- Question: [Thursday, 4th Shevat 5783]
I am a Chabad Bochur, and the custom in my family has always been for my father to make Kiddush and have everyone else fulfill their obligation. I was recently told in my yeshiva that the Chabad custom is for everyone to make their own kiddush. I brought this up to my father who said he is not aware of any such Chabad custom, and that in his family the father of the home was always the one to say Kiddush and have everyone else fulfill their obligation. He said that he does not want this custom to be followed in his home as it is much more unifying for the family when everyone is Yotzei with the same kiddush, and also shows respect for the father of the home. What should I do? On the one hand I want to keep with the authentic Chabad custom, on the other hand, my father will feel slighted if I do? Most importantly, is this in truth the authentic Chabad custom and the preferred approach according to Halacha?
In your case, you should certainly fulfill your obligation with your father’s Kiddush. Although there is a halachic advantage for one to say kiddush on one’s own [i.e. Mitzvah Bo Yoser Mibishlucho], there is also a halachic advantage for one to fulfill his obligation with his father [i.e. Berov Am Hadras Melech], and the final ruling of the Alter Rebbe and other Poskim is that by a mitzvah such as kiddush, the aspect of Berov Am overrides, and therefore it is a preferable Mitzvah for everyone to fulfill their obligation with the father of the home and not to make their own separate kiddush. Nonetheless, this is not obligatory, and one may still choose to make kiddush on his own if he wants. This especially applies if one knows himself to have trouble focusing, and will not be able to properly focus on the kiddush of his father, in which case some Poskim of today even encourage him to make his own kiddush. This indeed is also the widespread Chabad custom which dates back generations, for one to say his own kiddush, even though it contradicts the initial ruling of the Alter Rebbe, and is likewise seemingly contradicted by the writings of the Rebbe and Rebbe Rayatz. Practically, while those who received this custom in Chabad may certainly continue to abide by it, in a case that this can cause one’s host, and certainly one’s parents, to get offended, then the correct Halachic and Chassidic approach, is to let go of his custom and fulfill his obligation with his host and father, as so great is peace that we push off personal stringencies on its behalf.
The answer to this question needs to be split to two separate parts, the first being the Halachic analysis as to whether or not it is better to be Yotzei Kiddush with the father of the home or to say it on one’s own, as well as to if there truly exists an authentic Chabad custom in the matter, and the second being a general question of how one is to act regarding a religious stringency if it may offend one’s host, and especially one’s parents:
Should one say his own Kiddush rather than be Yotzei with another: This question relates not only to kiddush, but to any mitzvah and blessing. Choosing to say a blessing to oneself when one can simply fulfill his obligation with the blessing of another person enters the question as to whether this is considered an unnecessary blessing [Bracha Sheiyno Tzericha]. Practically, regarding this matter we rule that it is not considered an unnecessary blessing as one is personally obligated in the Mitzvah and the blessing, and hence may choose to say it himself if he wishes, and we cannot force him to be Yotzei with a Shliach. Nonetheless, this does not mean to say that it is preferable for one to say the blessing and fulfill the mitzvah himself as in truth there is an advantage in either option. The advantage of fulfilling the blessing through one person and not doing it alone is “Berov Am Hadras Melech,” as it is more honorable to God for a mitzvah to be fulfilled collectively by the public than for each individual to do so by himself. On the other hand, there is also an advantage for a person to say his own individual blessing and fulfill the mitzvah personally rather than be Yotzei through a messenger as it is better to personally perform a mitzvah than to have a messenger do so on one’s behalf [i.e. Mitzvah Bo Yoser Mibishlucho]. Accordingly, we have a clash between the advantage of Mitzvah Bo Yoser Mibishlucho versus the advantage of Berov Am Hadras Melech, and the question is which one wins? Practically, Admur rules that by those Mitzvos that are performed individually, such as Tallis/Tefillin/Sefira, it is better to say the blessing on one’s own than to hear it from another, unless a Minyan is present in which case there is no preference whether one says the blessing individually or hears it from the Chazan. [However, today it is better in all cases to recite the blessing individually, and so is the custom.] However, those Mitzvos that can be performed collectively with the same object, such as a congregation hearing Shofar/Megillah/Kiddush/Havdala and sitting in the same Sukkah, then when the Mitzvah is performed collectively, which is preferable, it is a Mitzvah for the congregation to hear the blessing from one person. This applies even if a Minyan is not present. If, however, they decide to perform the Mitzvah individually, although this is not preferable, they may do so, and in such a case every person may say their own blessing. Hence, according to Admur, it is better for a son to be Yotzei Kiddush with his father than for him to make Kiddush on his own, and so rule many other Poskim.
