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Which timing of mincha is more important: mincha gedolah or mincha ketana? Why?

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There is an advantage to praying Mincha Gedola (mincha between 6.5 halakhic hours into the day and 9.5) as "Zerizim Makdimim L'Mitzvos" (alacritous ones are early to fulfill commandments). There is also an advantage to praying Mincha Ktana (from 9.5 until the end time (10.75 or 12)), as mincha k'tana more accurately projects the time of the Korban Tamid Shel Bain Harbayim.

  • Sources [15 char]? – mevaqesh Jul 24 '17 at 1:32
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Same answer as Gershon, just with more English:

"Mincha gedola" (earliest mincha) is 12:30PM assuming 6AM sunrise 6PM sunset. It's the earliest time for Mincha.

"Mincha ketana" is 3:30PM on a 6-to-6 day. Theoretically the ideal time to say mincha is mincha ketana or later; however, often schedules work out that it's better to get it in earlier, in which case "mincha gedola" is great. (Some tradeoff between doing the mitzva sooner and better.)

There's also some discussion about what activities you shouldn't start before davening Mincha (e.g. sitting down to a [big?] meal); depending on the conclusion of that discussion and your daily schedule, mincha gedola might again be a good idea.

  • "Theoretically the ideal time to say mincha is mincha ketana or later" Sources? – mevaqesh Jul 24 '17 at 1:32
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There are conflicting opinions in the Rishonim as to which of these time periods is the preferred choice for davening Mincha. Some Poskim, Rabbeinu Seadya Gaon, Rif, Ritva, Rosh, Tur, prefer Mincha Gedola, while Rabbeinu Chananel, Rambam, Archos Chaim, Meiri, hold that Mincha Ketana is the preferred time to daven. As there is no decisive ruling on this question, either custom may be followed.

http://www.torah.org/advanced/weekly-halacha/5757/chaysara.html

  • Note: This was penned as an answer to another question and merged hither. – msh210 Mar 28 '12 at 15:54
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Rav Yitzhak Yosef in Yalkut Yosef 233:1 holds that praying Minha Ketana is better. However, those that Daven Gedola have authorities to rely upon.

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Davening at minchah gedolah is okay, but not ideal — except that there are factors that will make minchah gedolah a preferred time. Availability of a minyan, how busy your afternoon usually is, the likelihood of forgetting to daven if you wait for late afternoon — these are some of the factors that prompt people to opt for a minchah-gedolah minyan.

[...]

Each person must know himself and take steps to avoid the inadvertent missing of Mincha. Often this means davening Mincha before settling down to a long afternoon and early evening of work.

—R' Phil Chernofsky. Torah Tidbits: Special Features for Parshat Chayei Sara. 25 Cheshvan 5759.

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At the time youll be able to daven best and feel most connected to hashem seems to be the answer to aniyus daati

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    Thanks. I understand that this is only "to aniyus daat['cha]" but if you can support it with any evidence that would certainly improve your answer, since the vast majority of readers of this site don't know you and therefore don't know how ani your daas really is. – msh210 Mar 15 '17 at 14:11
  • Welcome to Mi Yodeya Akiva! Thanks for sharing the answer! While everybody would agree that praying while feeling more connected to God, is better than praying when one feels less connected to God, there might still be some preference for one time of day or the other. If you could bring some evidence that the feeling of closeness is the main determinant, that would greatly improve the answer. Hope you choose to stick around the site. – mevaqesh Mar 15 '17 at 14:47
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    What if you feel equally connected at both? I don't see how this answers the question. – Double AA Mar 15 '17 at 14:47
  • Welcome akiva nimberger. This link will give you some direction about what constitutes a good answer. judaism.stackexchange.com/help/how-to-answer – Yaacov Deane Mar 15 '17 at 16:02

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