Parshah Halacha – Parshat Yitro

The Laws Of Not Eating before the Friday Night Kiddush

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The Torah portion of Yitro is mostly about the giving of the Torah and the Ten Commandments, the fourth of which is the mitzvah of keeping the Shabbat. It begins with the words, “Remember the Shabbat to keep it holy.” The commentaries offer various explanations as to the meaning of this verse:
·        Rashi says it means one should remember Shabbat during the week and set aside special foods that they come across for Shabbat.[1]
·        Similarly, the Ramban says we should remember Shabbat during the week and not equate it with other days. Thus, one will be reminded of the creation of the world at all times. One of the ways to fulfill this is by referring to the days of the week according to their proximity to Shabbat, i.e., Sunday is Rishon B’Shabbat (the first day towards Shabbat), Monday is Sheini B’Shabbat (the second day towards Shabbat) and so on.
·        The Seforno says one should organize his week in such a manner that when Shabbat comes he has no need to worry about doing any work. As a result of this, Shabbat can be a holy day, one that is devoted to serving G-d.
·        The Talmud says[2] that the verse means we should remember the Shabbat when it begins, by reciting Kiddush over the wine.
Sanctifying the Shabbat with Kiddush
Based on this Talmudic teaching, it is a Biblical mitzvah to recite Kiddush as Shabbat begins.[3] Tosfot explains[4] that the obligation to recite Kiddush on over wine is of Rabbinic origin although it is supported by Biblical verses.
It is considered an exemplary mitzvah to make kiddush as soon as possible after Shabbat begins, i.e., as soon as possible after one finishes praying the Friday night prayers.
Despite this, if one wishes to delay kiddush in order to increase his appetite for the Shabbat meal or in order to study Torah, one may do so. The reason for this is that, by Torah law, one has already fulfilled the mitzvah of sanctifying the Shabbat by mentioning it during his prayers.[5] However, one should not delay the meal if this will cause discord in the home or if there are guests who are hungry.[6] Another consideration is that if any of the guests are poor, delaying the meal might be a transgression of the law against delaying the mitzvah of giving charity.[7]
In addition, one should not delay making kiddush unnecessarily by making small talk. This causes pain to the additional soul we receive on Shabbat. On a Kabbalistic level, the three times we recite Vayechulu (during the the Amidah, after the Amidah and in Kiddush) should be said with as little interruption as possible.[8]
No Snacking before Kiddush
Since it is a mitzvah to make kiddush at the beginning of Shabbat, the sages established[9] that one may not eat or drink anything, even water, from when the sun sets until after making Kiddush. The reason for this is unlike the reason we do not eat before other mitzvot such as Shofar and Lulav. In those cases, the reason is to ensure that one not forget to fulfill the mitzvah. In this case, it is because the concept of Kiddush is to sanctify the food we are eating and proclaim that we are doing so in honor of Shabbat. As such, by its very definition, Kiddush must be said before eating.[10]
One who accepts Shabbat early and prays the evening service may not eat from the time he accepts the Shabbat until after he makes (or hears) Kiddush.[11] This rule applies to both men and women. As such, after a woman accepts Shabbat by lighting the candles, she should refrain from eating until after Kiddush.[12]
No Water
One may not even drink water after sunset before making or hearing Kiddush. In this sense, Kiddush is stricter than Havdalah as, by the letter of the law, one may drink water after dark before Havdalah.[13] (In practice, it is customary to not drink water before Havdalah.) The reason for this is that eating on Shabbat is considered a very significant act, so even a snack (or a drink) is Halachically important.[14]
One who Was in the Middle of Eating
If one was in the middle of eating, even if one had washed and was eating a bread meal,[15] they must stop eating as soon as the sun sets. He may only resume eating after that he has made kiddush. If he wishes to continue eating before davening maariv, he may cover the challah, make Kiddush and continue eating. This is called “pores mapah umekadesh.” This is somewhat complicated and the details are discussed in O.C. 271.
In this respect, too, Kiddush is stricter than Havdalah. Regarding the latter, if one began a meal towards the end of Shabbat they may continue eating before Havdalah, even after it gets dark. The reason the sages were lenient regarding Havdalah is that they didn’t want it to look like we are chasing away the king (a euphemism for Shabbat).[16]
One who Forgot
The Alter Rebbe writes,[17] “Although it is forbidden to taste any food or drink before Kiddush, if one forgot or intentionally transgressed this prohibition, even if he ate an entire meal, he must recite Kiddush immediately after he recalls that he has not yet made Kiddush, and it is forbidden to eat or drink at all until after Kiddush.”
