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May One Recite Kiddush if He Cannot Drink the Wine?

If a person, for whatever reason, is unable to drink wine, may he recite the Kiddush and then have somebody else at the table drink, or is it preferable to have somebody else recite Kiddush?

Maran, in Shulhan Aruch (Orah Haim 271:14; listen to audio recording for precise citation), writes that if a person recited Kiddush and did not drink the wine, but instead had somebody else drink the wine, he has fulfilled the Misva. However, Maran adds, several people’s drinking cannot combine to complete the minimum required amount that must be drunk. Meaning, at least one person must drink the entire amount of “Melo Lugmav” (a cheekful) for the Misva to be fulfilled. But Maran then cites a second view, according to which we may combine the wine drunk by several different people. According to this view, as long as altogether the minimum required amount was drunk, the Misva has been fulfilled. Maran then proceeds to cite a third view, the view of the Geonim, who ruled that the Misva of Kiddush is not fulfilled unless the individual who recites the Kiddush also drinks some of the wine. Maran concludes this discussion by writing, “Ve’ru’i La’hush Le’dibrehem” – meaning, it is proper to satisfy this stringent ruling of the Geonim. Thus, according to Maran, one should not recite Kiddush unless he will be drinking some wine, as we should endeavor to satisfy the stringent position. The Mishna Berura (Rav Yisrael Meir Kagan of Radin, 1839-1933) adds, however, that if one did recite Kiddush and had somebody else drink, they have fulfilled their obligation, even if nobody drank a complete quantity of wine, as long as altogether, between everyone at the table, this quantity was drunk.

Practically speaking, then, it is certainly preferable for one who is unable to drink wine not to recite Kiddush, and to instead have somebody else recite it for him. If, however, there is nobody else to recite Kiddush, such as if a husband and wife are alone and the wife cannot recite Kiddush, or if it would not befitting the person’s honor to have somebody else recite Kiddush, then he may recite the Kiddush and have somebody else drink, though preferably he should at least drink a small sip. If he is unable to drink even a sip, then he may have others drink the complete amount.

There are, however, two conditions that must be met. First, as the Mishna Berura mentions, the full amount of wine must be drunk within a period of “Kedeh Achilat Pares,” or approximately four minutes, of the recitation of Kiddush. (In most situations, this should not be a problem.) Additionally, the person who drinks must have been part of the Kiddush; meaning, he must have listened to the recitation for the purpose of fulfilling his Kiddush obligation. If he had already heard Kiddush earlier, and just happens to be present, his drinking does not suffice for the fulfillment of the Misva.

This also applies if several people will be drinking to complete the required amount of “Melo Lugmav.” They must all drink their portions within four minutes of the recitation of Kiddush, and they must have all been part of the Kiddush.

It should be noted that any man or woman above the age of Bar Misva or Bat Misva is eligible to drink the wine on behalf of the one who recited Kiddush. All men and women who have reached the age of Misva obligation are included in the Misva of Kiddush, and thus in a case where the one reciting Kiddush will not be drinking the wine, anyone above the age of Bar Misva or Bar Misva may drink. Hence, in the case of a husband and wife who are alone, and the husband cannot drink the wine and the wife cannot recite Kiddush, the husband may recite the Kiddush and the wife should then drink the full amount.

Summary: Preferably, one should not recite Kiddush unless he is able to drink the wine. If there is no one else to recite Kiddush, or if it would be a slight to one’s honor if somebody else recites Kiddush, then he may have another person drink the wine, as long as that other person is a man or woman above the age of Bar Misva or Bat Misva, and is fulfilling his or her obligation by listening to the Kiddush. Even in such a case, the person who recites Kiddush should, if possible, taste a bit of the wine.


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