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Women and Kiddush

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Mar 20, 2005

The Talmud teaches that women are obligated, biblically, in the Mitzvah of Kiddush. The Dagul M’r’vavah (O.C. 271) felt that due to this fact, standard Friday night practice was problematic. The problem begins with the fact that many poskim (including the Magen Avraham, 271:1) believe that the biblical obligation of Kiddush, which may not require wine (see Rambam, Hil. Shabbat 29:6, Tosafot, Sukkah 38a, s.v. mai), can be discharged with the Friday night prayers. If so, a man who goes to shul Friday night is in fulfillment of the biblical obligation, and it is only the rabbinical obligation (assuming both wine and Kiddush in the same place of the meal are rabbinic onligations) that requires him to recite Kiddush again at home. The issue, then, is the ability of his wife to fulfill her obligation, which is biblical, by listening to him, who is only rabbinically obligated.

At first, this would seem like no problem at all; the Talmud (Rosh Hashanah 29a) states that one who fulfills an obligation maintains his ability to discharge the obligation of others, due to the principle of arvut, the interconnectedness of the Jewish people. That principle indicates that the obligation is not truly fulfilled as long as there are others who have not completed their obligation. However, the Dagul M’r’vavah’s concern is prompted by a statement of the Rosh (Berakhot 3:13) which seems to state that women are not included in this arvut. Therefore, they would be unable to utilize that concept to fulfill their obligation through someone who is no longer obligated on their level, due to having already performed the mitzvah. (A similar concern is raised by the Pri Megadim, Eishel Avraham, 689:4, in regards to Megilah reading).

R. Akiva Eiger, in his glosses to Shulchan Arukh (and see Responsa, 7), disagrees with the premise of the Dagul M’r’vavah. In his understanding, the Rosh never meant that women were excluded from arvut. Rather, his comments were limited to a specific context, that of Birkat HaMazon. In regard to that mitzvah, women may not share the same base obligation as men. Thus, it is understandable that an arvut relationship may not exist in regard to that mitzvah. However, Kiddush is equally obligatory for men and for women, and thus arvut is applied. (See also Resp. D’var Yehoshua, II, 21:6). (For other interpretations of the Rosh’s comments, see also: R. David Mandelbaum’s footnotes to Resp. Chelkat Yoav (I, kama, 36); Resp. Beit Sh’arim, 100; Resp. Avnei Tzedek, hosafot, 10; Resp. Avnei Tziyon, I, 9; the journal Vay’laket Yosef, III, 143 and 186; Resp. Shem MiShimon, O.C. 20; Iyunim B’Halakha, II, 17).

Other reasons not to be concerned with the Dagul M’r’vavah’s problem center on the question of whether Kiddush really is fulfilled in the synangogue. Some suggest that the problem is averted by the man having “negative intent” to not fulfill the mitzvah at that point. The Chatam Sofer (Resp. O.C. 17 and 21, and commentary to Shulchan Arukh) felt this was recommended in any event, so that the biblical aspects and rabbinical aspects of the mitzvah could be fulfilled jointly. (See also Mishnah Berurah; Gilyonei HaShas, Yoma 81b; Akeydat Moshe, 6; Resp. S’ridei Eish, O.C. 29; note, however, the objections of Resp. Mo’znei Tzedek, I, 17).

The Minchat Chinuch (31) writes (against the position of the Magen Avraham) that Kiddush is not fulfilled by Friday night prayers, as the crucial reference to the exodus from Egypt is missing. (See also Resp. Sho’el U’Meishiv, tinyana, IV, 60; Maharam Shick to Sefer haMitzvot; Resp. Kinyan Torah B’Halakhah, VIII, 47; Resp. Siftei Ani, 38; Marpei L’Nefesh, III, 8; Resp. Chatan Sofer, 32; Resp. Binyan Shel Simchah, 10; Mas’et Levi, p. 54; Resp. Binyan Av, II, 23:10.).

Another issue that would prevent the synagogue prayers from counting as Kiddush would be the obligation of making Kiddush in the place where the meal is being eaten. According to Rabbeinu Yonah (cited by the Rosh, Pesachim, 10:5) this obligation is rabbinical; thus, the biblical obligation could, in theory be performed elsewehere. The Rosh, however, disagrees, and would thus assume that Kiddush cannot be fulfilled at all away from the place of the meal (see also Resp. S’ridei Eish, ibid; Resp. Avnei Tziyon, I, 9; Resp. Shraga HaMeir, IV, 86:4; Resp. Imrei Yosher, I, 202; Resp. Binyan Shel Simchah, 10).

[For further discussion of the dispute between the Dagul M’R’vavah and R. Akiva Eiger, see also, Resp. Yehudah Ya’aleh, I, 82; Resp. Divrei Yisrael (II, p. 190); Resp. Ateret Moshe, Y.D. 3; Resp. M’oznei Tzedek, I, 18.]


References: Berachot: 20b 

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