The Chabad custom: Regarding the question as to the authentic Chabad custom, indeed, many and perhaps most Chabad families are accustomed for all the sons and even children to make their own kiddush, despite it contradicting the above ruling of the Alter Rebbe which prefers everyone to be Yotzei with the father. [To note, that I have not seen this custom followed by a communal Kiddush where everyone fulfills kiddush with one person, although perhaps they do so due to lack of wine and in order to not miss out on the first opportunity to take food.] The question is therefore raised as to whether this is a widespread mistake and therefore Chabad Chassidim should be instructed to be Yotzei with the father of the home as instructs the Alter Rebbe, or as to whether there is some source from the Chabad Rabbeim which promote it. So in my research, not only did I not find any sources that condone such behavior, but on the contrary, it is implied that the old Chabad custom was not to be particular for everyone to make their own kiddush, and rather to follow the ruling of the Alter Rebbe. So is implied from Sefer Hasichos of the Rebbe Rayatz in which he writes that on Simchas Torah everyone is to be particular to say their own kiddush being that someone else cannot fulfill your obligation of Shehechiyanu which covers your personal connection to the Torah. This directive for everyone to make their own Kiddush on Simchas Torah was later also given by the Rebbe on Simchas Torah 5725. This implies that regularly it was not accustomed for everyone to make their own kiddush, hence necessitating the Rebbe Rayatz’s directive. So is also implied from a letter of the Rebbe regarding why people are accustomed to say their own Hamotzi, in which the Rebbe contrasts this to the blessing of Kiddush in which he writes, and I quote, “by the blessing of kiddush the listeners are already accustomed to fulfill their obligation [with the person saying kiddush].” In fact, on Simchas Torah 5731 the Rebbe even instructed one individual to say kiddush on behalf of anyone else who wants to fulfill their obligation. Notwithstanding the above, we turned to Harav Eliyahu Landa Shlita for his opinion on the matter, and he replied to us that although he does not know why, practically the old custom that he witnessed and personally followed was to be particular for all the men above Bar Mitzvah to make their own kiddush both by night and by day, although by children this was done merely for Chinuch. Hence, this is certainly a Minhag Vasikin, and those who have received this custom in Chabad are to abide by it. However, it is difficult for me to conclude that everyone in Chabad should take upon themselves this custom even if they don’t have a family tradition to do so.
If it may offend one’s host or parents: There exists a possible misconception that all degrees of one’s personal standards of religious observance are to be observed even in the expense of causing hurt feelings in others. Ahavas Yisrael, and not offending another Jew, are biblically mandated mitzvah’s which certainly override personal stringencies. Halacha teaches us that there are cases in which one is actually obligated to give up personal stringencies in face of the possibility of causing Machlokes, or offending another. The Halachic rule is as follows: Whenever one is in a Shul or community that is lenient on a certain matter that is not required from the letter of the law neither biblically or rabbinically, and does not touch upon a worry of transgressing anything either biblical or rabbinical, and is simply a mere Hiddur and Chumra, then it is actually forbidden for him to be stringent in that Shul or community due to the possibility of it causing a dispute, unless he can be inconspicuous about it. Halacha extends the same standards to a guest eating in someone’s home, that he is not allowed to be stringent in avoiding eating a certain food that is served due to a personal Chumra, as doing so may be offensive to the host, unless one can do so inconspicuously without the host noticing. Accordingly, certainly in the above case in which we are dealing with the mitzvah of Kibud Av Vaeim, aside for the regular law relating to a host, the sun should not make an issue of this matter and should be Yotzei kiddush with his father.
Sources: See regarding Berov Am versus Mitzvah Bo, and that by Kiddush it is better to be Yotzei with father than to say on own: Admur 213:6 “Whenever a Mitzvah is being fulfilled together, collectively,…..it is a Mitzvah for one person to say the blessing on all their behalf…… Nonetheless, if every individual desires to fulfill the Mitzvah on their own and say the blessing on their own, they are permitted to do so…..Nonetheless, it is proper for one person to read for everyone else’s behalf in order to fulfill “Berov Am Hadras Melech” although this is not an obligation, as we ant force a person to fulfill his Mitzvos through a Shliach when he can perform it himself. The same applies for Kiddush or Havdala [that it is best for one person to say Kiddush and Havdala on everyone else’s behalf]”; Admur 8:11; 298:20; Michaber 8:5; 298:13; Orchos Chaim Tzitzis 25; Tosefta Brachos 6:20; Or Zarua R”H 262; Mahram Merothenberg 7; Abudarham Seder Tefilos Shel Chol 3; M”A 213:7; 298:18; Mabit 1:180 in interpretation of Tosefta ibid; Tosefes Shabbos 273:10; Shagas Aryeh 6; M”B 213:3 and 17, 296:27; 298:36; Aruch Hashulchan 273:6; Ashel Avraham butchach 271; Daas Torah 273:4; See M”A 213:7; Piskeiy Teshuvos 271:9; Piskeiy Teshuvos 213:2 footnote 9; Other opinions: See Olas Shabbos, brought in Elya Raba 273:10; P”M 207 M”Z; Daas Torah 273:4; Likkutei Maharich; See regarding Chabad custom: Sefer Hasichos 5704 p. 32; Sefer Hasichos 5696 p. 16; Letter in Shaareiy Halacha Uminhag Vol. 2:143; See regarding the obligation to let go of a Chumra and Minhag for the sake of peace: See Admur 468:14; Michaber 170:5; Rama Y.D. 112:15; 119:7; Shach Y.D. 112:26 and 119:20; Shaareiy Teshuvah 170:6; M”B 170:16; Piskeiy Teshuvos 170:8; See Igros Kodesh 14:391 regarding Nussach of Davening; 5:91; 16:12 and 99; 19:249 regarding wearing a Tallis as Chazan;