06 – Laws of Kiddush

01. Zakhor and Shamor

As we have seen above (1:8), there are two crucial mitzvot that form the backbone of Shabbat: Zakhor and Shamor.

Shamor instructs us to refrain from all labor. In this way we clear space in our soul, which we are commanded to fill with positive content. This positive content is included in Zakhor, which instructs us to remember the holiness of Shabbat and use it to connect with the foundations of our faith. For six days we are active in the outside world; on Shabbat we return to our inner world, to our soul, and remind ourselves once again of the fundamentals of faith.

The first fundamental that we recall during kiddush is the creation of the world, and the second is the Exodus from Egypt. There are some who concede that God created the world but do not believe that even following creation, God remains responsible for the ongoing existence of the world, which He supervises and manages. At the time of the Exodus, God’s divine providence was very clearly revealed, in a way that made it clear that God reveals Himself to the world by way of the Jewish people. This is the significance of the second foundational belief that we mention in kiddush.

These two foundational beliefs are mentioned in the Torah’s two versions of the Ten Commandments. In Shemot we are commanded to remember the creation of the world: “Commemorate the day of Shabbat to sanctify it…. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth and sea, and all that is in them, and He rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed Shabbat day and hallowed it” (Shemot 20:8, 11). However, the mitzva is formulated with the word “shamor” in Devarim, and there the Exodus from Egypt is mentioned: “Observe the day of Shabbat to sanctify it…for you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God freed you from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to keep the day of Shabbat” (Devarim 5:12, 15). In truth, there is a connection between Shabbat and the Exodus from Egypt, for they both reveal the divine soul, which brings about our freedom from enslavement – whether to Egypt or to work.

We fulfill the essence of Zakhor when we recite kiddush over wine, thereby sanctifying the whole day, as it is written: “Commemorate the day of Shabbat to sanctify it” (Shemot 20:8) – the entire day should be sanctified and set aside for reviewing foundational beliefs and studying Torah while eating pleasurable meals and sleeping soundly. Even during the week there is a mitzva to remember Shabbat and sanctify it, meaning it should be honored more than other days. One should prepare for it by making food, laundering, bathing, and cleaning one’s home (See Ramban, Shemot 20:7; above 2:1-6).

Both men and women are obligated in the mitzvot of Shabbat. Although women are generally exempt from time-bound positive commandments, and Zakhor is such a mitzva, women are nevertheless obligated because Zakhor and Shamor were proclaimed together; they are intertwined. Just as women are obligated in the mitzvot derived from Shamor – the negative commandments, so too they are obligated in the mitzvot derived from Zakhor – the positive commandments.

Therefore, men and women are equally obligated in Shabbat mitzvot, and a woman may recite kiddush for a man and exempt him from his obligation. But minors who have not yet reached bat or bar mitzva cannot exempt adults, because even children who are old enough to understand what Shabbat is about are still only obligated rabbinically in kiddush, whereas adults have a Torah obligation (SA 271:2).

02. Fulfilling the Mitzva of Zakhor

One fulfills the Torah obligation of Zakhor by invoking the sanctity of Shabbat and specifying that it commemorates the creation of the world and the Exodus from Egypt. However, the Sages wished for everyone to fulfill this mitzva using a precise and perfect text, so the Men of the Great Assembly formulated a berakha that declares the sanctity of Shabbat. To ensure that kiddush would be both dignified and pleasurable, they mandated that it be recited over a cup of wine prior to a meal. Some maintain that the Torah requires that kiddush be recited over enjoyable food or drink.[1] It is customary to recite the additional verses of Va-yekhulu (Bereishit 2:1-3) before kiddush (see above 5:12).

Many poskim maintain that Zakhor obligates us to mark the end of Shabbat as well as its beginning. With the onset of Shabbat, there is a mitzva to invoke its sanctity and essence, while when it ends there is a mitzva to identify the difference between the sacred Shabbat and the mundane weekdays. Therefore, according to many poskim, havdala, recited at the end of Shabbat, is a Torah obligation. Like kiddush, this Torah obligation can be fulfilled with words alone, while the Sages ordained that it be said over a cup of wine (Rambam; MB 296:1; see below 8:1).

