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How does one break bread on Shabbat?

The Shulhan Aruch (O.H. 274:1) writes that upon reciting the blessing of Hamotzi over two loaves, one should break pieces off the bottom loaf to eat and to distribute to those gathered. The Rama (ibid.) adds that according to Kabbalah, one should break off the bottom loaf on Friday night and the top loaf on Shabbat day. The Bach (O.H. 274) questions this custom because it would seem that on Friday night one is passing over the top loaf in order to break off from the bottom loaf, which seems to contradict the dictum of En Ma’avirin Al Hamitzvot, that is, one should not pass up the opportunity to fulfill a Mitzvah. The Taz (O.H. 274) concurs and says that the remedy is to tilt the two loaves such that the bottom loaf is the first to be accessible for breaking off. Rabbi Ben Zion Abba Shaul (Or Lezion, vol II ch. 21, § 1) says that one should hold the two loaves side to side and hold the lower loaf closer to oneself. 

Despite the Rama’s ruling, the Kaf Hahaim (K.H., O.H. 274:2) and many Mekubalim write that one should always cut the top loaf. Nevertheless, Rabbi Amram Aburbia (Netive Am, pg.150) writes that upon close analysis of the Arizal’s works, there is no mention of specifically giving preference to the top loaf. This may explain why Rabbi Baruch Toledano (Kitzur Shulhan Aruch ), who normally follows the methodology of the Kaf Hahaim, actually concurs with the Rama’s opinion. It should be noted that  Rabbi Yitzhak Ratzabi (Olat Yitzhak, vol. II, § 122) says that the Yemenite custom is also like the Rama.

Summary: One should cut off pieces of bread from the lower loaf during the Shabbat night meal, and from the top loaf on the Shabbat day meal.

What kind of bread should be used on Shabbat?

The Shulhan Aruch (O.H. 274:1) writes that one should recite the blessing of Hamotzi for the Shabbat meal over two whole loaves of bread. One should hold them both in one’s hands and then break off from the bottom loaf to eat and distribute to those present. The requirement for two loaves, known as Lehem Mishne, is derived from the extra portion of Manna that Bnei Israel received on Shabbat when they were in the desert. 

A question arises as to whether Lehem Mishne applies to foods that are Mezonot. On one hand, if someone has a sufficient quantity of certain Mezonot foods, then it has the status of bread, and therefore it would seem that Lehem Mishne would apply. On the other hand, in its present state, the Mezonot is not actually bread and so Lehem Mishne might not apply. The Kaf Hahaim (K.H., O.H., 274:14) rules that Lehem Mishne does apply to Mezonot. Thus, if one wished to have Kiddush at synagogue with some Mezonot, for example, one could take two pieces of Bourekas or two danishes, and recite the blessing of Mezonot and also fulfil the Mitzvah of Lehem Mishne. Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (Hazon Ovadia, vol. II, pg. 191), argues and says that if one is not actually reciting the blessing of Hamotzi, then there is no Mitzvah of Lehem Mishne. Nevertheless, he continues, if it means he may lose out on Lehem Mishne, one may recite Hamotzi even over two slices or incomplete loaves of bread.  

In certain cases, one only has one loaf of bread and the only other loaves one has are frozen. Rabbi Ben Zion Abba Shaul (Or Lezion, vol II, ch. 21, § 2) categorically permits the use of a frozen loaf since it has the status of bread and even though it is frozen in its current state, it can eventually thaw. Furthermore, if one is careful to only eat bread that is Yashan (made from wheat that took root before the 16th of Nissan of a particular year), then it is not permitted to use loaves that are not Yashan. However, if one is unsure whether the bread is Yashan or not, Rabbi Ben Zion Abba Shaul (ibid., vol. I) says one would be permitted to consumer it and all the more so on Shabbat when there is a special requirement to eat bread and of Lehem Mishne. 

If one finds oneself in a situation in which one has a piece of bread for Hamotzi that is less than a Kezayit, the Siddur Bet Menuha (pg. 51), which was commonly used in Morocco says one fulfills one’s obligation with such a piece. On the other hand, Rabbi Haim Palagi (Kaf Hahaim, § 36:44 ), the Kaf Haim (ibid:8) ,and Rabbi Binyamin Pontrimoli (Petah Hadevir, § 6) disagree and say one would not fulill one’s obligation.

