Kiddush on Schnapps

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Kiddush on Schnapps

Kiddush on Schnapps

In many circles there is a minhag (custom) to recite Kiddush on Shabbos morning over a small cup of schnapps. There were many great Chasidish leaders who followed this custom and even instructed their chasidim to follow this custom1. However, others, including the Mishna Berura2 did not agree that reciting Kiddush over a small schnapps glass would fulfill one’s obligation of Kiddush. In the following paragraphs we will discuss the halachos of making Kiddush on Shabbos, and what these different customs are based on.

Kiddusha Rabbah – The “GreatKiddush

The Kiddush we recite on Shabbos morning is referred to by the Gemarah3 as the “Kiddusha Rabbah” – The great Kiddush. There are many reasons offered as to why the Shabbos morning Kiddush received this name. The Mishnah Berura explains4 that this name is really a euphemism; the Kiddush which we recite Friday night is a mitzvah d’Oraysa, conversely the Kiddush we recite in the morning is only a Rabbinical obligation; therefore we refer to the Shabbos morning Kiddush euphemistically as “the ‘Great’ Kiddush.”

The Torah writes5 “Remember the day of Shabbos, to make it holy.” From this verse Chazal derive6 the mitzvah d’Oraysa to recite “Kiddush” (sanctifying the Shabbos) on Friday night. During Kiddush we set apart the day of Shabbos from the other days of the week by reciting the praise and holiness of Shabbos, thereby fulfilling the mitzvah d’Oryasa of “Kiddush” (sanctifying the Shabbos)6a. In order to enhance this mitzvah d’Oraysa, Chazal required that the recitation of Kiddush be made over a cup of wine7.

Conversely, the Kiddush we recite on Shabbos morning is only a mitzvah m’d’Rabanan8. The reason Chazal instituted the Shabbos morning Kiddush was in order to add additional honor the Shabbos morning seuda (meal). Chazal instituted that the recitation of the Shabbos morning Kiddush also be made over a cup of wine9.

Since the obligation to recite Kiddush on Shabbos morning is only Rabbinical, there are a couple of leniencies which apply to the Shabbos morning Kiddush that are not applicable to the Friday night Kiddush. In the following paragraphs we will discuss the basic requirements of the “Kiddush cup”, and some of the differences between the Kiddush performed Friday night and Shabbos morning.

The halachos of the “Kiddush cup”

As we mentioned, Chazal instituted that the mitzvah of reciting Kiddush (both Friday night and Shabbos morning) be performed over a cup of wine. There are two basic requirements which must be satisfied in order to fulfill this mitzvah of Kiddush properly:

1) The correct drink to be used for Kiddush

2) The shiur (volume) of wine necessary for Kiddush

1) The correct drink to be used for Kiddush?

The Shulchan Aruch writes10 [regarding which beverage must be used for Kiddush] that the halacha differs regarding the Friday night Kiddush and the Shabbos morning Kiddush:

Friday night Kiddush: For the Friday night Kiddush one may only recite Kiddush over a cup of wine.

Shabbos morning Kiddush: Although it is preferable to recite Kiddush on Shabbos morning over a cup of wine, if no wine is available one may recite Kiddush over “chamar medinah” [the beverage of the country (see* on back for explanation)]. The Mishna Berura adds11 that someone who enjoys schnapps may use it to make Kiddush on Shabbos morning even if wine is available.

However, the Mishnah Berura cautions12 that in order that the mitzvah of Kiddush is properly fulfilled, someone who makes Kiddush on schnapps must ensure that the proper shiurim (amounts) are used; just as one would when making Kiddush on a cup of wine.

2) The shiur (volume) of wine necessary for Kiddush

When discussing the amount of wine (or schnapps) necessary to fulfill one’s obligation of Kiddush, there are really two separate elements involved:

  1. a) The amount of wine that the cup must hol
  2. b) How much wine must one drink
  3. a) The amount of wine that the cup must hold: The Kiddush cup, both Friday night and Shabbos morning, must contain a revi’is of wine13. (See next paragraph regarding the size of a revi’is in modern-day terms.)
  4. b) How much wine must one drink: One must a drink a ma’leh lug’mav (a cheek–full) of wine in order to fulfill the obligation of Kiddush14. A ma’leh lug’mav equals the majority (51%) of a revi’is15. This amount is needed because it satiates a person16; if one does not drink this amount he has not fulfilled his obligation of Kiddush17. [Note: there is no obligation to drink a majority of the cup, (this only applies regarding drinking the four cups on Pesach night) – regarding Kiddush one must only drink the majority of a revi’is18.]

