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Shabbat Parashat Vaeira| 5771

Ask the Rabbi: Drinking Water Before Kiddush

Question: I often lain, and sometimes my voice is scratchy in the morning, and I feel like I might need to drink water in between aliyot. Should I make Kiddush before drinking in those circumstances?

Answer: It is a common halacha that one may not eat too much before performing a mitzva that is incumbent upon him. However, usually one is allowed to eat fruit and certainly allowed to drink water before doing the mitzva (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 232:3 and Mishna Berura 431:6). An exception is that before Kiddush one may not even drink water (Shulchan Aruch, OC 271:4; ibid. 289:1). Thus, your question is a good one.

The Magen Avraham (271:5) and the Mishna Berura (271:13) say that one may rinse his mouth out with water before Kiddush because he does not do so for the enjoyment of the taste. The Machatzit Hashekel (ad loc.) and Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata (52:3) say that the same is true of water that one drinks in order to wash down medicine. The precedent, according to the two, is that one who drinks water for medicinal reasons does not make a beracha before or after drinking (Biur Halacha to 204:7). The mishna (Berachot 44a) says that one who drinks water out of thirst makes a beracha, and the gemara (ibid. 45a) says that this is in contrast to one who drinks because something is caught in his throat. The poskim assume that this exemption applies also to using water to wash down medicine. The same should be true if the water is itself the “medicine,” as in your case. One can actually claim that dealing with a scratchy voice and with the coughing it can bring on during laining is analogous to food caught in his throat. So, if no beracha is required in your case, then Kiddush is not needed either. If you would need hot tea, that would be a different issue because if one washes down medicine with something that is considered to have a taste, he does make a beracha even though his main intention is therapeutic (Shulchan Aruch, OC 204:8). However, regarding water to sooth your throat before or during laining, you should not need Kiddush.

A possible issue might arise sometimes. If one drinks water in a medicinal setting but also enjoys it due to thirst, he does require a beracha even though the main purpose is medicinal (Mishna Berura 204:42). If so, he presumably requires Kiddush before it also. One who has drunk nothing or little since waking up is likely to be in that position and would require Kiddush.

Is it permitted to make Kiddush before Kri’at Hatorah? Making Kiddush before Shacharit without a special reason would seem to be a problem because it is forbidden to eat or drink things other than water (more or less) before davening, including the wine or grape juice of Kiddush (see Shulchan Aruch, OC 89:3). It is true that the Biur Halacha (to 289:1) says that one who, for reasons of weakness, must eat before davening should make Kiddush beforehand (see Igrot Moshe, OC II 26, who questions this but does not argue in practice). However, that is not the case when drinking water which is permitted before Shacharit, when it is not time for Kiddush.  Before Mussaf, it is permitted to make Kiddush and eat a small amount of food (up to a k’beitza of any food and a larger amount of light foods (Shulchan Aruch, OC 286:3)). By having a k’zayit of cake or an additional cup of wine/ grape juice one can fulfill Kiddush and not eat too much (ibid. 273:5) and then he is able to drink water even when a beracha is required. Although few sources talk about making this Kiddush before Kri’at Hatorah, it is presumably permitted then too (see Beit Yisrael (Landau) 50). Of course, technically, there is not much time to do this.

Therefore, we suggest a technically easier solution for a case that you think you may be thirsty when you want to drink in between aliyot. Since it is permitted to drink water before davening (Shulchan Aruch, OC 89:3), drink enough water that you should not be thirsty during Kri’at Hatorah, and then Kiddush will not be an issue if you need to d

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