Thursday, October 19, 2006


There are two comments by gentle-persons self-identifying as 'Anonymous' underneath my posting of Wednesday October eleventh about Rabbeinu Tam.

[see here:]

The first one is this:
"Speaking as one who is completely irreligious and reads this blog mainly for the recipes, the Rabbeinu Tam's insistance on keeping things seperate strikes me as anal retentiveness bordering on OCD."

The second one is this:
"I thought RT was famous mostly for his late tzeis hakochavim and tefillin. Even my 6 year old knows about the Tzeis thing."

Ah yes, the Tzeis thing. About which I had heard something somewhere, but until you mentioned it, it had sort of fluttered unattended in the dark recesses of my mind.


Per Rashi, citing the Yerushalmi, one may receite Krias Shema early so as to precede the eighteen benedictions with words of Torah, but he states that this does not fullfil the obligation to recite the Shema, which he avers must be done (or done again) following the time when the stars come forth (tzeis ha kovochim).

Rabbeinu Tam disagrees, asserting one does indeed fulfill the obligation of Krias Shema when reciting it before tzeis ha kochovim.

The Rosh says that though one does not fulfill the obligation of Krias Shema before the tzeis, one can still recite the blessings before and after the Shema - but he states categorically that the proper time for Krias Shema is after tzeis.

Rashi, in mittn drinnen, states that the first paragraph alone, before sleeping, is sufficient.

Because the time when a kohen who has teivelled may eat terumah (largely moot since the destruction of the beis ha mikdosh) is at the same time (and before bringing korbanos), according to the Mishna , one can draw a connection between this and Krias Shema, and likewise between prayer and korbanos.

In similar fashion, we can recall these matters when lighting the chanukah candles, as these should be lit after tzeis.

So when is tzeis ha kovochim?

Tzeis ha kovochim is counted as four mil after sunset, according to Rabbeinu Tam, the Rashba, the Ritva, and the Rambam. If you count a mil as eighteen minutes, the difference is 72 minutes, if you count a mil as 22.5 minutes, the difference is one and a half hours.

The issue becomes interesting when you try to figure out the time difference between alos (sun rise) and plag ha mincha (one sixth of a mil before sunset) according to Talmudic hours....

But I shan't go there. My kop still dries with shmartz from the reckoning involved in modifying the proportions of a tobacco blend last night while Savage Kitten kvetshed about the pregnant cow at her office. And I'm sure the authorities you follow have already either settled the matter, or beaten it into the ground (although if your mil is not 22.5 minutes, uy!).

A machlokes which we'll backburner.

Unless you, my tayere lezers, want to enlighten me.
Which I invite and encourage.
A trip of discovery is less of a stumble in good company.

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Several years ago I had a coworker down the peninsula who would leave work related voicemails on people's answering machines all weekend...