Calculating a revi’is in modern-day term

The Gemara in Pesachim19 gives us two ways to calculate the measurement of a revi’is: 

1) The thumb-measurement – The volume of liquid which would fit into an area which is 2x2x2.7 thumb units (i.e. the width of one’s thumb) equals a revi’is.

2) The egg measurement – the volume of liquid which is displaced by 1½ egg also equals a revi’is.

In the 1700’s the T’zlach20 realized that there is a difficulty with this Gemara, because when he calculated these two measurements he realized that they are not the same. When he calculated the volume of the thumb-measurement it was larger and held more liquid than the egg measurement did.

For example Rav Dovid Feinstein21 calculates these two measurements (based on Rav Moshe Feinstein’s calculations) in modern-day terms as follows:

The thumb measurement = 4.42 ounces [130.7 ml]

The egg measurement = 3.3 ounces [97.5 ml]

The T’zlach therefore deduced that it must be that the size of eggs have become smaller over the years; the eggs we have nowadays are smaller than the eggs were in the times of the Gemarah, and therefore the volume of the egg measurement doesn’t equal that of the thumb-measurement!

Which measurement should we use?

The Mishnah Berurah concludes22 that regarding a mitzvah d’Oraysa, such as Kiddush Friday night, one must be strict and use the volume of the thumb-measurement (4.42 oz.). However, regarding a mitzvah d’Rabanan, such as Kiddush Shabbos morning, one may be lenient and use the volume of the egg measurement (3.3 oz.). Therefore, we can conclude as as follows:

Regarding Friday night Kiddush: since Kiddush Friday night is d’Oraysa we must use the thumb-measurement for a revi’is:

1) The Kiddush cup must hold at least 4.42 ounces [130.7 ml] (a revi’is)

2) One must drink 2.22 ounces [65.65ml] (51% of the revi’is- a maleh lugmav)

Regarding Shabbos morning Kiddush: since the Shabbos morning Kiddush is d’Rabbanan one may use the egg-measurement for a revi’is:

1) The cup must hold 3.3 ounces [97.6 ml] (a revi’is based on the egg-measurement)

2) One must drink 1.67 ounces [49.3 ml] (51% of the revi’is)

Using a small schnapps glass used for Kiddush

As we mentioned earlier, the Mishna Berura writes2 someone who makes Kiddush on schnapps must ensure that the proper shiurim (amounts) are used; just as one would when making Kiddush on a cup of wine. Therefore, regarding the Shabbos morning Kiddush, one must use a cup which holds 3.3 ounces, and must drink 1.67 ounces of wine. This would seemingly create an issue with the minhag of using Schnapps glass for Kiddush, since it generally doesn’t hold 3.3 ounces, and one doesn’t drink 1.67 ounces.

The reasoning behind this minhag is explained as follows23: since even a small amount of schnapps has the ability to satiate a person, it is sufficient to use the amount which is generally used when drinking Schnapps (i.e. a small schnapps glass). This ruling is based on the opinion of the Taz found in the halachos of bracha achronah24:

The general Halacha regarding reciting a bracha achrona is that one may only recite a bracha achrona on a drink, if a revi’is (4.42 oz.) of the beverage is consumed25. The Taz comments, that when drinking schnapps a bracha achrona is made after drinking a small schnapps glass since it satiates a person. [Note there are many Poskim who argue on this ruling of the Taz26.]

Similarly, those who have the custom to use a small schnapps glass for the Shabbos morning Kiddush extend this reasoning of the Taz to the halachos of Kiddush. Although a revi’is of wine is generally necessary for Kiddush, when making Kiddush on schnapps one may use a small schnapps glass (which is generally used when drinking schnapps) since it satiates a person.

To summarize:

There is a minhag in some circles to make Kiddush on schnapps using a small schnapps glass. There are two halachic issues with this minhag:

1) Must wine be used? If one enjoys schnapps more than wine he may use schnapps for the Shabbos morning Kiddush.

2) How much schnapps must be used for Kiddush? Generally in order to fulfil one’s obligation of Kiddush, a ma’leh lug’mav must be drunk (1.67 oz.). However since a small amount of schnapps has the ability to satiate a person, those who have this minhag rely on the opinion of the Taz that using even a small schnapps glass will suffice.

Using a disposable plastic cup for Kiddush

If on uses a disposable plastic schnapps cup to make Kiddush there may be another halachic issue involved.

