Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Kiddush Between 6 - 7 pm

By: Rabbi Ari Enkin

There's an intriguing custom found in some Chassidic communities of not reciting Kiddush between 6pm and 7pm Friday night.[1] This is based on considerations relating to the "mazalot", the various celestial forces and their influence on the world.[2] It is said that during the last hour of Erev Shabbat, the mazal of "Tzedek" and its corresponding angel Tzidkiyahu are dominant in the world.[3] Once Shabbat enters however, which is at the sixth hour past midday, the negative influences of "Madim", often associated with the planet Mars, and its accompanying angel Samael are dominant.[4] As such, in order to avoid adding positive spiritual forces at a time that would be beneficial to the power of Madim we are advised to either recite Kiddush while Tzedek dominates or otherwise wait until the influence of Madim has passed.

It is noted that among the advantages of accepting Shabbat early is the ability to recite Kiddush without concerns for Madim.[5] Madim is said to be the negative force which brings sickness and disease into the world[6] as well as destruction, war,[7] murder, robbery, and devastation.[8] It is also the mazal identified with the nation of Amalek.[9] We are told that those who are born during the cycle of Madim will tend towards those professions which involve blood, such as a Mohel or Shochet.[10]

Click here to read moreThere is an approach to this custom which tries to connect the word "Madim" with "Adom", red, as if to suggest that the custom only precludes making Kiddush on red wine, but using white wine would pose no concerns. However, this analysis of the custom has been soundly rejected.[11] It is interesting to note that among the reasons we daven a little later than usual on Shabbat morning is in order to avoid the bad mazalot that are dominant early in the day.[12] It may also be due to the influence of the negative celestial forces that domestic arguments break out among family members on Shabbat.[13]

There may be an allusion in the Talmud to the two angels mentioned above who change shifts as Shabbat enters.[14] We are taught that two angels, one good and one bad, accompany every person home Friday night. When one arrives home and finds the Shabbat candles lit, the table set, and the house prepared for Shabbat, the good angel exclaims, "May it be like this next Shabbat as well" and the evil angel unwillingly responds "amen". If however, the home was not properly readied for Shabbat the evil angel exclaims, ''May it be like this next Shabbat as well" and the good angel unwillingly responds: "amen".[15] Perhaps these are the two angels Tzidkiyahu and Samael.

Most authorities however completely dismiss the custom of not making Kiddush between 6pm and 7pm. We are taught that the Jewish people are not subject to "mazal" or astrological influences[16] and Friday nights should be no different. In fact, most halachic sources don’t even address the custom at all.[17] Furthermore, even if for whatever reason one is uneasy over the mazalot and their possible influences, the holiness of Shabbat cancels out any possible concerns.[18]

In keeping with the teaching that through the proper observance of Shabbat we will merit to see the extermination of Amalek, it may actually be especially appropriate to recite Kiddush specifically when the angel of Amalek is dominant. There may be no better way of humiliating Amalek than to have him watch helplessly as the Jewish people recite Kiddush and indulge in the pleasures of Shabbat during his period of celestial rule.[19]

Other authorities recommend complying with this custom when possible, however never at the expense of prolonging the hunger of one's guests or other family members. Feeding hungry guests is so great a mitzva that it's merit alone has the power to prevail over any possible harmful effects of mazalot. Those who do follow this custom are obligated to so notify their prospective guests in order for them to prepare accordingly.[20] Causing guests to remain in a state of hunger is considered a form of murder which is surely worse than any mystical considerations. One who must recite Kiddush between 6 and 7 pm is advised to recite the prayer "Av Harachamim", from the Shabbat Mussaf prayers, which mentions "saving us from the bad hours" before doing so.[21]

There is much confusion as to how the hour of "6 pm to 7 pm" is to be calculated. Some are of the opinion that each hour simply corresponds to our clock.[22] According to this view one would never make Kiddush between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m every Friday night of the year, regardless of when Shabbat had entered.[23] Another approach puts the no-Kiddush zone at 18:40 to 17:40 all year long.[24] Yet others suggest that 6 pm – 7 pm be reckoned according to sha'ot zemaniot – halachic hours. There are other methods of calculating this time as well.[25] Finally, some suggest that this custom is observed by simply not making Kiddush for one hour following nightfall.[26]

Some authorities rule that this custom only applies on those Shabbatot when there are the same number of daytime hours as nighttime ones.[27] Additionally, there are those authorities who say that one need not be concerned with this custom in Israel as mazalot have no influence there.[28] At then end of a fast such as when the 10th of Tevet falls out on a Friday even those who normally follow this custom should make Kiddush as soon as the fast is over in order not to remain fasting on Shabbat.[29] Similarly, one should not delay the Friday night Pesach Seder due to this custom.[30]

NEXT WEEK: "Tzitzit – Wool or Cotton?" Please send me your lesser-known and obscure sources as well as anecdotes for inclusion. I truly thank and appreciate all those who sent me tidbits in preparation for this article. rabbiari@hotmail.com


[1] Magen Avraham O.C. 271:1, Aruch Hashulchan 271:11
[2] For a thorough review of the various celestial forces in Hebrew see Taamei Haminhagim 284, in English see The Artscroll Talmud, Shabbat 129b1.
[3] Be'er Heetiv 271:1
[4] Shulchan Aruch Harav 271:3
[5] Maharsha Taanit 8b
[6] Derech Hatefila p.71
[7] Haseder Haaruch 49:8
[8] Zichron Meir p.336
[9] Pesikta, Zichron Yehuda p.150, Chomat Aish Ki Teitzei
[10] Taamei Haminhagim 284
[11] See "Hitkashrut" #379 (Chabad) by Rabbi Yosef-Simchah Ginsburg in Hebrew.
[12] Darkei Moshe 281
[13] Zichron Meir p.336
[14] Olat Shabbat, cited in "Hitkashrut" #379 (Chabad) by Rabbi Yosef-Simchah Ginsburg in Hebrew
[15] Shabbat 119b
[16] Shabbat 126a, Aruch Hashulchan 271:11, Mishmeret Shalom 27
[17] I.e. Eliya Rabba, Mishna Berura, Ben Ish Chai
[18] As recited in "Kagavna" at Maariv Friday night before Barchu. Based on Zohar 135:2
[19] Minhag Yisrael Torah 271:5
[20] Likutei Maharich
[21] Minhag Yisrael Torah 271:5, Taamei Haminhagim 284
[22] Shabbat 129b;Rashi, Magen Avraham 271:1, Machatzit Hashekel 271:1
[23] Shaarei Halacha Uminhag (Chabad) 141
[24] Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Harav 271 footnote 10. For calculating the time where you live, see: here
[25] See: "Hitkashrut" #379 (Chabad) by Rabbi Yosef-Simchah Ginsburg. Footnote 6-8 in Hebrew
[26] Haseder Haaruch 49:8
[27] Kaf Hachaim 271:2
[28] Igrot Kodesh (Chabad) 12:227, Shaarei Halacha Uminhag (Chabad) 141
[29] Nitei Gavriel – Asara B'tevet
[30] Haseder Haaruch 49:8

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