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If I come to shul early for maariv and it is already past nightfall and there is a minyan that starts davening mincha am I allowed to answer amen to chazaras hashatz? Sources please.

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They started after shkeyia –  sam Apr 29 '12 at 1:52
    
@sam Did they start knowingly after shkeyia or was it a mistake? (ie Are they holding of Rabbeinu Tam?) –  Double AA Apr 29 '12 at 1:59
    
They are not makpid on zman –  sam Apr 29 '12 at 2:05
    
@sam I'm not sure what you mean: they would daven mincha at midnight? At 9am? –  Double AA Apr 29 '12 at 2:51
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Sam, there are many communities who keep Rabbeinu Tam zeman and daven up to second shekia (and maybe even past that into bein hashemashos). –  YDK Apr 29 '12 at 4:01
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Disclaimer: this answer does not deal with the latest time for mincha. It assumes that the question refers to a time when one for sure cannot pray mincha.


If it's really not the time for mincha at all then don't say Amen as the blessings are levatala.

I can't prove this for late mincha specifically, but by a late shacharit, the Biur Halacha (OC 89 sv VeAchar) says that if someone prays shacharit more than a half hour after chatzot then his blessings are levatala according to many poskim. [Note that in general the last time for shacharit is 4 hours into the day, and post facto until 6. The Biur Halacha here is accounting for a very minority opinion which permits praying shacharit until 6.5 hours.] So we see that praying a certain prayer after its time is considered a blessing levatala.

As a non-primary source, this answer by Rabbi Peretz Moncharsh strongly implies that he views praying mincha after its time to be blessings levatala.

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I never knew that there are minority opinions who permit praying shacharit until 6.5 hours. But I know that there are some opinions that say you are yotzey bediavad if you prayed minchah after chatzot (6) even before 6.5. –  Adam Mosheh Jun 11 '12 at 15:34
    
@AdamMosheh I agree that they are definitely in the extreme minority. –  Double AA Jun 11 '12 at 19:20
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I would think that it would be permitted, if the davening of the chazzan is considered to be just a tefillat nedavah. Brachot are brachot, so say ameyn.

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But there's no chiddush in each berachah (or even in one of them), which is needed to make it a tefillas nedavah (Orach Chaim 107:1). –  Alex Jun 11 '12 at 17:29
    
Also it can only be a nedava if you plan on it being a nedava. If you think it's a chova then it cannot be a nedava. Consider the case of someone who started davening and then realized that they already said that tefillah. The psak of the gemara is that they cannot continue as a nedava but rather they just have to stop. ie to be a nedava you have to plan on it. This answer is wrong. –  Double AA Jun 11 '12 at 19:20
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