Summary: One should recite Hamotzi on Shabbat over two whole loaves of bread. If one will be eating Mezonot instead, there is no Mitzvah of Lehem Mishne. One ma use a frozen loaf of bread if needed to complete Lehem Mishne.

What is considered a meal with regards to Kiddush?

The Shulhan Aruch (O.H. 273:5) writes that Kiddush must be followed by a meal, which in this context must consist of at least a small amount of bread or a Revi’it of wine. Fruit on their own, on the other hand, would not be considered a meal for this purpose. Indeed, the Vilna Gaon  (Maaseh Rav #122) rules stringently and says that one must eat bread after Kiddush.

Nevertheless, the HIDA (Birke Yosef, § 273) writes that food whose blessing is Mezonot would also be valid as a meal. Not only does the HIDA permit Mezonot which have the form of bread and if eaten is sufficient quantities, necessitate the blessing of Hamotzi (such as sweet rolls, danishes, etc.), but even Mezonot which can never be Hamotzi such as noodles or fried items. The HIDA’s rationale is that the after-blessing of Mezonot, that is, Al Hamiya, must be said in the same place as in which one ate, and thus one is considered anchored enough to that spot to be considered as having had a set meal. Thus, one would be able to follow Kiddush with Yerushalmi Kugel or Couscous, for example.

Rice requires the blessing of Mezonot but its after-blessing is Nefashot, and therefore, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer , vol. VII, Orah Haim, § 35) rules that rice does not have sufficient permanence to be considered a meal. 

Summary: The custom is that any type of Mezonot, whose after-blessing is Al Hamihya, is considered a valid Seuda for the purposes of Kiddush.

What is the connection between Kiddush and the meal?

The Shulhan Aruch (O.H. 273:1), based on the Gemara (Pesahim 101a), rules that Kiddush is invalid unless it is recited in the place where the meal is eaten. The Rashbam (ibid.) deduces the Gemara’s ruling from the verse (Yeshayahu 58:13) “Vekarata LaShabbat Oneg” (lit. “and you shall call the Shabbat a delight”); in the place of calling the Shabbat, that is, Kiddush, you should have delight, that is, the meal. 

The Rashbam could be understood to mean that Kiddush has to be followed by a meal, or that any important meal must be preceded by Kiddush. One implication of the latter understanding would be that even Seuda Shelishit must start off with Kiddush. Although the Rambam (Shabbat 30:9) writes that it is proper to recite Kiddush for Seuda Shelishit, the custom is to only do so for the first two meals of Shabbat. 

The Shulhan Aruch goes on to state that the meal should be eaten in the same location as Kiddush. If one recites Kiddush in one part of a room and eats in a different part of the room, it is considered valid. Even if one changes rooms but those rooms are under the same roof, it is likewise valid. As such, Rabbi Ben Zion Abba Shaul (Or Lezion, vol. II, ch. 12, § 16) rules that if one recites or hears Kiddush in one apartment, one may eat the meal in another apartment, so long as they are in the same building. Nevertheless, Kiddush is invalid if recited in one house or building and the meal is eaten in another. 

The Kaf HaHaim (K.H, O.H., 273:58) quotes the opinion of Rav Nissim Gaon, who writes that if one may hear Kiddush in one place and have in mind to eat the meal elsewhere. Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (Halichot Olam, vol. III, pg. 2) says that, although the Shulchan Aruch implies that one may only have in mind to eat in another place when it is still under the same roof, in a situation in which one has no choice, one may rely on the opinion of Rav Nissim Gaon ex post facto. 

Summary:  Kiddush is only valid if followed by a meal. Kiddush must be recited in the same place as where the meal is eaten, which at the very least, is under the same roof. 

Does Kiddush exempt other drinks?

The Shulhan Aruch (O.H. 272:10) rules that the blessing of Kiddush over wine exempts other beverages that are drunk during the meal from their own blessing. Furthermore, one does not need to recite an after-blessing for wine as it is exempted by Birkat Hamazon.  Thus, if one wishes to drink cola, fo example, during the Shabbat meal, one would not have to recite “Shehakol”, and one would also not need to recite “Al Hegefen” as an after-blessing for the wine of Kiddush. 

The Biur Halacha (O.H. 174) cites an opinion that Kiddush only exempts other beverages from their own blessing when one drink at least a cheekful of the wine or grape juice of Kiddush in one shot. If one simply sips a little of the Kiddush, it would not exempt other beverages, according to this opinion. Nevertheless, Rabbi Ben Zion Abba Shaul (Or Lezion, vol. II, ch. 20, § 9) says that as long as one drinks even a little amount of wine, one would not recite a separate blessing on other beverages during the meal. 

