Kiddush Friday Night, Part 2 – Eating Before Kiddush

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kiddushBy Yosef Brecher

Is one allowed to eat and drink before reciting kiddush Friday night?

Once Shabbos has begun, a person may not eat or drink anything until he has recited kiddush (Shulchan Aruch O.C. 271:4). The source for this prohibition, however, is not entirely clear.  In explaining this halacha, the Be’er Haitaiv (O.C. 271:4) cites a Gemara in Pesachim (106b) that discusses whether someone who eats before reciting kiddush can still recite kiddush Friday night, or must he wait until the next morning to do so. This Gemara clearly seems to suggest that it is forbidden to eat before reciting kiddush.

The Gaon (O.C 271:4) cites a different source for this halacha: The Gemara in Pesachim (105a) tells us of the rule, “ke’shaim sheha’shabbos kova’as le’maaser, kach kova’as lekiddush.”  This means that just as sunset is considered to mark the onset of Shabbos in regards to the laws of ma’aser, sunset is also viewed as marking the onset of Shabbos in regards to the laws of Kiddush Friday night.  This statement is understood by the Rishonim (Rashi and Tosfos, ) as referring to the prohibition of eating before kiddush is recited.  The Gemara here is telling us that once sunset has passed, nothing can be eaten until kiddush has been recited.

In truth, there is also a prohibition to eat prior to other mitzvohs de’orayso.  For example, once the zman for Krias Shma has been reached, it is prohibited for one to begin eating a meal.  This prohibition, however, is not as strict as the one we find regarding the laws of kiddush.  While one is not forbidden to eat a light snack before reciting krias shma, one is forbidden to do so before reciting kiddush.  What is the reason for this distinction?  The Shulchan Aruch Harav (Shabbos 271:9) explains that by other mitzvohs, the prohibition to eat before preforming the mitzvah is based on a concern that the entire zman for the mitzvah will pass without it being fulfilled.  To avoid this possibility, we need only to prohibit a person from beginning a lengthy meal once the zman for the mitzvah has begun.  A small snack, though, will only distract a person for a short time, thus leaving plenty of remaining time to perform the mitzvah.

Regarding kiddush, however, the mitzvah is to sanctify the day of Shabbos “as it is entering”.  In this case, therefore, our concern is not merely that one may entirely miss the zman ha’mitzvah.  Rather, our fear is that one may miss preforming the mitzvah in its proper time i.e., the beginning of Shabbos.  By kiddush, therefore, we must prohibit all eating and drinking once the proper time for the mitzvah has begun.  Even a short preoccupation while eating a light snack may cause the “beginning” of Shabbos to pass.

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: [email protected].

©2013 Yosef Brecher                 

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  1. Note: Contrary to common opinion the MG”A writes there’s no chiyuv Chinuch for a child not to eat before kiddush, In other words a 12 yr old can eat before kiddush. although it would probably be assur for him to be Koveia Suedah just like it is Erev Shabbos.

  2. Rav Ovadiah Yosef shlita in Chazon Ovadiah / shabbat chelek 1 / recently wrote of a leniency regarding shabbos DAY kiddush, which is not as strict as Friday night kiddush. He is mitztaref two points in order to permit partaking of a shul kiddush even without eating the requisite cake or reviit wine, in a time of need.

    point #1) even though not accepted as halacha, some rishonim hold that the issur of eating b4 kiddush only applies to Fri night

    point #2) if the one reciting kiddush makes borei pri hagefen and drinks a reviit, some poskim hold that everyone else is yotzei the chiyuv of “seudah” not just kiddush

    In my opinion, this heter could be useful to diabetics or others who for health reasons can not afford to eat so much cake or drink sugary wine/grape juice as is typiclly offered at a shul kiddush, but still would like to eat something as they have usually been in shul all morning long and can’t really ‘fast’ either. Read more on the June 13, 2013 post on click on English or Hebrew as desired


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