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Home » Judaica » Kiddush Sanctification of Shabbat

Kiddush Sanctification of Shabbat

Written by Zev on April 19, 2009 – 10:49 pm -

 Kiddish cup with wine

On Friday night, when the Sabbath begins, the Kiddush ceremony is carried out before sitting down to the Sabbath meal.

Kiddush, literally meaning  “sanctification”, is a blessing recited over wine or grape juice to sanctify the Shabbat or a Jewish holiday. The Torah refers to two requirements concerning Shabbat – to “keep it” and to “remember it” (shamor and zakhor). Jewish law therefore requires that Shabbat be observed in two respects. One must “keep it” by refraining from thirty-nine forbidden activities, and one must “remember it” by making special arrangements for the day, and specifically through the Kiddush ceremony.

Reciting Kiddush before the meal on the eve of Shabbat and Jewish holidays is thus regarded as a commandment from the Torah (as it is explained by the Oral Torah). Reciting Kiddush before the morning meal on Shabbat and holidays, however, is a requirement of rabbinic origin. Kiddush is not usually recited at the third meal on Shabbat, although Maimonides was of the opinion that wine should be drunk at this meal as well.

The term Kiddush is also used to refer to a ceremonial meal served at a synagogue following the recitation of Kiddush at the conclusion of services, in which refreshments are served. Traditionally, this often includes cake, crackers, and fish.

First, a cup of wine is filled and held in the hand by the person presiding, usually but not necessarily the father of the house, and the benediction over wine is recited. The Kiddush prayer is then recited:  “Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who hath hallowed us by Thy commandments and hast taken pleasure in us, and in love and favour hast given us Thy holy Sabbath as an inheritance, a memorial of the creation-that day being also the first day of the holy convocations, in remembrance of the departure from Egypt. For Thou hast chosen us and hallowed us above all nations, and in love and favour hast given us Thy holy Sabbath as an inheritance. Blessed art Thou, O Lord, who hallowest the Sabbath.”

As a prelude to the Kiddush, the verses of the creation narrative which speak of the Sabbath (Genesis 2: 1-3) are recited. After the drinking of the wine, the benediction over bread is recited and the family partakes of the Sabbath meal.

To honor the mitzvah of reciting Kiddush, a silver goblet is often used, although any cup can suffice if necessary. The cup must hold a revi’it of liquid (about 76.5 milliters,[citation needed] although some try to use double this amount). After the person reciting the Kiddush drinks from the wine, the rest of it is passed around the table or poured out into small cups for the other participants. Alternatively, wine is poured for each of the participants before Kiddush.

Before reciting Kiddush, the challah, which will be the next food item eaten in honor of the Shabbat or holiday, is first covered with a cloth. According to Halakha, the blessing over bread takes precedence to the blessing over wine. However, in the interests of beginning the meal with Kiddush, the challah is covered to “remove” it from the table (some do not have the challah on the table at all during Kiddush). Some interpret the covering of the challah allegorically, explaining that just as we go out of our way to protect an inanimate object (the bread) from being “insulted” (by the blessing over wine taking precedence), we should display the same sensitivity toward the feelings of other people. Some do not have the challah on the table at all during Kiddush.

After prayer services on the Shabbat or holiday morning, Kiddush is often recited in the synagogue’s social hall, although the participants do not intend to sit down to a full meal. Instead, cake or other light refreshments are served. Some only recite Kiddush when they are about the partake of the full morning meal.

In the absence of wine or grape juice, the Friday night Kiddush may also be recited over the challah; the blessing over bread is substituted for the blessing over wine. In that case, the ritual hand-washing normally performed prior to consuming the challah is done before the recitation of Kiddush. Some groups, including German Jews, follow this procedure even if wine is present. If there is only sufficient wine or grape juice for one kiddush, it should be used for the Friday night Kiddush.

In many synagogues, Kiddush is recited on Friday night at the end of services. This Kiddush is normally drunk by children under the age of Bar Mitzvah/Bat Mitzvah and does not take the place of the obligation to recite Kiddush at the Friday night meal. When recited in a synagogue, the first paragraph (Genesis 2:1-3) is omitted.

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