Interestingly, he Ben Ish Hai (Rav Pe’alim, vol. II, Orah Haim, §47) says that the Arizal received a Divine teaching that if one drank a Revi’it or more in one shot of a beverage during the meal, one would need to recite the after-blessing of “Bore Nefashot” and could not rely on Birkat Hamazon. The Ben Ish Hai (Shana I, Parashat Naso, §2), the Kaf Hahaim (K.H., O.H., 272:63) and Rabbi Ben Zion Abba Shaul (ibid., ch. 12, § 6) all concur. 

Notwithstanding, Rabbi Shalom Messas (Tevuot Shamesh, Orah Haim, § 62) writes that there was never such a custom to make an after-blessing for a drink during the meal, and that Bikat Hamazon exempts all beverages that are consumed during the meal, regardless of the quantity. This, too, is the opinion of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (Halichot Olam, vol. II, pg. 27), who says that an after-blessing is never said on beverages during the meal.  

Summary: Kiddush exempts all beverages that are drunk during a meal from their own blessing. Birkat Hamazon exempts all beverages during the meal from an after-blessing, regardless of quantity.

Can one make Kiddush over non-wine drinks?

The Shulhan Aruch (O.H. 272:9) notes that in places in which wine is hard to come by, there are three opinions regarding Kiddush. The first opinion is that one may make Kiddush on beer or any other beverage, as long as it is not water. The Rambam’s opinion is that Kiddush should not be recited at all without wine. Finally, the Rosh says that on Friday night, one should recite Kiddush over the Hallah rather than an alcoholic beverage, but on Shabbat day, one should recite Kiddush over beer or another alcoholic beverage. The Kiddush of the day is considered a Rabbinic obligation, and it therefore has a less stringent status. The Shulhan Aruch appears to side with the third opinion. 

The Mishna Berura (M.B., O.H. 272:29) says that in certain European lands, in which wine is very expensive, and that most people are accustomed to drink other alcoholic beverages, the custom is to be lenient and make Kiddush of Shabbat day over beer, whiskey, etc. Nevertheless, Rabbi Yehuda Ayash (Mateh Yehuda, § 289:5) writes that if wine is available but is expensive, one is not allowed to make Kiddush on any other type of beverage. This is also the opinion of the Kaf Hahaim (K.H., O.H.289:55) and Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (Hazon Ovadia, vol. II, pg. 124). 

In a locale in which there truly is not wine available, the first beverage of choice to over which to recite Kiddush is beer because it is much easier for one to drink the requisite Revi’it of beer than it is a stronger spirit. 

Rabbi Ya’akov Hagiz (Halachot Ketanot, vol. II, § 9) writes that in the absence of wine, one must use an intoxicating beverage. Therefore, coffee or tea would not be appropriate for Kiddush, even during the day. Rabbi Ben Zion Abba Shaul (Or Lezion, vol. II, ch. 20, § 19), on the other hand, rules that in extenuating circumstances, one may use coffee for the Kiddush of Shabbat day. Rabbi Baruch Toledano (Kitzur Shulhan Aruch, 272:19) says that on Shabbat day, it is preferable to have a Revi’it of beer for Kiddush than only a small amount of wine. 

Regarding one who cannot tolerate a lot of wine, or because of diabetes, cannot drink grape juice, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv rulse that freshly squeezed orange juice is considered acceptable. This would be the preferred option for the the four cups of wine by the Pesah Seder. 

Summary:  If wine is not available one should make Kiddush on Shabbat night over Challah and on Shabbat day, over beer or some other alcoholic beverage. One must use wine for Kiddush even if it is expensive.

Can one make Kiddush over grape juice?

The Shulhan Aruch (O.H. 272:2) rules that one may use wine directly from the wine press, which has not fully completed its fermentation process, for the purpose of Kiddush. Based on the Gemara (Bava Batra 97a), the Shulhan Aruch goes on to say that one may even squeeze grapes and use the resulting juice for Kiddush. Nevertheless, the Mishna Berura (M.B., O.H. 272:5) says that the way to observe the Mitzvah of Kiddush in the most preferred manner (“Mitzvah Min Hamuvhar”) is to use wine which has fermented for at least forty days. Wine nowadays fulfills this forty-day benchmark. 

