From the Desk - Shabbat where the Sun doesn't Set
Shalom Friends! What a beautiful Passover we enjoyed here at Beth Ora! We now look forward to a new season of programming. Keep your eyes peeled as we have many events coming your way. I hope that many of you benefited from the first week of the Omer Project, contemplating the importance of loving kindness with guidance and inspiration from Sheila Fried, Les Satov and Leah Sholzberg. This week, we are working on gratitude and we have already sent out Rebbetzin Carly's video on that topic. I hope you will find these videos and articles useful and that, over the next week, we will all be inspired to be more appreciative for the blessings we have in our lives. If you haven't yet subscribed, please click here. In the meantime, we wish you Shabbat Shalom, Rabbi Anthony and Carly Knopf Dovid, Rachelli, Yehuda and Avrami
What's the Deal With... the Time Shabbat Ends in a Place Where the Sun Doesn't Set? This question was asked by Barry Simon. I am greatly indebted to Rabbi Dovid Heber's discussion of this question on the Star K website. This question is relevant to a number of different locations at various times of the year. Particularly relevant is the Arctic Circle - an imaginary line that runs through Canada, Greenland, Scandinavia Russia and Alaska. From this general area and northward, there are days in the summer when the sun does not set. For example, in Longyearbyen, the northernmost town in the world located on the Svalbard Islands north of Norway, the sun remains above the horizon from April 20 through August 25. During this time, the midnight sun is visible for almost five months of the year! At the North Pole, the sun rises in March and stays up for six months! At the South Pole, the sun also stays up for six months (September through March). So if one is in one of those places during that time of the year, at what time does Shabbat end? Rabbi Chaim Elazar Spira (1868-1937, Western Ukraine) discusses the question and raises the possibility that a person's Shabbat in the Arctic Circle could last for several months!! If a person arrives on Friday May 15th and the sun sets late that evening, rises the next morning and then does not set for two months, it might be that Shabbat will extend until the sun sets again in July! Because of this and other reasons, Rabbi Spira advises that one should not live in or visit these locations during the months when the sun is always up (or during the months when the sun is always down). Rabbi Israel Lipschitz (1782-1860, Germany) writes that, at the North Pole, one should use the times for Shabbat based on the location from where he or she came. For example, if one goes from Montreal to the North Pole, he begins and ends Shabbat at the same time residents in Montreal begin and end Shabbat. A third answer is given by the great Sephardic halachic authority, Rabbi Yosef Chaim (1835-1909, Iraq), the author of the Ben Ish Chai. According to Rabbi Yosef Chaim, when the sun is above the horizon for 24 hours, 6:00 AM is considered sunrise and 6:00 PM is considered sunset. Hence, Shabbat begins 18 minutes before 6:00 PM on Friday and ends on Saturday at 7:12 PM (72 minutes after the 'sunset' of 6:00 PM). A final point of view is advanced by the contemporary halachic authority, Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch who resides in Jerusalem. Rabbi Sternbuch argues that, in the summer when the sun does not set, each new halachic day begins and ends when the sun is at its lowest point in the sky, usually around midnight. This is when Shabbat would begin on Friday and end on Saturday night. For final rulings, consult your local Orthodox Rabbi!