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By: Rabbi Ari Enkin

The Vayechulu passage is recited three times[1] on Friday night. It is recited twice within the course of the Maariv prayer and then again at home as part of the Kiddush.[2] We are taught that one who says Vayechulu on Friday night is considered to be a partner with God in creation.[3] So too, it is in merit of the recitation of Vayechulu that one is provided with the two escorting angels[4] and additionally, all of one’s sins are forgiven.[5]

According to many authorities, once one has recited Vayechulu in Ma’ariv one has discharged one’s true obligation of reciting Kiddush. As such, reciting Kiddush at home over a cup of wine is essentially a rabbinical enactment and not necessarily a pre-requisite for fulfilling the Torah’s mitzva of Kiddush.[6] Other authorities, however, do not consider Kiddush properly discharged until it is recited over a cup of wine.[7] Furthermore, there are a number of authorities who argue that one has not truly fulfilled the mitzva of Kiddush unless one makes reference to the Exodus, as the “at-home” Kiddush does.[8] 

It is interesting to note that the only reason Vayechulu is repeated after Maariv -all year long- is simply to ensure that it be recited on a Yom Tov which coincides with Shabbat, in which case the Vayechulu would not have been recited as part of the Maariv Amida.[9] Similarly, the recitation of Vayechulu at Kiddush “at-home” is actually not truly required. Rather, it is recited for the benefit of those present who may not yet have heard or recited Vayechulu, as is often the case by women and children who don’t normally recite the Maariv prayer.[10] 

The Vayechulu that is recited following the Maariv Amida is to be recited standing, out loud, and in unison with the rest of the congregation.[11] The purpose of this recitation of Vayechulu is to serve as a form of testimony, proclaiming our belief that God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. As such, some authorities require it to be recited with at least another person,[12] while others call for it to be recited as part of a minyan.[13] If need be, Vayechulu may be recited while sitting.[14] 

Another reason that Vayechulu is recited three times on Friday night is because the word “asher” appears three times. The word “asher” also appears 3 times in reference to the Para Aduma, red heifer. The rabbis derive from here that just as the Para Aduma brings forgiveness and purity, so too does the thrice recitation of Vayechulu.[15] 

It is recommended that one not overly prolong one’s Amida in order to be able to recite Vayechulu along with the congregation.[16] Other authorities are not too particular about reciting it along with someone else. According to this approach, if one missed the opportunity of saying Vayechulu along with the congregation then it is best recited alone afterwards.[17] Some authorities rule, however, that those praying alone should never recite Vayechulu after the Amida.[18] 

It is noted that reciting Vayechulu three times on Friday night contains within it deep kabbalistic secrets.[19]  If one is in the midst of reciting the silent Amida when the congregation is about to recite Vayechulu together, one should aim to recite the Vayechulu of one’s Amida along with the congregation, if possible.[20] Talking during the public recitation of Vayechulu is strictly forbidden.[21] 

[1] Kaf Hachaim 268:33

[2] Shabbat 119b, Rambam Shabbat 29:7

[3] Shabbat 119b, See Likutei Maharan II:8

[4] Shabbat 119b

[5] Shabbat 119b.

[6] Rambam Shabbat 29:6, Magen Avraham 271:1, but see Rabbi Akiva Eiger ad loc.

[7] Rashi;Berachot 25b, Rabbi Akiva Eiger, ad loc.

[8] Pesachim 117b

[9] O.C. 268:7, Tosfot;Pesachim 106a

[10] Ibid. Ta’amei Haminhagim 289

[11] O.C. 268:7

[12] Mishna Berura 268:19

[13] Taz;O.C.268:5

[14] Kaf Hachaim 268:36

[15] Kaf Hachaim 268:34

[16] Biur Halacha

[17] Chazon Ish O.C. 39:10, Kaf Hachaim 268:36

[18] Taz 268:5

[19] Kaf Hachaim 268:33,35

[20] Halichot Shlomo I 14:5, Tzitz Eliezer 14:24

[21] O.C. 268:12, Mishna Berura 56:1

The opinions and facts here are presented solely by the author. Torah Musings assumes no responsibility for them. Please address religious questions to your rabbi.

12 Responses

  1. Ip says:

    Great article. though I have always found it very dangerous to say without qualification that because of observing some mitzvah “all your sins are forgiven.” I’ve actually met people who took this statement literally.

  2. JS says:

    “Similarly, the recitation of Vayechulu at Kiddush “at-home” is actually not truly required. Rather, it is recited for the benefit of those present who may not yet have heard or recited Vayechulu.”

    I’ve assumed that that’s the reason it’s not necessary to say Vayechulu when they say kiddush in shul, but I haven’t seen that discussed explicitly anywhere.

  3. aenkin says:


    That is an amazing chiddush! And probably accurate too!

    Ari Enkin

  4. mb says:

    On Yom Kippur that falls on Friday night, it’s only said once, to comply with Shabbat 119b, that’s why it’s said after Maariv, otherwise not at all, and proof it’s only required once.

  5. Steve Brizel says:

    R Ari-re the sources cited in Footnote 6, IIRC, I would have added the view of the Chasam Sofer to the same. RHS once commented that there is a huge literature and discussion among the Acharonim as to whether the recitation of Vayechulu must be accompanied by a negative kavanah so that one can still recite Kiddush on a Torah level at the Shabbos Seudah, and that there is a very related discussion as to the relevance of having a tanai to not fulfil one’s obligation on a Torah level during the Amidah.

    Is it not correct that according to some Rishonim and Acharonim, other than the Taamei HaMinhagim, the recitation of Vayechulu is viewed as a form of Edus that HaShem is the Bore HaOlam?

  6. Joel Sklar says:

    Curious though that only a portion of it is said in nosah Teman amida for Lel Shabbat, which was that of the Rambam and presumably parts of Sepharad and North Africa at some point. Also some versions of the Italian nusah omitted the amida recitation it as well, although the modern form includes it. I am sure there are others, but it is difficult to reconcile with a thrice repetition, but does explain the congregational one.

  7. Ari Enkin says:

    Indeed, most if not all, hold that it is Edus.

    Ari Enkin

  8. Moshe Shoshan says:

    what about the problem of a man being motzei a woman in kiddush after he has said vayechulu in shul and her not?

  9. Ari Enkin says:

    Moshe -

    There are a number of answers to that kashe. The best one is that you are indeed not fully yotzai m’doraisa until a) kiddush is made over a cup of wine and b) you must mention yetziat mitzrayim to be yotzai.

    Ari Enkin

  10. Moshe Shoshan says:

    these are not answers. we should be machmir and be choshesh for the majority opinion that vayechulu is sufficient and have the woman either say maariv or make kiddush for herself.

    three possible answers
    1) as is clear from numerous contemporary psaks, where there slightest chashash of feminism is concern, we will make use of any possible argument.
    2) less cynically and more halakhically, I heard from R. Amital z”l that the chiyuv deorayta of kiddush is fullfilled with any verbal recognition of shabbos and hence is fullfilled with the bracha on the candles or even the woman saying gut shabbos.
    3) least lomdish, most likely hisorically. “ein hacha nami, but thats not the practice.”

  11. Steve Brizel says:

    Moshe Shoshan-look at the discussion among the Acharonim who discuss and debate the issue of having negative Kavana during the Amidah. R Amital ZL’s comment is based on the comment of R Akiva Eiger ZL.

  12. Stan says:

    Isn’t the correct pronunciation Vay’chulu?


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