By: Rabbi Ari Enkin
The Vayechulu passage is recited three times on Friday night. It is recited twice within the course of the Maariv prayer and then again at home as part of the Kiddush. We are taught that one who says Vayechulu on Friday night is considered to be a partner with God in creation. So too, it is in merit of the recitation of Vayechulu that one is provided with the two escorting angels and additionally, all of one’s sins are forgiven.
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. Other authorities, however, do not consider Kiddush properly discharged until it is recited over a cup of wine. 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.
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. 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.
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. 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, while others call for it to be recited as part of a minyan. If need be, Vayechulu may be recited while sitting.
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.
It is recommended that one not overly prolong one’s Amida in order to be able to recite Vayechulu along with the congregation. 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. Some authorities rule, however, that those praying alone should never recite Vayechulu after the Amida.
It is noted that reciting Vayechulu three times on Friday night contains within it deep kabbalistic secrets. 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. Talking during the public recitation of Vayechulu is strictly forbidden.
 Kaf Hachaim 268:33
 Shabbat 119b, Rambam Shabbat 29:7
 Shabbat 119b, See Likutei Maharan II:8
 Shabbat 119b
 Shabbat 119b.
 Rambam Shabbat 29:6, Magen Avraham 271:1, but see Rabbi Akiva Eiger ad loc.
 Rashi;Berachot 25b, Rabbi Akiva Eiger, ad loc.
 Pesachim 117b
 O.C. 268:7, Tosfot;Pesachim 106a
 Ibid. Ta’amei Haminhagim 289
 O.C. 268:7
 Mishna Berura 268:19
 Kaf Hachaim 268:36
 Kaf Hachaim 268:34
 Biur Halacha
 Chazon Ish O.C. 39:10, Kaf Hachaim 268:36
 Taz 268:5
 Kaf Hachaim 268:33,35
 Halichot Shlomo I 14:5, Tzitz Eliezer 14:24
 O.C. 268:12, Mishna Berura 56:1
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