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Tzav 5782 ~ March 18, 2022

Both in the Mishna and Talmud Berakhot, which is related to blessings and prayers, there is a discussion as to when one is able to recite the Shema in the morning and in the evening. With regard to the morning the Mishnah states:

From when does one recite Shema in the morningFrom when a person can distinguish between sky-blue [tekhelet] and white. Rabbi Eliezer says: From when one can distinguish between sky-blue and leek-green.

And when in the evening: From when, that is, from what time, does one recite Shema in the evening? From the time when the priests enter to partake of their teruma.

According to rabbinic discussion in the Talmud, the evening time for the recitation of the Shema begins basically when the sun sets.

Since our Torah reading for this Shabbat, Tzav, continues with the rituals of the Beit Hamikdash, the Temple in Jerusalem and in the Mishkan, the Tabernacle in the Wilderness, the discussion of time of prayer is quite important on this day.

As a religious Jew, there seems to be quite a discussion amongst not only those in the Conservative Movement, but across the halachic community, as to whether the change to Daylight Savings Time is good for the religious Jew. In this regard, it is related to two issues: the time of prayer on weekdays and the time of Shabbat.

With the change this past week to Daylight Savings Time, Shabbat times begin one hour later and on Saturday night end one hour later, based on when three stars appear in the sky. Some calculate the time as 42 minutes and some as 72 minutes after sunset, based on the teachings of different rabbis.

Generally speaking, the closer one is located to the equator, the less variation one experiences in sunset times throughout the course of the year.  Conversely, being far from the equator subjects a community to greater fluctuations. 

For the halachic Jew, the change to Daylight Savings Time may be a blessing, especially in the winter months, depending on how westward one is in the time zone, as to how much later Shabbat comes in.

On the other hand, the end of Shabbat may not be a blessing. For example, in Chicago, Detroit or Toronto, being more northern and western in the time zone, Shabbat would end quite late into the night. When I was in Edmonton, AB for Yom Kippur, it was the middle of September and we did not have final shofar blowing and the break fast until 9 p.m.  In June, Shabbat in Edmonton would come out at 11:15 p.m. (Canada will follow suit with the U.S. with regard to the change to year-round DST.)

Shabbat would start in the middle of the winter at a more acceptable hour. On the other hand, for those who daven first thing in the morning, with Daylight Savings Time in the winter one would not be able to put on tallit and tefillin and say the first Shema of the day until significantly later, putting religious Jews into the quandary of can I make it to work on time, or how do I pray once the first light in the sky appears, since it will be dark when they go to work in the winter. 

Needless to say, with regard to Passover, for the more traditional who do not begin Sedarim until dark, having returned from the Maariv prayers at shul, Standard time makes a great deal more sense.

Some colleagues suggest a total reversal: DST in the winter months and Standard Time in the Spring and Summer.

Needless to say, there is no perfect solution, but for the halachic Jew, which includes myself, we will just have to wait to see what becomes legislation.

In the meantime, while Shabbat in the summer months becomes somewhat elongated, a day at the beach has its upside as well, too.

As I hear the landscapers in my neighborhood cutting down trees, we are getting closer to enjoying more of those sunny days here in beach country.

Sat, June 25 2022 26 Sivan 5782