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Berachos 27


OPINIONS: In the Mishnah, Rebbi Yehudah and the Rabanan argue concerning the proper time for Davening Minchah. The Rabanan maintain that one may Daven Minchah until the end of the day. Rebbi Yehudah says that one may Daven Minchah only until Pelag ha'Minchah. The Gemara concludes that "d'Avad k'Mar Avad, d'Avad k'Mar Avad;" one may choose either opinion and abide by it. There are three opinions as to what this means.
(a) The RAMBAM, ROSH in the name of RAV HAI GA'ON, PISKEI HA'ROSH of the TUR, and TALMIDEI RABEINU YONAH write that the Gemara means that a person should choose a way to practice, and he should act in accordance with that opinion consistently for his entire life. He should not switch between opinions and pray one day like the Rabanan and another day like Rebbi Yehudah. This ruling is based on a Gemara in Eruvin (7a) which says that a person should choose a Halachic authority to follow and he should not switch from one authority to another.

(b) RABEINU TAM (as cited by the ROSH 1:1), the ME'IRI, and the RE'AH understand that a person may on some days say Ma'ariv between Pelag ha'Minchah and sunset, and on other days say Minchah during that same period. However, he may not Daven both Minchah and Ma'ariv after Pelag ha'Minchah and before sunset *on the same day*. They explain that while normally it is prohibited to act in accordance with two varying opinions, Tefilah is an exception because it is only mid'Rabanan. Therefore, the Rabanan permitted one to choose to follow different (and contradicting) opinions on different days.

(c) RABEINU TAM as cited by TOSFOS (2a, DH Me'eimasai) maintains that even on the *same* day one may recite Minchah after Pelag ha'Minchah and Ma'ariv before sunset. The Me'iri also mentions some authorities who rule this way, explaining that the time period between Pelag and sunset "serves both day and night" ("Meshamesh Yom v'Laylah"). According to these opinions, the Rabanan were lenient with regard to Tefilah even to the extent that they permit one to perform a self-contradicting act.

HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (OC 233:1) rules like (a), that a person should choose to follow one opinion and follow it for the rest of his life. In case of necessity, however, one is permitted to switch and follow the other opinion on a different day, like (b) (ibid.). The DERECH HA'CHAIM says that some people are lenient and Daven Minchah after Pelag and Ma'ariv before sunset (like (c)) when doing otherwise would cause undue inconvenience to the Tzibur. The MISHNAH BERURAH (OC 267:3) writes that one should not rely on this opinion in practice.

With regard to Friday night, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 267:2) writes that the custom is to Daven Ma'ariv earlier than on the weekdays (that is, to Daven earlier than usual, but not necessarily to Daven Ma'ariv before sunset), and the Magen Avraham adds that one may even Daven Ma'ariv before sunset on Shabbos even if he normally does not Daven Ma'ariv before sunset. Apparently, the Rabanan were lenient to permit following a different opinion (that is, on Shabbos one may follow the opinion of (b)) in order to fulfill the Mitzvah of Tosefes Shabbos (adding to Shabbos). The Mishnah Berurah 267:3 adds that when one Davens Ma'ariv early on Friday night, he should be careful to Daven Minchah *before* Pelag ha'Minchah in order to avoid acting simultaneously in accordance with two contradicting opinions (thus, we see that in practice, the third opinion (c) is never followed).


QUESTION: Why did Rebbi Elazar Ben Azaryah refuse to accept leadership until he asked his wife? What were his doubts?

ANSWER: RAV YONASAN EIBSHITZ in YA'AROS DEVASH (cited in MAHARATZ CHAYUS) explains that the Gemara in Kesuvos (61b) states that a man who works as a donkey driver (whose conjugal obligation to his wife is once a week) who wants to become a camel driver (whose conjugal obligation is once every thirty days) must ask his wife for permission because of the decreased frequency of her conjugal rights (Onah) that his career-change will cause.

The Gemara there states that a Talmid Chacham's conjugal obligation is once a week, "from Shabbos to Shabbos." A Nasi's conjugal obligation is once a month (as is stated in Avos d'Rebbi Nasan). Since becoming a Nasi would affect his wife, Rebbi Elazar Ben Azaryah needed to ask her for permission!

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