Study and Theory/
Sabbath

Kiddush

Kiddush is the blessing over wine or grape juice in honor of Shabbat and holidays. Kiddush is performed on the eve of Shabbat and on the morning of Shabbat just before the meal. Its contents express and reflect the sanctity of the day.

On Friday night the Kiddush includes the verses "And the heavens and the earth were complete" (Genesis 2, 1-3) referring to the creation of the world and the G-dly source of Shabbat – this is the universal aspect of Kiddush.

Following the verses of "Vayechulu" (and they were completed), the blessing to be said is, "Blessed are you G-d, our Lord, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine", which is followed by a blessing for Shabbat, referring to Shabbat as a connection and covenant between the Holy-One-Blessed-be-He and the nation of Israel – the blessing of Shabbat reflects the national aspect of the Kiddush.

In the reconstructionist-renewal version – the motive of selecting and separating the nation of Israel from other nations is left out and there is an emphasis on the fact that everyone is capable of hearing the G-dly outreach and Jews do this on Shabbat. Some of the sources of this version stem from the Sephardi, Ari Kiddush wording from the 16th century in Safed. The Ari version of the Shabbat blessing contains 35 words just as does the first passage of 'Vayechulu' – which together make up 70, the numerical value of the Hebrew word -  יין- (wine).

It is customary to fill the Kiddush cup till its brim, to symbolize abundance and blessings. It is generally the custom to recite Kiddush while standing. Following the blessing, the individual who recites the Kiddush offers each of the diners a sip from the winecup. The wine or the grape juice create a connection between the transcendental blessing and the sensual, perceived experience. Wine symbolizes joy, solemnity, and uniqueness, and also emphasizes the joyous and delightful aspect of fulfilling the commandment.

The initial format of the Kiddush had probably originated in the times of the Mishna and wording of the Kiddush blessing continues to be crystalized and formulated throughout the generations.

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