The Sages mandated that kiddush be recited on Shabbat day as well, to honor the day and differentiate it from weekdays. By beginning the meal with kiddush, we make it clear that this is a special and important meal; thus we are reminded of the sanctity of Shabbat. However, since this is not the primary fulfillment of Zakhor, the Sages did not formulate a special berakha in honor of Shabbat. Rather the berakha on wine (Ha-gafen) is recited over a cup of wine. The custom is to say a few Shabbat-related verses beforehand. This kiddush is referred to as “Kidusha Raba” (“The Great Kiddush”), which is a type of euphemism, as in fact it is the Friday night kiddush that is the important one (MB 289:3).

Even though the meal eaten on Shabbat day is considered more important than the nighttime meal (as explained below, 7:4), the mitzva of Zakhor is nevertheless fulfilled though the kiddush at night, because the mitzva is to mark Shabbat as it begins. Thus, after one finishes praying, he should hasten to make kiddush (SA 271:1, 3). One who was unable to make kiddush Friday night has not lost out on the mitzva. Rather, he should make kiddush in the morning before eating his first meal. He should recite the Friday night kiddush but leave out the verses of Va-yekhulu, since they are specifically connected to the evening (SA and Rema 271:8). If he did not make kiddush before his meal in the morning, there is still a mitzva to make kiddush as long as the sun has not set. He should make sure to eat afterward (as will be explained below, section 10).

Since according to Torah law one can verbally fulfill the obligation of Zakhor, some maintain that with the recitation of the middle berakha of the Amida at Ma’ariv (which invokes Shabbat), one has already fulfilled this obligation (MA). However, others question this, for two reasons. First, people do not generally intend to fulfill the mitzva of Zakhor with this prayer, and we maintain that mitzvot require intent (SA 60:4). Second, it is possible that one must mention in kiddush that Shabbat is a commemoration of the Egyptian Exodus. In the Amida, the Exodus is not juxtaposed with the sanctity of Shabbat. Therefore, in practice, we fulfill the Torah commandment in accordance with the Sages’ directives by making kiddush over wine (MB 271:2; BHL ad loc.). Furthermore, we have already seen that some authorities maintain that fulfilling the Torah obligation requires wine (see n. 1).


[1]. “Our Rabbis taught: ‘Commemorate the day of Shabbat to sanctify it’ (Shemot 20:8) means one should commemorate it over wine” (Pesaĥim 106a). According to Rambam (MT 29:6), Rabbeinu Tam, Smag, Rashba, and the vast majority of poskim, the mitzva to make kiddush over wine is rabbinic, and the verse is merely a support. However, according to Rashi and the Ran (commenting on Rif, Shabbat 10a), the mitzva to make kiddush over wine or bread is of Torah origin. The intent of the Torah is that one should remember Shabbat by means of something connected to Shabbat, which we are commanded to sanctify with food and drink. Raavan maintains that the Torah commandment is specifically wine.

03. Kiddush over Wine

The Sages instituted the recitation of kiddush over wine because it is the most dignified beverage, as it provides both nourishment and good cheer. They similarly instituted that a berakha be recited over a cup of wine at other joyful mitzvot, such as betrothal, weddings (when seven blessings – Sheva Berakhot – are recited), and brit mila. The special status of wine is also expressed in the fact that a special berakha was instituted for it. Before drinking most beverages, we recite the general berakha of She-hakol, and after finishing the drink we recite the short berakha aĥarona, Borei Nefashot. When it comes to wine, however, we recite Ha-gafen before drinking and Al Ha-gefen afterward. Another law gives expression to the special status of wine. Although its berakha is different from that of other drinks, reciting Ha-gafen over wine exempts the person drinking from making berakhot over any other drinks.

Ideally, in order to glorify the mitzva, kiddush should be made over a fine wine, one the person making kiddush really enjoys. If wine is unavailable, one should make kiddush over bread on Friday night and over an alcoholic beverage such as beer or vodka on Shabbat day. If no such drink is available, he may make kiddush over bread during the day as well.[2]

The recitation of kiddush over wine has profound significance. Generally, holiness comes to expression in the spiritual world in a somber and serious fashion, while in the material world, the evil inclinations toward lust, arrogance, and mockery are more evident. Therefore, gentile spiritual leaders often distance themselves from joy and jubilation, as they are likely to entice one toward despicable physical desires. This is not the case for Jews. We sanctify Shabbat with wine to express the holiness of Shabbat, which reveals itself in both the spiritual and material worlds. Joy and jubilation, when properly directed, can be our true partners in revealing holiness in the world. This is the point of Shabbat – to reveal holiness through Torah study as well as festive meals, through prayer as well as kiddush over wine. This accords with the statement of the Sages: “One who recites kiddush over wine on Friday night is granted long life in this world and in the World to Come” (Pirkei De-Rabbi Eliezer 19).


