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I davened at a shul this morning that announced mincha at 5:30pm with maariv following immediately after. Plag mincha is around 6:45pm today. I pointed this out to the gabbai and he said that there is an opinion that says that you can daven maariv before plag, and that it is ok in this case because otherwise the attendees would not daven maariv at all. I didn't argue with him, though based on what I have learned, you can't daven maariv before plag (and thus if you do, birkot keryiat shema would be ברכות לבטלות, not to mention that tefillat amidah is also לא בזמנו and is at best a תפילת רשות).

Does anyone know of a legitimate source permitting this practice (davening maariv before plag, specifically for those would would otherwise not daven maariv at all)?

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There are 2 opinions of plag brought down in Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim Siman 261 in the Beer Halacha:

להקדים וכו': הנה לפי מה שכתב המחבר לקמן בסי' תנ"ט ס"ב מוכח דס"ל די"ב שעות היום נחשב מעמוד השחר עד צאת הכוכבים ופלג המנחה הוא שעה ורביע קודם צאת הכוכבים א"כ אין בין דברי הרמ"א להקודם רק חלק עשרים מן השעה דארבעה מילין הם שעה וחומש לפי דעת המחבר שם ומפלג המנחה עד הלילה הוא שעה ורביע וידוע דרביע יתר הוא על חמישית רק בחלק עשרים.
According to the Rema Plag hamicha is 3 minutes before Shekia (sunset) which is a 20th of an hour.

The Be-er Halacha then brings the opinion of the Levush:

אח"כ מצאתי בלבוש בסי' רס"ז שהעיר בכ"ז ועי"ש שדעתו באמת **שפלג המנחה הוא שעה ורביע קודם השקיע
The Levush says Plag Hamincha is 1 hour 15 minutes before Shekia (suset).

Hungarians follow the Rema and litvaks follow the Levush.

So the questioner must have been a Hungarian askig a Litvuk how can plag Hamincha be 1 hour 15 miutes early which is almost exactly the difference between the Rema and the Levush of 1 hour 12 minutes. Add 3 minutes when the shaos zemanios (daylight hours split into 12) are slightly longer around April and August and you know why one Shul davens 1 hour 15 minutes before another. So no-one davened Maariv before their opinion of Plag!

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    Except that he's in Israel according to his profile. Neither plag is at 5:30 in Israel in June. (Unless you're going to argue that he means Israël, Haiti, where the times actually work out about right. It exists according to myzmanim but I can't find it on Google maps) – Heshy Aug 12 '18 at 23:00
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    @heshy not everyone in Israel are land locked, some people travel to chutz laaretz this is maybe why the questioner speaks English so fluently, and even in Israel Shekia in April is around 6.30 so please think carefully before commenting – yosefkorn Aug 13 '18 at 7:54
  • There are a few ways of calculating plag hamincha to come out early. If you start the day at netz, and end it at shkia(like the Gra; but not how we calculate it), and use 22.5 minutes for a mil and calculate tzet as a parsa after shkia, then you wound find that plag comes out to about two or three hours before tzet hakochavim b'sha'ot shavot(not zmaniot). This is only in line with some terms taken from the Gra and other calculations. So there could be a halachic justification; not that I endorse it, fyi. – chacham Nisan Nov 11 '18 at 9:24
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    Is this meant as a joke? – Double AA Aug 8 at 11:52

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