It is customary in some circles to recite Kiddush Shabbos morning [at a shul
kiddush or simchah) over a one-ounce cup of schnapps [or liqueur. 1
] Although most poskim object to this custom, as Kiddush must be
recited over a cup which holds at least a revi’is and at least a “cheek
full” must be drunk, 2 still there are some poskim3
who defend this minhag for those who are accustomed to do so. 4
They reason that schnapps is different from wine since it is normally
consumed in much smaller quantities and is therefore subject to a different
set of measurements. 5
It follows, therefore, that those who rely on this leniency and recite
Kiddush over schnapps should also recite borei nefashos over the schnapps,
even though only a small amount was drunk. Although one does not recite a
borei nefashos unless he drinks at least 3 fl. oz. of a beverage,
6 schnapps—according to this view—is an exception and requires a
borei nefashos even on a much smaller amount. 7 Still one should
avoid this situation and not recite a borei nefashos unless he drinks a
revi’is of some other beverage or a k’zayis of another food.
When no wine or grape juice is available, there is a way of reciting Kiddush
over schnapps which will satisfy the opinions of many poskim: Recite Kiddush
on a revi’is of schnapps and drink at least a “cheek full”, but instead of
swallowing it in one shot, sip it slowly, for a period of up to three or
four minutes. 8 When even this is not possible, the next best
option is to share the “cheek full” amount with others who are listening to
the Kiddush. 9
Kiddush must always be immediately followed by a seudah (meal). Most poskim
maintain that baked mezonos items [including all types of Yerushalmi and
noodle-kugels10 ] eaten after Kiddush are considered a seudah for
this purpose. 11 After making Kiddush, at least a k’zayis
(approx. 1 oz.) of a baked mezonos item should be eaten within three to four
minutes. 12 One who heard Kiddush but did not follow it with a
seudah, must repeat Kiddush at home before eating his meal.
On Pesach or other times when mezonos items are not available, the preferred
method is to eat the seudah immediately after reciting Kiddush. If that is
not practical, one should drink an additional revi’is (3 fl. oz.) of wine or
grape juice. If one has no other wine or grape juice, he can rely on the
revi’is of wine he consumed for Kiddush. 13
Although some poskim maintain that one may fulfill his seudah obligation by
eating fruit14 or shehakol items15 after Kiddush is
recited [if there are no mezonos items available], 16 the basic
halachah follows the poskim that permit this only under special
circumstances, such as the case of a person who is weak and needs to eat and
has no baked or cooked mezonos items available. 17 One who
relied on this opinion, must repeat Kiddush at home before the meal.
While there is no obligation to repeat Kiddush at home if mezonos items
were eaten after Kiddush [unless there are other people at home who did not
yet hear Kiddush], it is praiseworthy to do so, 18 all the more
so for one who made Kiddush on less than a reviis of schnapps. 19
Question: Is it permitted to recite Kiddush over wine that was left
Discussion: In ancient times, poisonous snakes and reptiles were
commonly found even in populated areas. In keeping with the Torah’s strict
exhortation to safeguard one’s life, 20 the Rabbis issued an
edict forbidding drinking from any uncovered vessel which had been left
unsupervised, for fear that a poisonous snake might have ejected venom into
its contents while drinking from it. 21
This prohibition, known as mashkim megulim, “uncovered beverages,” is
recorded in the Talmud22 and codified by the Rambam as practical
halachah. But the Shulchan Aruch, who starts by quoting the Rambam,
concludes by ruling that this edict no longer applies. 23 Since
poisonous snakes and reptiles are rarely found in populated areas nowadays,
there is no longer any reason to forbid drinking an uncovered, unsupervised
beverage. The basic halachah follows this opinion, and one is no longer
required to concern himself with this prohibition. 24
[Note that some poskim maintain that mashkim megulim apply even in
contemporary times. They argue that poisonous snakes and reptiles do still
exist in some remote areas. 25 Others argue that a rabbinic
prohibition cannot be repealed even when the stated rationale no longer
applies. 26 While the basic halachah does not follow this
opinion and uncovered drinks may be consumed, there are many people who
choose to observe these halachos strictly, based on several sources who
recommend avoiding mashkim megulim, 27 especially in Eretz
Yisrael. 28 ]
But even those who are generally lenient with mashkim megulim are careful
not to use such wine for Kiddush29 or for other ritual purposes
which require wine, such as Havdalah and Birkas ha-mazon, 30
since it is considered “demeaning” to use mashkim megulim for mitzvos.
31 L’chatchilah, therefore, several poskim recommend that wine
which was left uncovered and unsupervised for even a brief period—even as
little as a few minutes—should not be used for mitzvos. 32 If,
however, no other wine is available, one may use such wine as long as its
taste and smell were not compromised in any way. 33 If the wine
was left uncovered for five or six hours, 34 and surely if it
was left uncovered over night, we are concerned that its taste or smell was
affected and it may not be used for Kiddush etc., even b’diavad. 35
1.Minchas Yitzchak 10:22.
