Gluten in the Context of Kiddush by Ned Krasnopolsky


With a growing population of people keeping away from gluten for health reasons or personal choice, a Halachic issue is raised. Can a gluten-free individual fulfill the Mitzvah of Kiddush on Shabbat?

Everyone has the obligation to make Kiddush on Shabbat because of the Pasuk “Zachor Et Yom HaShabbat LeKaddesho,” “remember the Sabbath day to sanctify it” (Shemot 20:8). This obligates people to declare the sanctity of Shabbat with their words. However, due to one’s dietary needs, one may be unable to fulfill the Mitzvah of Kiddush. This requires a further analysis of the Mitzvah of Kiddush and a careful understanding of the settings in which one is required to recite it. This topic is discussed in great detail in the tenth Perek of Pesachim (100b-101a). 

There, Rav states that by reciting the Kiddush in Shul, one fulfills his Kiddush obligation (meaning that he does not have to repeat Kiddush at home for himself), but he does not alleviate his obligation to repeat Borei Peri HaGefen. Shmuel, on the other hand, states that one does not fulfill either obligation (neither Peri HaGefen nor Kiddush). The Rashbam (Pesachim 101a s.v Af Yedei Kiddush Lo Yatza) explains that, according to Shmuel, one would not be Yotzei Kiddush in Shul because of the concept of “Ein Kiddush Ela BeMakom Se’udah,” which states that one is not Yotzei Kiddush outside of a meal setting. (An implication of this is that one might even be making a Berachah LeVatalah by reciting it outside of this setting.) The Rashbam further explains the twofold reasoning for this concept. First, he quotes Yeshayahu 58:13, “VeKarata LaShabbat Oneg,” “call Shabbat a delight.” In other words, one should follow his declaration of the Kedushah of Shabbat with something delightful--a meal. The second reason Rashbam states for requiring a meal after Kiddush is based on logic: since wine has the most Chashivut, significance, when drunk at a meal setting, it makes sense that the Chachamim would have required a meal in conjunction with wine to maximize the Chashivut of Kiddush.

Tosafot (ibid. s.v Af Yedei Kiddush Lo Yatza), state that the Halachah indeed follows Shmuel, and that we hold of Ein Kiddush Ela BeMakom Se’udah. Therefore, with this in mind, we must now determine what constitutes a Se’udah.

The Gemara (Pesachim 101a) recounts a story with Rabbah and Abayei. After making Kiddush in shul, Rabbah told Abayei to eat something to fulfill Ein Kiddush Ela BeMakom Se’udah, in case the candle had extinguished at Abayei’s host’s house and he would be unable to have a Se’udah there. Tosafot (ibid. s.v Ta’imu Midi) infer from a Gemara in Shevu’ot (22b) that Rabbah’s suggestion to Abayei to “eat something” implies eating bread. According to Tosafot, bread is the only food that can create the Se’udah setting. We can conclude from Tosafot that a person who does not eat bread or gluten cannot fulfill the Mitzvah of Kiddush, which poses quite an issue.

Fortunately, the Ge’onim state that Kiddush BeMakom Se’udah can be fulfilled with the drinking of wine or the eating of bread.

The Beit Yosef (Orach Chayim 273:8) comments on this supposed Machloket between Tosafot and the Ge’onim and states that it might not even be a Machloket at all. He explains that Tosafot meant that only in that specific case of the Gemara was Abayei forced to eat bread to fulfill Kiddush BeMakom Se’udah, because he did not drink from the Kiddush wine in shul. Potentially, drinking from the Kiddush wine would fulfill Kiddush BeMakom Se’udah. Therefore, according to the Beit Yosef, someone who is gluten-free can fulfill Kiddush BeMakom Se’udah according to both the Ge’onim and Tosafot by drinking the Kiddush wine.

The Bach (Orach Chayim 273:4) disagrees slightly with Beit Yosef’s understanding of the role of Kiddush wine. He states that the drinking a cheekful (Melo Lugmav) of Kiddush wine would not be sufficient to fulfill Kiddush BeMakom Se’udah; one would need an additional Revi’it[1] of wine to fulfill the Se’udah requirement, since that necessitates a Berachah Acharonah. Overall, both understandings of the Ge’onim would enable a gluten-free individual to fulfill the Mitzvah of Kiddush in its entirety.

The Shiltei HaGiborim comments (Rif’s Pesachim 20a) that all food eaten on Shabbat is considered to be a Se’udat Keva--a set meal. Therefore, according to the Shiltei HaGiborim, one would be Yotzei for Kiddush BeMakom Se’udah even with a non-bread snack, since Shabbat makes it into a Se’udah.

If none of this is feasible, there is an opinion, the Rabbeinu Yonah (quoted by Rosh Pesachim 10:5), that holds that Ein Kiddush Ela BeMakom Se’udah is only DeRabanan, a Rabbinic ordinance. Therefore, according to Rabbeinu Yonah, if a person has no other choice, Kiddush can be fulfilled through just its recital, and does not need to be followed by a Se’udah.[2] The Rosh himself, however, holds that Kiddush outside of the meal setting is invalid because Ein Kiddush Ela BeMakom Se’udah is DeOraita, as is implied by Shmuel’s logic.         

Overall, one should consult an Orthodox rabbi on an individual basis to determine how to properly fulfill the Mitzvah of Kiddush. One can follow Shmuel’s statement of Ein Kiddush Ela BeMakom Se’udah and determine whether to hold by Tosafot or the Geonim. If necessary, a person may be able to use the leniency of the Beit Yosef, that wine constitutes a Se’udah, the leniency of the Shiltey HaGiborim, that foods other than bread constitute a Se’udah, or even the leniency of the Rabbeinu Yonah, that Kiddush on a Torah level does not require a meal at all.

[1] A disputed measure ranging from 3-5 ounces.

[2] In addition, R’ Nissim Ga’on, quoted in the Mordechai, states that the concept of Ein Kiddush Ela BeMakom Se’udah would not apply if one has in mind to have a Se’udah later on.

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