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Kiddush

KIDDUSH (Heb. קִדּוּשׁ, lit. "sanctification," derived from kaddesh (קַדֵּשׁ; lit. "to sanctify")), prayer recited over a cup of wine in the home and the synagogue to consecrate the Sabbath or festival in fulfillment of the biblical commandment to "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy" (Ex. 20:8; Pes. 106a). Although women are exempt from performing positive precepts whose execution is bound to a specific time, they are obliged to observe the sanctification of the Sabbath because the Talmud maintains that the phrases "Remember the Sabbath" (Ex. 20:8) and "Observe the Sabbath" (Deut. 5:12) include women. "Whoever has to 'observe' has to 'remember'; and since the women have to 'observe' [by performing no work] they also have to 'remember'" (Ber. 20b). The primary Kiddush is recited on the eve of the Sabbath or festival before the start of the meal, since it is forbidden to eat on these occasions until Kiddush has been recited (Pes. 105a).

The text of the current Sabbath Kiddush consists of an introductory paragraph from Genesis 1:31 and 2:1–3; the blessing over wine; and the blessing for the sanctification of the day which concludes with "Blessed art Thou, O Lord, Who hallowest the Sabbath" (Hertz, Prayer, 409). The introductory scriptural passage is omitted on festivals and only the blessings over wine and over the sanctification of the day are recited. The blessing sanctifying the day for a festival concludes with "Blessed art Thou, O Lord, Who hallowest Israel and the festive seasons" (Hertz, Prayer, 811). The schools of Shammai and Hillel differed as to whether the benediction over the sanctity of the day or that over the wine is recited first (Ber. 8:1). On all full festivals, except for the last days of Passover, the She-Heḥeyanu blessing, thanking God for having "kept us in life… and enabling us to reach this season" is recited at the conclusion of the Kiddush. When a festival immediately follows the Sabbath, a special benediction celebrating the termination of the Sabbath (*Havdalah) is added. While it is preferable to chant the evening Kiddush over wine (Pes. 107a), two loaves of bread may be used where wine is not obtainable (Sh. Ar., OḤ 272:9).

Although there can be no proper recitation of the Kiddush except prior to the meal and at the place the meal will be eaten, the custom of also reciting the prayer at the conclusion of the Sabbath evening services in the synagogue gradually evolved. Despite the opposition of some rabbis, the practice was defended on the ground that at one time travelers were housed and fed in a room adjoining the synagogue. The travelers therefore discharged their obligation to sanctify the Sabbath through the public recitation of the Kiddush (Pes. 101a). Reciting the Kiddush in the synagogue has been retained only in the Ashkenazi ritual, except in Israel where the Kiddush is no longer recited as part of any synagogal rite.

Along with the principal evening Kiddush, the rabbis instituted a minor Kiddush, euphemistically called the "Great Kiddush " (Pes. 106a), to be recited on the morning of the Sabbath or festival before the first meal. This Kiddush consists of the recitation of some biblical verses referring to the Sabbath or festival, followed by the benediction over wine (Hertz, Prayer, 565). When no beverage is available, the prayer is recited over two loaves of bread (Sh. Ar., OḤ 289:1–2 and Magen Avraham ad loc.). Strong drink other than wine also may be used for the morning Kiddush, as may any beverage which is considered ḥemer ha-medinah ("national beverage").

For the development of the Kiddush text during the talmudic period see J. Heinemann, Ha-Tefillah bi-Tekufat ha-Tanna'im ve-ha-Amora'im, 37ff., 62.

The Kiddush ceremony, an integral part of Orthodox and Conservative practice, has also been retained by Reform Judaism. The Saturday morning Kiddush has often assumed new importance in the modern synagogue since it is often sponsored by the congregation and also serves as a communal social hour.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Abrahams, Companion, 139–41, 169f., 194; Idelsohn, Liturgy, 132f., 154; Eisenstein, Dinim, 355f.