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Rabbi Yonason Sacks
Rabbi Yonason Sacks

The Mitzvah of Kiddush

While all rishonim maintain that the mitzvah of Kiddush is derived from the posuk of "Zachor es yom hashabbos l'kadsho - Remember the Shabbos day to sanctify it" (Shemos 20:8), the fundamental nature of this "Zechira" is subject to considerable debate. The Rambam (Hil. Shabbos 29:1) employs this posuk to teach that one must commemorate the Shabbos at both its commencement and at its departure with "zechiras shevach v'kiddush" - words of "praise and sanctification." The Rambam's presentation appears to characterize Kiddush and Havdallah as serving to offset Shabbos from the rest of the week, bookending the Shabbos with expressions of the day's uniqueness (see also Sefer HaMitzvos 155). Based on the Rambam's insistence upon expressions of "praise and sanctification," the Minchas Chinuch (31) infers that actual verbal articulation of Kiddush is necessary for fulfillment of the mitzvah: mere mental contemplation is insufficient (see, however, Pri Megadim E.A. 271:2).

The Ramban (Shemos 20:8), however, characterizes Kiddush in a somewhat different fashion. In describing the mitzvah of Kiddush, the Ramban analogizes the Kiddush of Friday night to the inaugural Kiddush of the Yovel year performed by the Beis Din. Rather than merely demarcating Shabbos from the rest of the week, Kiddush serves to literally consecrate and infuse the day of Shabbos with holiness. Although the kedushas hayom of Shabbos is not actually contingent upon human sanctification - whether a person recites Kiddush or not, Shabbos invariably begins at Sunset on Friday night (see, for example, Beitzah 17a) - the Torah nonetheless enjoins us to actively participate in the inauguration of the Shabbos.

The Ramban's understanding of Kiddush finds precedent in other areas of halacha as well. A similar model may be found, for example, in the halachos pertaining to the Kedushas Bechor of an animal (see Nedarim 13a). Although firstborn animals are intrinsically endowed with sanctity from birth, irrespective of whether the owner actually declares the firstborn as "sanctified" or not, the owner of the animal is nonetheless commanded to actively declare the firstborn as sanctified. The Mordechai (Gittin 4:380) expresses a similar concept regarding the mitzvah of shemitas kesafim (relinquishing of loans) of the shemittah year. Despite the fact that the shemittah year will cancel loans regardless of a lender's intent (see, however, Yeraim 278), the Torah commands all lenders to formally declare that they relinquish their loans. The Ramban perceives Kiddush in a similar fashion, as it represents the human involvement in the sanctification of the day at its onset.

The practical difference between the interpretations of the Rambam and the Ramban expresses itself in the mitzvah of Havdallah. Because the Rambam understands "Zachor es yom hashabbos l'kadsho" as an imperative to offset Shabbos from the rest of the week, the Rambam derives both the mitzvah of Kiddush as well as the mitzvah of Havdallah from the same posuk. Both mitzvos serve an identical role, bookending the Shabbos from the remaining days of the week. In the Ramban's view, however, "Zachor es yom hashabbos l'kadsho" enjoins us to sanctify the Shabbos at its onset in a manner comparable to the sanctification of the Yovel. Hence, the posuk only refers to Kiddush at the inauguration of Shabbos, but not to Havdallah.

The Ramban notes that his understanding of Kiddush as a "Mekadesh" or "sanctifier" of the day accounts nicely for the d'rabanan (Rabbinic) status of the Shabbos morning Kiddush, "Kiddusha Rabba." Just as the sanctification of the Yovel and of Rosh Chodesh is performed solely at the onset of the event, so too the Kiddush of Shabbos can only be performed (on a Biblical level) at the beginning of Shabbos. Any subsequent "Kiddush" during the course of Shabbos can only exist as a Rabbinic replica.

In addition to the d'oraisa (Biblical) Kiddush recited at the onset of Shabbos, Chazal instituted a secondary Kiddush to be recited on Shabbos morning, known as "Kiddusha Rabba." The Rambam (Hil. Shabbos 29:10) maintains that, like the d'oraisa Kiddush of Friday night, one may not eat prior to reciting Kiddusha Rabba. The Ra'avad (ibid.) disagrees, arguing that the ‘true' Kiddush, which entails a prohibition of eating, was recited on Friday night. Kiddusha Rabba of the daytime, however, demands no such stringency. The Maharam Chalava (Pesachim 106a) echoes the Ra'avad's sentiment, explicitly stating that, despite its name, "Ein zeh Kiddush mammash" - Kiddusha Rabba is "not a ‘literal' Kiddush." The Maharam Chalava supports this notion by citing Kiddush HaChodesh of Beis Din: just as Kiddush HaChodesh of Beis Din entails a single act of inauguration at the commencement of the month, so too the Biblical mitzvah of Kiddush on Shabbos requires only a single declaration.

