Halacha for Tuesday 5 Kislev 5782 November 9 2021

May Women Eat Before Reciting Kiddush?

Question: Regarding the law that we discussed yesterday that after Shabbat morning prayers one may not taste anything without reciting Kiddush but before prayers, one may drink tea and coffee. Does the same law apply to women in that they may not eat after prayers before reciting Kiddush but they may drink before prayers or is their law different?

Answer: In the previous Halacha, we have explained that one may not taste any food or beverage before reciting Kiddush. We have explained that this applies only when the individual has already become obligated to recite Kiddush, i.e. if he has prayed already. Nevertheless, before morning prayers, one is not yet obligated to recite Kiddush and one may therefore drink tea or coffee as one would any other weekday, for one only becomes obligated to recite Kiddush after morning prayers.

Let us now discuss the law regarding women. This issue can really be split into two primary focuses.

Firstly, as we have established in the past, a woman is not obligated to pray three times a day; rather, she is only obligated to pray once daily. A woman may choose whichever prayer she wishes on any given day, either Shacharit, Mincha, or Arvit. Thus, it seems clear that a woman may not taste anything without first reciting Kiddush after she has already prayed, for at that point, she already becomes obligated in the Mitzvah of Kiddush and she may not taste anything beforehand. Thus, a woman who has prays Shacharit and Mussaf shares the same law as a man and she may drink tea or coffee before praying. However, once she has prayed, she may not taste anything until she recites Kiddush.

The question ensues regarding a woman who does not customarily pray Shacharit and Mussaf. There is room to claim that since this woman does not pray Shacharit, she becomes obligated to recite Kiddush immediately upon awakening from her sleep in the morning (since her obligation of Kiddush is not contingent on prayer since she does not pray) and thus, she may not taste anything at all until she recites Kiddush on a cup of wine.

Nevertheless, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes in his Sefer Chazon Ovadia that women who do not pray Shacharit and Mussaf but feel weakness may drink tea or coffee on Shabbat morning although they have not yet recited Kiddush. The reason for this is because although according to the Rambam and Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch, one may not taste anything before reciting the day Kiddush, nevertheless according to the Ra’avad, one may eat before reciting the Shabbat day Kiddush, for according to his opinion, the only time one may not eat before Kiddush is on Shabbat night but not on Shabbat day since it is not as stringent as the night Kiddush.

Although, halachically speaking, we follow the opinion of the Rambam who rules that it is forbidden to eat before reciting the day Kiddush as well, nevertheless, there is room in such a situation to combine the opinion of the Meiri who maintains that women are completely exempt from the Shabbat day Kiddush. When combining both of these opinions (the Ra’avad and the Meiri) there is room to allow women who experience some weakness or light-headedness to drink something when they wake up on Shabbat morning although they have not yet recited Kiddush on a cup of wine.

Summary: Women who pray Shacharit and Mussaf on Shabbat may drink tea or coffee before praying. After praying, they become obligated to recite Kiddush and they may not taste anything until they do so, as is the law regarding men. A woman who does not pray at all on Shabbat morning, because she is busy tending to her children and the like, may drink some tea or coffee upon awakening in the morning in order to give her strength although she has not yet recited Kiddush on a cup of wine.

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