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Reciting Kiddush when Staking an Ambush

  • Harav Yehuda Amital





This week’s shiurim are dedicated by Drs. Irving and Roberta Strauchler
in memory of Jonas Strauchler z”l



Shiur #09: Reciting Kiddush when Staking an Ambush

HaRav Yehuda Amital, zt"l





If one is staking an ambush on a Friday night, and he has neither wine nor any desire to eat, is he obligated to eat bread, so that he can recite kiddush and fulfill the mitzva of eating a Shabbat meal, even though he will have to do this in the dark while lying in the ambush? Or is it preferable that he push off kiddush and the meal to the next day?




            The Shulchan Arukh writes (OC 274:4):


The [Shabbat] morning meal cannot be eaten without bread.


            And the Rema writes (OC 291:1) in the name of the Rosh:


If one did not eat [a meal] on Friday night, he must eat three meals on Shabbat day.


            Based on this ruling of the Rosh, the Magen Avraham writes (274:2):


If there are somewhat compelling circumstances, he can push off the meal to the next day, provided that he recites kiddush.


            The Mishna Berura (274:9) cites the Magen Avraham's ruling, though he omits the word "somewhat." It would seem, however, that in our case where the person would have to eat his meal in darkness, even he would agree that the meal may be pushed off to the next day. This stands to reason in light of the source of this law, which is the following Gemara (Pesachim 101a):


Abaye said: When I was at the Master's [i.e., Rabba's] house, and he recited kiddush, he would say to us: Eat a little [here], lest by the time you reach your lodgings your lamp will be extinguished, and you will not recite kiddush in the house where you eat, while you will not have fulfilled [your duty] with the kiddush of this place, because kiddush is [valid] only where the meal is eaten.


            Regarding this statement, Tosafot write (s.v. u-ve’kiddusha):


The reason he was not troubled by the fact that they could not eat the Shabbat meal (without a lamp), as explained by Rashi, is because they could eat three meals the next day.


            And the Rosh writes (10:5):


There are those who wish to adduce proof from here that kiddush is only recited by the light of a lamp, citing [the Gemara’s statement]: “Your lamp will be extinguished and you will be unable to recite kiddush without a lamp.” But this is not correct, for the explanation is as follows: and you will not [wish to] eat without a lamp. But if they wished to eat without a lamp, they could recite kiddush. And he was not troubled by their not eating, because they could fulfill [the mitzva] of three [Shabbat] meals the next day.


            It is clear from here that eating in the dark falls into the category of compelling circumstances for which it is permissible to push off the Shabbat meal to the next day. It seems, however, that this will not prove helpful in our scenario, for the Magen Avraham adds there: "Provided that he recites kiddush that day, as we have written in 273:5." The reference is to what is stated there that if one drank a cup of wine, he has fulfilled his obligation of reciting kiddush in the place where he eats his meal. In our case, then, where he has no wine, he will be forced to eat bread because of the obligation of kiddush.


On closer examination, however, it seems that in our case even the Magen Avraham would agree that not only the meal, but also kiddush can be pushed off to the next day, for the Re'a writes the following in his Orchot Chayyim (Kiddush ha-Yom 12), and his position is cited in the Birkei Yosef (272:9):


If the lamp went out, he must recite kiddush and eat, for these obligations are by Torah law, and he cannot abandon them because there is no lamp. But someone who lacks a lamp, and his mind is not settled to eat in the dark, need not recite kiddush until the next day.


            All the more so should we say that when a person is lying in the dark in an ambush his mind is not settled and thus he can recite kiddush the next day.


Furthermore, according to what was explained in a previous responsum that if a person did not recite kiddush at night, the kiddush that he recites in the morning does not fall into the category of tashlumin (see Bach, Rabbi Akiva Eiger and Minchat Chinukh 31:9) – in our case where at night he can only recite kiddush over bread, but the next day he will be able to recite kiddush over wine, there is room to say that even the Magen Avraham would agree that he can push off kiddush to the next day.


