At Congregation Shaarei Orah, the Sephardic Congregation of Teaneck, we are eager to grow and improve. When Rav Amar visited our kehilla three weeks ago, he set a good example by sitting down for the recitation of Kiddusha Rabba (the Shabbat morning Kiddush) and Havdalah, in accordance with standard Sephardic practice. For various reasons, we had not been doing this but we promised Rav Amar that we would upgrade our practice.
In truth, we had been looking to upgrade our Kiddusha Rabba practice as it had been a bit chaotic. The kehillah’s leadership raised the possibility of my reciting Kiddusha Rabba upstairs in the beit knesset after tefillah and eating downstairs in our social hall, as is done in quite a number of batei knesset. The question is raised as to whether this satisfied the requirement of Kiddush bimakom seudah, of reciting Kiddush in the place where one will eat.
Most Talmud students study the beginning of the 10th chapter of Masechet Pesachim (100b-101a), which presents the opinion of Shmuel that Kiddush must be recited at the place of eating. The Gemara challenges this, asking why then do we recite Kiddush in the beit knesset on Friday evening. The Gemara answers that it is recited for the guests who eat and sleep in the synagogue.
Parenthetically, Tosafot write that there is no need to recite Kiddush in the beit knesset on Friday evenings since people no longer use a beit knesset for lodging. The Ran, though, disagrees and argues that the takana (rabbinic enactment) remains in effect even if the reason for its enactment is no longer relevant. Sephardic communities follow the ruling of Tosafot whereas some Ashkenazic batei knesset follow the Ran (note the irony: Tosafot were Ashkenazic and the Ran was Sephardic).
Tosafot thought it unfathomable that the guests would actually eat in the beit knesset. Rather, they explain that the guests ate in a room inside the building of the beit knesset. Tosafot, in turn, ask how the guests satisfy the requirement of Kiddush bimakom seudah if they ate in a different room from where Kiddush was recited. Tosafot answer that if during Kiddush one intends to eat in the other room and the other room is within the same house, it is considered Kiddush bimakom seudah. The Rosh agrees with Tosafot, but the Ran cites an opinion that in order to eat in a different room, the place of Kiddush recital must be visible from the place of eating.
Whose opinion is followed? Rav Yosef Caro in the Shulchan Aruch cites both Tosafot/Rosh and the Ran, but the Rama rules explicitly in accordance with Tosafot and the Rosh. Ma’amar Mordechai rules that Maran/Rav Yosef Caro also follows Tosafot and the Rosh, since Tosafot presents this as the second of the two opinions that he presents in this context. Hacham Ovadia rules that the second of two opinions, presented as “yeish omerim” (“there are those who say”), is the one Maran considers to constitute the halacha.
Biur Halacha (authored by the Chafetz Chaim) cautions that absent a dochak (pressing need), one should not follow the more lenient approach of Tosafot and the Rosh, even though the essential halacha follows this view. Yalkut Yosef rules in accordance with the Biur Halacha. However, a number of batei knesset have decided to follow Tosafot and the Rosh and recite Kiddusha Rabba in the sanctuary and eat in the social hall. Kiddusha Rabba in social halls tends to be chaotic and many people cannot hear or altogether miss Kiddush. Moreover, in the confusion, some eat before the Kiddusha Rabba is recited.
Thus, since the Kiddush of Shabbat morning is of rabbinic origin, Congregation Shaarei Orah is following the example set by other congregations and striving to enhance the kavod of Kiddusha Rabba by reciting it in the beit knesset, while having in mind that we will eat downstairs. Although there is some delay between the Kiddush and eating, the requirement of Kiddush bimakom seudah is satisfied since the intention is to eat as soon as reasonably possible after the Kiddush is recited.
We tried this for the first time this Shabbat and many commented that they felt the dignity of Kiddusha Rabba was enhanced by performing it in this manner. Mission accomplished. Time will tell if this arrangement enhances our level of observance.
By Rabbi Haim Jachter
Rabbi Haim Jachter is the spiritual leader of Congregation Shaarei Orah, the Sephardic Congregation of Teaneck. He also serves as a rebbe at Torah Academy of Bergen County and a dayan on the Beth Din of Elizabeth.