The Hebrew noun minħah (מִנְחָה) is used 211 times in the Masoretic Text of the Hebrew Bible, with the first uses referring to vegetable and animal offerings brought by Cain and Abel to God. Most other uses refer to a gift offering, made of grain, which could be offered at any time in the day.
Rabbis in the Talmud debate whether the daily prayers have their origin in the behavior of the Biblical Patriarchs, or in the Temple sacrifices. According to the first opinion, the Mincha prayer was originated by Isaac, who "went out to converse in the field", (according to this view) with God. According to the second opinion, the Mincha prayer is based on the afternoon tamid (daily) offering which was offered in the Temple each afternoon.
Time frame for recitation
Mincha is different from Shacharit and Maariv in that it is recited in the middle of the secular day. Unlike Shacharit, which is recited upon arising, and Maariv, which can be recited before going to sleep, Mincha is the afternoon prayer and as a result of this, many Mincha groups have formed in workplaces and other places where many Jews are present during the day.
Mincha may be recited beginning half an hour after halachic noontime. This earliest time is referred to as mincha gedola (the "large mincha"). It is, however, preferably recited after mincha ketana (2.5 halachic hours before nightfall).
Ideally, one should complete Mincha before sunset (shkiah), although many authorities permit reciting Mincha until nightfall. The Mishnah Berurah states that is preferable to recite mincha without a minyan before shkiah than to recite it with a minyan after shkia.
Mincha on a weekday exclusive includes prayers found at Shacharit.
Prayers of Mincha include the following:
- Uva Letzion (on Shabbat and Yom Tov only)
- Torah reading (on Shabbat and public fast days only)
- Avinu Malkeinu (on public fast days and Ten Days of Repentance only; omitted on occasions when Tachanun is omitted)
- Tachanun (omitted on Shabbat, Yom Tov, and certain other festive days)
- Tzidkatcha Tzedek (on Shabbat only; omitted on days when Tachanun would be omitted if it were a weekday)
Sephardim and Italian Jews start the Mincha prayers with Psalm 84 and Korbanot (Numbers 28:1-8), and usually continue with the Pittum hakketoret. The opening section is concluded with Malachi 3:4. Ashkenaz (German Jews) and Polin (non-Hasidic Polish Jews) begin with a Ribon HaOlamim, then a Ribon HaOlam, then Korban HaTamid, and then Ashrei.
On Yom Kippur, Uva Letzion (and Ashrei according to Ashkenazim) are postponed until the Ne'ila service.