[2]. The poskim disagree about whether one may make kiddush over ĥamar medina. Ĥamar medina, the “wine of the country,” is a respectable alcoholic beverage like liquor (see 8:4 below). According to Ri, when wine is unavailable one may make kiddush on ĥamar medina, while according to Rambam one should not. Similarly, there is a disagreement about using bread. Most poskim maintain that in the absence of wine one may make kiddush over bread, since, as the backbone of the meal, it is connected to the mitzvot of Shabbat. However, according to Rabbeinu Tam, even if there is no wine, one may not make kiddush over bread. The ruling of SA 272:9 (based on Rosh) is that one who has no wine should make kiddush on Friday night over bread, following the majority of poskim. However, on Shabbat morning, it is preferable to make kiddush over beer. Since there is no special berakha for the daytime kiddush, if one makes kiddush over bread it will not be clear that he is making kiddush at all, since he may well eat bread every day. Therefore it is better to use beer, and to recite “ha-motzi” over the bread afterward. In Europe, where wine was very expensive, many were lenient and made kiddush by day over beer. Only for the Torah-based kiddush of Friday night did they insist upon using wine (MB 272:29). Nowadays, however, when wine is readily available, one must make kiddush on wine both by night and by day. If one does make kiddush over bread, he must eat one olive’s bulk (kezayit) as part of kiddush and another kezayit as part of the meal (SSK 54:21).

04. Acceptable Kiddush Wines

The laws of acceptable kiddush wines are derived from the laws governing which wines could be used on the altar in Temple times. Any wine that was deemed unacceptable because of its repulsiveness is also pasul (ritually unfit) for kiddush. For example, wine that was left exposed for several hours in a cup or an open bottle may not be used for kiddush. Similarly, wine that smells bad is unacceptable (SA 272:1; MB ad loc. 3).

However, wines acceptable only be-di’avad for use on the altar are acceptable for kiddush even le-khatĥila. For example, a very sweet wine, made from overripe grapes overexposed to sunlight, is acceptable on the altar be-di’avad but acceptable for kiddush even le-khatĥila. Similarly, using grape juice on the altar was deemed acceptable be-di’avad but may be used for kiddush le-khatĥila. Nevertheless, it is most preferable to make kiddush on good alcoholic wine that makes one glad (SA 272:2; MB ad loc. 5).

Some wines have been rendered unfit for the altar because they have been mixed with other liquids, but are still acceptable for kiddush. For example, wine mixed with water is pasul for the altar, but not for kiddush. On the contrary, it is good to dilute the wine a bit to make it tastier, and to dull its strength. Nowadays, however, wines do not need to be watered down, because they are not strong to begin with (SA and Rema 272:5).

Some maintain that if wine is so watered down that there is more water than wine, it is not considered wine, the berakha recited over it is not Ha-gafen, and it is unacceptable for kiddush. Others are more lenient and permit its use as long as it still tastes like wine. Local Israeli rabbinates make sure to only certify wines in which wine content is the majority, thus satisfying all opinions.[3]

Wine that was cooked (“mevushal”) or had sugar or honey added to it was rendered unacceptable for Temple libations because it had been altered from its original form. Some maintain that just as these wines were unacceptable for libations, so too they are unacceptable for kiddush (Rambam). But the majority of poskim maintain that these wines are acceptable for kiddush because cooking them or adding sugar to them is meant to improve them, and this is the accepted practice. Even if one has unadulterated wine but prefers the taste of the cooked or sweetened wine, it is preferable to make kiddush over the wine he prefers (SA and Rema 272:8). Many choice sweet wines have no sugar added, but rather are sweet because of the type of grape used to make them. Everyone agrees that these wines are acceptable for kiddush use.[4]

Some maintain that only red wine is acceptable for kiddush use, while white wine is unfit (Ramban). However, most poskim maintain that white wine may be used, and this is the position of Shulĥan Arukh (272:4). If one has two wines available to him – an inferior red and a superior white – and he wishes to conform to all the positions, he should mix the white wine with a little of the red, which will leave him with tasty red wine (it is preferable to pour the white wine into the red, as explained below, 12:10).


