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This question states, "havdalah ends shabbat (for one who didn't daven ma'ariv)." But won't Shabbat end on its own at some point--specifically, at nightfall--even if we don't make havdalah nor daven maariv?

I understand that melachos might still be rabbinically prohibited until we have made havdalah or maariv, because we are rabbinically required to usher out the Shabbat ourselves. But is it correct that the "Biblical" end of Shabbat--and therefore the end of Biblical prohibitions on melachos--comes automatically at nightfall?

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according to some opinions (the Rif, Rosh [Yoma daf 81b] and others) it is a Torah obligation (midioraisah) and acording to all others it is at least a rabinic obligation (midirabanan) that a person must add "from his own time" to the shabbos both in the beginning and the end (the term for this is called tosefes shabbsos). in other words: on Friday a few (at least four) minutes before shkiah a person must accept Shabbos (this is already calculated in our calendars); so to at the end of Shabbos a person must add a few minutes before he takes out Shabbos (do melachah - hotzoas shabbos). see Shulchan Aruch Simanim 271 and 293 with Mishnah Berurah and also Shulchan Aruch haRav, there.

So, to answer your question acording to many (including the Rif and Rosh quoted above) you must usher out the Shabbos either by davening maariv or by saying havdalah (and it's not something that happens automatically).

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    Why does an obligation to add 4 (!) minutes to Shabbat mean it doesn't end automatically? – Double AA Sep 4 '14 at 2:54
  • it doesn't (forget the four minutes for a second) you have an obligation to end it "on your own terms" you decide when it ends - but it cant be from before those four minutes but again the mitzvah is to add "from your own time (chol) to shabbos (kodesh) and it only ends once you end it (the time of nightfall is only there to tell you that you cant end it earlier – skraz13 Sep 4 '14 at 4:24
  • Interesting answer, although I don't think it deals exactly with my question (all this stuff you're talking about is considered rabbinic by most authorities). But I had never heard the part about accepting Shabbos no fewer than 4 minutes before sundown. If it is fewer than 4 minutes before sundown (but still before), can you not light Shabbos candles? – SAH Sep 4 '14 at 14:32
  • I'm not with my seforim now so if there are any mistakes they are all mine but, firstly you should not light the candles less then "four"minutes before shkiah the shulchan aruch brings the idea of asking a goy to light for you and you make a brochoh second the idea of for mines is from what I remember the shortest amount of time brought down by poiskim (it'd the opinion of the ketzos hashulchan and a few other I don't remember of hand) other opinions say 5 somee say 6 or even more – skraz13 Sep 4 '14 at 23:00

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