09. The Prohibition of Eating and Drinking before Kiddush

Once Shabbat has begun, it is a mitzva to fulfill the Torah mandate of Zakhor as soon as possible by making kiddush. The Sages ordained that nothing should be eaten before kiddush. One may not even drink water before kiddush, but one may rinse his mouth out or swallow medicine (SA 271:4; MB 271:13; SSK 52:3).[11]

This prohibition goes into effect from the moment Shabbat begins. Therefore, a woman who lights candles and accepts Shabbat may not drink until she hears kiddush. Similarly, a man who has accepted tosefet Shabbat may not eat or drink until he hears kiddush. Even one who has not fulfilled the mitzva of tosefet Shabbat may not eat after shki’a, because Shabbat begins then whether or not one consciously accepts it (MB 271:11; see SSK 43:46).

On Shabbat day as well, after Shaĥarit it is forbidden to eat or drink until one hears kiddush.

Some wish to eat and drink before Shaĥarit, but, as is generally known, this is forbidden. The Sages tell us: “If one eats and drinks, and only afterward prays, Scripture says of him: ‘You have cast Me behind your back [Hebrew “gavekha”]’ (1 Melakhim 14:9). Do not read gavekha (your back), but rather ge’ekha (your pride). God says: ‘After this one has exalted himself, he comes and accepts the kingdom of heaven?!’” (Berakhot 10b). However one may drink water before praying because there is no pride in drinking water. The poskim also teach that if one needs to he may also drink coffee or tea; and if he must, he may even sweeten it with a bit of sugar (SA 89:3-4).

If one is sick and must eat before praying, or is so hungry that he knows he will not be able to focus on his prayers if he does not eat something before praying, he may eat a little (see Peninei Halakha: Prayer 12:6-7). Although some maintain that he should make kiddush before eating, in practice we do not make kiddush before prayer, because the custom follows the opinion that it is only after Shaĥarit that the obligation of kiddush comes into effect.[12]

A woman who generally prays Shaĥarit may drink before praying, and, if need be, even eat (as may a man), for as long as she has not prayed, she is not yet obligated in kiddush. But a woman who generally only prays Birkhot Ha-shaĥar is obligated in kiddush immediately upon awakening. If she wishes to eat or drink, she should first say Birkhot Ha-shaĥar and then make kiddush and eat and drink. In a case of necessity, such as if she does not know how to make kiddush and is very thirsty, she may drink, and – if really necessary – even eat (Peninei Halakha: Women’s Prayer 22:10).[13]

If minors are old enough to be taught, ideally they should be trained not to eat before kiddush, but if they are hungry or thirsty one may feed them before kiddush (SSK 52:18; Yalkut Yosef 271:17).


[11]. This all pertains to one who has wine or bread to use for kiddush, but one who has neither bread nor wine on Friday night may eat even without making kiddush. He should recite kiddush in order to fulfill the Torah mandate of Zakhor and simply omit the concluding berakha of “Mekadesh Ha-Shabbat.” If he expects that wine will arrive before midnight, he should wait and make kiddush then. But if it is difficult for him to wait, he may eat and then make kiddush later on, when the wine arrives, and then eat a kezayit of bread or mezonot (MB 289:10).

[12]. According to BHL §289, one who eats before praying must make kiddush then, since his eating counts as a type of meal that obligates him in kiddush. This is also the position of Igrot Moshe OĤ 2:28 and Yalkut Yosef 289:5. But if he only drinks before praying, he does not need to make kiddush. In contrast, Responsa Keren Le-David §84, Ĥelkat Yaakov 4:32, and other Aĥaronim state that even if one eats he does not need to make kiddush, because the obligation to make kiddush goes into effect only after praying. This is because kiddush was ordained for when one is having his meal, as the verse states: “Call Shabbat ‘delight.’” However, one who eats before prayer is doing so because of a lack of choice, for his health and not for delight, so kiddush is not relevant then. This is indeed the custom.

[13]. According to Ramban, women are obligated to pray Shaĥarit and Minĥa, while Rambam maintains that they are obligated in only one prayer daily. MA understands Rambam’s position to be that there is no need for a woman to recite the Amida, but rather any prayer that she recites fulfills her obligation. Accordingly, if she recites Birkhot Ha-shaĥar she has fulfilled her obligation, as those berakhot are considered prayers (as explained in MB 106:4 and Peninei Halakha: Women’s Prayer 2:2-5). The point at which the kiddush obligation goes into effect is dependent on each woman’s personal habits. If she generally prays the Amida, then the laws pertaining to her are the same as those pertaining to a man. If she needs to eat or drink before praying, she does not need to make kiddush. Even if she is accustomed to praying the Amida on Shabbat only, she may say Birkhot Ha-shaĥar while intending not to fulfill her prayer obligation, and then eat and drink before praying without making kiddush first. This is the ruling of SSK 52:13 and n. 44.

However, if a woman does not generally pray the Amida, she is obligated in kiddush from the moment she wakes up on Shabbat. In a difficult situation such as if she does not know how to make kiddush, she may be lenient, since according to Maharam Ĥalawa a woman is exempt from kiddush during the day. Additionally, Raavad and those following his approach maintain that it is not prohibited to eat before the daytime kiddush. Furthermore, some understand Rambam’s view to permit drinking water before kiddush, even though it is generally forbidden to eat and drink before kiddush. Therefore, in a case of necessity a woman may drink before kiddush, and if necessary she may even eat. Minĥat Yitzĥak 4:28:3 takes this approach, as do SSK 52:13 and Yalkut Yosef 289:6.

Igrot Moshe OĤ 4:101:2 puts forth the novel position that there is a special law pertaining to a married woman. Since she needs to eat with her husband, her obligation in kiddush follows his. Thus as long as he has not yet finished his prayers, she may still eat and drink, as she is not yet obligated in kiddush. R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach discusses the opinion of Igrot Moshe and concludes: “This requires further clarification” (SSK, loc. cit. n. 46). In cases of necessity, one may rely on Igrot Moshe. Similarly, if a husband went to an early minyan, and upon his return home wants to make kiddush and eat with his wife, then even though she plans to attend the synagogue later for Shaĥarit, she may make kiddush with him, since the proper halakhic family dynamics dictate that a wife eat with her husband. She should be careful, though, to say Birkhot Ha-shaĥar and Birkhot Ha-Torah first, as I wrote in Peninei Halakha: Women’s Prayer 22:10.

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