On Shabbat day, the prohibition to eat and drink begins at the time when it would be proper to recite kiddush. A woman who does not generally pray Shaĥarit on Shabbat (see above, 2:2-5) may not eat or drink from when she wakes up until she recites Birkhot Ha-shaĥar and Birkhot Ha-Torah and fulfills the obligation to recite kiddush.
For a woman who normally prays Shaĥarit on Shabbat, the time to recite kiddush begins after she prays Shaĥarit; from the time finishes Shaĥarit, she may not eat or drink until she fulfills the obligation of kiddush. Before praying, too, she may not eat or drink; although the prohibition on eating or drinking before the daytime kiddush does not yet apply, the prohibition on eating or drinking before prayer applies, as one must not put her needs before God’s honor. Nevertheless, she may drink water or take medicine, since drinking them is need-based and not an expression of arrogance.
A woman who knows that her mind will remain unsettled unless she drinks coffee or tea may drink them before praying, because there is no arrogance in drinking them; rather, she drinks out of need, to settle her mind and have kavana in her prayer. If possible, it is preferable that she drink the coffee or tea without sugar and milk. One who is concerned that if she does not eat anything she will be so hungry that she will be incapable of having proper kavana may eat a bit of cake or fruit before praying. 1
In extenuating circumstances, a woman who does not know how to make kiddush but is thirsty and finds it difficult to wait to hear her husband say kiddush may recite Birkhot Ha-shaĥar and Birkhot Ha-Torah and drink before kiddush. If she becomes hungry, she may eat as well in extenuating circumstances. This is because there is an opinion that nowadays women are exempt from kiddush (Maharam Ĥalawa), and in extenuating circumstances one may rely on this opinion. 2
A married woman whose husband prayed early in the morning and returned from prayer wanting to recite kiddush and eat with his wife may partake in his kiddush and eat together with him, even if she intends to pray Shaĥarit afterward, because a healthy and halakhic family framework dictates that a woman eats with her husband. Nonetheless, she should take care to recite Birkhot Ha-shaĥar and Birkhot Ha-Torah beforehand (see above, n. 3, regarding the opinion of Igrot Moshe as well as 8:10).
A minor who has reached the age of education should le-khatĥila be habituated not to eat before kiddush; however if she is hungry or thirsty, she may eat and drink before kiddush (SSK 52:18; Yalkut Yosef 271:17).
- As we learned above in 2:2-5, in principle women must pray one or two Amidot every day; therefore it is proper that every woman pray Shaĥarit on weekdays and Shabbat. However, many women rely on the minority of poskim who maintain that according to Rambam a woman fulfills her obligation to pray by reciting Birkhot Ha-shaĥar and Birkhot Ha-Torah, and women who are busy taking care of their children adopt this practice le-khatĥila because they are exempt from prayer. Therefore, there is a distinction between a woman who normally prays Shaĥarit on Shabbat and one who usually does not, as explained in SSK 52:13. Even if she only prays Shaĥarit regularly on Shabbat, she can have in mind not to fulfill the obligation of prayer through Birkhot Ha-shaĥar and Birkhot Ha-Torah, thereby allowing her drink before prayer (SSK ad loc. n. 44; see also Halikhot Beitah 15:25). According to Igrot Moshe OĤ 4:101:2, a married woman has a special status: since she dines with her husband, her obligation of kiddush follows his. If he did not yet finish praying, she may eat and drink, because she did not yet become obligated in kiddush. R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach concludes that this matter requires further study (SSK ad loc. n. 46), but in times of need, one may rely on Igrot Moshe.
A woman who normally prays Shaĥarit may drink coffee or tea before prayer, and if she is so ravenous that she cannot have proper kavana in her prayer, she may eat a bit of cake as well. However, according to MB as cited in BHL §289, one who eats before Shaĥarit must recite kiddush. Igrot Moshe OĤ 2:28 and Yalkut Yosef 289:5 concur. However, Responsa Keren Le-David §84, Ĥelkat Yaakov 4:32, and other Aĥaronim state that the obligation of kiddush only applies after prayer, and that is implicit in the words of SA too. Thus, one who may eat before prayer should eat without kiddush. This is the prevailing practice, as I wrote elsewhere (Peninei Halakha: Shabbat 5:9). Regarding men and eating before prayer, in Peninei Halakha: Prayer 12:7 I was more stringent because men have a more strict status, as explained above, ch. 8 nn. 5 and 6. ↩
- According to Maharam Ĥalawa, women are exempt from the daytime kiddush. Additionally, Raavad and those who follow his approach maintain that there is no prohibition to eat before the daytime kiddush. Moreover, there are those who explain the opinion of Rambam to mean that although it is forbidden to eat and drink before kiddush, water is permitted. Therefore, in times of need, a woman may drink before kiddush, and in extenuating circumstances, she is even permitted to eat, as stated in Responsa Minĥat Yitzĥak 4:28:3; SSL 52:13, and Yalkut Yosef 289:6. ↩