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Kiddush on Friday Night

We all know that Shabbos is a day of rest. But Shabbos is not simply a socialist innovation to allow the recharging of human batteries – Shabbos is the very sign of a Jew. In Kiddush, recited at the onset of Shabbos over a goblet of wine, we mention that Shabbos is “a remembrance of the act of Creation. For it is the first of the holy festivals, commemorating the exodus from Egypt.” What’s the connection between Shabbos, the Creation and Exodus?

Reciting Kiddush is a biblical obligation. What does this obligation entail? Can simply wishing one another “Good Shabbos” or “Shabbat Shalom” fulfill the biblical requirement? Can Kiddush be a greater obligation for women than for men?  Can a freshly ‘bar-mitzva’d boy recite the Kiddush for older adults?

Some siddurim print several words of the Kiddush in parenthesis. Why is that? What is the reason for omitting them? Can one who does recite those words hear Kiddush from one who does not, and vice versa? Of this and more in the coming article.

Shabbos, Sign of the Chosen Nation

In this week’s parashah the Jewish nation arrives at Mara. There, they where given “a statute and an ordinance” (Shemos 15:25) which Rashi explains as: “Some sections of the Torah… the Shabbos, the red heifer, and laws of jurisprudence.”

The Abudraham (Friday night Maariv) and the Orechos Chayim (Seder HaShabbos) explain that this is the reason for not starting the Kiddush with the words “Who has chosen us” as we say in the Kiddush for Festivals – Shabbos was given to the Jewish nation in Mara before becoming the chosen nation at Sinai. The festivals, however, were given only after we received the Torah. This explanation is mentioned by the Beis Yosef (Orech Chayim 271:10), Levush (ibid) and Taz (ibid, 13).

Considering this, why does the Friday night Kiddush end with the words “For You have chosen us and sanctified us, among all the nations” since we had not yet been chosen when Shabbos was given? Why does the Jewish nation’s chosenness receive any mention at all?

Similarly, the Aruch Hashulchan (Orech Chayim 271:228) asks why we recite the words “Ata bechartanu – You have chosen us” in the Pesach prayers, and “Who has chosen us from all nations” in the Pesach Kiddush since the holiday of Pesach commemorates the Exodus which occurred before we received the Torah?

Shabbos – a Testimonial

In order to gain a deeper understanding of Shabbos, we must take a closer look at the Kiddush text:

Blessed are You, Lord our G-d, King of the universe, who made us holy with His commandments, has desired us, and has given us, in love and goodwill, His holy Shabbos as a heritage, as a reminder of the Creation. It is the first day of the holy festivals, commemorating the Exodus from Egypt. For You have chosen us and sanctified us from among all the nations, and with love and goodwill given us Your holy Shabbos as a heritage. Blessed are You Lord, who sanctifies the Shabbos.

On the one hand we mention that Shabbos commemorates G-d’s creation of the world in six days, but later we add that Shabbos commemorates our Exodus from Egypt. How do the two connect?

The mitzva of Shabbos is mentioned in the Ten Commandments. In each of the two mentions, Shabbos is attributed to a different reason. In Shemos 20:11 it is attributed to “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth and sea, and all that is in them, and He rested on the seventh day,” while in Devarim 5:15 it is so “you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord your G-d took you out from there.”

The end of the Gemara in Pesachim (117b) derives from an analogy (gzeira shava) that the Exodus must be mentioned in the Kiddush alongside the Six-Day Creation, as will be explained.

Shabbos – Commemoration of Exodus

How does Shabbos commemorate the Egyptian Exodus?

Rashi explains (Devarim 5:15) that the Exodus was dependent upon our acceptance of the Torah and mitzvos, including Shabbos.

The Rambam (More Nevuchim, “The Guide for the Perplexed”, part II, chapter 31) explains that in Egypt, the Jewish people were slaves and could not rest on Shabbos. After they were set free, they could rest on Shabbos. Thus, Shabbos symbolizes our freedom which enables us to commemorate the Six-Day Creation.

The Ramban offers a third explanation. The Exodus proves that Hashem is the first and only Creator, Who continuously renews the creation and acts upon it as He sees fit. He can also change the world, just as He did in Egypt. The Exodus reminds us of this fact and serves as proof of G-d’s creation of the world in six days, and the Shabbos – on which He rested.

