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August 31, 2015 | 16th Elul 5775
Erev Shabbat


  1. Jan 2005 Digest 2005-8

                …On this listserv, as well as in many other contexts in our movement, the term "Erev Shabbat Service" is used to denote services on Friday night.

    My understanding has always been that "erev Shabbat" is Friday (actually beginning at sundown on Thursday). Unlike the secular calendar (where New Year's Eve is December 31, ending at midnight), our day ends sundown and the next day--Shabbat--begins. As another example, Erev Pesach is the day before Pesach and ends at sundown of that day.

    Therefore, almost by definition, if the Friday night service is a Shabbat service,  "erev  Shabbat" has ended and Shabbat proper has begun. It would be  more accurate to call the service the Kabbalat Shabbat service, or, for those Hebraically-challenged, the Friday night service.

    Any thoughts?


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  2. Jan 2005 Digest 2005-8

                I have never heard of Thursday evening being referred to as erev Shabbat. Erev means evening, and Shabbat worship takes place in the evening and in the morning (not to mention Minchah in the afternoon). Kabbalat Shabbat has taken on an identity of its own in those congregations that have both "early" and "late" evening services on Shabbat; but, technically, it would be the opening sections of the Maariv service for Shabbat, with the welcoming components of the liturgy.

    But since my friend Dan has put this in a context of pet peeves, I'll comment on my dismay at kabbalating, most noticeably during the summer, so the congregation leaves its erev Shabbat/Kabbalat Shabbat service and walks out into broad daylight.
  3. Jan 2005 Digest 2005-8

                Erev Shabbat, which means Sabbath evening, not the day before the Sabbath, is, in my opinion, an accurate description of the time during which the evening service should be held, but I think another term might be better used in this situation.

    Gates of Prayer calls the Friday evening services "Sabbath Evening Services," or in Hebrew, T'filot Ar'vit L'Shabbat, (although I would prefer T'filot Ma'ariv L'Shabbat).

    I think that, as a movement, we should use Shacharit, Minchah, and Maariv rather than their English counterparts and use Kabbalat Shabbat to refer to the service that it is: the Zemirot and T'hillim that lead up to the Bar'khu, and not use Kabbalat Shabbat to refer to the entire evening service.

  4. Jan 2005 Digest 2005-8

                Here is a standard definition of “Erev Shabbat”:

    “Erev Shabbat refers not to Friday night, which is already Shabbat, but to all of Friday prior to sundown.”  Rabbi H.H. Donin, To Pray as a Jew, p.62.

  5. Jan 2005 Digest 2005-8

                The word "erev," by itself, means "eve"--the time of sunset. But in the Mishnah, the earliest rabbinic text, "Erev Shabbat" indeed means the day before Shabbat, all day, and "Erev Pesach" means the day before Pesach. This is an idiomatic usage, meaning, "just before" or "leading into." (Much later on, someone who is about to be ordained a rabbi will be known as an "erev rav"--not a "mixed multitude!") The evening service, every day of the week, including Friday night, is called "Arvit" or "Maariv." Calling Friday evening specifically (as opposed to the whole day) "Erev Shabbat" is a later usage--but today this is a standard usage, so the meaning of the term has shifted in popular circles.


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