Orach Chayim 235:1 rules that one has to repeat Shema after the emergence of 3 stars (tzeit kochavim) if prayed earlier in the evening. Many don't wait until tzeit in the summer on Fridays, pray earlier, and after the Shabbat meal they repeat Shema. However, חז"ל perfectly knew the issue with this (Berakhot 4b):

ואומר אלך לביתי ואוכל קימעא ואשתה קימעא ואישן קימעא, ואחר כך אקרא קריאת שמע ואתפלל, וחוטפתו שינה ונמצא ישן כל הלילה

And says: I will go home, eat a little, drink a little, sleep a little and then I will recite Shema and pray. In the meantime, he is overcome by sleep and ends up sleeping all night. (see Sefaria)

This Shabbat I had to do very serious efforts not to fall asleep, and unfortunately some parts of Europe are not in their natural time zone as well. For example in Paris, France, one had to wait until 23:02 on Friday (while at the eastern part of this time zone in Budapest it was only at 21:45). Is there a halakhically acceptable way to ensure fulfilling the mitzvah of Shema and go sleeping earlier?

  • 1
    See the Beit Yosef 267 who allows eating because of Rabbenu Tam. Not sure it's worth relying on that ordinarily, but with an alarm clock and in Shaat haDechak like northern countries you may find a Heter to eat early
    – Double AA
    Jun 18, 2018 at 13:27
  • Is your difficulty that according to your understanding one must eat only after reciting Shema and that adds a lot of time later on and you want to find a way to eat before Shema? Or just that the time for Shema is late and it's hard?
    – Double AA
    Jun 18, 2018 at 16:13
  • @DoubleAA On Shabbat eves we eat a very fine dinner, and this general risk of falling asleep is even higher. So in your terms the second one. Jun 18, 2018 at 18:03
  • So you are accepting already that it is permitted to eat this fine dinner before saying Shema?
    – Double AA
    Jun 18, 2018 at 18:05
  • @DoubleAA I assume it's a commonly accepted practice, as I only know one congregation that prays Kabbalat Shabbat with tzeit, while numerous others that don't. Also found this one: dinonline.org/2011/10/25/… Jun 19, 2018 at 9:36

1 Answer 1


The earliest opinion for the time for arvit and shema is (quoting from Halachipedia)

Rabenu Tam's (quoted by Tosfot Brachot 2a s.v. Meeymatai) argues that really we hold like Rabbenu Yehuda in the Mishna (Brachot 26a) who says that one may say Arvit from Plag Mincha, so too we hold that one may say Shema from Plag Mincha.

(see also here bottom of p. 1 and note 3)

In practice, I know no one who rules like this. However I asked your question once and was told that, in case of need, one could pray Shema as early as 24 minutes after shkia/sunset (during the height of the summer in Europe). On the calculation of the 24 minutes, there are different opinions for how long there is from shkia to tzeit hakochavim, ranging from 20-45 minutes (see e.g., top of page 16 here).

This might give you a direction to follow when asking your rav.

PS. I personally never relied on this kula when living 5 years in Paris but also recall many summer Friday nights trying to stay awake.

  • The OP cited Shulchan Arukh who rules against Rabbenu Tam regarding the earliest time for Shema at night. What exactly is this answer adding? It seems your answer is just reminding the OP that there are multiple opinions regarding when nightfall is so he should check where he's getting his numbers (such as 23:02 or 21:45)
    – Double AA
    Jun 18, 2018 at 16:11
  • @DoubleAA since not everyone as erudite as you are (and I mean it in all seriousness), it is an insight that one can pray 24 minutes after shkia in case of need/extreme situation. I personally previously thought one had to wait until nightfall. This is also what is indicated by a number of halachic zmanim calculator on the web (e.g., chabad). So for some of us the above might be helpful.
    – mbloch
    Jun 18, 2018 at 16:15
  • "ranging from 20-45 minutes" - I can't access your 2nd link, now. I'm curious if this is a universally true calculation everywhere in the world and during all seasons. For example, during the summer, north of the Arctic circle, the sun doesn't set at all for about 2 months. Thus, there is no shki'ah or tzet. Even in places where there is an actual night, when you're near that point, doesn't twilight take a very long time - possibly an hour or two?
    – DanF
    Jun 18, 2018 at 18:01
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    Besides that this is a very minority opinion, if you accepted this, shouldn't you follow this for the rest of the week? Personally, I have this problem only on Shabbat, as I only eat a light dinner on the rest of the days, therefore I wouldn't risk accepting this opinion on weekdays. Didn't your Parisian mates have another solution? Jun 19, 2018 at 10:25
  • 1
    @Kazibácsi lemaase I didn't do this but it was mentioned to me as a solution for "tough cases", e.g., Scandinavia in the summer which is even worse
    – mbloch
    Jun 19, 2018 at 10:33

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