Pesachim 105

Shabbat waits for no one.

If one of the great mysteries (and jokes!) of human curiosity is the question of which came first, the chicken or the egg? One of the great mysteries of Pesachim 105 is whether Shabbat or Kiddush comes first. Is it Shabbat because we make Kiddush, or do we make Kiddush because it is Shabbat? And, on the other side of those 25 hours, does Shabbat end because we make Havdalah, or do we make Havdalah because Shabbat is over? And what happens if we forget, or miss our opportunity, to make either Kiddush or Havdalah?

Unlike the chicken and egg riddle, today we are going to get an answer. It comes in the form of a story:

Rav Hananya bar Shelemya and other students of Rav were sitting at a meal (on Shabbat eve shortly before nightfall) and Rav Hamnuna the Elder was standing over them to serve them. They said to him: Go see if the day has become sanctified (i.e. if the sun has set and it has become Shabbat). If so, we will interrupt our meal by removing the tables and establish its continuation as the meal for Shabbat. Rav Hamnuna the Elder said to them: You do not need to do this, as Shabbat establishes itself.

In other words, Rav Hamnuna the Elder teaches that Shabbat happens — blessings or no blessings. We are bound to the rules — and gifts — of Shabbat whether we invoke them or not. 

Even though Shabbat comes regardless of the actions we take beforehand, we are still obligated, Rav Hamnuna continues, to recite Kiddush, to sanctify the moment. Kiddush doesn’t make it Shabbat begin, we make Kiddush because Shabbat has begun.

Likewise, Havdalah. Shabbat departs whether we make it or not; we cannot make Shabbat last longer by waiting to recite Havdalah. But we might want to delay Havdalah in any case:

They understood from it that just as the start of Shabbat automatically establishes the requirement to recite Kiddush, so its conclusion establishes the requirement to recite Havdalah. Rav Amram said to them: This is what Rav said: Shabbat establishes an obligation to recite Kiddush, but it does not establish an obligation to recite Havdalah.

In other words, it seems that while the entrance of Shabbat brings with it an expectation that we honor it immediately, by stopping whatever it is that we are currently doing and marking the moment, the end of Shabbat does not have the same urgency. But why?

He said to him: I am neither a scholar, nor a speculator, nor an important individual; rather, I teach and systematically arrange halakhic rulings, and the scholars instruct the students in the study hall in accordance with my opinion. I maintain that there is a difference for us between the arrival of the day of Shabbat and the departure of the day. With regard to the arrival of the day, the sooner we welcome the day by reciting Kiddush the better, and we thereby express how beloved it is to us. With regard to the conclusion of the day, we delay it so that Shabbat will not appear to be like a burden to us.

In the answer that Rava gives, we return to some of the beauty of yesterday’s daf, some of the yearning and the longing to remain in holy time as long as we possibly can, to hold it close to us, and not let go until the last possible moment. 

Read all of Pesachim 105 on Sefaria.

This piece originally appeared in a My Jewish Learning Daf Yomi email newsletter sent on March 6th 2021. If you are interested in receiving the newsletter, sign up here.

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