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It is not uncommon to start Shabbat early in the summertime, I presume so that dinner will not start too late. What I have seen is that in congregations that do this, the men go to shul Friday night while the women stay home and prepare the house and dinner. But surely there are men who don't have wives to do this for them and occasionally single women who go to shul, so I am wondering what the practical logistics of an early Shabbat are if you don't have somebody to help at home.

Specifically: You still need to leave work early in order to prepare, even if candle-lighting is after 8. Do you leave work early, go home, prepare the house, and walk to shul, all in time for (say) a 6:00 service, and just accept that Shabbat for you is going to be 28-29 hours or so? Or is there some other trick (like maybe you drive to shul from work and leave your car, but then what about dinner prep?)? Or do you do something at shul to make kabbalat shabbat/ma'ariv not "count" yet so you can go home and do melacha? (I'm totally guessing and have no idea if such a thing would be kosher.) Or is it no different from a winter Shabbat except for the extra length?

I'm asking because I'm a woman who wants to participate in the community (not just at home) and I don't quite know how men work this out so they can.

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I think it usually involves getting most of the preparation done on Thursday night. But if you're doing "early shabbos", then driving to shul is definitely an option if there is a place where you can leave your car overnight without it being towed. –  Daniel Aug 13 at 1:56
    
So you program the lights/AC/etc before leaving Friday morning, for instance? If you go straight to shul from work (assuming you can park until motzei shabbat), how does your hot food for Friday night get hot -- crock pot running during the day? –  Monica Cellio Aug 13 at 2:00
    
Crock pot is one solution. Shabbat hot plate is another solution that works quite well. Although you wouldn't be able to put liquids like soup on it once you bring in Shabbat (at least according to ashkenazim) –  Daniel Aug 13 at 2:04
    
I am no expert, but I think that you could have the intention of having that (first) Kabbalat Shabbat not count. The Shema is probably too early so that would need to be redone later anyway. Check out this answer of how the Prague community considered Mizmor Shir L'Yom Ha Shabbat to not necessarily mark the start of Shabbat if you intended it not to. I would appreciate it if someone more knowledgeable than me would evaluate if this is a viable option for you. –  Mike Aug 13 at 2:51
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A lot of questions get comments like "ask the rabbi;" this one might get some along the lines of "ask the rebbetzin" :-P –  Shokhet Nov 16 at 2:46

1 Answer 1

There is no "trick" to not accept Shabbat through Maariv that I am aware of or have seen practiced. So, yes, it is (basically) just like a winter Shabbat on the front end.

Some notes:

Many shuls will plan their early Shabbat Minyan to start Mincha prior to Plag HaMincha (1.25 proportional hours before sunset) and Maariv after Plag HaMincha. This presents a problem in that Shabbat candles can only be lit after Plag HaMincha. This means either praying Mincha alone early or going home in between Mincha and Maariv to light candles (or designating someone else to come over and light them). This applies to men and women.

Some other shuls will set their early Shabbat Minyan to start Mincha at a fixed time (eg. 7pm) which is usually after Plag HaMincha. This solves the candle lighting question, but it is generally frowned upon in traditional sources as most assume one can/should not pray both Mincha and Maariv between Plag HaMincha and nightfall (see here). There are some opinions who are lenient in order to ensure one prays with a Minyan (though it is not obvious to me that these would apply to women who do not have the same level of obligation in communal prayer as men do). If you are not following this leniency then Kabbalat Shabbat and either Mincha or Maariv would be said with the congregation, and the other earlier/later at home.

Some opinions recommend extending dinner to last past nightfall in order to count as the first of the three Shabbat meals. (Mishna Berura 267:5)

You may enjoy this article about accepting Shabbat early.

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Oh right; I hadn't even thought about lighting candles at home if you go straight from work to shul. That's pretty important, so I guess the people who do that have someone else at home to light. –  Monica Cellio Aug 13 at 12:50

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