The Abudraham (Shabbos Maariv) explains that mentioning Shabbos in Kiddush is not because Shabbos itself commemorates the Exodus, but because it is the first of the “Days of holiness” – the first of the holidays. In Parashas Emor, where we learn of the various holidays, Shabbos is mentioned first. (On a deeper level, Shabbos is the source of holiness, including that of the holidays. The holidays are a commemoration of the Exodus when we became a chosen people. This approach coincides with Rashi’s commentary.)

The Tur (Orech Chayim 271), in his explanation of the Kiddush text, quotes from the above-mentioned Abudraham and Ramban.

Friday Night Maariv and Kiddush

The Magen Avraham writes (271:1) that Kiddush on Friday night is a biblical commandment, but reciting it specifically over a cup of wine is a mitzva d’rabonon. Based on this he claims that one who has prayed Maariv, already fulfilled the original obligation of Kiddush, and therefore, when he recites the kiddush over a goblet of wine before the meal is only fulfilling a mitzva of the rabonnon.

The Mishna Brura (Biur Halacha 271:1) wonders how the obligation has been fulfilled with Maariv where there is no mention of the Exodus. He answers, albeit incompletely, that either the Magen Avraham was of the opinion that mentioning the Exodus is a mitzva d’rabonon and the analogy mentioned in the Gemara is just an asmachta (allusion), or that the mitzva of mentioning the Exodus is accomplished with the bracha recited prior to the Amidah – “Goal Yisroel – redeemer of Yisroel”, and together with the shemonah esrei that follows immediately thereafter is a complete fulfillment of the biblical Kiddush obligation.

The Mishna Brura also cites (271:2) Rabbi Akiva Eiger’s opinion that with the mere greeting of “Good Shabbos” or “Shabbat Shalom” one has already fulfilled the d’oraysa facet of the mitzva of Kiddush. However, the Biur Halacha wonders how that could be possible if according to the Rambam, praise and holiness of Shabbos must also be mentioned.

Practically, the Mishna Brura writes that one should consider Kiddush as being a mitzva d’oraysa, and take the more scrupulous stance when in doubt.

Hearing Kiddush from a freshly bar-mitzvah’d boy therefore presents a problem since only for mitzvos d’rabonon we allow a just-bar mitzva’d boy to perform the mitzvah as the representative of others. However, for biblical commandments a non-adult cannot be a designated as an emissary for other adults. (An adult is determined by the boy having produced 2 hairs. This is indicative of the boy’s maturation.) Therefore, for Kiddush for only men, since the doubt is double – if the mitzva has already been fulfilled with Maariv, and if the boy is already an adult — one can be lenient. However, if there are ill people, or women who did not pray Maariv for whom the meal Kiddush will be a fulfillment of a mitzva d’oraysa, it is necessary to hear Kiddush from a fully mature adult.

Shabbos – a Symbol of a Chosen People

Why are the words “For You have chosen us” recited in Kiddush? And how is Shabbos a symbol of being a chosen people?

Machzor Vitri (132) explains that Shabbos commemorates two concepts: The Creation of the world and the Egyptian Exodus. As a result, the beginning of Kiddush relates to The Creation. Here, there is no mention of Yisroel being the chosen people, as it is unrelated to the content. But at the end of Kiddush, where we mention the Exodus, we mention that we are a chosen nation.

The Shabbos prayers make no mention of our being a chosen nation, and the Kiddush does not begin with this concept. However, at the end of Kiddush, after mentioning the Exodus where unnatural miracles occurred, and which clearly illustrated that G-d chose the Jewish people, we mention our choseness.

The Abudraham (Friday Night Maariv) explains further: the text of the holiday Kiddush begins with “Blessed are You… who has chosen us from among all nations, raised us above all tongues” — referring to our loftiness. One rises up only after having experienced a miracle, after which one praises and thanks G-d, as we find in Tehilim (30:2): “I will exalt You, O Lord, for You have raised me up”. With the miracles of the Exodus the Jewish nation was raised to become a lofty people, nobler than “other tongues”. On Shabbos, however, when we praise G-d for the natural world, this concept is unfitting.