Rabbi Ben Zion Abba Shaul (Or Lezion, vol. III, ch. 15, § 4), based on the aforementioned Mishna Berura, rules that it is preferable to use wine and not grape juice for Kiddush at night.  On the other hand, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (Hazon Ovadia, vol. VI, pg. 99) says that if one prefers the sweet taste of grape juice over the taste of wine, one may use it for Kiddush. 

The Shulhan Aruch (ibid:4) says that, although the Ramban considers white wine invalid for Kiddush, the custom  is to do and is therefore permitted. Regarding adding red wine to one’s white wine to render it red, the Ben Ish Hai (Rav Pe’alim, vol. III, Orah Haim, § 11) rules that this would be considered an act of dyeing (“Tzove’a”), and would therefore not be allowed on Shabbat. Although Tzove’a does not apply to foods, the Ben Ish Hai writes that in this case one has the express intention of coloring one’s white wine. Nevertheless, Rabbi Shalom Messas (Shemesh Umagen, vol. II, § 4:7) and Rabbi Ovadia Yosef both rule that one may add red wine to white wine even if it changes the color. 

Summary:   Besides red wine, one may use white wine or grape juice for Kiddush. One may color one’s white wine with red wine on Shabbat.

Can one make Kiddush over grape juice?

The Shulhan Aruch (O.H. 272:2) rules that one may use wine directly from the wine press, which has not fully completed its fermentation process, for the purpose of Kiddush. Based on the Gemara (Bava Batra 97a), the Shulhan Aruch goes on to say that one may even squeeze grapes and use the resulting juice for Kiddush. Nevertheless, the Mishna Berura (M.B., O.H. 272:5) says that the way to observe the Mitzvah of Kiddush in the most preferred manner (“Mitzvah Min Hamuvhar”) is to use wine which has fermented for at least forty days. Wine nowadays fulfills this forty-day benchmark. 

Rabbi Ben Zion Abba Shaul (Or Lezion, vol. III, ch. 15, § 4), based on the aforementioned Mishna Berura, rules that it is preferable to use wine and not grape juice for Kiddush at night.  On the other hand, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (Hazon Ovadia, vol. VI, pg. 99) says that if one prefers the sweet taste of grape juice over the taste of wine, one may use it for Kiddush. 

The Shulhan Aruch (ibid:4) says that, although the Ramban considers white wine invalid for Kiddush, the custom  is to do and is therefore permitted. Regarding adding red wine to one’s white wine to render it red, the Ben Ish Hai (Rav Pe’alim, vol. III, Orah Haim, § 11) rules that this would be considered an act of dyeing (“Tzove’a”), and would therefore not be allowed on Shabbat. Although Tzove’a does not apply to foods, the Ben Ish Hai writes that in this case one has the express intention of coloring one’s white wine. Nevertheless, Rabbi Shalom Messas (Shemesh Umagen, vol. II, § 4:7) and Rabbi Ovadia Yosef both rule that one may add red wine to white wine even if it changes the color. 

Summary:   Besides red wine, one may use white wine or grape juice for Kiddush. One may color one’s white wine with red wine on Shabbat.

When is the Blessing Recited over the Shabbat Candles?

In general, when a blessing is recited on the performance of a Mitzvah, the blessing is first recited and one then performs the Mitzvah. For example, with respect to sounding the Shofar, one first recites the blessing and then one blows the Shofar. This method, based on the Gemara (Sukkah 39a), is known as “Over Le’asiatan”. There are instances in which the blessing is recited after the Mitzvah is performed for logistical, or other Halachic reasons, such as in Netilat Yadayim.

There is a discussion among the Poskim as to when a woman should recite the blessing on Shabbat candles. This is based on the debate on whether a woman accepts Shabbat upon herself when she lights the Shabbat candles. The Bahag (c.f Bet Yosef, § 263) writes that a woman accepts Shabbat when she recites the blessing over the candles. It follows that she could not light the candles after the blessing since, for her, it is already Shabbat, and therefore she would have to first light and then recite the blessing.