[3]. There is a dispute in the Gemara about the degree to which wine could be watered down and still retain its classification as wine. Some maintain that if the wine is one quarter of the mixture, it is still considered wine. This is how Kaf Ha-ĥayim 204:31 understands SA. According to Rema, as long as the wine is more than one seventh of the mixture, it is considered wine (204:5). However, SA points out that our wines are not as strong as their wines, and thus the applicable proportions are different. Pri Megadim and other Aĥaronim explained that only if the majority of the liquid is wine is it considered wine. Sephardim and many Ashkenazim follow this opinion. Other poskim maintain that as long as the liquid tastes like wine and is more than one seventh wine, it is deemed to be wine. This was the ruling followed by the Badatz of the Eda Ĥaredit (Piskei Teshuvot 204:8), which was opposed by several leading poskim (Ĥazon Ovadia 6:2). Thus, the Israeli Chief Rabbinate gives supervision to a wine only when the majority of the liquid is wine.[4]. According to Rambam (MT 29:14), wine that has been cooked or has had sugar or the like added to it is unfit for kiddush use. This is also the opinion of a number of the Ge’onim. But Tosafot, Rosh, Ran, Ramban, and Rashba maintain that it may be used, and SA also inclines this way. Rema and MB 272:23 state that if the cooked or sweetened wine is tastier, it is preferable to make kiddush over it. Some take the more stringent opinion into account and therefore prefer to make kiddush over wine that has not been cooked or sweetened (Kitzur SA 77:6; Kaf Ha-ĥayim 272:44).

Nowadays most wines are pasteurized, meaning they are cooked at low temperatures (80-85º C, 176-185º F) in order to get rid of bacteria. It is unclear whether pasteurization is considered cooking or not, with ramifications for two issues: 1) May one use it for kiddush even according to those who prohibit mevushal wine? 2) If an idol-worshiping non-Jew touches this wine, what is its status? If it is considered mevushal, then this touch would not prohibit it, since the prohibition of yein nesekh (wine touched by an idol-worshiping non-Jew) does not apply to mevushal wine. Igrot Moshe YD 3:31 states that such wine is considered mevushal (as does Yalkut Yosef 272:10). However, Minĥat Shlomo 1:25 states that it is considered mevushal only if its taste, smell, or appearance undergoes a change; rather, pasteurization to eliminate bacteria does not give the wine the status of mevushal. In practice, one may make kiddush over pasteurized wine even le-khatĥila. In terms of the touch of a non-Jew, be-di’avad one may be lenient, because the prohibition of drinking wine touched by a non-Jew is rabbinic, and in a case of an uncertainty regarding a rabbinic law one may be lenient. One may certainly be lenient in the case of wine touched by a Shabbat-desecrating Jew. Moreover, if such a Jew regularly makes kiddush, many of those who are stringent accede to the lenient opinion, even if the wine has not been pasteurized (see above 1:14).

05. The Required Amount of Wine

In order to fulfill the mitzva of kiddush there must be enough wine in the cup to be considered significant, so that the berakha is recited over something. This amount is the volume of an egg and a half (one fourth [revi’it] of a log, commonly referred to simply as a revi’it), which is the minimum amount that must be present in any cup being used to fulfill a mitzva (kos shel berakha). If less than this amount is used, the mitzva has not been fulfilled (Shabbat 76b; Pesaĥim 107a, 108b; MA 271:32).

For many years it was assumed that the egg and a half that Rambam mentions was the equivalent of 86 ml, based on the opinion of R. Ĥayim Naeh. However, more precise calculations show that the amount is really 75 ml. Some are stringent and maintain that the eggs nowadays are only half the size that they once were, so that the amount of wine in the cup must be doubled to 150 ml. (Ĥazon Ish). In practice, the bottom line is that one may make kiddush over 75 ml of wine, but many Ashkenazim are stringent le-khatĥila to use 150 ml.[5]

After making kiddush, one must drink a “melo lugmav” – the amount of wine that could fill the drinker’s cheek if he puffed it out – considered the smallest amount that has a relaxing effect on the drinker. This corresponds to the majority of a revi’it, or at least 38 ml, but one with a bigger mouth must drink more. For most people this amount will be between 50 and 55 ml, but nobody, even a giant, must drink more than a revi’it.

