When to Pray

Introduction to Morning Prayers/Shacharit (Weekday): Order of Prayers

Here is a typical order of waking/morning prayers for weekdays (many people say these blessings at the synagogue instead of at home):

  • Wake Wake and wash hands (Three-Times Method).
  • Bathroom Take care of any toilet needs, wash your hands (One-Time Method). Say blessings al netilat yadayim and asher yatzar (until l'fgarim meitim).
  • Torah Blessings Say Torah blessings (from la'asok bi'divrei Torah until talmud Torah ki'negged kulam).
  • Talit Katan Put on talit katan (for men). Say blessing if not married or if not putting on talit gadol later.

Note: You may put on the talit katan before washing your hands

  • Birchot HaShachar Say birchot ha'shachar (from natan la'sechvi…until ven brit) before, or at, synagogue.
  • Talit/Tefilin Put on:
  • Talit (for married men or other men with that custom).
  • Tefilin (for men).
  • L'olam Yihei Adam/Korbanot Say:
  • L'olam yihei adam,
  • Short shema,
  • Paragraph ending mekadeish et shimcha ba'rabim,
  • Readings on sacrifices/korbanot,
  • 13 rules.
  • Psukei D'Zimra Say:
  • Psalm 30/Mizmor Shir Chanukat habayit.
  • Baruch she'amar through yishtabach (includes ashrei).
  • Bar'chu/Shema/Amida Say bar'chu through end of amida (including shema, with two blessings before and one after), tachanun (when appropriate) and ashrei through to alenu.
  • Psalms/Alenu Say alenu and psalm for the day.

Terms To Know

  • Neitz, HaNeitz—Sunrise
  • Alot HaShachar—72 minutes before sunrise
  • MiSheyakir-- 36 minutes before sunrise in New York in winter and 40 minutes in summer. Nearer to the equator, the maximum time is shorter.

Note: Even though mi'sheyakir means when there is enough light to identify your friend, it also means when you can differentiate between blue and white threads in the tzitzit, since the mitzva of tzitzit is only during the daytime.

When Things Happen

Before Alot HaShachar (72 minutes before sunrise)

You can put on tzitzit/talit and tefilin without blessings.

Alot HaShachar

You can say:

  • Birchot ha'shachar.
  • Shema and amida, b'di'avad.

Mi'sheyakir (36-40 minutes before sunrise)

You can say:

  • Blessings over tefilin and tzitzit/talit.
  • Shema and amida as necessary.


You can say shema l'chatchila--and begin saying the amida exactly at sunrise.

By Third Halachic Hour of the Day

You have until the third halachic hour of the day to say:

  • The blessing mekadeish et shimcha ba'rabim if you want to include the word Adonai.
  • Morning shema.

By Fourth Halachic Hour of the Day

You have until the fourth halachic hour of the day to say any of the prayers from barchu until the end of the amida.

Halachic Mid-Day

You have until halachic mid-day, b'di'avad, to say the shacharit amida.

Shacharit: When To Begin

B'di'avad, you can say shema and amida as early as 72 minutes before sunrise (alot ha'shachar).  You can put on tefilin and tzitzit/talit even earlier, although you may not say the blessings over them until “mi'sheyakir”—which is later than you can say shema and amida!  (See above.)

Earliest Time for Blessings over Tefilin and Tzitzit

Earliest time to say blessings over tefilin and tzitzit/talit is mi'sheyakir (in New York, 36-40 minutes before sunrise).

Very Early Shacharit: How To Begin

If you must say shacharit very early: 1. Say birchot ha'shachar; 2. When you reach the end of yishtabach, if it is:

  • 36 minutes (or less) before sunrise:
    • Pause after the blessing (ending El chay ha'olamim),
    • Put on your talit and tefilin, and
    • Say the appropriate blessings.
  • More than 36 minutes before sunrise:
    • Put on your talit and tefilin WITHOUT saying the blessings. Later, after it is less than 36 minutes before sunrise:
      • Hold your tzitzit and say the tzitzit blessing,
      • Move your tefilin slightly,
      • Say the tefilin blessings (if you are in a place in the prayer service where you are permitted to interrupt).

Shacharit: What Time To Finish

You must say the shema no later than the end of the third halachic hour of the day in the morning. If you did not say it in time:

  1. If it is before the fourth halachic hour of the day, say the entire shacharit service, as long as you will complete the amida before the end of the fourth halachic
  2. If it is after the fourth halachic hour of the day but before the end of the sixth halachic hour of the day, say birchot ha'shachar (and you may also say korbanot) and then skip all of shacharit up to the amida, which you should say as soon as possible.

When To Say Blessings of Daybreak (Birchot HaShachar)

Both men and women may say birchot ha'shachar all day, until sunset (beginning from alot ha'shachar—72 minutes before sunrise).

Where To Say Blessings of Daybreak (Birchot HaShachar)

You may say birchot ha'shachar at home, in the synagogue, or along the way.

Note: You should say birchot ha'shachar for yourself and not have the prayer leader fulfill your requirement.

