Kiddush Without Wine: $atrd_TitleCats Response on Ask the Rabbi
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Kiddush Without Wine

I am allergic to grapes. Is there an alternative way I can make Kiddush – perhaps on a different beverage?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

Yes, although Kiddush is preferably made on wine, there are acceptable back-up choices. There is an important distinction in this between the Friday night Kiddush and that of Shabbat morning, as follows.

On Friday night we recite Kiddush as a way of “remembering” Shabbat, as Exodus 20:8: “Remember the Sabbath day to sanctify it.” We “remember” Shabbat by reciting Kiddush at the start of the day and Havdalah at its conclusion. Note that “Kiddush” literally means sanctification. We sanctify the day by making mention of its sanctity at its onset.

This commemoration is ideally done on wine (Talmud Pesachim 106a), which the Sages consider a means of lending importance to the declaration. If, however, wine (or grape juice) is not available, one may take an alternate food of importance. And the next most important food of the Shabbat meal is the challah (Shulchan Aruch 272:9). Here is the order of precedence:

(a) Wine (or grape juice)

(b) Challah: One first washes and then holds the two challahs in his two hands for the entire Kiddush. In Kiddush he replaces the blessing “borei pri hagefen” with “ha’motzi lechem min ha’aratez.”

(c) Chamar Medina: This literally means “the wine of the country.” It refers to any beverage which is considered important locally. There are a wide range of opinions regarding what drinks fulfill this definition. In virtually all western countries, beer and hard liquor (e.g. whiskey, scotch) definitely rate. If you are uncomfortable with those, tea or coffee are also acceptable.

(This final choice of chamar medina would not normally be relevant on Friday night – perhaps for a person who's allergic to both grapes and grain products.)

On Shabbat morning, Kiddush fulfills a different purpose. It is not to remember the Sabbath, as that is done at the start of the day. Rather, it is a means of lending importance to the Shabbat meal. This is done by beginning it with a special drink. As on Friday night, the drink which would lend the most importance to the meal is wine. But if that is not feasible, Chamar Medina may be used.

Challah, however, may not be used for this purpose. This is because simply taking the challah you were going to start your meal with anyway does not distinguish the meal in any way and lend it importance (Shu”a 272:9). (The verses we recite at the day Kiddush are just customary. The primary Kiddush is the blessing on the wine itself (see Shulchan Aruch 289:1 and Mishna Berura 2).

The order of precedence for the day Kiddush is therefore:

(a) Wine or grape juice

(b) Chamar Medina

Therefore, in your case, you should recite the Friday night Kiddush on challah, and the day Kiddush on an important drink.

Rabbi Dovid Rosenfeld Aish.com

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