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Maaseh Rav and the Early Sabbath Meal

September 29, 2014

Question: You claimed that it is perfectly legitimate to accept shabbos early, make qiddush, and eat your friday night meal, and that it is based on the Maaseh Rav, but when I looked in that book, it says that you first have to daven before making qiddush Friday night!

Answer: See the footnote in the commentary P’ulath Sachir to that halacha (117).  The general rule is that one’s acceptance of the Sabbath can not consist of the qiddush that precedes the meal. I.e., one can not just wait for plagh haminha, declare that the Sabbath has begun, recite qiddush, and begin eating without doing something to officially accept the Sabbath. In Talmudic times, the acceptance of the Sabbath could not have been the recitation of the qabbalath shabbath service as we know it because it did not yet exist. Nor was the lighting of the Sabbath candles considered the official acceptance of the Sabbath, although it was always an obligatory preparation for the Sabbath that needed to be made after plagh. Rather, the beginning of the evening service in the synagogue served as the official acceptance of the Sabbath. However, times changed long ago, and today both the candle lighting and/or the recitation of qabbaalth shabbath in any of its forms is considered the official acceptance of the Sabbath. See, for example, Orah Hayim 261:4. In our case, I attended early afternoon prayers on Friday, and shortly after plagh we both lit candles and sang L’cha Dodi before reciting qiddush. Thus, our official acceptance of the Sabbath preceded the qiddush.

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