The Aruch Hashulchan (Orech Chayim 271:28) explains that through the Exodus we were chosen to be a nation, as we read in Shemos (6:7) “And I will take you to Me as a people”. This pasuk was one of the “Four expressions of redemption”, which although it came to fruition only with the Revelation at Sinai, was already promised in Egypt.

The Eshel Avraham (Butchach, 241) explains that Kiddush begins with the words “Who has sanctified us” in the third person because it refers to Yisroel when they were encamped at Mara, before the Giving of the Torah when they were not yet so close to Hashem. However, upon mentioning Shabbos as being “the first of the holy festivals” given at Sinai, when we merited complete and total connection with Hashem, we shift to the second person — “For You have chosen us and sanctified us.” Similarly, Rabbi Tzadok Hakohen of Lublin explains (Pri Tzadik, Parashah Bo) that remembrance of Shabbos refers to creation of the world, something hidden and unknown to man. Therefore, the part of Kiddush which refers to it uses the third person, the hidden entity. However, sanctification of Shabbos refers to Exodus, where the Creator was revealed to the world and all became aware of His dominion. Therefore, the words mentioning Exodus use the second person.

Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach explains (Yeshurun part 1, p. 328) that by keeping Shabbos, the Jewish nation is likened to their Creator. This is only possible after G-d chose us to be His people. The other nations of the world have no connection to this virtue since they don’t keep Shabbos.

Both Rabbi Tzaddok Hakohen (Pri Tzaddik for Pesach) and Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch (Teshuvos Vehanhagos, volume 4, chapter 68) add that the main part of Kiddush is not to praise Hashem for having chosen us. Only after mentioning the Exodus where we departed from the 49 gates of impurity, we add praise to G-d for having removed us from that impurity after having chosen us. This serves as encouragement for every Jew, wherever he may find himself and no matter how far he may have strayed or sunk in sin – a Jew forever can be purified, removed from sin and made holy again.

In conclusion, the general consensus is that the Shabbos does not symbolize Yisroel’s having been chosen to be a holy nation but of the Creation of the world. Shabbos does, however, also contain an element of our choseness, especially where it commemorates the Egyptian Exodus, when we were chosen to celebrate the Shabbos.

Choseness on Pesach

Aruch Hashulchan asks why our choseness is mentioned in the Pesach Kiddush, the holiday that commemorates the Exodus which occurred before receiving the Torah. The Abudraham answers that the mitzva of Pesach that we keep is one of the 613 mitzvos we were given at Sinai, whereas in Parashas Bo we were only commanded regarding the Pesach sacrifice and refraining from chometz, not celebration of the holiday.

Mate Moshe (Amud Haavoda, Leil Haseder, chapter 607) explains that G-d’s choice of his people took place with Avraham Avinu, and our loftiness was born of that. Eventually, that loftiness resulted in our being made holy and given laws and mitzvos. Following this approach, it seems that at Mara they were already a chosen people. However, since Shabbos is not connected directly to the Giving of the Torah, it is not appropriate to recount the entire process as we do on Pesach.

Aruch Hashulchan writes that we were already told in Egypt “And I will take you to Me as a people” (Shemos 6:7). Yisroel’s choseness is especially relevant to Pesach which is closely intertwined with the Redemption and its consequences, of which the final one is giving of the Torah. On Pesach it is therefore certainly very fitting to make mention of Yisroel’s choseness.

Different Texts

Considering the above, the various accepted texts of the Friday night Kiddush can be explained. All siddurim contain one uniform text, regardless of community, with some words placed in parenthesis. Poskim are split regarding their status – should they be recited, or not?

The text, with the parenthesis, is as follows:

Blessed are You, Lord our G-d, King of the universe, who made us holy with His commandments, has desired us, and has given us, in love and goodwill, His holy Shabbos as a heritage, as a reminder of the Creation. (For it is) the first day of the holy festivals, commemorating the Exodus from Egypt. (For You have chosen us and sanctified us from among all the nations), and with love and goodwill given us Your holy Shabbos as a heritage. Blessed are You Lord, who sanctifies the Shabbos.



