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Eating meal before mincha or maariv


It seems to me, from the Shulchan Aruch, that it is only muttar to sit down to a meal after mincha ketana, if there is a person in town who calls everyone to shul. However if that is lacking, it doesn’t help that one usually davens in shul. It also seems to me to apply to eating a meal before maariv.
Is this correct ? And if so, what can I do those times of the year when the zman is just after when my wife wants to serve supper before mincha/maariv ?


You are raising an important point, because we see that many people do things and eat even after the time to daven mincha and maariv. The Poskim say that if a person always davens with a minyan, (and according to many poskim a miyan kavua) then we say that he will be reminded because this is his time to daven. Similar to the idea that a person that has a miyan kavua (steady minyan) that he may start learning even after the time to daven shacharis, and we don’t say that he might forget. However a person that sometimes davens b’ychidus (privately) and doesn’t always daven with a minyan, would not have this leniency, because he doesn’t feel obligated by the minyan, therefore the minyan doesn’t serve as a steady reminder for him, and he cannot use this heter.

There is an additional rationale to permit eating supper before maariv etc., that the Shulchan Aruch (O:CH 232-3) says that this halacha only applies to eating a real meal, however one may eat a snack before davening. What is considered a meal for this? If the person eats an eggs worth of bread or cake, or a dish of mezonos (pasta, etc.) if the person is eating it as a meal. However, if the person is only eating vegetables, meat, etc. and there isn’t any mezonos there, then it is permitted. Therefore many times a person’s supper will technically not be considered a “meal”. (Although some poskim frown upon this because this is really his meal, see Piskei Teshuva 232-5).

Another option according to many poskim, is to make a shomer before starting to eat, such as asking your wife or a child to remind you that you have to daven. This option however is only valid if the person being your shomer is not also eating, because then there is a fear that the shomer will also forget to remind you. Additionally, setting an alarm can also serve as a valid shomer to remind you to stop eating and go daven.

Best wishes


Aruch Hashulchan O:CH 235-16, Igros Moshe O:CH 4-98 (1), Shmiras Shabbos Khilchoso 56 ftnt. 12, Shulchan Aruch O:CH 89-6, PIskei Teshuvos 232-3, Mishna Berura 89-34, Nekius  V’kavod B’tefillah 10-38 in the name of R’ Eliyashiv, R’ S. Z. Auerbach, and R’ N. Karelitz zt”l, also see Shvus Yitzchok 2-22-(3).

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