The Shulhan Aruch (O.H. 263:5) writes that when one lights the Shabbat candles one recites the blessing “Baruch…Lehadlik Ner Shel Shabbat”. Nornally, the Shulhan Aruch writes its ruling in the verbiage of either the Tur or the Rambam. However, the Rambam (Shabbat 5:1) writes clearly that one first recites the blessing and then lights the candles, whereas the language of the Shulhan Aruch simply says “when” someone lights one recites the blessing.  Rabbi Shalom Messas (Shemesh Umagen, § 3:71) writes that although the Shulhan Aruch is vague, it seems to imply that one first lights and then recites the blessing. Furthermore, whenever the Shulhan Aruch is vague, the Halacha follows the accepted custom. As well, the Aruch Hashulhan (263:16) adds that reciting the blessing before lighting could actually be considered a blessing in vain since such a case, one says a blessing, thereby accepting Shabbat, and then one goes on to perform an act which violates Shabbat. 

It is important to note that the HIDA (Mahazik Beracha 263:4) and the Ben Ish Hai (Shana II, Parashat Noach) testify that the universal Sepahrdic and Ashkenazic custom was that a women should first light, then cover the light of the candles and then one’s eyes and recite the blessing. Furthermore, Magen Avot (263:5) records that this was the custom of Tunisia, Algeria, Libya  Iraq, Iran, Buchara, Egypt, Turkey and Syria.

It is well known that Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer, vol. X, §21),  based on the Rambam, was of the opinion that one should first recite the blessing and then light the Shabbat candles. Although the accepted custom was to first light, he cites (c/f in footnote ibid) that many great rabbis throughout the generations had the power to nullify customs. 

Notwithstanding, since this custom has a strong basis in Halacha, and the blessing is said right after the lighting, it is compared to the procedure used in  Netilat Yadayim. Indeed, great rabbis from Morocco were adamant about maintaining this custom just as it was practiced for centuries (c.f Shemesh Umagen ibid, Kitzur S. A Toledano §134:27, Nahagu Haam, Shabbat) 

Summary:  The universal  custom is for the woman to first light the Shabbat candles and then recite the blessing. 

Reciting “Yom Hashishi” : Permitted?

When reciting Kiddush, the cup should be held with the right hand, since the right side symbolizes the Divine attribute of kindness. Furthermore, Rabbi Eliyahu HaKohen (Midrash Talpiot, § 20, Anaf Kavana) writes that the Kiddush cup should be grasped with all five fingers of the right hand. In the Abuhatzira dynasty, there was a custom to hold the Kiddush cup along with the saucer beneath it with five fingers as per Kabbalah.  The Rashash, however, disagrees and says according to Kabbalah, the saucer should not be held with the cup while reciting Kiddush. 

Kiddush on Friday night is prefaced with the verses beginning with “Yom Hashishi”. (Interestingly, there is a unique Moroccan custom in which “Yom Hashishi” is also chanted, first by the Hazan and then the congregation, prior to the Hazan’s abridged repetition of the Amida during Arvit of Shabbat). At first glance, this presents a Halachic issue since the Gemara (Berachot 12b) teaches that we can only read Torah verses in the way the Moshe Rabbenu recorded them, and not in fragmented form. “Yom Hashishi” is actually the last two words of one verse (Bereshit 1:31) and the remainder of that verse is omitted. Other communities begin “Vayhi Erev Vayhi Boker Yom Hashishi”, but even in this case, the entire verse is not be recited. 

The Ben Ish (Rav Pe’alim, Orah Haim, vol. I, § 11) writes that the Gemara’s ruling only applies when a part of a verse which is longer than two words is fragmented off the original verse. In this case “Yom Hashishi” is only two words and therefore it is permissible. Rabbi Haim Binyamin Pontrimoli (Petah Hadevir, § 271:10) writes that it is permitted to recite “Yom Hashishi” in this way because although the source is the Torah, the verse is said as a form of prayer and not as a public reading of the Torah itself. If one were to read the Torah and fragment the verses then it would be problematic.  Additionally, Rabbi Ben Zion Abba Shaul (Or LeZion, vol. II, ch. 20, § 16) writes that the injunction against reciting fragmented verses only applies to a public setting, such as reading the Torah in the synagogue. If it is done privately, such as at home, then it is permitted. 

Rabbi Haim Palagi (Kaf Hahaim, § 36:2) writes that it in order to avoid any Halachic issues, it is preferable to recite the entire verse beginning with the words. Nevertheless, this appears to be a personal stringency and is not the accepted universal custom. 

Summary: The Kiddush cup should be held with all five fingers of the right hand. The Moroccan custom is begin Kiddush of Friday night with the the verses that begin with the words “Yom Hashishi”.

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