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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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< Q9.15 TOC Q9.17 >

Question 9.16:
When should morning services start?


The night ends at "Alot haShachar", the "rising of the morning". It has two halachic definitions: Most rule it is 72 minutes before dawn, some use the solar equivalent—16.1° (degrees) below the horizon. The latter would come dawn+72 min if the sun were up for exactly 12 hours that day. In the summer it would be longer, in the winter, later. Others use 90 solar minutes.

The earliest you can say the morning blessings is Alot. The earliest one can wear tzitzit is at "Misheyaqir", when "one can recognize" which of the tzitzit strings are uncolored, and which are blue. (When the proper blue dye used for tzitzit was / will be available.) Misheyaqir also has two definitions: 11 degrees below the horizon or 50 standard minutes. The first is the norm.

Since you are supposed to wear tzitzit and tefillin for Shema, Shema must be said after Misheyaqir as well. The Amidah must be said at or after Haneitz haChamah, the sparkling of the sun, i.e., sunrise. This is when the leading edge of the sun is at the horizon.

If you're checking your newspaper, you should find out if they're publishing the time the leading edge of the center of the sun crosses the horizon. If you say Shema well before Haneitz, you will have to say it again as a lead-in to the Amidah. However, this may mean that you can say it with tallit and tefillin at Haneitz, and then say it again with the Amidah without equipment.

There are a number of packages out there that show you these times for various locales. At the Aishdash site (, there is a front end to Kaluach's JavaScript sunrise calculator. It's kind of unweildy, but it is accurate within a couple of minutes for locations well below the arctic circle.

The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

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© (c) 1993-2004 Daniel P. Faigin <>