2.Mishnah Berurah 272:30; Aruch ha-Shulchan 272:13; Minchas Shabbos
79:29; Ketzos ha-Shulchan 89:5.
3.Ketzei ha-Mateh (Mateh Efrayim 625:99); Eishel Avraham 272:6;
Maharsham 1:175; Chelkas Yaakov 1:94.
4.Because the practice was defended (in part) due to the scarcity and
expense of wine, some poskim suggest that nowadays, Kiddush should be made
over wine or grape juice only, see Nimukei Orchos Chayim 273. See also
Piskei Teshuvos 289:11.
5.This explanation is based on the view of the Taz, O.C. 210:1, which
is rejected by the later poskim; see Mishnah Berurah 190:14.
7.Har Tzvi, O.C. 159. It follows, therefore, that those who follow the
majority view and do not recite Kiddush on schnapps, do not recite a borei
nefashos when drinking an amount of schnapps less than a revi’is.
8.Mishnah Berurah 271:68. Talking is not permitted until the minimum
amount is drunk.
9.Mishnah Berurah 272:30. See Eishel Avraham 272:6.
10.Shemiras Shabbos K’hilchasah 54:22; Az Nidberu 8:31. See Meor
ha-Shabbos, vol. 2, pgs. 576-577.
11.Mishnah Berurah 273:25. [A notable exception is the view of the
Gaon of Vilna, who maintains that Kiddush can be made only when a seudah of
bread follows. His view is quoted by the Beiur Halachah 273:5, s.v. kasvu,
without comment. Aruch ha-Shulchan 273:8 considers this to be the preferred
method. See also Rav Akiva Eiger 273:5 quoting Rabbeinu Yonah and Peri
Megadim 271:3. The widespread custom, however, follows the view of most
poskim; see Beiur Halachah 249:2, s.v. mutar.]
12.Some poskim permit eating cooked mezonos items, such as a barley
cholent, as well; Magen Avraham, as explained by Igros Moshe, O.C. 2:26.
13.Mishnah Berurah 273:25, 27 and Sha’ar ha-Tziyun 29; Aruch
14.Especially dates; Peri Megadim 273:11. See, however, Kaf ha-Chayim
15.Preferably cooked; see Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 77:16.
16.Igros Moshe, O.C. 4:63. See also Ein Yitzchak, O.C. 12 and B’tzeil
ha-Chochmah 4:2; 5:115.
17.Mishnah Berurah 273:26.
18.Shalmas Chayim 1:59; B’tzeil ha-Chachmah 4:147. See also Igros
Moshe, O.C. 4:63 (anaf 8).
19.To satisfy the view of the majority of the poskim mentioned earlier.
20.Devarim 4:9, 4:15, as explained in Berachos 32b. See Beiur ha-Gra,
21.Although this is a Rabbinic prohibition (Levush, C.M. 427:1), some
poskim maintain that once the Rabbis pointed out that mashkim megulim may be
dangerous, drinking from them becomes forbidden min ha-Torah; see Levush,
C.M. 427:11, Tevuos Shor 13:2, Chasam Sofer, Avodah Zarah 30a and Aruch
ha-Shulchan, C.M. 427:8.
22.Avodah Zarah 30a and Chullin 9b. The original source is the Mishnah
23.Y.D. 116:1, based on the view of Tosafos, Rashba and Tur.
24.Mishnah Berurah 160:23.
25.Pri Chadash and Pri To’ar, quoted by Birkei Yosef and Aruch
ha-Shulchan, Y.D. 116:1.
26.The Vilna Gaon (quoted in Ma’asei Rav 95 and in Pe’as ha-Shulchan
27.See Pischei Teshuvah, Y.D. 116:1; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 33:5;
Orchos Rabbeinu, vol. 1, pgs. 206-209.
28.Birkei Yosef, Y.D. 116:3 and Pe’as ha-Shulchan 2:32. See Minchas
30..Birkei Yosef, O.C. 272:1; Beiur Halachah 272:1 (s.v. al); Aruch
31.There are several explanations as to why, exactly, it is
considered demeaning; see Magen Avraham 272:2; Toras Chayim, Bava Basra 97a;
Divrei Malkiel 4:1; Sfas Emes, Succah 50a.
32.Bigdei Yesha 272:1, quoting Tosafos Shabbos. See Koveitz Teshuvos
3:45. According to this view, wine and grape juice bottles should not be
left uncovered for even a short amount of time.
33.Mishnah Berurah 272:3; Kaf ha-Chayim 272:7. See Az Nidberu 1:7.
34.Divrei Malkiel 4:1.
35.Aruch ha-Shulchan 272:5. See Az Nidberu 1:7.