For the law is that when there is wine in the town, a person should not recite kiddush over bread, because we take into account Rabbeinu Tam's position that kiddush may not be recited over bread (see Shulchan Arukh, OC 272:9, and Magen Avraham 272:8). And see the Mishna Berura (272:32) who writes that even according to the Rosh and the other authorities who rule that one may recite kiddush over bread, the primary mitzva is over wine. (And see Sha'arei Teshuva, 272:7, who cites the view of the Magen Avraham [289] and the Birkei Yosef, that if a person expects that someone will bring him wine, he should wait until midnight or the next day. One who examines these rulings will see that they refer to a case where he has neither wine nor bread. But the fact that the Sha'arei Teshuva mentions their positions here regarding a place where there is no wine seems to imply that he understands that the ruling applies even to one who has bread, but no wine).


If so, according to the view of the Terumat ha-Deshen, the Chakham Tzevi, and the Shevut Ya'akov (cited in Sha'arei Teshuva 639, and Birkei Yosef, ibid.), that one may delay a mitzva in order to fulfill it in the best possible manner [and see Shulchan Arukh ha-Rav (94:5), who cites the words of the Chakham Tzevi as law], there is room to say that one may push off kiddush to the next day, if there is some slightly compelling reason not to eat at night.


But it seems that this argument should be rejected, for even though the primary mitzva of kiddush is over wine (as stated by the Mishna Berura [272:32]), this does not take priority over reciting kiddush at night. For it is clear from the Gemara in Pesachim 106a that the primary obligation of kiddush is at night: "For when he sanctifies, he must sanctify [from] the beginning of the day." If so, it is possible that on the contrary, kiddush at night, even on bread, is considered the preferred way to perform the mitzva, as opposed to kiddush over wine during the day. In any event, we cannot say that the mitzva should be pushed off in order to allow him to recite kiddush over wine.


            It may, however, be demonstrated from the Gemara (ibid. 105a) that it is preferable to recite kiddush the next day over wine:


An objection was raised:… And if he has only one cup [of wine], he recites kiddush over it, because kiddush takes precedence over the honor of the day. Now if this is correct [= that if one did not recite kiddush on Friday night, he may do so the next day], let him leave it until the morrow and do both with it!


            Now, according to what we thought that he should push off kiddush to the next day, surely he can recite kiddush over bread, and leave the wine for the next day, as is explained in the Tur (OC 296) regarding kiddush and havdala:


If someone has only one cup [of wine], which is not enough for kiddush and havdala, he should leave it for havdala, and recite kiddush over bread.


            See the Maharsha (Pesachim 113a, s.v. di-meshayer), whose statement implies that if he will have wine during the day, kiddush should be pushed off. While one may wish to suggest, based on the principle that a mitzva is more precious when observed at its proper time, it is preferable to recite kiddush on Friday night over bread, this is rejected by the aforementioned authorities who rule that we push off the performance of a mitzva at its proper time in order to fulfill a mitzva in the best possible manner. And while in the case discussed there, the question of delaying kiddush is not for an enhanced fulfillment of kiddush but rather in order to fulfill the mitzva of honoring the day as well. This is not true in our case when now he has no wine, but only bread, but the next day he will be able to fulfill the mitzva of kiddush itself in the best possible manner – in such a situation it is better to wait for the morning. In any event, we see that initially, before we knew that a mitzva is precious when performed at its proper time, we preferred reciting kiddush the next day over wine to reciting it over bread at night, because the primary mitzva of kiddush is over wine.


            To summarize, taking into consideration the ruling of the Re'a cited above from the Orchot Chayyim, it seems that if the person does not intend to eat at night, it is preferable that he should recite kiddush the next day over wine. It should be added that when kiddush is recited during the day, one should not recite the "Vayekhulu" passage, as stated by the Rema (271:8):


And he recites the entire kiddush ordinarily recited at night, with the exception of "Vayekhulu."


            And as the Mishna Berura explains there (40):


Because it was at night that God's work was finished.


(Translated by David Strauss)