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When is the earliest time you can Daven Maariv on a weekday?

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    Gershon, can you be more specific? Are you asking according to any shitta (in theory)? Are you pressed for time? Are you worried about contradicting the time for mincha? – YDK Oct 8 '10 at 5:12
  • Lchatchila and Bdieved – Gershon Gold Oct 8 '10 at 14:03
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If you follow the "plag distinction", then Mincha can be davened until 1.25 relative-daylight hours before sunset, and Maariv any time after that.

If you follow the "sunset distinction", then Mincha can be davened until sunset, and Maariv any time after that. I believe there are those who will allow Mincha until 11.5 or 13.5 minutes post-sunset, if you're really in a pinch, too.

The Gemara says either distinction is okay; some say that means a shul can do one way half the year and another way half the year; some read it that on any given day, you can do either way. The most extreme version is to do Mincha after "plag" but Maariv before sunset; some shuls do this (Magen Avraham says it's okay for a community but not an individual), Aruch HaShulchan staunchly defends it, but it doesn't appear to be well supported by the sources (at least for an individual). There are other ways to stretch it, e.g. using Magen Avraham's calculation of relative hours.

Now the evening recitation of Shema must be said after "tzeis hakochavim", when the stars come out. Depending on your latitude and which rabbi you follow, let's call this very roughly 45 minutes after sunset (so long as you're no further from the equator than New York City). (Yes I know someone is going to vote me down for not requiring 72, "Rabeinu Tam.") The definition of "tzeis" is a very very complicated topic, so I'm oversimplifying here.

You can simply daven maariv right after sunset and then say Shema again later; ideally you could wait a bit so that the Shema of maariv would fulfill the evening-Shema mitzva. If you don't daven maariv until 45 after sunset you're all set for the night; if you do it in between (let's say 18 after sunset) you should still repeat Shema, but it has some advantage as you fulfilled your obligation according to some opinions.

  • Who holds the distinction of the Rabbanan is sunset and not Tzeit? Also this post appears to conflate "Ma'ariv" and "Arvit" (that is, the blessings on the evening Shema and the evening Amida). – Double AA Jun 4 '13 at 19:54
  • As I learned it, this is an instance where you need not be consistent from day to day (choosing which opinion to follow). But you should be consistent within one day. – Yehuda W Aug 3 '15 at 12:53
  • @YehudaW That's not how the Shulchan Arukh and earlier authorities present it. – Double AA May 11 '16 at 8:25
  • @DoubleAA As I learned it, you need not be consistent from day to day, but do need to be consistent within a day. By that I mean that on one day you can say mincha before plag and maariv after plag but before dark. On another day you can say mincha just before dark and maariv after dark. But on any single afternoon/evening you cannot say both mincha and maariv between plag mincha and sunset. I read your earlier posting to say that you disagree with this. In case that is so, I offered the Kitzur in support. – Yehuda W May 16 '16 at 0:50
  • @YehudaW And I said that "That's not how the Shulchan Arukh and earlier authorities present it." I don't know how you are disagreeing with me. You made a statement. I said the ShA and earlier disagree with it. Do you disagree with my claim? Why are we repeating ourselves? – Double AA May 16 '16 at 1:06

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