I believe that shabbat, per the torah, doesn't actually start at Shkia and that this convention is a gezera to avoid a makhloket of the real start time.

What are there parameters of this discussion?

What is the closest to shkia this "real shabbat start" could possibly be ie earliest case by earliest opinion? Immediately or Would it be R' Yehuda's opinion of aprox 12 minutes?

What issur would occur if one violates shabbat a couple minutes after shkia? For example, if one is stuck in traffic and chooses to continue driving for a couple of minutes after shkia rather than ditch their car on the side of the road.

  • 2
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    – mevaqesh
    Feb 7, 2016 at 23:13
  • I believe that Talmud Rosh Hashannah discusses the concept of tosfot Shabbat, the idea of "extending" SHabbat earlier into part of the weekday, which is why candle lighting is 18 minutes before sunset. I'll see if I can research this further, as It may have something answering your question. IIRC, they site Biblical verses for this precedent. The question, possibly may lead to the notion that even Biblically, Shabbat starts at candle-lighting time, 18 mins. before sunset.
    – DanF
    Feb 8, 2016 at 15:58

1 Answer 1


The onset of Shabbat certainly may start at shekia at the biblical level (d'orayta). However, there is a biblical uncertainty (safek d'orayta) whether this is indeed the case or whether the onset of Shabbat is at tzeit hakochavim (the emergence of the stars).

Additionally, it is disputed when exactly shekiat hachama occurs. Many medieval scholars assumed that the phenomenon was not really referring to sunset (e.g. Rabbeinu Tam) and there was a custom to assume that it was later. There was also an opinion that it was earlier than sunset. Nonetheless, later authorities, basing themselves partly on the difficulty of such a position when followed in northern European cities such as Wilnius and Prague, assumed that shekiat hachama does indeed refer to literal sunset. This also turned out to be the position of the Geonim, and seems to be the view of Maimonides as well.

Nonetheless, the Talmud is quite clear that shekia is potentially the d'orayta cutoff, and if a person unintentionally violated the Shabbat after shekia but before tzeit both at the beginning and end of Shabbat (the latter earlier in the period than the former) he would definitely be obligated in the chatat offering.

Still, because of the uncertainty, a well as the position of Rabbeinu Tam, there are those who have certain leniencies in times of great need.

  • Does the biblical uncertainty extends to every minute in that time period?
    – Double AA
    Feb 8, 2016 at 1:30
  • @DoubleAA IMSMC that is at least one view.
    – Loewian
    Feb 8, 2016 at 2:16
  • Sources? [15 char]
    – mevaqesh
    Jul 13, 2017 at 20:22

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