Shabbat is an oasis during the week. All week long we fulfill our tasks at work and at home. We are bound by time and responsibilities. On Shabbat, all of our creating stops. We rest. We stop our work and nourish our souls. Everything we do on Shabbat serves the spiritual aspect of our being.
Once we have ushered Shabbat in with the lighting of the candles, we refrain from eating until the rendering of Kiddush, the blessing over the wine. Kiddush is the bridge that takes us from the ordinary to the extraordinary, from the physical to the spiritual. Kiddush brings us a step closer to holy.
Literally, Kiddush means sanctification, and the act of making Kiddush separates the Shabbat meal from a typical weekday meal. It carries us from the external, physical world to an internal and contemplative space.
With a cup of red wine (or grape juice) in hand, we recite the bracha (blessing) over the wine. In traditional homes, the man recites Kiddush. From his cup, all other cups are filled. A Kiddush fountain is a delightful and easy way to distribute the wine into everyone’s cup.
The first half of the Kiddush text is a recounting of Creation (Va’yechulu). We acknowledge the work G-d performed during the first six days and the rest G-d took on the seventh day. The Talmud tells us “whoever sanctifies the Sabbat and recites the Kiddush blessing over the wine together with the verse of ‘Va’yechulu’ on Shabbat, is considered like the Holy One’s partner in the Creation of the world.”
The second paragraph of the Kiddush includes a blessing for the sanctification of Shabbat. We acknowledge G-d and express our gratitude for the gift of Shabbat as a reminder of Creation.
Traditions vary and some stand for the entire Kiddush. Others sit for the entire blessing, and some people stand for the beginning and then sit down. Following the blessing, the person who is reciting Kiddush drinks at least half of the wine and then fills the other cups.
In our home, as we approach Kiddush we are beginning to feel the serenity of Shabbat. We have released our weekday worries and are filled with gratitude and appreciation for being together. Amid the awe we find ourselves lighter, but we also add some fun and humor to our prayers. In his best announcer voice, my husband declares, “Kiddush is proudly sponsored by Manischewitz or Kedem grape juice”. This lets our guests know if we are serving wine or grape juice, always brings a chuckle, and helps our children settle down for the upcoming blessing.
Kiddush is the entryway to Shabbat’s physical rest and spiritual endeavors. It is a physical act that carries our activities and intentions to a higher and more meaningful place.
If you have never seen a Kiddush fountain, here is one I found on Amazon. I am connected with the affiliate program of Amazon, but I merely wanted to show you what a Kiddush fountain looks like. I, personally, do not like cleaning the silver or silver plated fountains and would recommend finding a unique one made from wood or ceramic materials.