When To Say Mekadeish et Shimcha BaRabim

You may only include God's name in Baruch ata Adonai, mekadeish et shimcha ba'rabim if:

  • You have not yet said the full morning shema, and
  • It is still before the third halachic hour of the day.

Note: If you already said the morning shema, whether on time or not, you may still return to fill in the morning blessings.  When you get to l'olam yihei adam, don't include God's name in the concluding blessingRather, say, “Baruch ata, mekadeish et shimcha ba'rabim.”

When To Say Baruch She'Amar

After the fourth halachic hour, unless in extreme circumstances, neither men nor women may say any of the prayers from baruch she'amar through the line before the amida.

Might Return To Sleep and Miss Latest Time To Say Shema

SITUATION: You wake up after daybreak, but you might go back to sleep and thereby miss the time for saying mekadeish et shimcha ba'rabim and shema (both of which must be said by the third halachic hour of the day).

WHAT TO DO: You should say at least the:

  • Blessing on washing your hands,
  • Blessings on studying Torah, including Elohai neshama and all other related sayings, and
  • Complete shema--with the condition that:
    • If you sleep past the latest time for shema (sof zman kriat shema), this shema fulfills your obligation; but
    • If you do not go back to sleep, this shema does not fulfill your obligation.

Then, whether you go back to sleep or not, having made the condition allows you to say the full blessing of mekadeish et shimcha ba'rabim, including God's name, if you get to l'olam yihei adam... before the third hour of the day.

NOTE: If you said the shema when you woke up but did not made the condition, you would not be able to say the concluding blessing mekadeish et shimcha ba'rabim with God's name when repeating the shema (but you may say it without using God's name).

NOTE: If you go back to sleep, don't repeat the blessings on washing hands and studying Torah when you wake up.

Earliest Time for Shema (and Amida)

Earliest time to say shema and amida is 72 minutes before sunrise, b'di'avad, since the guideline is halachic “day.”

Note: L'chatchila, you should say shema anytime from 3 minutes before sunrise until the end of the third halachic hour of the day.

Latest time To Say Shema

Shema may be said anytime during the day.  But to fulfill the halachic requirement of saying shema in the morning, shema must be said by the end of the first quarter of the daylight hours, known as the “third hour” of the day.  To derive this time, divide the time from sunrise to sunset by 4 and add that to the time for sunrise.

Late Shema: L'Olam Yehei Adam by Third Hour

Situation: You will not have time to say the morning shema by the end of the third hour of the day, but you will say l'olam yehei adam by then.

What To Do: Instead of saying the first line of shema, say: •          El melech ne'eman. •          Entire shema. Then •          Paragraph that ends in mekadeish et shimcha b'rabim.

Saying Shema after Proper Time

Even if you have not said the morning shema by the latest proper time (no later than the end of the first quarter of the daylight hours), say it as soon as you can.

When To Say Shema Blessings

Neither men nor women may say the blessings that precede and follow the shema after the fourth halachic hour of the day. In extreme circumstances (if compelled or forced), men (but not women) may still say the shema blessings until halachic midday.

Shacharit: Shema: El Melech Ne'eman

Situation: You are not with a minyan. You begin saying the shema and you realize you had forgotten to say El melech ne'eman before beginning the shema.

What To Do: Finish the shema; do not go back to say El melech ne'eman (and your saying the shema is still valid).

When To Say Morning Amida

Say the morning amida by the first third of the day (by the 4th hour), but you may still say it until halachic midday, b'di'avad, except if you delay intentionally.

Situation: You are running out of time to say the morning amida. You have said the shema without saying yishtabach or anything following yishtabach (except for the shema).

What To Do: Just say the amida.

Situation: You wake up too late to say the amida before halachic noon.

What To Do:

  • Wait until a half-hour after halachic noon and then say mincha, and then
  • Repeat the mincha amida as tashlumin.

Note: Men who intentionally delayed saying shacharit past the fourth halachic hour of the day may not say that amida at all and may not say the mincha amida as tashlumin.

Timing of Mincha

Mincha may be said from ½ hour after halachic midday until sunset.

Mincha Gedola

Mincha gedola is the earliest time that you may say mincha: from 1/2 halachic hour after halachic midday until 2 ½ halachic hours before sunset.

Mincha Ketana

Mincha ketana is the preferred time period for saying mincha: from 2 1/2 halachic hours before sunset until sunset.

When To Say Ma'ariv

Ma'ariv may be said from sunset (or even from plag ha'mincha if mincha was said early enough).

Note: If you say ma'ariv before dark, you must repeat the three paragraphs of the shema once it is actually halachic night. Reason Shema must be said after dark.

When To Say Mincha To Allow Early Ma'ariv

To be permitted to say ma'ariv early, before sunset, say mincha no later than 1 ¼ halachic hours before sunset.

Copyright 2015 Richard B. Aiken. Halacha L’Maaseh appears courtesy of www.practicalhalacha.com Visit their web site for more information.