Ask The Rabbi

Ask the Rabbi #27

Become a Supporter Library Library

Ask the Rabbi

June 25, 1994; Issue #27

This issue is dedicated in the memory of D. Bernard and Pearl Klepner O.B.M.

This publication is also available in the following formats: [Text Format] [Acrobat Format] [Microsoft Word Format]
Explanation of these symbols | Subscription Information |

  • How do you keep Shabbat in a place where the sun always shines?
  • Is man intrinsically evil?
  • Subscription Information
  • Back issues are indexed both by issue no. and by subject
  • Ohr Somayach Home Page

  • How do you keep Shabbat in a place where the sun always shines?

    Peter Spill from England wrote:

    Dear Rabbi,

    When I was in Helsinki in the summer months it virtually never got dark and I had trouble getting to sleep. I asked myself the question: "What happens on Shabbat if it never gets dark. How does one determine when Shabbat goes out?" My Rabbi told me that Shabbat is not technically over until three stars have come out. I asked this question of four Rabbis in my home town and none of them could give me an answer.

    Dear Peter,

    The Talmud defines "night" as the period of time that begins with "Tzeit Hakochavim" (when stars are visible). The Shulchan Aruch qualifies by stating that you must be able to see 3 small stars. This is further qualified by halachic authorities who rule that the sighting of stars constitutes night only if there is no red glow that follows sunset. [One of my sons recently came in on a Saturday evening and told me that he saw 3 stars so Shabbat was over. I looked out the window and it was clearly light outside. Puzzled, I asked him where he saw the stars. He told me that he had just tripped and bumped his head, and saw them right in front of his eyes :-) ].

    So what happens in a place where the sky never darkens? The problem here is not that the day never ends, but that we cannot tell when the day has ended because there is no Tzeit Hakochavim. Therefore:

    1. You begin Shabbat after sunset (even though there is no darkening of the sky for the few minutes that the sun sinks below the horizon).
    2. Kiddush for Friday "night" needs to be recited before "halachicmidnight." Halachicmidnight is at twelve 60minute hours after the time that the sun was directly overhead.
    3. After midnight it is certainly Shabbat and the "light" is considered "morning." Since you are not allowed to make kiddush in the morning until after Shacharit, if you did not say kiddush by now (because the sun did not "set" below the horizon until after midnight), then you would not say it until after Shacharit.
    4. You continue to refrain from weekday activities until Saturday night after midnight -- by then Shabbat is certainly over.
    5. Here again you first pray weekday Shacharit, and then recite Havdallah. This is because you are not allowed to make Havdallah in the morning before Shacharit.

    After doing this, you'll probably want to plan your next visit to Helsinki for the Springtime instead.


    • Talmud - Brachot 2a, Shabbat 35 and Megillah 20.
    • Shulchan Aruch - Orach Chaim 293:2.
    • Rabbi Yisroel Meir Kagen - Biur Halacha, Orach Chaim 293:2.
    • My son Sruli.
    • Rabbi Harfenes in the book "Yisroel VeHazmanim", section 21.

    Is man intrinsically evil?

    Bryan at Columbia University writes:

    Does the fact that we have a Yetzer Hara mean that Man is intrinsically evil?

    Dear Bryan,

    The Yetzer Hara is commonly translated as the "Evil inclination." Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto (the Ramchal) in "The Way of G-d" describes the role of the Yetzer Hara in man's quest for perfection.

    "Man is the creature created for the purpose of being drawn close to G-d. He is placed between perfection and deficiency, with the power to earn perfection. Man must earn this perfection, however, through his own free will...

    Man's inclinations are therefore balanced between good [Yetzer Hatov] and evil [Yetzer Hara], and he is not compelled toward either of them. He has the power of choice and is able to choose either side knowingly and willingly..."

    The Ramchal explains that this balance existed prior to the sin of Adam.

    After his sin, however, he became more inclined to listen to the wiles of his Yetzer Hara. His job is now two-fold: First, he must even the balance between the spiritual and the physical. Then, he can work to perfect his soul until his spiritual so overwhelms the physical that the physical becomes elevated to its level of perfection.

    The Yetzer Hara is an inclination to "stray," but Man has the wherewithal to overcome it. The pull of the Yetzer Hara is the more powerful of the two inclinations, but is by no means impossible to conquer.

    The Torah states:

    "G-d said to Cain, 'Why are you so furious? Why are you depressed? If you do good, will there not be special privilege? And if you do not do good, sin is crouching at the door. It lusts after you but you can dominate it.'"

    And the Talmud tells us how:

    "So said the Holy One, blessed be he, to Israel: 'My son I created the Yetzer Hara and I created for it the Torah as an antidote. If you toil in Torah you will not be handed over into his hands...'"


    • Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto - The Way of G-d, translated by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, Feldheim Publishers.
    • The Book of Genesis, 4:6-7, [translation by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan in "The Living Torah", Moznaim Publishing Company].
    • The Talmud - Tractate Kiddushin, p.30b.

    © 1994 Ohr Somayach International - All rights reserved. This publication may be distributed to another person intact without prior permission. We also encourage you to include this material in other publications, such as synagogue newsletters. However, we ask that you contact us beforehand for permission, and then send us a sample issue.

    This publication is available via E-Mail
    Ohr Somayach Institutions is an international network of Yeshivot and outreach centers, with branches in North America, Europe, South Africa and South America. The Central Campus in Jerusalem provides a full range of educational services for over 685 full-time students.

    The Jewish Learning Exchange (JLE) of Ohr Somayach offers summer and winter programs in Israel that attract hundreds of university students from around the world for 3 to 8 weeks of study and touring.

    Ohr Somayach's Web site is hosted by TeamGenesis

    Copyright © 1994 Ohr Somayach International. Send us Feedback.
    Dedication opportunities are available for Ask The Rabbi. Please contact us for details.
    Ohr Somayach International is a 501c3 not-for-profit corporation (letter on file) EIN 13-3503155 and your donation is tax deductable.