Kiddush (Hebrew:קִדּוּש) is the sanctification of the Sabbath. On Friday night, when the Sabbath begins, the Kiddush ceremony is carried out before sitting down for the Sabbath meal. A cup of wine is filled and held in the hand by the person presiding, usually but not necessarily the father of the house and the benediction over wine is recited.
The Torah refers to two requirements concerning Shabbat – to “keep it” and to “remember it”. The Jewish law requires that Shabbat be observed in two respects. One must “keep it” by refraining from thirty-nine forbidden activities, and one must “remember it” by making special arrangements for the day, and specifically through the Kiddush ceremony.
The principal Kiddush, recited in the evening at the beginning of the holy day, was instituted on the basis of Exodus 20:8, “Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy” (le-kaddesho). The sages of the Talmud interpreted this to mean “remember it, over wine” (Pes. 106a). The choice of wine as the object of this blessing was perhaps the normalization of an established custom. It was also determined that this blessing should be recited close to the beginning of the Sabbath or Jewish Holiday and that “there is no Kiddush except at the place of a meal” (Pes. 101a), i.e., the prayer was to be said at home rather than in the synagogue. If wine is not available, the benediction of the day may be made over two loaves of bread following the blessing over bread.
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