By Yosef Brecher
What is the basic obligation of Kiddush on Friday night, and what is the nature of the requirement to recite Kiddush on wine?
The Torah writes (Shemos 20:8), “zachor es yom ha’shabbos le’kadsho“, “remember the Shabbos day to sanctify it. The Gemara (Pesachim 106a) derives from this pasuk that there is a mitzvah to sanctify the onset of Shabbos with Kiddush, i.e., mentioning the great kedusha of Shabbos. The Gemara (Pesachim 117b) writes that Kiddush should also include a reference to yitzias mitzraim. The Tur rules in accordance with this Gemara, but wonders what its reasoning is – what is the connection between Shabbos and yetzias mitzraim? To explain this connection, the Tur cites the Ramban (Devarim 5:15), who explains that Shabbos and yetzias mitzraim are related because they both testify to the existence of the Creator.
The Gemara (Pesachim 106a) writes that there is a mitzvah to recite Kiddush specifically over a cup of wine. The Rambam (Shabbos 29) and Tosfos (Pesachim 106a) both write, however, that this aspect of Kiddush is only required mide’rabanan, (i.e., Rabinnicaly). The Rambam explains that in order to fulfill the mitzvah mide’oraysa (i.e., Biblically), one can simply mention how great and holy the day of Shabbos is. (See also Rabbi Akiva Eiger (O.C. 271:1), who writes that one can even fulfill the obligation of Kiddush mide’oraysa just by saying “Good Shabbos”.)
The Magen Avrohom (O.C. 271:1) rules that according to the opinion of the Rambam, one can fulfill the mitzvah of Kiddush mide’oraysa through his Friday night davening. This is because we mention the kedusha of Shabbos during shemona esrei (“ata kidashta es yom ha’shevei…”). Therefore, according to the Magen Avrohom, the Kiddush that we recite Friday night over wine is only in order to fulfill the mitzvah de’rabanan of reciting Kiddush over wine. Accordingly, one who has davened ma’ariv Friday night and is unsure whether the Kiddush that he has recited over wine was properly preformed is not considered to have a safek de’oraysa (a doubt as to whether he has fulfilled a Biblical requirement), but rather a safek de’rabanan (a doubt as to whether he has fulfilled a Rabbinic requirement). He may therefore follow the rule of safek d’rabanan le’hokail (all doubts regarding Rabbinic requirements are resolved leniently) and assume that the Kiddush that he recited over wine was proper.
The Mishna Berura (O.C. 271:2) and Biur Halacha (O.C. 271), however, take issue with the ruling of the Magen Avrohom that according to the Rambam one is considered to have fulfilled Kiddush mide’oraysa through Friday night davening. Firstly, the Shulchan Aruch rules (O.C. 60:4) “mitzvos tzerichos kavanna“, i.e., in order for any action to be viewed as a mitzvah, one must have performed it with specific intent to fulfill the mitzvah. Since most people do not have specific intent to fulfill the mitzvah of Kiddush during Friday night shemona esrei, we can assume that the fulfillment of Kiddush mide’oraysa is indeed accomplished through the recitation of Kiddush over wine. Secondly, as we mentioned above, the Gemara writes that one must mention yetzias mitzraim during Kiddush. Since the Kiddush recited during davening contains no such reference, it cannot be considered a fulfillment of Kiddush mide’oraysa.
The Biur Halacha cites the opinion of some Rishonim who argue on the Rambam and hold that the mitzvah of Kiddush on wine is indeed to specifically recite Kiddush over wine. According to this opinion as well, one certainly does not fulfill any aspect of Kiddush through the Friday night davening.
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