Question:

During the summer months, my community begins the Shabbat eve services on Friday afternoon, well before sunset, commencing an "early Shabbat." At that point, is it Friday or Shabbat? If it is Friday how can we make the Shabbat Kiddush before nightfall, and if it is considered Shabbat, why must we repeat the nighttime Shema after nightfall?

If a child was born during this time, would his circumcision – the eighth day after his birth – be on the following Friday or on the following Shabbat?

Answer:

When accepting Shabbat early (see More on Plag Hamincha for more on how this works), we draw the sanctity of Shabbat into the hours that precede it. But the day remains day—as hard as you try, you can't turn day into night. And it is still Friday on the calendar. We have simply brought the Shabbat sanctity into Friday.

Therefore, a baby born during the hours of the early Shabbat was born on Friday and the circumcision is scheduled for the following Friday. And the Shema which must be recited at night still needs to be repeated—at night.

Kiddush celebrates the sanctity of Shabbat, not the specific day of the week. As such, Kiddush may be recited before dusk, provided that you have already accepted Shabbat.

Best wishes,

Rabbi Baruch S. Davidson