Jewish Law

Zman Tefillah by Chassidim



Dear Rabbi,
I did not grow up chassidish, but I saw many times chassidim that were davening after zman tefillah of Shachrit, and sometimes even in the afternoon. Does this have any halachic basis, like, can I do it too?



The basis for chassidim who davened after zman tefillah was not taken from a halachic perspective, except in the case of ones (uncontrollable inability) caused by choli (sickness, i.e. unable to daven because of weak health), or in the case of one who is osek b’tzarchei tzibur (working to achieve benefits for the community). When neither of these reasons were present, there were still some righteous individuals who davened after the time of “tefillah b’zmanah” - due to a unique deeper and spiritual understanding which they had merited to reach. However, if you do not have either of the aforementioned halachic reasons to daven after zman tefillah, and nor are you from the leaders of the generation who have merited a unique spiritual understanding, you should certainly not daven after the zman of that tefillah.


The times for the tefillot are very defined in Shulchan Aruch, and, as we know, the Shulchan Aruch obligates every Jewish person today [except for the kehillah of Taimani Jews who follow the rulings of the Rambam as the halachah in practice]. The wording of the Shulchan Aruch in regard to the zman of tefillat Shachrit is: “The time of Tefillat Hashachar - its mitzva begins from the netz hachamah (sunrise) and its time is drawn out until the end of four [daytime] hours - which are one-third of the [daylight] day. And if one made a mistake or intentionally went over [the time] and prayed after four hours until chatzot [midday], even though he does not have the same reward as tefillah b’zmanah (prayer in its time), at least the reward of tefillah he has” (Orach Chaim 89:1).

It is clear from the Shulchan Aruch and the Mishna Brurah (ibid, seif katan vav), that one should not plan intentionally from the start to daven after the time of tefillah b’zmanah; although if, for any reason, it already reached that time and he has not yet davened Shachrit, he is still obligated to daven Shachrit.

It also clear from the Rama (ad.loc.) and the Mishna Brurah (ibid, seif katan zayin) that it would not be possible to daven Shachrit anymore once it has passed the time of chatzot. Although there are some poskim who rule lenient in this matter and allow one to daven Shachrit even within the half hour following chatzot (see Bach, Siman 89, piece beginning v’im), the Mishna Brurah rules clearly that one should not daven Shachrit anymore once the time of chatzot has passed. [The Mishnah Brurah also requires that in such a case when one is davening close to the end of the zman tefillah, that he complete his entire Shmoneh Esrey before the end of the zman tefillah (89:5). In contrast, the Aruch Hashulchan is of the opinion that in such a case it is enough that one just begin his Shmoneh Esrey before the end of the zman tefillah (110:5).]

To summarize thus far, we do not find any permissibility for a healthy person who is not involved in the needs of the entire community, to plan to pray Shachrit any later than in its time [tefillah b’zmanah].

We do find that if a person is very weak or ill, that he can delay the time of his davening until the problem clears (Orach Chaim 80:1; see also 89:4). Based on this there were some tzadikim who were personally very weak or ill and were not able to daven in the zman of tefillah, and would daven after the zman of tefillah b’zmanah. But the average person should not learn from such action even though it was a Tzaddik who did so (Bava Basra 130b, Rashi, piece beginning v’lo mipi).

We also find that one who is occupied with acquiring benefits for the tzibur or is tending to the community needs on behalf of the tzibur is also allowed to daven after the time of tefillah b’zamanah (based on Mishna Brura 71:4), because in essence he is exempt entirely from davening at the time that he is occupied with the communal needs (Orach Chaim 70:4). Therefore, it is logical to assume from a halachic perspective that many of the Tzadikim who would daven consistently after the time of tefillah b’zmanah, were involved with issues of the tzibur who came to ask assistance, and the issues needed to be tended to immediately. Once again, any individual who does not carry the responsibility for the entire community, would not be allowed to extrapolate regarding being lenient on the zman tefillah for himself just because he observed a Tzaddik doing so.

The aforementioned two reasons from within the halacha, would be reason even for leaders who were not chassidish to daven at times after the zman tefillah. The reason that such practice is more noticeable by chassidim today, is because there were specific Chassidic leaders over the generations who davened after the time of tefillah b’zmanah due to additional spiritual considerations which were based upon their level of grasp of the deeper realities. The three most well-known personalities who engaged in such practice were the Rebbe, Reb Yechiel Michel of Zlotchov z”l, Rebbe Yaakov Yitzchak of Pashicheh – the Yehudi Hakadosh z”l, and Rebbe Yisroel of Rizhin - the Rizhiner Rebbe z”l.

Clearly, nowadays, we are nowhere near the levels of these personalities to be able to claim that we have reached the levels of deeper understanding and of avodat Hashem that they merited to reach. Therefore, the straightforward directives of the Shulchan Aruch remain binding upon us. This truth was even propounded by the great chassidishe leaders themselves who lived in the generation shortly after the time of the Yehudi Hakadosh, and the Rizhiner Rebbe z”l. See Sefer Me’or Vashemesh (Yom Alef Sukkos, piece beginning Ba’sukkos teishvu (3)).

In Summary:

The halachic baisis for davening after the zman of tefillah b’zmanah is supported only if a person is especially weak or unclean throughout the entire tefillah time, or if he was involved in procuring benefits for the tzibur during that time. Barring these two circumstances, there is no halachic permissibility to daven after zman tefilla b’zmanah. The custom that was present by numerous chassidishe Tzadikei Hadorot to daven after zman tefillah b’zmanah, is something that was dependent on their independent and individual weighing of the situation and was consistently based on higher, spiritual considerations that they themselves had experienced. These individual formats for avodat Hashem are certainly nothing that any other individual should learn from, especially those who are yet far from identifying the spiritual realities, and even the Great Leaders of derech hachassidut worked ardently to limit this practice from spreading.

Therefore, you must continue to daven the daily tefillot within the time frame specified by the Shulchan Aruch.  

With blessings,
Rav Nachum