No Kiddush Materials
If one does not have wine, an important beverage on which they can make kiddush, or Challah, and they don’t expect to receive any of these items during the night, they may eat without reciting Kiddush. In this case one can rely on his having mentioned the Shabbat during the prayers as a Biblical fulfillment of the mitzvah.[18]
There are several exceptions to the rule that one may not eat or drink before Kiddush:
·        Rinsing one’s Mouth
One may rinse one’s mouth with water before Kiddush as this is not considered a pleasure.[19]
·        Pills
The Minchat Yitzchak[20] writes[21] that a woman who lit candles may swallow a pill together with some water even though she has not yet heard Kiddush. If the sun has set but it is before nightfall it is better for her to make kiddush before taking the pills. If she cannot make kiddush at that time, she may take the pills and drink the water without doing so. After nightfall, however, he recommends that she should be strict and make sure to hear kiddush before even taking pills and drinking water.
·        In Case of Illness
One who is ill and weak may drink water or other liquids and have a small snack even after accepting Shabbat if the sun did not yet set.[22] Some are lenient even after sunset before nightfall as long as one did not yet pray the Friday night prayers.[23]
·        Children
If a young child is hungry or thirsty, one may feed them before they hear Kiddush.[24] When a child is older and is able to wait until Kiddush, one should train them to do so.[25]
The Bain
Lately an unusual custom has arisen where some people gather on late Friday afternoons to eat and drink and schmooze. People refer to this as a “bain.” This “custom” is problematic as our sages recommended that one not eat on Friday afternoons in a manner that diminishes one’s appetite for Shabbat. This is especially problematic is one does so on a regular basis. See here.
In addition, it sometimes happens that people continue eating after the sun sets. This is forbidden according to halacha as explained above at length. Hopefully, if they are informed of this halacha, they will refrain from this custom in the future.
Wishing all of Klal Yisrael a Happy and Blessed Shabbat!
[1] This is based on the opinion of Bait Shammai, cited in Mechilta on the verse. See also Beitzah 16a
[2] Pesachim 106a
[3] There is a custom to not make Kiddush during the seventh hour after midday on Friday night. The details of this will, G-d willing, be discussed in another article.
[4] D.H. Zochreihu, on ibid
[5] Shulchan Aruch HaRav 271:3. It is noteworthy that, according to the Talmud (Pesachim 117b), one must mention the exodus from Egypt in order to fulfill the mitzvah of Kiddush. In the Siddur of the Alter Rebbe, the Amidah of Friday night also mentions the Exodus from Egypt. (See Tehilah LeDavid 271:1 who asks this question and Mishnah Berurah in the first Biur Halacha on Siman 271 who brings a possible answer.)
See Mishnah Berurah 271:2 who questions how one can fulfill one’s Biblical obligation of Kiddush through prayer since one must perform a Biblical obligation with willful intent? (Presumably one didn’t intend to perform the mitzvah of Kiddush when praying.)
The Ketzot HaShulchan (Badei HaShulchan 79:1) says that, according to the Baal Halachot Gedolot, the rabbis ordained that one should say “kiddush” twice, once during prayers and one afterwards on wine. As such, when one prays and intends to fulfill all of the mitzvot included in those prayers, he is considered to have had intention to do that mitzvah.
[6] Mishnah Berurah, 271:1
[7] Ibid in the Sha’ar HaTziyun to 639:67
[8] Chidah in Avodat HaKodesh, Moreh Be’etzba 4:146. See also Kaf HaChaim (171:2) who says that the tikkun (spiritual rectification) of the Friday night prayers is not complete until after Kiddush and the Shabbat meal.
[9] See Pesachim 106b
[10] Mekor Chaim 431 (by Rabbi Yaakov of Lisa), Biurim 2, cited in Piskei Teshuvot 271, note 131 and Shulchan Aruch HaRav 271:9
[11] Shulchan Aruch HaRav ibid. See Ha’arot Ubiurim Tzemach Tzedek vol. 7 page 190 who suggests (based on the wording of the Alter Rebbe) that if one accepted Shabbat early without praying or saying Kiddush that one may still eat if the sun has not yet set. See below.
[12] See Shulach Aruch HaRav 271:5 that women are obligated in the mitzvah of Kiddush equally to men.
[13] See. O.C. 299
[14] Teshuvot HaRosh, Klal 25:2 based on Pesachim 105a
[15] See here that this is not recommended on Friday afternoons.
[16] Piskei Teshuvot note 132. See Siman 299
[17] Se’if 15
[18] Shulchan Aruch HaRv 289:3
[19] Mishnah Berurah 13
[20] By Rabbi Yakov Yitzchak Wiess (1902 – 1989) the head of the Eidah HaChareidit Bait Din in Jerusalem.
[21] Vol. 8 Siman 18
[22] See sources quoted in Piskei Teshuvot note 141
[23] Responsa of Minchat Elazar vol. 1, 33 and vol. 2, 11
[24] Shulchan Aruch HaRav 269:3
[25] Piskei Teshuvot 269:2 in the name of the Ohr LeTziyon
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom UMevorach!

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