Kiddush - To Sit or to Stand?

In some families it is customary to stand when kiddush is recited Friday night, while in others the custom is to sit. The different customs are based on differing halachic considerations and priorities. Those authorities who recommend sitting for Kiddush are of the opinion that doing so is a fulfillment of the requirement of "kiddush b'makom seuda", that kiddush must be recited in the same place where the meal is to be eaten.[1] It is argued that sitting at the table when reciting kiddush better displays that the kiddush is a component of the upcoming meal.[2]

It is also reasoned that since one recently vayechulu in the synagogue while standing it can now be recited at home while sitting.[3] Sitting for kiddush also complies with the view which requires that everyone who is being included in the recitation of a blessing be seated together as it is being recited.[4] When people are seated together they appear more as a unified group than individuals who are standing around randomly do. For this reason some suggest sitting for havdalla, as well.[5]

On the other hand, those who stand for kiddush do so out of respect for Shabbat, which is compared to a bride. According to some authorities, it is specifically when we recite (or hear) kiddush that we formally receive the Shabbat bride.[6] It is argued that just as one stands for the blessings recited for the bride under the chuppa one should also stand for kiddush which is essentially a blessing for the Shabbat bride. This was the custom of the kabbalists.[7] According to this approach, standing around the table for kiddush demonstrates that the kiddush is a component of the meal just as much as sitting does.[8] This is the view of the Rambam who writes explicitly in the laws of Sukkot that when one recites kiddush on Sukkot one is to stand for the kiddush component and then sit for the "leishev basukka" blessing.[9] It was also the practice of the Arizal to stand for kiddush.[10]

Additionally, it is argued that the vayechulu paragraph which opens the kiddush is actually a type of testimony – testifying that God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh – and halacha requires that testimony always be given while standing.[11] Once one is already standing for vayechulu, the custom evolved to remain standing for the rest of kiddush, as well. Furthermore, the first letter of the first four words of the kiddush ("Yom Hashishi Vayechulu Hashamayim") spell out the name of God which is reason enough to stand for kiddush.[12] There is also a widespread custom to recite the vayechulu paragraph of kiddush while standing and then to sit for the remainder of kiddush.[13]

There are those who sit when reciting the daytime kiddush though most people stand when reciting it. All customs are halachically valid.[14]

[1] Pesachim 101.

[2] Kolbo 4; Mishna Berura 271:46.

[3] Shulchan Aruch Harav, OC 271:19.

[4] Berachot 43a; Tur, OC 274.

[5] Tosfot, Berachot 43a.

[6] Bava Kamma 32b; Igrot Moshe, OC 5:16.

[7] Aruch Hashulchan, OC 271:24.

[8] Beit Yosef, OC 271; Mishna Berura 271:46.

[9] Rambam, Hilchot Sukka 6:12; Mishna Berura 643:4.

[10] Kaf Hachaim, OC 271:64; Shulchan Aruch Ha'arizal 271:6; Rivevot Ephraim 4:97:18.

[11] Mishna Berura 271:45.

[12] Minhag Yisrael Torah, OC 271:12.

[13] OC 271:10; Mishna Berura 271:46. See Divrei Yatziv, OC 125 for further sources on the preference to stand for kiddush.

[14] Shemirat Shabbat K'hilchata 47:28; Rivevot Ephraim 4:97:31.