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Since the 18th century, Jews have been settling in Sweden without the requirement of conversion (source). As such, there are now a number of Swedish Jewish communities, the largest of which is in Stockholm. In mid-Summer, Stockholm can get over eighteen hours of sunlight a day, and in the middle of winter might receive as few as six. Looking at this chart, I see that in July the sun rises at 3:40am and doesn't set until 10:00pm, while in January it won't rise until it's almost 9:00am, and will set only a couple of hours into the afternoon.

Since the times at which various things can be done depend largely upon sunrise and sundown, how might a Jew in Stockholm conduct his day?

If the sun has risen before one could reasonably have awoken, and will remain in the sky until after one has gone to bed, what might be the earliest and latest times at which a person could recite the Shema in the morning and the evening? Are there similar concerns when it comes to davening shacharit or maariv? Or to determining the length of a fast day?

If the sun has descended below the horizon only shortly after lunchtime, such that it's no longer possible to recognise things from a short distance, would the obligation of wearing tzitzit be affected? Would such an afternoon be considered "nighttime" in every respect, such as to prevent one from reciting qorbanot, or delivering judgment in the Bet Din?

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I am open to changing the wording of this question if it looks too psak-oriented, or if the list of questions should be shortened. –  Shimon bM May 12 at 0:56
See Terumat Hadeshen 1 and 121 –  Double AA May 12 at 1:04
related judaism.stackexchange.com/q/7182/759 –  Double AA May 12 at 1:34
possible dupe? judaism.stackexchange.com/q/16848/759 –  Double AA May 12 at 1:34
@DoubleAA - that's very similar! But since that question asks only about Shabbat (and hasn't yet received an answer), I'm inclined to leave mine as it is... –  Shimon bM May 12 at 3:05

1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

As long as we stay well (Stockholm is 7°/800 km/500 mi) south* of the polar circle, there will always be a sh'kia and a netz . Therefore, all zmanim can be calculated. Even a tzeis and an alos can be calculated by relying on the opinion that they occur a fixed number of minutes* (e.g. 72) after shkia and before tzeis.

Let's take some practical examples:

On shabbos korach, sunrise is at 3:31 and sunset at 10:08. This gives us until 7:34 to say Sh'ma, and sh'mone esrei has to be before 9:43. There is of course plenty of time for mincha, and ma'ariv could be said after p'lag, at 8:12, and then one could go to bed. The only real difficulty is waking up to repeat sh'ma after 11:21. Havdallah can be said then, or Sunday morning before breakfast, as havdallah over a cup of wine is only necessary before eating or drinking.

On shivah asar b'tammuz sunrise is at 3:57 and sunset at 9:50. One may of course begin fasting the night before, or take a mid-night snack. The usually lenient opinions actually come out later than 72 minutes, so eating can certainly be resumed at 11:02. Obviously, one may go to sleep in the evening, and eat in the middle of the night or the next morning.

For shabbos mikeitz, candles for chanukah and shabbos have to be lit before 2:30. Some choose to study before the meal, which also serves to push it off to a more normal hour. Shacharis can in fact be scheduled for a normal 8 o'clock the whole year, as neitz is 8:43. That shabbes is over at 4 o'clock should not pose any problems, but it is a good idea to limit the morning meal so that shalos seudos can be eaten in time. This gives an excellent opportunity to make melave malka something extra special!

The winter weekdays pose special problems, as many have to begin work before the earliest chance for shacharis. Being that the situation is temporary, one can be lenient and pray between misheyakir and neitz. Relying on opinions that specify alos by the sun's angle under the horizon, shacharis can be over around 7 o'clock. Otherwise, one would have to take a "tea" break in the morning, just as is universally done for mincha in the afternoon.

There are even more northern congregations, like Fairbanks in Alaska and Arkhangelsk in Russia, but their halachic times do not differ substantially. To my knowledge, the only permanent polar community is that of Murmansk, and I hope to add some information when I get a response from the local Chabad sh'liach.

Since we keep both opinions about tzitzis, this mitzva is not affected. Actual halachic processes in batei din are probably rare in these locations, but there are plenty of daylight hours available.

Source: Experience – this is where I come from.

* Everything here assumes that one chooses definitions so that (tzeissh'kia) + (netzalos) > (netztzeis). E.g. if tzeis is 60 minuttes after sh'kia and alos is 72 minuttes before netz, then there must be at least 132 minutes between sh'kia and netz. This is the case for all locations well south of the polar circle.

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Sunrise and Sunset do not guarantee Alos and Tzeis happen, even if you (for some strange reason) assume that 72 minutes is "fixed". Consider if the "night" lasts for 25 minutes. –  Double AA May 12 at 18:42
Do you have any evidence one may lechatchila push off Kiddush or Havdalla until morning? –  Double AA May 12 at 18:43
@DoubleAA Can you give me an example of a town that has less than 144 minutes of night, located "well south" of the polar circle? –  NBZ May 12 at 18:57
Of course I could, so long as "well south" is not construed to by definition exclude that possibility. –  Double AA May 12 at 19:18
@DoubleAA However, that definition is exactly what I had in mind, as evidenced by the rest of the paragraph. Polar locations have been addressed elsewhere, and this question's title is specifically about locations where there is a night, albeit short. I'll add a footnote anyway. –  NBZ May 12 at 19:40

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