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This book is in manuscript form. Criticism, questions, requests for clarity, suggestions for wording, etc. are requested. Section 5 has been rewritten and submitted for publication; as such it has been temporally omitted.

The 9 sections in the book present the background halakhic information as fairly as I can; however, no human, certainly me, is free of bias.

The epilogue contains an informed or some might argue a biased review of those 9 sections. The first part outlines what I believe to be my hiddushim. The epilogue concludes with something similar to, but less analytic and comprehensive than my article in Hakirah, on errors in the halakhic literature on zemanim. Most significantly, it concentrates on only one posek, Rav Moshe Feinstein, among the greatest posekim of the second half of the 20th century. Unlike most posekim, Rav Feinstein would often reveal his unique insights into the question under discussion.

Various reasons for this ancient minhag have been proposed. I have heard that 40 minutes allow one to watch the candles being lit before walking to the kotel or that 40 minutes is 30 minutes adjusted for the summer, among others. What we suggest is that 40 minutes is the earliest uniform time that throughout the year always occurs after plag ha-minha. That would be most logical, were it only true. What is shown that a long-forgotten method of calculation of what we call the position of the Magen Avraham makes 40 minutes precise. This method was certainly used in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was discarded because of a major problem that plagued it. What is demonstrated is how to solve the problem with only minor adjustments without discarding the method in toto. Colloquially, discarding the bathwater, not the baby.

In his peirush on the Shulchan Aruch, the Vilna Gaon fundamentally changed the reading of both primary texts of zemanim, Shabbat 34a-35b and Pesahim 94a. The Gaon vigorously opposed the still dominant opinion of Rabbeinu Tam and those who followed his viewpoint including Ramban, many hakhemai sforad, and both the Mehabair and Rama in the Shulchan Aruch. Beyond the Gaon’s dramatic influence on pesak, his impact on interpreting the text of both sugyot, something not often addressed, is the primary focus of what is discussed.

impact on sugyot

This short paper introduces trop. Stating that trop is rabbinic may appear unnecessary. However, given that this is disputed, with some attributing a more robust position to the Karaites, it is nice to preliminarily demonstrate otherwise.

One possible counter-example I noticed while in Shul during leining, an ancient custom from the pre-COVID-19 era is Shemot (23:2.) Why I believe it is not is in a separate post. Other such examples are welcome.

This brief introduction to the calendar explains some of the science and mathematics hazal likely used in establishing the calendar. I had come across a claim by those associated with perpetrating the bible codes hoax that attributed hazal’s knowledge of the average length of time between lunations to halakha le’Moshe mi’sinai. As is explained in the article, hazal (and ancient science) knew the average length between lunations to 6 decimal places. Today, modern science knows that quantity to 8 decimal places. The error introduced by not knowing the 7th and 8th decimal place will become impactful in about 5000 years, absent a simple fix by an intervening Sanhedrin. It seems obvious to me which brings more credence and loyalty to Torah, hazal, and our traditions.

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