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In the dispute between the Geonim and Rabbenu Tam over the definition of nightfall, I have seen the Rambam claimed by either side - each claiming that in the Mishneh Torah he held like them.

My question is: How does the Rambam hold about shkiah and tzet ha-kokhavim? Does he hold of one shekiah or two? Does he equate shkiah with the actual sinking of the sun below the horizon, with the appearance of three stars, or both? Does he hold like the Geonim or like Rabbenu Tam?

  • If I'm not mistaken, in manuscript versions of Mishneh Torah he effectively defines Tzet ha-Kokhavim as being about 20 minutes after the Sheqi'ah. (I always understood him to equate the Sheqi'ah "with the actual sinking of the sun below the horizon", but am not sure there's an explicit source for that.) – Tamir Evan Feb 8 '15 at 9:37
  • Is there any evidence from the Geonim themselves that they disagreed with Rabbenu Tam's opinion? Where they, or the Rambam, even aware of Rabbenu Tam's opinion? – Tamir Evan Jun 26 '15 at 15:53
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Rav Nachum Rabinovitch of Yeshivat Birkat Moshe in Maale Adumim interprets the Rambam as refering to sunset as shekiah and cites Rabbi Avraham ben HaRambam also as saying as much: http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/kitveyet/shana/rabinovits-2.htm

  • Nice find. However, Rabbenu also held of sunset being sheqiah. But he also held of two "sheqiahs": one when the sun sets and the other when the stars come out. So, would this be conclusive? Why or why not? Thanks. Kol tuv. – user3342 Feb 8 '15 at 22:35

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