Selected Halachos Related to Parshas Bereishis
By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt
The following is a discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the week.
For final rulings, consult your Rav.
EATING BEFORE KIDDUSH and HAVDALAH
In keeping with the Rabbinical prohibition against eating before one is
about to fulfill a mitzvah, it is prohibited to eat before kiddush, both on
Friday night and on Shabbos morning. The Rabbis forbade eating prior to
fulfilling a mitzvah for fear that one would become distracted during
mealtime and forget to perform the mitzvah. But unlike other mitzvos where
it is forbidden to have a meal before performing the mitzvah, it is
prohibited to have even a morsel of food or a drink of water before reciting
kiddush. One of the explanations offered(1) for this stringency is that the
Rabbis wanted kiddush to be recited as close as possible to the time when it
ought to be recited ideally - right when Shabbos starts on Friday night and
immediately after davening on Shabbos morning. To keep the ideal time-frame
intact insofar as possible, they prohibited consuming any food or drink(2)
before kiddush is recited.
Since women, too, are obligated to recite or hear kiddush, they, too,
cannot eat before kiddush. But children under the age of bar/bas mitzvah are
permitted to eat before kiddush(3).
The prohibition against eating begins as soon as one "accepts" Shabbos, or
inevitably at sunset. Women generally "accept" Shabbos when they light
candles and they should not eat or drink after that. If, however, one is
extremely thirsty after lighting candles, she may take a drink until she
verbally "accepts" Shabbos upon herself(4).
One who knows that he will not have wine or any other beverage or challah
over which to make kiddush, may eat without reciting kiddush(5).
On Shabbos morning before davening it is permitted to drink coffee, tea or
soda etc., without first making kiddush. This is allowed because kiddush
need not be recited until it is zeman seudah, the time when it is permitted
to eat a meal. Since one is not allowed to eat a meal before davening, it is
not time for kiddush and one may take a drink. Even if one wants to be
stringent and recite kiddush before drinking, he may not do so for two
reasons: 1) A requirement of Kiddush is that it be followed by a meal,
otherwise the kiddush is invalid. Since one is not allowed to eat before
davening, he cannot make kiddush. 2) Drinking wine before davening is
considered "haughty behavior" and is not permitted.
What about a person who is ill or elderly and is allowed to eat before
davening? Mishnah Berurah(6) rules that such a person should recite kiddush
before he eats, for as soon as it is zeman seudah for him, he is obligated
to make kiddush. The fact that he is drinking wine before davening is not a
problem since he must drink wine in order to eat. He may not even drink
water before kiddush, since for him it is already zeman seudah(7).
The ruling by the Mishnah Berurah regarding an ill or elderly person making
kiddush when eating before davening was challenged by some later poskim(8).
While many poskim agree with his basic ruling(9), they suggest that the
practical halachah will depend on what exactly the person in question is
going to eat. If he is just going to eat fruit or even cereal and milk or
other cooked mezonos items, he should eat without reciting kiddush first.
If, however, his health demands that he wash over bread or eat at least a
k'zayis of cake or any other baked mezonos items, he should make kiddush
before he eats(10).
WOMEN and CHILDREN
Whether or not women need to make kiddush on Shabbos morning is subject to
much debate. In a previous column we wrote that although it is prohibited to
eat before davening on weekdays, many women eat breakfast after reciting a
brief supplication and finish davening later on in the morning. We noted
that the poskim allow them to do so, since they may rely on the view of the
Rambam who maintains that women fulfill their davening obligation with a
brief supplication. Thus, they are eating after "davening". On Shabbos
morning, though, they are obligated to make kiddush in addition to the daily
obligation to daven. As soon as they meet their basic davening obligation by
reciting a brief supplication, it is for them zeman seudah and they cannot
eat until they make kiddush(11).
Many married women, however, do not make kiddush for themselves. They rely
upon the poskim who hold that it is not zeman seudah for them until their
husbands are ready to eat, which is not until davening is over in shul(12).
Other poskim do not agree with this argument(13). In either case, unmarried
women, including girls who eat at their father's table, do not have this
leniency to rely upon.
Children who are allowed to eat before davening do not need to make kiddush
EATING BEFORE HAVDALAH
For the same reason that it is prohibited to eat before kiddush, it is also
prohibited to eat before havdalah is recited. Accordingly, it is prohibited
to eat or drink once the sun has set and bein hashemashos begins. But,
b'dieved, if one did not start eating seudah shelishis - a meal in which
both men and women(15) are obligated to partake - before bein hashemashos,
he may start huis meal until one half hour before nightfall(16).
