Genesis 24,63 says:

וַיֵּצֵא יִצְחָק לָשׂוּחַ בַּשָּׂדֶה לִפְנוֹת עָרֶב וַיִּשָּׂא עֵינָיו וַיַּרְא וְהִנֵּה גְמַלִּים בָּאִים And Isaac went out walking in the field toward evening and, looking up, he saw camels approaching.

The Gemara in Berachos 26b tells us based on the verse above that Yitzchak established Mincha:

יצחק תקן תפלת מנחה שנאמר ויצא יצחק לשוח בשדה לפנות ערב ואין שיחה אלא תפלה שנאמר תפלה לעני כי יעטף ולפני ה׳ ישפך שיחו Isaac instituted the afternoon prayer, as it is stated: “And Isaac went out to converse [lasuaḥ] in the field toward evening” (Genesis 24:63), and conversation means nothing other than prayer, as it is stated: “A prayer of the afflicted when he is faint and pours out his complaint [siḥo] before the Lord” (Psalms 102:1).

Obviously, Isaac was the first to pray as evening approached, at the time of the afternoon prayer.

The interpretation of לפנות ערב seems to imply it was towards evening, at the time that the sun is resting. And the Ibn Ezra says this as well:

לפנות ערב. קרוב מביאת השמש וההפך לפנות בקר ובפרשת כי תצא אבארנו באר היטב

This time would technically be viewed as dusk. And if that is when Yitzchak Davened, why don't we do exactly the same? At the same time that he did? Dusk in the halachic sense is called מנחה קטנה

Yet we are allowed to pray מנחה גדולה - about a half hour after halachic midday. Why is this allowed?

Many Yeshivos and Talmidei Chachamim Daven at this מנחה גדולה time period. Why? Is there not an extra מעלה to pray at the exact same time as Yitzchak did?


1 Answer 1


Rambam (Tefillah 3:2-4) and Shulchan Arukh (OC 233:1) indeed rule that Mincha Ketana is preferable to Mincha Gedola. Others (Rashi, Rosh, Tur, Gra (see Beit Yosef and Gra ibid.)) disagree and think even Mincha Gedola is perfectly acceptable, if not ideal because of taking the first opportunity to do a Mitzva ("Zerizin Makdimin") or if you will be busy later or need to eat now or won't have a Minyan later (Mishna Berurah ibid.). The Arukh haShulchan (ibid. :12) quotes an opinion that the widespread poverty in Europe was due to people not being careful to pray at Mincha Gedola!

Notably, it used to be quite popular to pray both just to be sure, with much discussion about which one to pray as the obligation and which to pray voluntarily (Rambam, ibid.; Tur 234).

Tosfot (Berakhot 26b) supports the practice of praying Arvit before sunset from the fact that Yaakov prayed it when it was still daytime, so we see there indeed is "an extra מעלה to pray at the exact same time as [the Avot] did", but there is also value in praying Mincha earlier, not the least of which is you may forget later on! Everyone should evaluate their circumstances to see what set up is best for them.

  • 3
    Note though, that the Rambam ties the later time of mincha to the time the afternoon tamid was generally offered, rather than to Yitzchak’s prayer.
    – Joel K
    Nov 2, 2018 at 14:06
  • Think Eliyahu HaNavi and also Yom Kippur. How many have the minhag to daven Mincha Gadolah for Yom Kippur? See also: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/26878/7303 Nov 2, 2018 at 18:25
  • @DoubleAA So is the essence of your answer, that in yeshiva, they don't pray Mincha at it's best and most appropriate time to demonstrate 'Zerizut' in fulfilling the commandments (not properly!)? Or that they may be busy with something else later or want to eat or won't have a minyan? That is what this question is asking. Nov 2, 2018 at 18:39
  • @Yaacov that the places that pray earlier have decided that they gain more that way for whatever reason is relevant to them. Be it Zerizin, eating, interrupting Seder, etc.
    – Double AA
    Nov 2, 2018 at 18:41
  • @DoubleAA I understand what you are saying. In those places that follow that practice, they have a justification for following what is permissible, but not the best (l'chatechilah) course of action. But if you read all the way through the question to the end, that it what is being asked. If it is acknowledged that Mincha Gadolah is the l'chatechilah way, why in a yeshivah (for example, that is training people in what to do, how to do things properly, and how to learn correctly) would they ignore the l'chatechilah action? Nov 2, 2018 at 18:51

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