The Hebrew text numbers exactly 35 words, excluding the words in parenthesis. The words in parenthesis add 10 words to the text. All early texts include the words in parenthesis in the basic Kiddush text (Rav Amram Gaon: Seder Shabasos; Rambam: Shabbos, chapter 29:2; Machzor Vitri: 132; Abudraham: Maariv shel Shabbos; Maharil: Minhagim Shabbos: b; and others). However, the Arizal (Sha’ar Hakavanos, Inyan Hakidush) writes that it is a mistake, and these words should not be recited. This opinion appears in the works of earlier Mekubalim as well (Leket Shichecha U’peah; Tola’at Yaakov, Sod Shabbos, 10).

Most Eidot Hamizrach and Chassidic communities customarily skip the words in parenthesis. Chabad Chassidim, though, are an exception to this rule since the full text appears in the Alter Rebbe’s siddur despite his usual custom of following the Arizal’s text for prayers. As a result, Chabad Chassidim, as well as many other, recite the full text.

The Magen Avraham (271:22) quotes the Arizal’s ruling, but concludes that changing an accepted text is unwarranted since every Jewish custom has basis. This is also the opinion of the Gra (Biur Hagra, Orech Chayim 271:10), Chazon Ish and Kehilos Yaakov (Orchos Rabbenu volume 1, p208).

Omitting Words

Why omit words from Kiddush? The Aritzal explains that the Zohar (Vayakhel 207b) counts 70 words in Kiddush: 35 words of “Vayechulu” (the pesukim from Bereshis recited before the blessing) and 35 words of Kiddush. The Zohar then expounds on the hidden facets of those 70 words and additional 2 words of “The sixth day” (The last words of the pasuk before “Vayechulu”) added before beginning “Vayechulu”.

The Arizal explains that the words referring to Yisroel being a chosen nation mistakenly made their way into the Shabbos Kiddush while actually only belonging to the holiday Kiddush.

Ma’ase Rokeiach (Shabbos, chapter 29:2) adds that after omitting those words in parenthesis, mentioning our nation’s choseness is unsuitable, as the mitzva of Shabbos was given in Mara before the Torah was given, as was explained above.

Thirty-Five Words

Rabbi Yitzchak Ullmia counters (mentioned in Shut Chinuch Beis Yehuda, chapter 8; Machatzis Hashekel 271:22) that attributing mistakes to early Torah sources is pretentious and unlikely.

The Achronim mention various methods of calculating seventy words in Kiddush without omitting words from the accepted text:

The Magen Avraham (271:22) writes that the words of the Zohar can be attributed to the Kiddush in the Friday night Maariv. There, 35 words can be counted in the text of “Vayechulu” and 35 words in the Kiddush (according to the Ashkenazi text), starting from “G-d and the G-d of our fathers…” until “Sanctifier of the Shabbos.”

Rabbi Yitzchok Ulmia himself counts 70 words in the Kiddush recited at the meal – excluding the words of “Borei Pri Hagefen” and the 11 words of “Blessed are You, Hashem” and the final words of the blessing.

Rabbi Chayim of Volozhin (Kisvei Rabbi Zundel of Salant, p. 139, quoting from Biur Hagra) opined that the words of “Ki hu yom – For it is a day” are unnecessary. However, he did not omit them since this phrase appears in early sources. He rules that adding words is inconsequential, and only subtracting is problematic.


The standard text of Kiddush mentions the chosenness of the Jewish Nation as well as The Creation of the world in six days. Several reasons explain how Shabbos, which was commanded before the Torah was given and the nation was chosen, is related to this chosenness.

According to kabalistic sources these words should not be mentioned in Kiddush. However, according to the Ashkenazi, Teimani (Baladi) and Chabad customs – reciting these words is the correct text. Most Eidot Hamitzrach, Teimani (Shami) and Sfarad communities follow the kabalistic ruling and omit these words.

One who customarily omits the words can hear Kiddush from one who recites them and vice versa, because these words are not the central theme of Kiddush.

Mentioning the exodus from Egypt in the Friday night Kiddush is obligatory. Therefore, some opine that even one who prayed Maariv did not yet fulfill his biblical obligation of remembering the Shabbos upon its start (i.e. Kiddush) since there is no mention of the Exodus in the prayers. Others rule that the biblical obligation of Kiddush is fulfilled with the Friday night Maariv or even with wishing one another “Good Shabbos” or “Shabbat Shalom”.

One who did not pray Maariv before Kiddush (ladies, or the infirm) should preferably hear Kiddush recited by a fully mature adult and not from a freshly bar-mitzva’d boy.

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