If one started a meal right before shkiah or during bein hashmoshis what should they do? My question is prompted from the halacha that one may not eat before praying Maariv. However with that said I do know of a caveat where one says Shema and appoints a shomer to pray Maariv later. But in this scenario does he have to stop his meal at Tzeis HaKochavim (which is presumably when the time for saying Shema begins) and appoint a shomer? Of course all of this applies where one has prayed mincha already.

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    Note the poskim who discuss the difference made if the regular maariv minyon is later. For example, someone who normally goes to the 10 o'clock minyan or whose normal maariv minyon is after the night shiur. Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 13:16
  • "I know one isnt allowed to eat after Shkiah on Shabbos." Do you mean because of Kiddush? Kiddush can be said even before Shkiah.
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 7, 2016 at 4:30

2 Answers 2


There's a prohibition to start a meal (k'beitza) 30 minutes before the reading of the shema in the evening (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 235:2).

In this case, one who started a meal during this time, may continue his meal so long as he reads the shema at tzet and prays later (if there's time left to pray; otherwise he prays immediately). See seif below:

אָסוּר לְהַתְחִיל לֶאֱכֹל חֲצִי שָׁעָה סָמוּךְ לִזְמַן קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע שֶׁל עַרְבִית, וְאִם הִתְחִיל לֶאֱכֹל אַחַר שֶׁהִגִּיעַ זְמַנָּהּ, מַפְסִיק וְקוֹרֵא קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע בְּלֹא בִּרְכוֹתֶיהָ וְגוֹמֵר סְעוּדָתוֹ, וְאַחַר כָּךְ קוֹרֵא אוֹתָהּ בְּבִרְכוֹתֶיהָ וּמִתְפַּלֵּל. הגה: אֲבָל אֵין צָרִיךְ לְהַפְסִיק לִתְפִלָּה, הוֹאִיל וְהִתְחִיל לֶאֱכֹל; אֲבָל אִם לֹא הִתְחִיל לֶאֱכֹל אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁנּוֹטֵל יָדָיו, צָרִיךְ לְהַפְסִיק (ר''ן פ''ק דְּשַׁבָּת); וְאִם אֵין שְׁהוּת לְהִתְפַּלֵּל, מַפְסִיק אַף לִתְפִלָּה (הָרַאֲבָ''ד בְּהַגָּהוֹת פ''ב מֵהִלְכוֹת ק''ש).

The reason for this gezerah (Berachot 4b) is because Chazal prohibited certain acts like eating and sleeping that may prevent the recitation since one is bound to eat, be satisfied, and sleep all night; thus missing the mitzvah.

  • It seems from the language of the note אִם לֹא הִתְחִיל לֶאֱכֹל אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁנּוֹטֵל יָדָיו that this is only talking about a meal of bread, but can the same be said of a meal of fruits or water, lets say? Commented Mar 7, 2019 at 2:04
  • @Yaakov5777 No. Any time bread is forbidden to eat(like before shacharit/mincha/arvit) fruits and other foods are permitted. See Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 232:3. There is a machloket if eating fruits is permitted before prayers in which R' Yehoshua ben Levi zachur l'tov posits that it is forbidden, the halacha is not like him in this case and the Talmud paskened that it is permitted and limits the prohibition only to a full meal of k'beitzah of bread. Great question! Commented Apr 5, 2019 at 8:45
  • cool thanks for the sources, so in general before maariv, shacharis etc. fruits are totally permissable? What about before kiddush, havdala, or shofar? Are those inherently different mitzvos, or the prohibition is the same as not eating before any mitzvah>? Commented Apr 7, 2019 at 4:07
  • It's permitted in all of the above situations except before praying shacharit, kiddush/havdala on shabbatot/chagim, and after praying musaf on shabbat/yamim tovim. Only before shacharit is there a permit to eat fruits if one feels too weak to pray without eating a little something so they can concentrate(but not bread; unless for health reasons). Regarding kiddush/havdala, the obligation to recite it forbids us from eating fruits also; unless one started their meal prior to the onset of it's obligation. As always, ask your rav. These halachot are practical and should be learned. All the best Commented Apr 11, 2019 at 21:38
  • what about mezonos b4 shacheris Commented Apr 11, 2019 at 23:31

even on shabbos, you're allowed to continue eating if you started before shekiah. the same should apply during the week - if you started before shekiah, you can finish your meal. if you started during bein hashemashos you would seemingly need to stop, unless you appoint a shomer or daven later anyway, as sabbahillel said. it sounds logical that you would need to pause your meal to appoint a shomer right away so you don't forget, but i don't see why you would need to stop.

@Double AA - sounds like he's talking about shekiah on shabbos afternoon.

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  • Poreis mapa um'kadeish is not quite the same as you're allowed to continue eating.
    – Fred
    Commented Dec 25, 2022 at 8:56

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