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Why does the Jewish day start at sundown?

by Rabbi Mendy Hecht

A. Think about it--what makes more sense: for a new day to begin when the old day ends, or in the middle of the night? That’s basically why the Jewish day begins at sundown--it follows the laws of nature. But a fuller understanding of why the Jewish day starts at sundown requires a quick examination of time.

B. When G-d created the universe, He created time, space and matter simultaneously. At the very beginning of Creation, the clock began ticking at 00:00 at the precise moment space and matter burst into being. Twenty-four hours later, Day One was complete. What does the Torah say? "It was evening and it was morning, one day." That first 24-hour day began with night and ended with day--and it’s been that way ever since.

C. Later, on Day Four, G-d assigned the sun and the moon as day and night markers, setting up the solar system the way it is today, but the Jewish day begins with night, because that's how time began.

Related Categories

Shabbat » A Day of Rest
Holidays » General Information » Holiday Information

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