If the person making kiddush is unable to drink a melo lugmav, one of the listeners can do so instead. Be-di’avad, if a cheek full is drunk collectively, all have fulfilled their obligation, even though no individual drank a cheek full (Pesaĥim 107a; SA 271:14; MB ad loc. 73).[6]


[5]. See Peninei Halakha: Berakhot 10:11 or Harĥavot here. In brief, a mistake was made when R. Ĥayim Naeh calculated the amount according to Rambam. The measurement of a dirhem (drachma) in use in Rambam’s age was a bit smaller than the Turkish dirhem that R. Naeh used in his calculation. Accordingly, Rambam and those who follow him maintain that an egg and a half (which corresponds to a revi’it) is 75 ml. Thus writes R. Beinish (Midot Ve-shi’urei Torah 30:5; 16:6); R. Ovadia Yosef agrees. (Early Ashkenazic custom was to consider an egg’s bulk to be 46 ml and a revi’it to be 69.) However, Noda Bi-Yehuda states that eggs are only half the size they once were. Ĥazon Ish adopts this approach, calculating accordingly that an egg and a half is about 150 ml. MB states that when the mitzva concerned is rooted in the Torah, such as kiddush on Friday night, it is preferable to be stringent and follow Noda Bi-Yehuda. However for rabbinic mitzvot such as the four cups at the Seder and the requirement to make a berakha aĥarona, one need not follow the double shi’ur even le-khatĥila. This is also explained in Peninei Halakha: Pesaĥ 16:8; 16:23 and n. 20 ad loc.[6]. If the person making kiddush drinks less than a melo lugmav, and everyone collectively drinks less than a melo lugmav, they have not fulfilled the mitzva as instituted. According to MA 271:32, they did not fulfill it at all, and the one who made kiddush must continue to drink until he reaches a cheek full. If he had already become distracted, he must make another berakha over the wine. If he got up and went somewhere else, he must make kiddush again. However, according to some poskim, even though he did not fulfill the mitzva of kiddush properly, he nevertheless fulfilled it be-di’avad, since he did make kiddush over a cup of wine. This is the opinion of Kaf Ha-ĥayim 271:82 and Or Le-Tziyon, 2:20:7. See SSK 48:9 and n. 57. Since one is in doubt about the law, one who did not drink a melo lugmav may not say kiddush again, but should try to hear kiddush recited by someone else.

06. The Laws of Kos Shel Berakha

The Sages ordained that a number of berakhot be recited over a kos (goblet) of wine, such as the berakha over betrothal, marriage, Birkat Ha-mazon (Grace after Meals), kiddush, and havdala. Since these berakhot are made over a kos to glorify God, it is proper that the kos be pretty and elegant. The Sages established the following rules about it.

The kos must be whole, without defects or breaks on the rim or the base. If the kos is not whole, but no other kos is available, one may still use it be-di’avad. However, if it is cracked to the point that the wine leaks out, leaving less than a revi’it, it may not be used.

If there are several available cups, one should pick out the nicest one to use for the berakha. Many use a silver goblet for kiddush. If the only kos available is a plastic disposable one, it may be used be-di’avad.[7]

The kos must be totally clean. If it was drunk from or otherwise got dirty, it must be washed inside and out (SA 183:1). Be-di’avad, if it is difficult to wash the kos, one may wipe it out and clean it using a napkin (MB ad loc. 1).

Although a kos that holds a revi’it is sufficient, if a larger cup is used, there is a mitzva to fill it up all the way since it is more dignified for the berakha to be made over a full cup. Some are accustomed to fill the kos to overflowing, to the point that whoever is making kiddush will probably spill wine on his hand. It would seem preferable to fill the kos close to the top but not to overflowing, so that the wine does not spill. This is what the Sages meant when they spoke of a full kos (Taz 183:4; SAH 4; MB 183:9; proof of this is the explanation given of Beit Hillel’s opinion in Berakhot 52b).

