I am confused about the exact/official time of Shabbat starting. Is it 18 minutes before sunset, when the candles are lit, or at sunset?


1 Answer 1


Shabbat starts at a split second notice that only Gd knows. The period this transition takes place we call this questionable period bein hashmashot - between the guards. During this period it is unknown to us whether it is part of the day (Friday) or part of the next day (shabbos). This period starts after shkiah/sunset. Thus, one should refrain from doing prohibited work during this period. The 18min here or the longer or shorter periods added in other locals are all customs that help to safeguard Shabbat.

  • 2
    – Alex
    Commented May 13, 2018 at 3:00
  • Thank you, so it would be okay for me to light my Shabbat candles any time within those 18 minutes? As Shabbat does not officially start until sundown?
    – Matt R
    Commented May 15, 2018 at 22:45
  • Technically, yes. One also has an additional mitzvah of tosefes Shabbat which means one must add time from the weekday Friday onto Shabbat by accepting it early. Commented May 16, 2018 at 2:48
  • This Chabad article cites Sefer Bein ha-Shemashot 6:2–4, which I have not looked up. If you do, you can edit your answer to strengthen it with sources. Commented Sep 23, 2018 at 20:01

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