While it is permitted according to the halachah to drink water before
havdalah(17), many people refrain from doing so based on the Kabbalistic
teachings of the Arizal that it is "dangerous" to drink water during this
time - unless it is part of his Seudah Shelishis(18).
One who began his meal before sunset may continue eating and drinking until
after nightfall. But this applies only to a meal that includes bread, not a
meal which consists of eating mezonos or drinking wine(19).
Women, who are obligated to hear havdalah just as men are, may not eat
before hearing [or reciting] havdalah either. While it is customary that
women do not make havdalah for themselves, a woman who cannot hear havdalah
recited by a man should recite her own havdalah(20).
As with kiddush, children under the age of bar/bas mitzvah can eat and
drink before havdalah.
Even if one recited atah chonantonu during Shemoneh Esrei, he still may not
eat until he recites or hears havdalah over wine or grape juice, etc.(21).
One who presently has no wine or other halachically acceptable beverage
over which to recite havdalah but expects to obtain some later on, should -
if he can - put off eating until he obtains wine etc., up to midday
Sunday(22). If he is a weak person who cannot wait so long, or if he does
not expect to find wine etc., beverage by that time, he does not need to
wait and may eat after davening Maariv and reciting atah chonantonu(23).
1 Mishnah Berurah 271:11 based on Shulchan Aruch Harav 271:9. See an
additional reason in Beiur ha-Gra, ibid.
2 Medication, with or without water, may be taken before kiddush.
3 Chayei Adam 66:10; Mishnah Berurah 269:1.
4 See Da'as Torah 271:4. A nursing mother who knows that she will need to
drink after lighting candles, should stipulate that she is not "accepting"
Shabbos until she is finished drinking; Ketzos ha-Shulchan 74:17.
5 Mishnah Berurah 289:10. If he knows that he will find wine etc., later in
the night, he should wait up until midnight to eat, if he can wait that
6 Beiur Halachah 289:1 (s.v. chovas).
7 Da'as Torah 289:1; Harav S.Z. Auerbach (Nishmas Avraham, vol. 1. pg. 54).
8 Some suggest that the obligation of kiddush begins only after davening -
even for a person who is allowed to eat before davening - since only then is
it zeman seudah for all; see Keren L'David 84, Igros Moshe O.C. 2:28 and
Chelkas Yaakov 4:32.
9 See Emes le-Yaakov O.C. 652:2 who quotes a Taz as a source for this
10 Igros Moshe O.C. 2:26. Harav S.Z. Auerbach (Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah
52, note 37) holds that it is better to make kiddush and eat cake than to
eat cereal etc. without kiddush.
11 Pri Megadim O.C. 289:4; Minchas Yitzchak 3:28; Shemiras Shabbos
12 Igros Moshe O.C. 4:101-2.
13 Harav S.Z. Auerbach (Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah 52, note 46).
14 Mishnah Berurah 269:1.
15 Shulchan Aruch rules definitively that women are obligated to eat Seudah
Shelishis; O.C. 291:6, and it is important that woman should be reminded of
this; Aruch ha-Shulchan 291:4. The fact that some women are not careful to
perform this mitzvah is very difficult to justify; see Avodas Yisrael
(Sukkos, s.v. beparashas, quoting the Arizal.
16 Mishnah Berurah 299:1. One should try to avoid delaying this long, since
some poskim disagree and allow Seudah Shelishis to start only a few minutes
after sunset (see Igros Moshe O.C. 4:69-6 and Az Nidberu 13:22) and some do
not allow starting after sunset at all (see Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah 56
17 O.C. 299:1.
18 Minchas Shabbos 96:11; Kaf ha-Chayim 299:6 See also Aruch ha-Shulchan
299:1. Mishnah Berurah does not quote this warning.
19 Aruch ha-Shulchan 299:5.
20 Mishnah Berurah 296:35.
21 Sha'ar ha-Tziyun 299:5.
22 Mishnah Berurah 296:21. One does not, however, need to put off eating in
order to obtain besamim and/or a havdalah candle.
23 Ibid. 17
Weekly-Halacha, Copyright © 2000 by Rabbi Neustadt, Dr. Jeffrey Gross and
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Rabbi Neustadt is the principal of Yavne
Teachers' College in Cleveland, Ohio. He is also the Magid Shiur of a daily
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