If one drank from the wine while it was in the kos or directly from the wine bottle, the wine remaining in the kos or bottle is called pagum (defective) and considered unfit for sacramental purposes. When necessary, one can fix pagum wine by adding non-defective wine to it. Once the additional wine is added, all the wine is considered new. If the wine is strong, one can fix it by adding water instead. Be-di’avad, if there is no way to fix the wine, one may make kiddush on pagum wine (SA 182:3-7).[8]

The Sages stated that one should first take the kos in both hands in order to show how dear it is. Then, when making kiddush, one should hold the kos in the right hand, which is the more important one. He should hold the kos with all his fingers so that they cradle the cup. He should lift the kos a tefaĥ above the table, so that it is visible to all. He should look at the kos so that he is not distracted. If he needs to, he should look in a prayer book, but it is best to place it adjacent to the kos so that he sees both. After he drinks from the wine he should give some to his wife so that the blessing spreads to both of them (SA 183:4).[9]


[7]. According to Igrot Moshe OĤ 3:39, a disposable cup is not considered dignified. It is therefore intrinsically inferior and should not be used for kiddush. However, if there is no other cup available, it is possible that one can be lenient. Minĥat Yitzĥak states that a cup that is meant to be thrown out after one use is not considered a kli (utensil) at all, and therefore may not be used for kiddush or netilat yadayim (ritual hand-washing). If there is no alternative, one should resolve to use the cup multiple times. This gives it the status of a kli (10:23). In contrast, Tzitz Eliezer 12:23 and Yalkut Yosef 271:41 state that disposable cups may be used for kiddush and netilat yadayim because they are fundamentally reusable. The only reason that people prefer to throw them out rather than wash them is because the cups are cheap. Moreover, they are considered dignified, as people use them when honoring important people. SSK 47:11 also agrees that one may be lenient be-di’avad. One who does not even have a disposable cup available may make kiddush over the wine in the bottle.[8]. Drinking wine directly from a cup renders it pagum, but pouring wine from a bottle or a cup does not. Most poskim say that the way to fix pagum wine is to pour a little non-pagum wine into the pagum wine. However, Maharam of Rothenburg maintains that one can fix the pagum wine only if he pours it into a larger quantity of non-pagum wine. Ideally, this opinion should be taken into consideration, but if one does so without modification, according to most poskim he has now made all the wine pagum. Therefore, he should first pour a little wine from the bottle into the kos that contains the pagum wine. That fixes the wine according to the majority of poskim. Afterward one should pour the contents of the cup into the bottle, thus fixing it according to Maharam as well (see MB 182:27; SHT 23-24). It seems that in a place where it would be considered impolite to pour wine back into the bottle, it is best to follow the majority of poskim and simply fix the wine by adding a bit more to what is in the cup.

[9]. “There are ten things said about a kos shel berakha: it must be rinsed and washed, undiluted and full; it requires crowning and wrapping; it must be taken up with both hands and placed in the right hand; it must be raised a tefaĥ from the surface; and he lays his eyes upon it. Some add that he must send it around to the members of his household (i.e., his wife). R. Yoĥanan said: ‘We only know of four: rinsing, washing, undiluted, and full’” (Berakhot 51a). Rambam quotes only the four rules mentioned by R. Yoĥanan. However, this is problematic since R. Yoĥanan himself raises the question as to whether the left hand can assist the right, which evidently means that he considers it a relevant issue as well, even though it is not one of the four things explicitly attributed to him. The Ge’onim record all ten criteria as law, while Rosh leaves out only crowning and wrapping. Talmidei Rabbeinu Yona record five as binding – the first four in the list, plus taking the kos in the right hand. The rest are not obligatory. The Vilna Ga’on explains that the four things mentioned by R. Yoĥanan are mandatory while the rest of the list are a non-obligatory mitzva (183:7). This is also the ruling of MB 183:20. Therefore, if one holds the cup in his left hand, he fulfills his obligation. It would seem that be-di’avad, even if he does not hold the cup at all, but simply has it in front of him while he makes kiddush, he fulfills his obligation (MB 182:15). There are varying customs for left-handed individuals. The mainstream poskim maintain that he should take the cup in his left hand, which is his stronger hand (MB 183:20). However, according to Kabbala, he should use his right hand; many follow this opinion (Kaf Ha-ĥayim 183:29, Piskei Teshuvot 183:10).

There is further debate about the ideal way to hold the cup. Shlah, quoted by MB 183:15, states that based on Kabbala one should rest the cup in the palm of the right hand, with the fingers standing erect around the cup. Kaf Ha-ĥayim states that he should first straighten his fingers and then place the cup at the middle of their length. MA 183:6 states that it is possible to understand the kabbalists as saying that one should place his fingers around the cup the way he normally does. See Peninei Halakha: Berakhot ch. 5 n. 22 and Harĥavot here.

