Part I: Orach Chayim
Chapter 16 - AFTERNOON AND EVENING PRAYERS; CONDUCT AT NIGHT
The afternoon SHEMONEH ESREH may be recited beginning half an hour after
noon, or preferably half an hour after midafternoon, where an "hour" is
1/12 of the time between sunrise and sunset (233:1). It may be recited
until sunset, or according to some, 1-1/4 hours before sunset (233:1).
Some first recite passages about the daily Temple service; this is followed
by Psalm 145 and (if ten men are present) KADDISH (234:1). If time is
short, the congregation recite the first three blessings, including KEDUSHAH,
together with the leader (232:1).
When it is close to the time for the afternoon SHEMONEH ESREH, a person who
has not yet recited it should not begin a large meal, a haircut, a bath, or
any work or business; see 232:2-3. Similarly, when it is close to the time
for the evening SHEMA, a person who has not recited it should not start to
eat; see 235:2. If possible, the hands should be washed before reciting
these prayers, even if they are clean; see 233:2.
The evening SHEMONEH ESREH may be recited beginning after nightfall, or
according to some, 1-1/4 hours before sunset (233:1). The evening SHEMA
should be recited just after dark (235:3). If the congregation recites
it earlier because they are reciting the evening SHEMONEH ESREH early, it
should be repeated, without the blessings, after dark (235:1). It should
be recited before midnight, or if possible before dawn (235:3); if necessary,
it may be recited until sunrise, but without reciting the blessing "Lay us
down..." (235:4), and if this is done, the next morning's SHEMA must not be
recited until after sunrise (58:5). According to some, if SHEMA was missed
during the day, it can be made up by reciting it twice in the evening, and
vice versa (58:7). Two blessings are recited before the evening SHEMA and
two after it; see 236:1. Some also recite the 18 verses beginning "May
our eyes see...", ending with the blessing "...the King in His Glory..."
(see 236:4); but there should be no unnecessary interruptions between the
first blessing after SHEMA ("...Who redeemed Israel") and SHEMONEH ESREH
(see 236:2-3). The leader does not repeat the evening SHEMONEH ESREH,
and TACHANUN is not recited (237:1).
It is even more important to study Torah at night than during the day
(238:1). A person who was unable to complete his quota of Torah study
during the day should complete it immediately that night (238:2).
After going to bed, a person should recite the first paragraph of SHEMA,
the blessing "...Who casts webs of sleep on my eyes...", and other verses;
he should do nothing else afterward (see 239:1). He should cover himself
when he undresses, so he does not lie naked (239:2; see also 241:1). He
should have relations with his wife at regular intervals (see 240:1), in
particular on the night after her monthly immersion, the night before he
goes on a trip, or whenever she indicates that she wants it (240:1). His
intentions should not be for his own pleasure, but to fulfill his obligation
to his wife and the Commandment to have children (240:1,8). On proper
attitudes and behaviors during relations see 240:2-5,8-10. A couple should
not have relations if anyone else in the room (except an infant; see also
240:16) is awake (240:6;13), or if holy books are present unless they are
properly covered (see 240:6). They should not have relations at the
beginning or end of the night (240:7) or if it is not dark (240:11). A
man should not have relations in times of famine or other troubles unless
he is childless; see 240:12. On the dangers of excessive sexual indulgence
see 240:14; on situations in which relations are inadvisable see 240:15.
Shulchan Aruch, Copyright (c) 2000 Project