The evening prayers is said when three small stars can be seen in the evening. It is best to daven with a minyan at night. He should not begin eating 30 minutes before davening Maariv. Maariv cannot be davened earlier than an hour and 15 minutes before sunset. If a person is davening with a minyan, they may daven before the three stars come out, and later say the entire Shema over again. If a person comes late to the minyan and they have already started Shemoneh Esrei, he should join in and then afterwards say the Shema with its brochos.

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