07. Distributing Wine to All Present

In order to fulfill the mitzva of kiddush, a melo lugmav of wine must be drunk by the person making kiddush or a member of his audience (as explained in section 5 of this chapter). The rest of the listeners thus fulfill their obligation in kiddush even if they do not partake of the wine. Ideally, each listener should drink from the kiddush wine (SA 271:14).

If the person who made kiddush drank directly from the kos, he should not then pour from this kos into cups for the listeners, since the wine is now pagum (as we learned in section 6). However, as long as family members are drinking directly from the kiddush cup they are not considered drinking pagum wine, because their drinking is considered an extension of the original drinking. It is only when the wine is poured into a different cup that it is considered pagum (SHT 271:89; MB 182:24).

Thus, one who wishes to pour the kiddush wine into the cups of his audience should first add a little wine from the bottle to the kos. This fixes the cup’s wine, and it may then be poured for the other people present (SA 182:6; MB 271:82; SHT 271:89). Another solution is for the person making kiddush to pour a melo lugmav from the kiddush cup into his own cup, and drink the wine from there. This way the wine in the kiddush cup is not pagum, and he may pour from it into the cups of the listeners. It is often necessary to add wine to the kiddush cup so that everyone who listened to kiddush can have a taste.

There is another method: Before making kiddush, a little wine can be poured into the cups of all present. After hearing kiddush they can drink this wine. In this case, the person making kiddush need not pour wine for them from his kos at all, since the wine before them at the time of kiddush is considered kiddush wine. There are two advantages to this: 1) The audience’s time lag between making the berakha and drinking the wine is shortened. 2) There is no issue of pagum at all. This is particularly suitable for a large audience and for guests who may feel uncomfortable drinking wine poured from the cup that the person making kiddush drank from (SA 271:16-17; MB 83). If the listeners do not have a revi’it of wine in their cups, they should not drink until after the person making kiddush drinks (SSK ch. 48 n. 74).

Even if the listeners do not plan to drink from the wine, they should still remain silent until the one making kiddush has drunk a melo lugmav. Be-di’avad, if they spoke before he drank, they have still fulfilled their obligation (SSK 48:6). If they wish to drink the wine, they should remain silent until after drinking.[10]


[10]. If one heard kiddush or havdala but did not hear the berakha of Ha-gafen, he has fulfilled his obligation, because only the person making kiddush must have wine in front of him. Those listening fulfill their obligation even if they did not hear the berakha over the wine (SSK 47:40). However, if they wish to drink from the wine, they must recite Ha-gafen themselves.If, after hearing kiddush but before drinking, one of the listeners spoke about something unrelated to kiddush or the meal, than he must recite Ha-gafen himself before he drinks (Beit Yosef; MA; Taz; MB 167:43; SSK 48:6). However, according to Rema and Ben Ish Ĥai, if the one who made kiddush has already drunk from the wine, then the listener does not need to make another berakha. There is a disagreement among the poskim in the case where the person who made kiddush spoke before drinking, and those listening did not speak. In practice, since whenever we are in doubt about a berakha we are lenient, the listeners in this case drink but must not make a new berakha. See Harĥavot and Peninei Halakha: Berakhot 3:4 and n. 4.

08. Kiddush Customs and Covering the Challah

There is a widespread custom to stand during the Friday night kiddush because it attests to the creation of the world, and witnesses must stand when giving testimony. The Arizal, basing himself on mystical considerations, also recommends standing; this is the custom of Sephardim and Ashkenazic Ĥasidim (SA 271:10; Kaf Ha-ĥayim 62). However, most Ashkenazic Jews sit during kiddush since it is supposed to be recited where one will be eating (see section 10 below), and meals are eaten sitting down. Additionally, sitting down together makes the audience and the person making kiddush into a clearly-defined group. There are some Ashkenazim who try to get the best of both worlds by standing during the recitation of Va-yekhulu and sitting down for the rest of kiddush (MB 271:46; SSK 47:28).

All agree that it is preferable to sit for kiddush during the day, and this is the common practice. Nevertheless, some are accustomed to stand, and this is not prohibited.

Even though a woman may make kiddush like a man, it is customary for the man to make kiddush for his family. When multiple families are eating together it is preferable that one person make kiddush for everyone, based on the principle that “In a multitude of people, the King is glorified” (SA 167:11).

