Question: Should a person recite kiddush standing or sitting on Sukkot? If he stands, should he sit down after saying the berachah of leshev ba’sukkah or remain standing?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 643:2) cites the Rambam’s ruling that kiddush on Sukkot should be recited while standing so that one can sit down immediately after the leshev ba’sukkah berachah. The Rema, however, demurs. He notes that such is not the custom; rather, “we recite kiddush while seated.”
The Mishnah Berurah (Orach Chayim 643:sk4) explains that the Rambam maintains that a person has fulfilled the mitzvah of sukkah as soon as he sits in one. Since a general halachic principle dictates that a person should recite a berachah on a mitzvah right before performing it, it only makes sense that one should sit down after making the berachah of leshev ba’sukkah.
The Rema, however, maintains that sitting in a sukkah is not a fulfillment of the mitzvah of sukkah. That only starts when one eats in a sukkah. Accordingly, there is nothing wrong with sitting down and making kiddush before saying the berachah of leshev ba’sukkah.
What should a person do if his minhag is to stand for kiddush? If he sits after saying leshev ba’sukkah, he will convey the impression that he has fulfilled the mitzvah of sukkah by sitting down. But he has not. The mitzvah of yeshivat sukkah mean dwelling in a sukkah, not sitting in it. So as not to convey an incorrect impression, perhaps a person who stands for kiddush should remain standing after concluding kiddush.
Of interest is the position of the Shulchan Aruch Harav. He writes that a person should sit after saying leshev ba’sukkah, not because he has thereby fulfilled the mitzvah of sukkah, but so as to avoid giving the impression that he is immediately leaving the sukkah. It is merely a symbolic act to project the image that he is remaining in the sukkah and not standing, ready to leave.
A means of demonstrating loyalty to both the position of the Mishnah Berurah and the theory of the Shulchan Aruch Harav would be to recite kiddush while standing and then to manifest permanency by sitting down to drink the wine.
Rabbi Cohen, a Jerusalem Prize recipient, has authored eight books on Jewish law. His latest, “Jewish Prayer The Right Way” (Urim Publications), is available at Amazon.com and Judaica stores.