Daytime Kiddush: An Introduction

The regality and pageantry that accompanies the Friday night kiddush (sanctification) is a glorious and enjoyable way to enter in and celebrate Shabbat, demarcating it as a special sanctuary in time. However, in addition to this initiating kiddush, there is another kiddush on Shabbat.

 “The Great Sanctification”
This daytime kiddush’s name is called Kiddusha Rabba, “the great kiddush”, an ironic naming, as it significantly smaller than Friday evening’s kiddush. Much like the Friday night kiddush, which kicks-off Shabbat consumptive activities the rabbis, in their wisdom, created a similar, if smaller practice to take place on Saturday, kicking off consumptive activities for that day.

Confusion of a Talmudic Sage
While visiting Mahoza, a suburb of the Sasanian Persian capital of Ctesiphon, one Shabbat day, the late 4th century/early 5th century sage Rav Ashi was asked to recite the Great Kiddush, causing him confusion, as he did not know what to do, having never heard of such a practice. In a state of nervousness due to not knowing what to do, he ventured to start off by saying the blessing over the wine in his hand, of “Blessed…is the Creator of the fruit of the vine”, then paused to look around for a sign of whether he should continue reciting further words or stop there and drink this wine. He then noticed an elderly man lifting up his wine cup, and Rav Ashi recognized that the blessing upon the wine was all that this Great Kiddush required (Pesahim 106a).

Beverages, Not Bread
The rabbis of the Talmud mandate it simply to consist of the blessing of “Blessed…is the Creator of the fruit of the vine” over wine (Pesahim 106a). At a later date, Medieval rabbis permitted beer to be used for this kiddush, and later rabbis even permitted whiskey. A focus on beverages for this Jewish practice was required, for, if it were to be done over bread (as can be done at the Friday night kiddush), there would be nothing marking it off as different, since it’s just the blessing over the item to be consumed (whereas Friday night kiddush also incorporates a sanctification blessing distinct for the occasion).

More Than a Blessing?
Technically speaking, the bare minimum to successfully carry out this Great Kiddush is simply the blessing over wine (or beer, whiskey, etc.), then consuming it. To augment this activity, Biblical passages have been added to it, with many people reciting Exodus 31:16-17 and Exodus 20:8-11, while some also add Isaiah 58:13-14. These passages concern Shabbat and emphasize restful aspects of this holy day.

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