It is customary to cover the challah during kiddush. Since bread is considered the more important food, normally if we have both wine and bread in front of us and we plan to eat from both, we recite the berakha on the bread first. But when making kiddush, the berakha on the wine must be made first. In order to avoid giving “incorrect” precedence to the wine, we cover the challah. Similarly, if there are mezonot (grain-based foods over which the berakha of Mezonot is recited), they should be covered during kiddush, as mezonot also normally take precedence over wine. When one is organizing a kiddush for the congregation after services, anyone intending to drink from the kiddush wine must cover any pastries in front of him. One who does not intend to drink from the wine after kiddush need not do so (See SSK ch. 47 n. 125). Based on this explanation, it is not necessary to have the challah on the table when one is making kiddush. If they are on the table, however, they must be covered.

Others provide an additional reason for covering the challah. The two Shabbat challahs allude to the manna that fell during desert times. The manna was covered above and below by layers of dew. To parallel this, the challah is placed above the tablecloth and covered. Accordingly, some people are careful to put the covered challah on the table before kiddush, as a reminder of the manna. Some leave the challah covered until after the recitation of “ha-motzi.” Some even cover the challah at se’uda shlishit for this reason (MB 271:41; AHS 271:22).

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.

010. Reciting Kiddush at the Place of the Meal

The Sages ordained that kiddush be made at the place of the meal (“be-makom se’uda”), for Scripture states: “Call Shabbat ‘delight’” (Yeshayahu 58:13), teaching us that specifically where one delights in Shabbat with bread or pastries he must proclaim Shabbat, i.e., make kiddush. This allows us to reveal the special nature of Shabbat, whose meals are a direct continuation of the mitzva of Zakhor. The proclamation of holiness and the delight with meals complement each other. If one did not eat where he made kiddush, he did not fulfill the mitzva, and he must make kiddush again where he eats. This law applies equally to kiddush by day and by night.

There were some Torah giants who were personally stringent, and insisted on eating their actual Shabbat meal where they made kiddush. This was the custom of the Vilna Gaon. However, the law requires only that one eat a kezayit of bread or mezonot where one makes kiddush. This is sufficient to fulfill the obligation of kiddush. Afterward, one may eat the meal elsewhere. According to the Ge’onim, if there is no mezonot food where one is making kiddush, he may drink a revi’it of wine instead, since wine is also nutritious and filling. If necessary, one may rely upon them. However, at night when the obligation of kiddush is of Torah origin, the person making kiddush should be careful to drink a revi’it in addition to the melo lugmav that he must drink to fulfill the obligation of kiddush. The rest of the listeners need only drink a revi’it (SA 273:5; MB 273:25, 27; SHT 29).

However, if one heard kiddush at the synagogue but only drank a bit of juice and had less than a kezayit of mezonot, he has not fulfilled his obligation of kiddush. Not only that, but he has transgressed the rabbinic prohibition against eating and drinking before kiddush; for since he did not fulfill his obligation, it turns out that he ate and drank before kiddush.

The Rishonim discuss three different parameters for how far away one may go and still be considered eating “at the place of the meal”:

1) Anywhere within the same room is acceptable, even if one place is not visible to another in the same room (Rambam; Tosafot; Rosh).

2) As long as the person making kiddush can see the place where the meal will be eaten, even if that place is in a different home or yard, it is acceptable (R. Sar Shalom).

3) If, while making kiddush, the person had in mind to move to another room in the same building, it is acceptable (R. Nissim Gaon).

Ideally, one should make kiddush at the actual place of the meal. When this is difficult, one may make kiddush anywhere that two of the three criteria mentioned above are met. For example, if one needs to eat in a different room, it is preferable that he have that in mind during kiddush, and that he make kiddush from a vantage point where he can see the place where he is planning to eat. If there is really no choice, one can rely on any one of the three criteria being met (SA 273:1; MB and SHT ad loc.).

Ideally, one should not wait between making kiddush and eating. Similarly, one should not go somewhere after kiddush before eating, even if he intends to return and eat where he made kiddush. Be-di’avad, if he waited for a short time or left briefly, his kiddush still counts. However, if he waited more than 72 minutes and intended to separate kiddush and the meal, then he has “lost” his kiddush and he must make it again (Rema 273:3; MB ad loc. 12; BHL s.v. “le-altar”; Kaf Ha-ĥayim ad loc. 29; Tzitz Eliezer 11:26; Yalkut Yosef 273:15; SSK 54, nn. 46-47).

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