Apparently, the Ra'avad and Maharam Chalava understand the essential nature of Kiddusha Rabba differently than the Rambam. The Rambam appears to view Kiddusha Rabba as a form of "Kiddush" - albeit Rabbinic. In other words, when the Rabbanan instituted Kiddusha Rabba, they modeled it after the Biblical form of Kiddush. Hence, Kiddusha Rabba carries the identical stringencies of Kiddush d'oraisa, including the prohibition of eating and the necessary recital "b'makom seuda." The Ra'avad and Maharam Chalava, however, assume that Kiddusha Rabba is not included under the rubric of "Kiddush" in any shape or form. Rather, Kiddusha Rabba constitutes an independent Rabbinic mitzvah to enhance the Shabbos day meal with wine, which is not patterned after the d'oraisa mitzvah of "Kiddush." Hence, Kiddusha Rabba does not assume the same stringencies as the nighttime Kiddush.

This dispute may also express itself in the obligation of women to recite Kiddusha Rabba. According to the Rambam, Kiddusha Rabba is patterned after the Mitvah d'oraisa of Kiddush. Hence, just as women are uniquely obligated in the mitzvah of Kiddush based on a special derivation of the Gemarah (see Berachos 20b), so too women are obligated to perform Kiddusha Rabba, which exists as an extension of Kiddush. According to the Raavad and Maharam Chalava, however, Kiddusha Rabba is not connected to Kiddush, despite its name. Rather, Kiddusha Rabba constitutes a new mitzvah to enhance the Shabbos meal with wine. As such, it constitutes a mitzvas assei shehazaman grama (positive time-bound mitzvah), and women are thus exempt.

Perhaps the Rambam's understanding of Kiddusha Rabba as a Rabbinic form of Kiddush (as opposed to an independent Rabbinic mitzvah bearing no relationship to Kiddush) may be rooted in his aforementioned general understanding of the nature of Kiddush. Recall that the Maharam Chalava questioned the possibility of reciting Kiddush during the day - even if the Kiddush is only mid'rabanan - based on the fact that Kiddush HaChodesh of Beis Din is performed only at the beginning of the month. The Rambam, however, would reject this analogy, maintaining that Kiddush of Shabbos is incomparable to Kiddush HaChodesh of Beis Din. While Kiddush HaChodesh of Beis Din marks the consecration of the month, Kiddush on Shabbos functions solely to offset Shabbos from the rest of the week. Hence, although Kiddush of Beis Din may only be performed at the onset of the month, one could envision the possibility of Kiddush (albeit Mid'rabanan) in the middle of Shabbos.

The Gemarah in Maseches Berachos (27b) relates: "mispallel odom shel shabbos b'erev Shabbos v'omer k'dusha al hakos" - one may recite the Shemoneh Esrei of Shabbos and Kiddush on Erev Shabbos. At first glance, the dispensation to recite the Shabbos Kiddush on a weekday appears difficult. Many rishonim explain this ruling through the principle of "tosefes Shabbos" - the ability to actually "begin Shabbos early:" While Kiddush most certainly must be recited on Shabbos itself, when one accepts the sanctity of Shabbos early, one may also recite Kiddush early. Based on this understanding, many authorities (see Or Zaruah Hilchos Erev Shabbos 14 and Ra'ah ibid.) rule that the institution of "tosefes Shabbos" must be mid'oraisa: if the ability to accept Shabbos early was merely a rabbinic innovation which was unrecognized on a Biblical level, one could not possibly fulfill one's Biblical Kiddush obligation during that time (see however, Mordechai (Megillah 2:798)).

Interestingly, however, the Rambam makes no mention of tosefes Shabbos anywhere in his Mishneh Torah. The Maggid Mishneh (Hil. Shevisas Esor 1:6), as explained by the Beiur Halacha (261 s.v. "Yeish Omrim"), explains that the Rambam considers tosefes Shabbos to be a purely Rabbinic institution. The Kesef Mishneh (Hil. Shabbos 4:3) goes further, arguing that the Rambam rejects the notion of tosefes Shabbos entirely - even mid'rabanan. Either way, if the Rambam does not recognize the possibility for biblically accepting Shabbos early on Friday afternoon, he faces an obvious difficulty: how can the Gemarah sanction reciting Kiddush on Friday afternoon?

The Rambam addresses this issue himself. In quoting the aforementioned Gemarah, the Rambam writes (Hil. Shabbos 29:11): one may recite Kiddush on Friday afternoon, even though the Shabbos has not yet begun…because the mitzvah of ‘Zechira' obliges one to recite Kiddush and Havdallah at the commencement and departure of Shabbos, or slightly beforehand or afterwards" (Hil. Shabbos 29:11). The Rambam explicitly acknowledges that Kiddush need not be recited on Shabbos itself. If one recited Kiddush on Friday afternoon before the actual onset of Shabbos, one nonetheless fulfills the d'oraisa Kiddush obligation. The Rambam's license to recite Kiddush before the actual commencement of Shabbos fits consistently with the Rambam's general understanding of the nature of Kiddush. Because Kiddush serves to mark off Shabbos from the rest of the week, it must be recited sometime around the transitional point from Friday to Shabbos, but not necessarily on Shabbos itself. If, however, one assumes like the Ramban, that Kiddush of Shabbos is analogous to Kiddush of Yovel and Rosh Chodesh, one must certainly wait until Shabbos itself to sanctify the Shabbos, as is the case with Yovel and Rosh Chodesh, one must certainly wait until Shabbos itself to sanctify the Shabbos, as is the case with Yovel and Rosh Chodesh.

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