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I have read that one can pray mincha gedola be'minyan instead of mincha ketana be'yachid.

But would praying "just before shekiya" be'minyan still be more recommended than mincha ketana be'yachid?

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Aruch HaShulchan Orach Chaim 233:7 writes that ideally, one ought to pray mincha between mincha ketana (9:30) and plag hamincha (10:45).

This is based on Rambam Hilchot Tefilla 3:4. Aruch HaShulchan understands that practically the tamid was always offered before plag hamincha, because they needed time for the ketoret, nesachim etc. afterwards. However, bedi'avad its time was indeed until evening.

Aruch HaShulchan goes on to note that we generally are not particular to do this, instead praying close to sunset, because it is difficult to gather a minyan before plag hamincha.

He points out that if one is anyway praying individually, he should pray between mincha ketana and plag hamincha. However, we can infer that it is preferable to pray with a minyan between plag hamincha and shekiah if one cannot pray with a minyan earlier, making sure to finish before shekiah.

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  • Fwiw another way to understand this Rambam is that for us it's better not to enter into a situation where you have to rule against R Yehuda. Even though the gemara says you can rule against him, better not to have to do so. (I like your way better.) – Double AA Jun 21 at 14:47
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For Mincha The Sheilot utshuvot haRadvaz (Rav David Ben Zimra Rav in Egypt 16th century) 1,676 says that ideally Mincha should be done after Mincha Ketana (2.5 Halachik hours before night time when dividing daylight into 12 hours) when possible because that was the time of the Korban Tamid. Ideally, only if one is certain he won't miss the time for Davening Mincha, he should Daven just before shekia (sunset) making sure to complete it just before sunset:

ולכתחלה מנחה קטנה עדיף שזו זמנה כנגד התדיר וזו כנגד ערבי פסחים שאינו תדיר וכן כתב הרב פ"ג מה' תפלה ואמ"ר חייא בר אבא א"ר יוחנן מצוה להתפלל עם דמדומי חמה שנאמר ייראוך עם שמש ואע"ג דלייטי עלה במערבא הנ"מ מאן דמאחר טפי אבל קודם ביאת השמש כמעט שפיר דמי

Indeed the Arizal also did like his Rebbe the Radvaz and Davened Mincha just before Shekia which is the most auspicious time, as quote in Ben Yehoyada Brachos 29b

פתח עינים ז"ל בשם תוספות ישנים כתב יד, בשעה שיצא ונכנס הוא אדום כדם, וזהו דמדומי חמה...רבינו האר"י ז"ל היה מתפלל מנחה עם דמדומי חמה, כסברת ר' יוחנן דסבירא ליה במערבא לא פליגי על ר' יוחנן, אלא הם דברו בהמון העם בעל עסקים

When davening with a minian one has to convene at a set time and therefore will not let the time pass, so it is even more ideal to daven with a Minian just before Shekia. But if one is on his own with jobs to do without anyone to remind him then he should daven at Mincha ketana rather than risk missing Mincha.

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  • I think you are misreading this. He doesn't say the last moment before sunset is better. He says mincha ketana is better than mincha gedolah because you should pray when the sun is low but not too low and that is MK. – Double AA Jun 18 at 13:00
  • Dont worry @doubleaa i have found a source that the Arizal davka would Daven just before Shekia and the Ben Ish Chai explains dimdumei chama its litterally just before Shekia – user15464 Jun 18 at 13:46
  • Very nice, though it's always challenging if not impossible to prove anything halakhic from the Ari's personal practices. And "When davening with a minian one has to convene at a set time and therefore will not let the time pass" is still your own chiddush – Double AA Jun 18 at 13:48
  • @actually i did bring a proof that in the Tzibbur there will always be one zoriz who will remind the others not to sin i.e in this case let the time pass. Nowadays we have notifications/alarms etc. You should thank me for justifying your (and everyone elses) practice. The Aruch Hashulchan answer did not – user15464 Jun 18 at 23:11
  • You didn't bring a proof that those alarms negate the curse. You just brought a svara. Ok you have a svara. It's not even such a good svara since we've all been to Mincha minyanim that are slow or late and finish after sunset. Hachush meichish that being in a minyan doesn't protect you from running late. – Double AA Jun 18 at 23:17
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FYI, mincha ketana begins from 9.5 hours into the day (where an hour is a "shaa zemaniyos" hour which is based on the length of time between netz and skiyah or alos and tzies hakochvaim) so "just before shekiya" falls within the range of mincha ketana. They're not two different times unless you meant to say at the beginning of mincha ketana.

Based on what you wrote in your question, I am interpreting that you are asking is it better to daven earlier without a minyan but within the proper time for mincha or is it better to daven with a minyan at the "buzzer" (the last possible moment risking going past shkiyah.) If I do not have the question correct, I apologize and please reword it so we can understand it better.

If I have it correct, as long as you get your shemoneh esrey in before shkiya, you are good and that would be preferable than davening without a minyan earlier. (I am not including a source as it is well known that one should not be quick to daven without a minyan even if they have better kavanah see Igrot Moshe (O.C. 3:7). If you will end up saying shemonah esrei after shkiyah then you run into halachik issues unless you hold like rabbeinu taam skiyah (like chasidim) who have a bit more leeway davening after what many consider shkiyah.

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  • You don't discuss when mincha ketana ends – Double AA Jun 18 at 12:57
  • Which shitah(s) are you alluding to? When do they say it ends? – Geltman Jun 18 at 13:13
  • Take Rambam I cited in my comment above who says it ends at plag – Double AA Jun 18 at 13:35
  • Ok. But they are asking a question lemaasah, why bring in the Rambam? That would only be lemaasah if one wants to bring in "early shabbat" and needs to know the earliest time which is based on R' Yehuda but no one would say that since the time is after plag, one may not daven minchah? It's not relevant to this question. In my opinion that is not lacking in this answer. – Geltman Jun 18 at 13:59
  • Who said anything about R' Yehuda and early Shabbat? – Double AA Jun 18 at 14:02

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