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Why is Shabbat 25 hours long instead of 24?

Why is Shabbat 25 hours long instead of 24?


Shabbat lasts from nightfall to nightfall—as does every Jewish calendar date. But when exactly is nightfall? When the sun sets or when darkness sets in? Well, this is an age-old question, a halachic grey area. So we cover all our bases just to be safe. We begin observing a calendar date before sunset and it lasts until after the stars appear the following night. (For more on this topic, see Days.)

Additionally, there is a mitzvah to "add from the profane to the holy." In simple words, this means that we celebrate Shabbat and Jewish holidays for at least a bit longer than the prescribed time, to show how precious these days are to us.

Yours truly,

Rabbi Menachem Posner

Rabbi Menachem Posner serves as staff editor for
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Discussion (2)
March 2, 2010
RE: Seeing stars
You son is correct. When three stars are visible in the sky, we know that it is sufficiently dark that it is surely a new day, and Shabbat has ended. However, there is no need to peer into the sky to find the stars. A quick glance at the calendar does just as well (especially if you live in a cloudy place).
Menachem Posner, author
March 2, 2010
seeing three stars
my 11 year old thinks that he has been told that we need to look for three stars to signify the end of shabbat, is he right or is he confused with something else?
London, UK