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Rabbi's Blog: Summer’s End - Plag Thank You!

08/26/2022 11:32:17 AM


Dear OZ family,

Another summer is coming to an end. It seems that as we get older, the summers end faster and faster. It makes sense. When a specific amount of time is less of a percentage of our lifetime, it moves along faster. That means that the summer seems a lot longer to an eight year old than to a sixty year old. I already started at YU and Stern, and I just began my 80th straight semester there. Another sign of the end of the summer is that tonight is our final Plag Mincha of the season. “Plag” literally means “half” and it is a Halachic designation that limits the time to offer the afternoon Korban Tamid, according to the opinion of the Tanna Rabbi Yehuda. That is somewhere between an hour and two hours before sunset, depending on the time of the year. The majority opinion holds that the afternoon offering can be brought up to sunset.


This dispute is manifest today in the amount of time we have to daven Mincha every day, as well as when we can start to daven Ma’ariv. According to Rabbi Yehuda, we only have until Plag to daven Mincha, but at that point we can daven Ma’ariv. According to the Rabbis, we can daven Mincha up to sunset, but we can’t daven Ma’ariv until after sunset. So when we refer to a “Plag” Mincha, that really means a “Plag” Ma’ariv. In other words, in order to daven Ma’ariv early, before sunset, we have to make sure to daven Mincha before plag.


When I came to OZ in 1988, we struggled considerably to make daily minyan for Mincha and Ma’ariv. We would often scrape together a minyan by asking pedestrians if they’re Jewish and drafting them. In the summer, no one wanted to be out too late, so we had a 7pm minyan for Mincha and Ma’ariv throughout Daylight Savings Time. This is internally contradictory as we were davening the Mincha of the Rabbis (Plag never gets to 7pm in New York), and then we would daven Rabbi Yehuda’s Ma’ariv (well before sunset). Numerous unsuccessful attempts were made to remedy the situation and we stayed with 7pm for a number of years. (BTW, 7pm Mincha does straddle plag according to the Magen Avraham for most of June and July in New York).


As more Jews moved into the West Side and the neighborhood became safer, we incorporated a “Z’man” minyan whereby Mincha was right before sunset, and Ma’ariv shortly after sunset, in addition to the 7pmminyan. When Covid lockdowns ended, and New York had a curfew at 8pm, we could only have a plag minyan and it has stuck with us together with a z’man minyan. I would like to thank everyone who helped maintain both minyanim since last April. It is not so easy to maintain one Mincha-Ma’ariv on the West Side, and we kept two all summer. Next week there will only be one minyan, a z’man minyan at 7:20pm.     


Mazel Tov to our children Mindy and Yoni who are redeeming their bechor, Shalev Tzvi today from a Kohen who will, please God, take his place working in the Beis Hamikdash .

Have a wonderful Shabbos, and for those davening at plag today, enjoy 26.5 hours of a wonderful Shabbos that is Me’ein Olam Habah.


Be safe and healthy.

Rabbi Allen Schwartz

Rabbi Allen Schwartz

Congregation Ohab Zedek

118 West 95th Street | New York, NY  10025-6604

Phone 212.749-5150, ext 200 | Fax 212.663-3635





Sat, April 13 2024 5 Nisan 5784