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[12] Kiddush - Part 1 of 2: All you need to know!

One of the most beautiful scenes is the family gathering around the table on Friday night for Kiddush. Likewise, the Kiddush on Shabbos day, often heard at Shul as the congregation eagerly await their food, is a unique moment. As with all Mitzvos, there are guidelines and parameters which we must meet in order to fulfill our obligation. In this first section we will address some of the questions that arise, including:


In the Aseres Hadibros (Ten Commandments), we are commanded to "Remember the Shabbos day to sanctify it". One fulfills this Torah obligation by reciting Kiddush on Shabbos with our sages instituting the recitation of Kiddush over a cup of wine (Pesachim 106a). Both men and women are equally obligated in this mitzvah (Shulchan Aruch OC 271:2 from on Gemara Berachos 20b).


1) Whilst the night Kiddush, which welcomes in the Shabbos is biblical, the halacha follows the Gemara in ruling that the daytime Kiddush is a rabbinical requirement (Mishna Berura from Ran in Pesachim 106a). Interestingly, the daytime Kiddush is called "Kiddusha Rabbah" or "the great Kiddush" by the Talmud. One of the reasons is that in a form of verbal irony or antiphrasis, it is the actual opposite of the intention. This is known as לשון סגי נהור in Aramaic.

It's worth noting that whilst many authorities consider even the night Kiddush of Yom Tov to be rabbinical, it has the same laws as the Kiddush of Shabbos (Mishna Berura 271:2).

2) TIMING – Ideally, Kiddush on Friday night should be recited as soon as one comes home from shul. The earliest time to recite Kiddush on Friday afternoon is Plag Hamincha, which is one and a quarter halachic hours before sunset. The daytime Kiddush may be recited any time from after Shachris until sunset. This Kiddush consists of various pesukim (verses). One should follow their family’s custom regarding what to say.

3) STANDING OR SITTING – On Friday night there are three customs regarding whether to stand or sit (or both!) while Kiddush is recited. One should follow their family’s custom. A guest should follow the host's custom.

  • Some stand - As "Vayechulu" is a form of testimony that Hashem created the world and rested on Shabbos. We stand just as witnesses stand before Beis Din when testifying. This is the custom of the great kabbalists, including the Arizal, to stand for the entire Kiddush (Aruch Hashulchan 271:24).

  • Some sit - When fulfilling an obligation on behalf of others, everyone sits together. This creates a stronger sense of joint purpose. This is known as "קְבִיעוּת" - establishing a sense of permanence (Tosafos Berachos 43a, Mishna Brurah 271:46)

  • Some stand initially then sit after finishing "Vayechulu" for the remainder of Kiddush incorporating both the aforementioned reasons (Shulchan Aruch OC 271:10, Igros Moshe OC 5, 16:7).

Interestingly, as the reason to stand does not apply on Yom Tov, Reb Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe Ibid) rules that one should even change their family custom to sit for Kiddush on Yom Tov night. Still, some have the custom to stand (Aruch Hashulchan 271:24, Nitei Gavriel Yom Tov 2, 29:18).

During the daytime Kiddush, whilst some stand, the predominant custom is to sit (Rav Moshe Shternbuch in Teshuvos Vehanhagos 254, Birkei Yosef 289 notes that even the Arizal sat for the daytime Kiddush).

4) EATING/DRINKING BEFORE KIDDUSH – On Friday night, one may not eat or drink from when Shabbos begins until Kiddush. On Shabbos (and Yom Tov) morning, one may drink water, tea, or coffee before Shachris (after reciting the morning berachos) if they will help his prayer. One may not eat and may also not drink "respectable beverages" (e.g. alcoholic drinks) unless they are required for health purposes. After praying Shachris (even before Torah reading or Mussaf), one may not eat or drink until after Kiddush (Shulchan Aruch OC 289:1, Mishna Berurah 89:22).

5) IF ONE CAN NOT DRINK WINE AND GRAPE JUICE, the following halachos apply:

On Friday Night one may recite Kiddush on challos. The procedure is as follows: Wash and recite "Al Netilas Yadayim". Recite the entire Kiddush on the lechem mishne, replacing the beracha of "Borai Pri Hagafen" with "Hamotzi Lechem Min Ha’aretz". After Kiddush, cut and eat the challah (Mishna Berura 271:41). If one does not have full challos, one may recite Kiddush on regular bread (even slices).

On Shabbos Day however, Kiddush may not be recited on challos or bread. One may however recite Kiddush on a revi’is (see below the measurement) of "Chamar Medina" i.e. a respected beverage in this country, ideally an alcoholic drink such as schnapps, whiskey, bourbon, or beer. If these are not available, one may use coffee or iced tea. One must be sure to drink the required amount at the required speed (as detailed below). The beracha of Shehakol is recited when using chamar medina.

The following Halachos apply to both daytime and nighttime Kiddush:


Kiddush may be recited on any kosher wine upon which the blessing of "Borei Pri Hagafen" is recited. One should ideally use red wine as opposed to white (Shulchan Aruch OC 272:4 quotes the Rambam who forbids using white wine). If one cannot drink wine, one may recite Kiddush on grape juice (Minchas Shlomo 1:4). The wine/grape juice cup should also not be 'pogum', i.e. it should not have been drunk from prior (Shulchan Aruch OC 182:4).


The cup must hold at least a revi’is of wine, but this measurement has been a matter of big debate. Therefore, for the night Kiddush, as it is biblically obligated, one should be sure to use the larger measurement of 5.07 fl oz / 150 ml (as per the Chazon Ish's measurement).

During the day, however, when it is a rabbinical requirement, one can be lenient and a cup holding 3.8 fl oz / 112 ml will suffice (Mishna Berura in Biur Halacha 271:13).

The cup should be clean and intact without any cracks or holes (Shulchan Aruch OC 183:3). Whilst using a silver cup or similar 'beautifies the Mitzvah', one may also use any glass or any other non-disposable cup. When there is no other option (Beshaas Hadechak) one can recite Kiddush on the wine while it is still in a bottle or in a paper, plastic, or styrofoam cup (Tzitz Eliezer 12-23, Igros Moshe OC 3:39).

It is best to fill the cup to the top (Gemara Berachos 51a, Remah OC 183:2). However, if one does not have enough wine to fill the cup he need not fill it, provided that the cup contains a revi’is of wine as per the measurements above (Mishnah Berura 183:9).


Upon completing Kiddush, the one who recited it should drink "melo lugmav", the amount of wine that fills one of his cheeks (Shulchan Aruch OC 271:13). For an average adult male, this is between 1.5 and 2 fl. oz or 44-59 ml. This amount should be drunk without delay in the time it would usually take to consume that much drink in two gulps (Shaar HaTziyun 210:11), which is just a few seconds, with some allowing up to 60 seconds (Aruch Hashulchan 202:8, Rav Belsky in Shulchan Halevi 3:11 p.36 from Reb Moshe Feinstein). Bedieved (after the fact), one fulfills the obligation if it is drunk within four minutes (Mishna Berurah 271:68).

If it is too difficult for the one who recites Kiddush to drink the required amount in the specified time, someone else may drink it all on their behalf. If this is not possible, the leader may share the wine with others so that they collectively drink at least 2 fl. oz. (59 ml). Either way, the one who recited Kiddush should drink at least a drop of the wine. If they cannot drink any of the wine or grape juice (e.g. due to illness), others who heard Kiddush may drink the entire 2 fl. oz.


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