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Does anyone today follow Rabbineu Tam time for the beginning of Shabbos? Reading some tshuvas (e.g. Eretz haTzvi) it is clear this was widespread in Europe.

If one has previously been accustomed to accept Shabbos according to the Gra/Baal HaTanya, can one switch to Rabbeinu Tam?

(In particular, if one is sure his ancestors did so in Europe, can one revive this minhag after it fell into disuse after migrating to America?)

  • There are several distinct questions here. In the first part, are you looking for whether one is permitted to follow Rabenu Tam or precedent for doing so? – WAF Jul 8 '11 at 20:04
  • @WAF: In the first part, I am looking for modern-day precedent. Then I am looking for thoughts about the permissibility of switching. And finally thoughts about whether one's past family minhag should be relevant to the permissibility. – Curiouser Jul 8 '11 at 20:11
  • I've been in several chassidishe communities around the world. In Israel, everyone both stops melacha, and prays Friday afternoon minchah, before sunset. In the US and Europe, they stop doing melacha before sunset, but will wait to pray minchah until as much as 58 minutes after sunset. Usually, it's a bit earlier, like 40 minutes after sunset, when there's still a little light in the sky in the Northeast US, or Northern Europe. – Jake Aug 28 '14 at 5:47
  • I know of a modern American Jewish community that follows Rabbeinu Tam. I don't know what their justification is. Their orientation is shomer mitzvos, with people ranging in observance from Conservative/OO to liberal Chasidic. – SAH Dec 14 '15 at 22:16
  • @SAH Do they follow his time on both ends of Shabbat, or just the beginning? – Double AA Aug 7 '16 at 21:26
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I have no source, but have heard that when Rav Yoel of Satmar came to America, he and his followers did follow Rabenu Tam. Rav Moshe Feinstein, the story goes, asked him if he could desist, explaining that Americans would follow his own view for the end of Shabas and Rav Yoel's for the start, and Rav Yoel agreed to.

  • I did find a note in the Divrei Yoel which indicates that one should fulfill the time of the Gaonim for accepting Shabbos (hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=20289&st=&pgnum=122) but this contradicts what everyone seems to know about Satmar? – Curiouser Jul 9 '11 at 1:12
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    The note in Divrei Yoel is to follow the Gaonim lachumra only, see above. what "everyone seems to know about Satmar" is a mistake, no satmar chosid will now drive after sunset. – user742 Jul 11 '11 at 7:32
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    @Philomath: Thanks -- is there any discussion anywhere of when this decision was made? Is it true that Satmar still do melacha in private up until RT time? Any sources would be great. – Curiouser Jul 11 '11 at 13:37
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    @Curiouser: I have found a copy of the kol koira here link, it mentions the date the decision was taken, which is 7 April 1954 in civil date. the minhag of satmar chasidim today in private b'shas hadchak is not quite clear (as well as the da'as of Rav Yoel himself). see here link for a great discussion among satmar chasidim themselves, it's in Yiddish though. – user742 Jul 11 '11 at 15:57
  • FWIW Rav Yoel immigrated in 1946 (apparently). – msh210 Jul 11 '11 at 16:38
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Due to the influence of the Vilna Gaon and subsequent poskim, the absolutely normative practice for mainstream Ashkenazim in North America is that Shabbos starts at sunset. Barring particularly unusual circumstances, that is our halachic norm and should be followed. It is at the very least minhag hamakom.

"Revive the minhag" is not the appropriate language here, as it involves doing something that is considered a serious sin according to the norms the community here and now. I just don't hear it.

  • I was really looking for information about what might factor into this decision. For instance, when Satmar first arrived in America they would do melacha after sunset, following Rabbeinu Tam. Do they still? If not, what made them change? What were the considerations? Did the change have a status of a neder? Could they go back if they wanted to? Is following Rabbeinu Tam really considered a "serious sin"? Source? If true, then that would be a factor. – Curiouser Jul 8 '11 at 20:38
  • Curiouser, minhag America is that shabbos starts at sunset (or maybe in emergency situations, up to 13 minutes later); according to that minhag, doing work after that time is "a serious sin." It's not like a minhag of stand-or-sit at kiddush, where there's far less at stake. – Shalom Jul 8 '11 at 21:03
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    let's clear up a bit. first, there is no such thing as "minhag america", as there is a mix of kahilos coming from different places, (see bava matzia 83b). now, in Principe satmar still follows Rabbineu Tam time (which is, by the way, the da'as of most rishonim), as the minhag was in Europe. but to prevent machlokos (etc) Rav Yoel of Satmar called together 70-80 rabanim (most of them from Brooklyn), and they come to an agreement to follow both zmanim (Rabbineu Tam & geoinim) lachumra with regard to shabbos. this is well known to any satmar chosid. – user742 Jul 11 '11 at 0:00
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    He also cites the Chavos Yair, that if when everyone left the old city they had no intention of ever returning (which wasn't the case during the Balance-of-Power system for centuries in Europe, but was the case with the Holocaust), the original locale's customs would be void even if people later returned. I maintain that several practices became strongly normative for the overwhelming majority of mainstream American Orthodoxy which become "minhag America" (Rabbi Wein has a tape on the subject), including starting Shabbos at sunset at the latest. – Shalom Jul 13 '11 at 15:55
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    If you want to start an endless debate about ending Shabbos by Rabbeinu Tam's definition, please (don't) open a separate question about that. If it was 72 minutes in Provence what does that mean at other latitudes ... who says Rabbeinu Tam's 72 start at what we call sunset ... we can theorize and debate from today until tomorrow; for normative American practice, The Agudas HaRabbonim told people in New York to end Shabbos 42 minutes after sunset ... R' Moshe Feinstein 45 ... and others are machmir to 72. – Shalom Jul 13 '11 at 16:03
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Some hasidic groups still start Shabbat (and end Shabbat) according to Rabeinu Tam. I saw this with the hasidim in Lakewood, NJ and with Belz in Eretz Israel. A rabbi in the hasidic community in Lakewood told me that they, relying on Rabeinu Tam, will do melakhoth until about 30 minutes after Shekiah.

The Igros Moshe has a teshuba that permits if necessary doing melakhoth that are de'rabbanan during bein shemaot. Referenced here: "Tosefet Shabbat" – Adding Time Onto Shabbat By Rav Yosef Tzvi Rimon Translated by David Silverberg Har Etzion Yeshiva

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Yalqut Yosef - Qizur Shulhan `Arukh (Orah Hayim 261:6) states (my translation):

הדבר ברור שאין להקל ח''ו לעשות מלאכה אחר השקיעה שלנו, שכבר פשט המנהג כדעת הגאונים, וחס ושלום לפרוץ גדר ולהקל כשיטת רבינו תם, ורק לחומרא בצאת השבת אנו מחמירים כדעת רבינו תם.

Clearly, there is no room to be lenient H"W to perform melakhah after our [definition of] sunset since the prevalent custom is per the opinion of the Ge'onim.

And Heaven forbid one from being lenient per Rabbe'inu Tam's opinion - for it is only when being stringent at the end of Shabbat that we behave in accordance with [his opinion].

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