It's that time of year again. This TT Pull-Out contains
practical information and detailed explanations about various aspects of "taking
Halachically, none of the nighttime mitzvot may be performed
before Plag Mincha. Consequently, one may not "take Shababat" before PLAG MINCHA.
One may not light Shabbat candles (or Chanuka candles) before PLAG, nor say
Kabbalat Shabbat & Maariv, nor make Kiddush. But one MAY light candles, take
Shabbat, daven Maariv, make Kiddush and begin the first Shabbat Seuda after PLAG.
Some object to taking Shabbat early because Sh'ma in its Maariv
setting is not said at its proper time. Although one will repeat it later, this
is not ideal. Furthermore, it becomes too easy to forget to repeat the Sh'ma
This pull-out and announcements at the end of "early minyan" are your reminders to say the Shma (and count the Omer) at the proper time. Try to remind each other in your family and at your Shabbat table, so that no one will forget these important mitzvot. Taking Shabbat early can be a positive experience, but not if it results in neglect of a Torah mitzva or two.
Another Problem Since davening Mincha after Plag is fine according to T”K but NOT according to R’ Yehuda, and davening Maariv before sunset is okay according to R’ Yehuda but not according to T”K, it is not proper to daven both Mincha & Maariv between Plag and sunset.
Therefore, it is best to schedule an early minyan to begin Mincha about 15 minutes before PLAG. This way, Mincha can be said before PLAG followed by Kabbalat Shabbat and Maariv, after PLAG. This would be consistent with R’ Yehuda's opinion. To begin an “early Friday” mincha after Plag is problematic, to say the least, and makes “taking Shabbat early” less than ideal.
CANDLES Women must be reminded to light after PLAG, never before. Women should daven Mincha on their own (this is preferable year-round), light after PLAG, then go to shul (if they do) for Kabbalat Shabbat. This can be a problematic situation for some families.
KIDDUSH Shuls that schedule their early minyan's Mincha after PLAG, not only enter into the contradictory situation mentioned above ("satisfying" neither the T”K nor R’ Yehuda), but also can run into another problem (depending upon timing). Once it gets "close" to dark, one should not begin a meal (nor say Kiddush) before saying Shma. In other words, if one has not made Kiddush by sunset (maybe even 5-10 minutes before that), then he must (should?) wait until dark, say the Sh'ma, and THEN make Kiddush (thereby defeating the purpose of "taking Shabbat early"). The idea is to say Kiddush well enough before sunset so that one does not even enter the time-range of Sh'ma. If people are "sloppy" about this issue, they make taking Shabbat less ideal. This is another point of objection by those who speak unfavorably about the whole idea of early Shabbat.
A minyan that starts Mincha a half hour before Jerusalem candle lighting time will get people home for a "problem-free" Kiddush, if the people don't linger too much after shul. (They still have the Mincha-Maariv after Plag problem.)
Technically, if one begins his meal "with halachic permission", he need not stop for Sh'ma or the Omer (they can be be said/counted after the meal). However, it is highly desirable and recommended that when the proper time arrives, families should interrupt their meals for Sh'ma and the Omer. This helps prevent forgetting later on, and also has a positive educational value for family and guests.
Another point to keep in mind... When people say Kiddush and begin their first Shabbat meal before dark, it is important that the meal - and the eating of some challah - should continue after nightfall.
More Problems Some object to splitting a community by having two minyanim on Friday night. Others point out potential problems if a whole community takes Shabbat early and some individual members don't, specifically, lighting candles and doing other "melachot" after the community accepted Shabbat. Ask your Rav.
Early Shabbat should be an enhancement of Shabbat and a
fulfillment of Tos'fot Shabbat - but without being careless about Shma and
POINT in FAVOR The Aruch HaShulchan (R’ Yechiel Michel HaLevi Epstein) introduces another factor into the equation which adds another positive spin to taking Shabbat early. He points out that we daven Maariv corresponding to the HECTEIR CHALAVIM V'EIVARIM, the slow burning of fats and certain parts of the day's korbanot on the Mizbei'ach all night. That's why we may daven Maariv all night long. But on Friday, the burning had to be done before Shabbat, i.e. earlier than the rest of the week. By davening Maariv earlier on Friday evening, we nicely match the corresponding service of the Beit HaMikdash. (It's not a perfect match because we're beginning Shabbat at that point, and the Hecteir Chalavim v'Eivarim was specifically before Shabbat. Also, to be consistent, we'd have to daven Maariv early on Friday throughout the year, which we don't. But it's a nice point anyway.)
Taking Shabbat early can enhance one’s Oneg Shabbat, as mentioned earlier, by allowing for dinner to be at a more “civilized” hour, and being able to have young children join the rest of the family at the table. It can be an enhancement of Shalom Bayit for various reasons. But it should not involve compromising the standards of davening and other halachic matters.
It is recommended that people go over this Guide to Early Shabbat at the Friday night table on the first "early Shabbat" of the season, so that everyone hears what's involved and can discuss some of the issues.
Israel Summer Time (a.k.a. Daylight Savings Time) goes into
effect on the night following Seder night, the first night of Chol HaMoed. This
chart begins with Shabbat Chol HaMoed. Most shuls will probably begin their
"early Shabbat" minyan after Pesach.
NST: Near Sh'ma Time. Kiddush should (preferably) be said before this time. This time is 30 minutes after regular candle lighting time, which is 10 minutes before the later sunset time and 5 minutes or so before the earlier sunset (calculated as if Jerusalem were at sea level).
SH: Recommended to say Shma at this time or soon thereafter.
(Then count the Omer.) 25 minutes after the later sunset. (This is earlier than
The saying of SHMA is a mitzva from the Torah and we should seize the first opportunity after dark to say it, even during our Shabbat meal. Since it is not now being said in the davening,  there is no need to say ,nt at the end, since in the context of davening, EMET is the first word of the bracha that follows the SH'MA, which we attach to the end of Sh'ma; and  we can (should?) say oak vbnzc gna ,thre ,umn (for the sake of saying Sh’ma on time) before we begin.
Last year, we wrote that it is also unnecessary to say KEIL MELECH NE'EMAN before the Sh'ma. Having checked several sources about this three-word intro to Sh'ma when not saying it with a minyan, we found that the reason for adding these three words does not seem to depend upon the Sh'ma being in the context of davening (Maariv or Shacharit). The reason given for adding KM"N is to "round out" the number of words in the full Sh'ma to 248. (This includes BARUCH SHEIM... but not EMET). 248 is the traditional number of parts in the body. "He who says the 248 words of the Sh'ma the way they are supposed to be said, HaShem will preserve his 248 parts, as it says in Mishlei (4:4), ...SH'MOR MITZVOTAI VECHYEI, keep My mitzvot and live. G-d says: you keep Mine, and I'll keep yours.
(When davening with a minyan, the chazan's repeating aloud
HASHEM ELOKEICHEM EMET brings the word-total to 248 and therefore we do not add
KEIL MELECH NE'EMAN to the beginning of the Sh'ma.)
Count the Omer with KAVANA, standing...
For the post-counting passages, use your TT Omer Chart or your favorite Siddur