opinion of Rabbenu Yonah.
  40. The Rabbenu Yonah (18b s.v. DeAved) writes that one should always follow Rabbanan (which was the minhag of his time and place) but nonetheless, after the fact if one prayed Arvit after Plag Mincha one has fulfilled one’s obligation. This is quoted in Bet Yosef 233:1 and codified in Shulchan Aruch 233:1. The Shulchan Aruch 233:1 rules that in extenuating circumstances one may pray Arvit before nighttime even though one always follows Rabbanan. Mishna Brurah 233:11 writes that this is only permissible if that day itself one already prayed Mincha prior to ten and three quarter hours.
  41. Rabbenu Yonah Brachot 1b writes that if the congregation is davening before the time for Shema one should daven with them even though one won't fulfill one's obligation of Shema and will have to repeat it later. He then quotes Rav Hai Goan who says that one should only say Shema with them without kavana to fulfill one's obligation but skip Brachot Kriyat Shema. The Shulchan Aruch OC 235:1 rules like the Rabbenu Yonah but the Mishna Brurah 235:12 mentions the practice of the Rav Hai Goan. The Biur Halacha 235:1 cites the Gra who held that it is better to daven privately on time rather than daven with the congregation early. Rav Moshe Feinstein in Igrot Moshe OC 2:60 agrees that one can follow either opinion whether to daven everything or just Shema without kavana and Shemona Esrei and then say Shema with Kriyat Shema with Brachot afterwards. He writes that one shouldn't follow the Gra unless one always does according to his opinion.
  42. Rav Yitzchak Yosef (Motzei Shabbat Emor 5778 min 28) said that a since the minhag is that we follow the Gra for zmanim, the minhag is to pray mincha before Plag of the Gra and arvit after Plag of the Gra, even though according to Rabbenu Tam it is a bracha levatala since it is day. (See also Rav Yitzchak Yosef (Motzei Shabbat Bo 5778 min 25) who said that it is a bracha levatala to daven Arvit after Plag of the Gra according to Rabbenu Tam and we are strict for Rabbenu Tam.)
  43. Shulchan Aruch 233:1, Mishna Brurah 233:11
  44. Mishna Brurah 233:11 writes that in a minyan where there is an excessive effort to get everyone back to shul for maariv (and people cannot wait in shul), it is permissible for a minyan to say maariv right after Mincha (between Plag Mincha and nighttime). Shulchan Aruch 233:1 says the minhag is like Rabbanan and Rama 233:1 says the minhag is like Rabbi Yehuda. Nowadays, Piskei Teshuvot 233:4 writes that the Ashkenazic minhag is also like Rabbanan.
    • The Rif (Brachot 1b) rules that the time to say Kriyat Shema at night is from Tzet HaKochavim like the simple Mishna and Gemara Brachot 2a. The Rambam (Kriyat Shema 1:9) concurs.
    • Rashi (Brachot 2a s.v. Ad Sof) also holds that one does not fulfill Shema until Tzet HaKochavim but defends the practice to say Shema in Shul with the Brachot explaining that the Shema in Shul is only to precede Shmoneh Esrei with words of Torah, whereas the primary time one fulfills one's obligation of saying Shema is before going to sleep.
    • Rabbenu Tam (quoted by Tosfot Brachot 2a s.v. Meeymatai) argues that really we hold like Rabbenu Yehuda in the Mishna (Brachot 26a) who says that one may say Arvit from Plag Mincha, so too we hold that one may say Shema from Plag Mincha. The Ri (also quoted in the above Tosfot) agrees that the primary Shema is the one said in Shul, however, he explains that it is because we hold like the other opinions quoted in the Gemara 2a-b who say that the time for Shema is earlier than Tzet HaKochavim.
    • The Rosh (Brachot 1:1) rejects the Rabbenu Tam’s comparison between the time for Arvit and Shema and rather says that with difficulty one could defend the minhag like the Ri but nonetheless preferably one should say Shema only after Tzet HaKochavim.
    • The Rosh (Brachot 1:1) quotes the Rav Hai Goan who says that if one is in a situation where one could either pray with a minyan before Tzet HaKochavim or pray by oneself later one should pray with the minyan early but not say Shema with the Brachot until later. Rav Hai Goan also suggests that one could pray with the congregation as a voluntary prayer and then pray again oneself with Shema and Shmoneh Esrei. This is also quoted by the Rabbenu Yonah (Brachot 1b s.v. VeRabbenu Hai), Rashba (Brachot 2a s.v. VeNishal), and Tur 235:1.
    • Rabbenu Yonah gives an alternative for someone in that situation; say Brachot of Shema, Shema with intent not to fulfill one’s obligation but rather just as words of Torah, and then Shmoneh Esrei with the minyan and after Tzet HaKochavim one should repeat Shema with the intent of fulfilling one's obligation.
    • The Bet Yosef 235:1 concludes that one should make sure to repeat Shema after Tzet HaKochavim but one may follow the above suggestions (of Rav Hai and Rabbenu Yonah). Mishna Brurah 235:12 and Igrot Moshe 2:60 write that one can follow either Rav Hai or Rabbenu Yonah. The Shulchan Aruch 235:1 writes like the Rabbenu Yonah that if one is praying with a congregation earlier than Tzet HaKochavim one should say Shema with the Brachot and Shmoneh Esrei and then repeat Shema at Tzet HaKochavim.
    • The Mishna Brurah 235:9 writes like the Rabbenu Yonah that when saying Shema early one should not have intent to be fulfilling one’s obligation until Tzet HaKochavim. The Mishna Brurah 235:11 writes that it is a dispute whether one must repeat the third paragraph of Shema. Igrot Moshe 2:60 writes that one should repeat all three paragraphs.
    • Igrot Moshe OC 2:60 explains that the reason that the Rabbenu Yonah and Mishna Brurah wrote not to have intent to fulfill one's obligation of kriyat Shema is because of a concern of Baal Tosif. If a person were to say Shema at the wrong time with intent that one should fulfill one's obligation it is like one is adding on to the time of the mitzvah similar to sleeping in the sukkah on the eighth day of sukkah with intent to add to sukkot (Rosh Hashana 28b). However, the Shulchan Aruch doesn't quote that it is necessary to have such an intent since the minhag is not to have intent to fulfill the mitzvah of Shema then (like Rashi Eruvin 96a s.v. v'od).
  45. Shulchan Aruch 235:1, Mishna Brurah 235:12. Rav Moshe Feinstein in Igrot Moshe OC 2:60 writes that in such a case one should certainly daven with a minyan and either the opinion of Rabbenu Yonah to daven Brachot Kriyat Shema with the congregation or Rav Hai Goan to skip them are acceptable.
  46. Mishna Brachot 2a, Shulchan Aruch OC 235:1, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 70:1
  47. Igrot Moshe YD 4:48:4
  48. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 70:2
  49. Mishna Brurah 235:12 writes that fortunate is the person who can daven with a congregation after Tzet Hakochavim which is the correct time.
  50. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 70:2