Rav Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe, Orach Chaim, Chelek 4, Simun 101)holds that a single woman who is allowed to eat before prayer,
must indeed make Kiddush before eating or drinking anything. However, a married woman is not obligated in Kiddush before her prayer, while the husband is praying himself. This reason for this is that since she is meshubedes to her husband to eat with him, her obligation begins at the same time as his.However, if she has prayed, then she is chayav in Kiddush even if her husband is still praying.
Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurebach (Shmiras Shabbos K’Hilchoso 52:13) rules that a woman would not be allowed to eat or drink anything before making kiddush even before reciting shacharis.
Rav Falk in Machze Eliyahu 1:33 is of the opinion tha women may eat before davening and without Kiddush due to these heterim; 1) The opinion that the prohibition to eat before kiddush only begins after mussaf is
recited. 2) The Ra’avad (Hilchos Shabbos 29:10) rules that since kiddush on Shabbos morning is Rabbinic, there is no prohibition to eat beforehand, even for men. 3) The Maharam Chalava (Pesachim 106a) quotes the Rashba who rules that women are not obligated in kiddush on Shabbos morning at all, since women are not obligated in time-bound mitzvos.
I don’t know what my minhag is. My wife, before she was married used to rely on the Psak of Rav Falk. Can she continue to do so?
My apologies, but my understanding of R’ S. Z. Auerbach was that he held that if a woman usually davens shacharis, she is allowed to drink before davening, the same way anyone is allowed to drink water, or have a coffee with a little sugar and milk before davening. It is only if she doesn’t daven shacharis and she relies on saying brachos for shacharis, that after she has said brachos she is obligated to make kiddush and then she can’t even drink water. This is also the psak of the Mishna Berura 289-6, that women should not drink from when they are obligated to make kiddush. His reasoning is because regarding Shabbos, women have the same obligations as men do. As a side point, the Shulchan Aruch 89-4, and Mishna Berura 89-22 say, that if a person is weak and won’t be able to concentrate on the davening that he may eat what is necessary before davening.
Even R’ Falk’s psak was only if she usually davens Shemona Esrei for shacharis but she didn’t yet say it, and only if she feels weak and needs it in order to daven properly. Under such conditions he says that she may eat what she needs even cake (but not an eggs worth of bread) in order to be able to daven. He does not say this as a heter in all instances just because she hasn’t yet davened. Additionally, after she has davened or if she only says brachos, he says, that she must make kiddush before eating.
According to this, there isn’t that much of a difference between R’ S. Z. and R’ Falk. If she doesn’t need it, both say that she shouldn’t just eat before davening, and if it is needed, they both agree that she may eat what she needs.