By Yosef Brecher
Can one recite kiddush on behalf of others? Is it preferable to do so?
(1) The Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 273:4) writes that one who is reciting Kiddush has the ability to exempt other people in their Kiddush obligation. Although all agree to this halacha, there is disagreement as to whether it represents the halachic preference. When there is a group of people whom all need to fulfill the mitzvah of kiddush, is it more preferable that one person recite the kiddush on behalf of the entire group or is it more preferable that each member of the group recite kiddush individually? The Mishna Berura in Hilchos Birchas Hapairos (O.C. 213 s.k. 17) cites the opinion of poskim who hold that if there are a few people performing a mitzvah together it is preferable that one person perform the mitzvah on behalf of all the others based on the concept “b’rov am hadras melech” i.e., multitudes of people bring honor to the king. It is considered a greater honor for Hashem if there is a large group of people preforming a mitzvah together, rather than if each person is preforming his own mitzvah individually. (See also the Aruch Hashulchan (Hichos Tzitzis, O.C. 8:11) who writes that it preferable for one person to recite the bracha of tzitzis on behalf of a group, rather than for each member of the group to recite the bracha individually.)
The Kaf Hachaim (Havdala,O.C. 296 s.k. 46), however, seems to argue. He rules that one should not fulfill his havdala obligation in shul, but should rather wait until he recites havdala at home on behalf of his family. The Kaf Hachaim explains that this is partly as a result of the concept “mitzvah boh yoser mi’bashlucho“, i.e., it is a greater mitzvah to perform a mitzvah by oneself rather than through an emissary. This rule has its source in the Gemara (Kedushin 41a) that writes that it is better for someone to perform the mitzvah of Kiddushin himself rather than through an emissary. By favoring an individual’s fulfillment of havdla at home over a fulfillment together with the more public havdala in shul, the Kaf Hachaim seems to suggest that the concept of “mitzvah boh yoser mi’bashlucho” is even more important than that of “b’rov am hadras melech“. According to the Kaf Ha’chaim then, it would be more preferable for every adult at the table to recite kiddush individually rather than having everyone rely on one person’s kiddush (e.g. the head of household).
(2) Even one who has already fulfilled his own kiddush obligation can still recite kiddush on behalf of another person (Mishna Berura O.C. 273 s.k. 17). Rashi (Rosh Hashana 29a) explains that this as a result of the rule “kol yisroel arayvin zeh la’zeh” i.e., “all Jews are responsible for one another”. Even someone who has already fulfilled his own personal obligation of kiddush is still partially responsible for his friends obligation, and can therefore still recite kiddush on his behalf.
(3) The Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 273:4) writes that if someone is fulfilling his Kiddush together with someone else he is not required to recite his own borei peri ha’gafen before drinking but can rather rely on the bracha that was recited during Kiddush. This ruling seems to be at odds with general hilchos brachos. The Gemara (Rosh Hashana 29a) writes that regarding birchos hamitzvos (i.e., brachos that recited prior to performing a mitzvah), even someone who has already fulfilled his own mitzvah can still recite the bracha on behalf of another. This is not the case, however, regarding birchas ha’nenin (i.e., brachos that are recited prior to receiving a specific pleasure). One cannot recite a birchas ha’nenin (e.g. she’hakol ni’hiyeh bi’dvaro) on behalf of someone else, unless the reciter himself is partaking of that particular pleasure. The Shulchan Aruch (cited above) is discussing a case in which the reciter will not be drinking or eating anything after his kiddush. How then, can he write that those listening to kiddush can rely on the birchas ha’nenin of ha’gafen? To explain this halacha, the Mishna Berura (O.C. 271 s.k. 1) cites the Gemara (Rosh Hashana 29a) that explains that the borei peri ha’gafen of kiddush is indeed different than all other birchas ha’nenin. Since this bracha is an integral part of the mitzvah of kiddush, it is treated, in this instance, as having the status of birchas hamitzvos. As such, one can exempt someone else in the bracha of borei peri ha’gafen even if he himself is not partaking of the wine upon which he reciting the bracha.
The purpose of this column is not to render halachic decisions, but rather to provide readers with a helpful overview of basic hilchos Shabbos. All specific halachic inquiries should be directed to a local halachic authority. General questions about the content being discussed, however, are welcome and can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
©2013 Yosef Brecher