The Shulchan Aruch writes27 that one must use a complete cup for Kiddush. If the cup has holes in it or if even the base of the cup is broken, such a cup should not be used for Kiddush. The cup which is used for Kiddush should be important and worthy of using for the mitzvah of reciting Kiddush.

Similarly R’ Moshe Feinstein writes28, “In my opinion, using a disposable plastic (or even hard plastic29) cup is not considered a proper cup to be used for making Kiddush.” Accordingly, if one makes Kiddush on wine or schnapps he must ensure that a non-disposable cup which is worthy of being used for Kiddush is available.

However, other Poskim30 consider a plastic disposable cup [especially a hard plastic one] to be important and worthy enough to be used for making Kiddush. Since there are no defects in the cup, and many times such cups are used by respectable people, one may use such a cup for making Kiddush

* Chamar Medinah can be defined as a beverage that someone would serve in order to show honor to a guest, and not merely to quench one’s thirst31. This drink may vary in different countries, and is therefore called Chamar Medinah – the beverage of the country. The Shulchan Aruch writes32 that beer is considered Chamar Medinah, since it would be served to honor one’s guests. The Mishna Berura adds33 that liquor (whisky, vodka, and brandy) is also considered Chamar Medinah. Some recent Poskim34 consider tea or coffe to be Chamar Medinah.

 

1See Su”t Maharsham 1,175 from The Rupshitza, Kaminka & The Rav from Lublin; also see Be’er Moshe who writes “who can think to question these great Tzadikim (who made Kiddush on schnapps)”   2272,30       3Pesachim 106            4 289,3 quoting the Ra”n       5 Shemos 20,8             6 Gemarah Pesachim 106 see Tosfos d”h Zachruhu   6a Rambam Shabbos 29,1 8         7 Gemarah Pesachim 106 see Tosfos there d”h Zachruhu and Rambam 29,6 That although the obligation of reciting Kiddush is d”Oraysa the obligation of reciting it over a cup of wine is Rabbinical           8 Shulchan Aruch 289,1 M.B. 3         9 S.A. 289,1       10 272,9 see M.B. 27   11 272,30       12 272,30       13 Sha’ar Ha’tzion 183,14 (and M.B. 183,9)       14S.A. 271,13     15 S.A, ibid       16 M.B. 271,13       17 M.B. ibid       18 see Ra”n Pesachim 107-108 d”h Im Ta’am             19 Pesachim 109 (see Rashbam 109a d”h d’heinu)         20 Commentary on Pesachim 116a       21 Kol Dodi Haggada pg 12-13         22 Biur Halacha 271,13 d”h shel revi’is based on the fact that many other Poskim only mention the shiur of the egg-measurement they seem to argue on the Tzlach and rule that even nowadays we use the egg-measurement. Therefore, the Mishnah Berura concludes that on a mitzvah d’Oraysa one should follow the stricter opinion of the Tzlach and use the thumb-measurements. However, on mitzvos d’rabanan one may rely on the Poskim who only mention the egg measurement.             23 Maharsham 1,175         24 210,1       25 S.A. 210,1     26 Magen Avraham 190,4 The M.B. sides with the opinion of the Magen Avraham; it could be for this reason the M.B. rules (272,30) that when making Kiddush on schnapps one must have the regular measurements just as one would need when using wine     27 183,3 see M.B. there that this is only l’chatchila but b’dieved one would still be yotzei       28 Oh”c 3, 39 . According to the logic of R’ Moshe there is no advantage to using two plastic cups; since these cups are disposable they are not fit for Kiddush [Pininei Ha’meor pg 560 note 26]           29 The Radiance of Shabbos pg 44 (in footnote 5) R’ Simcha Bunim Cohen asked R’ Moshe if hard plastic has the same Halacha as soft plastic. R’ Moshe answered that it does and should therefore not be used. However in sefer Pininei ha’meor pg 560 he brings (in footnote 29) that R’ Ya’akov Efraim Levovitz asked R’ Moshe and he said that only paper cups may not be used for Kiddush; however plastic cups which can technically be reused may be used for Kiddush             30 R’ Y.Y. Fisher (Quoted in Pininei Ha’meor pg 560) Tzitz Eliezer 12,23 see also Shmiras Shabbos Kihilchaso 47,11 note 51 from R’ Shlomo Zalman Aurbach. 31Igros Moshe Oh”c 2,75     32 289,2     33 272,30     34Igm”o ibid

By: Rabbi Shmuel Stein

Weekly Shabbos Shiur by Avreich of the Miami Beach Community Kollel. Shiur is Wednesday nights at the kollel at 8:15  

 

 

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