Reciting Vayechulu two people together versus saying it alone

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Should Vayechulu which is recited after Shemoneh Esrei of Friday night, be recited by two people together, when Davening without a Minyan, or when saying it after the Minyan?


The start of the custom and its purpose and reason:[2] The saying of Vayechulu after Shemoneh Esrei of Friday night was accustomed due to the Yom Tov Friday night Davening in which Vayechulu is omitted from the Yom Tov Shemoneh Esrei, and is hence required to be said afterwards. It then became accustomed to be recited every Friday night in order not to differentiate between one Shabbos and the other. Likewise, it was instituted to be said in order to be Motzi one who does not know how to say it [and thus did not say it in Shemoneh Esrei].[3]

Saying it standing and in unison: It is customary to recite Vayechulu in unison, the entire congregation together[4], in a loud voice and in a standing position.[5] The reason for this is because through its recital we testify to G-d regarding the creation, and witnesses need to stand during their testimony.[6]

If one is saying it alone, should one stand?[7] Some Poskim[8] rule that when one recites Vayechulu alone, he is not required[9] to stand, as he may not intend to say it as testimony, being that he is a lone witness. Other Poskim[10], however, rule that he is to stand even when saying it alone [and may even intend to testify when doing so[11]].[12] Practically, the custom of the world is to stand even when saying it alone.[13]

Must testimony be recited together by the witnesses: Some Talmudic Sages hold that testimony needs to be said in unison by the witnesses.[14] Others however hold that it is not required to be said together.[15] Practically, we rule that the order of accepting testimony of two witnesses is to first hear the testimony of the greatest of the two witnesses, while everyone else is told to exit the room, and then to hear the testimony of the second witness.[16] It is for this reason that the custom is for everyone to recite Vayechulu in unison after Shemoneh Esrei, as regarding such a holy matter of testifying to the creation, we desire to fulfill our obligation according to all opinions, and hence testify together.[17]

The question in our case: The question in our case is as follows: On the one hand the saying of Vayechulu is treated as testimony, and hence perhaps should require, or at least be initially encouraged, to be said by two people together, as the testimony of a single person is not acceptable in a Jewish court of law. On the other hand, perhaps the idea of testimony is only an added factor to the initial custom of its recitation, and hence once it is not being said together with the Minyan as was the initial custom, there is no reason to say it together with another person, and he may rather say it alone.     


The law:[18]

From the letter of the law, Vayechulu may be said alone.[19] Nonetheless, some Poskim[20] [i.e. Mishneh Berurah] conclude that when a Minyan is not available, it is proper for Vayechulu to be said together with at least one other person in order to have valid testimony, and hence if one is saying Vayechulu without a Minyan, or after the Minyan has already finished saying it, then he should request from another person to say it together with him. However, from the earlier Poskim[21] it is implied that the entire idea is to say it together with a Minyan of ten, and if there is no Minyan, then there is no longer any advantage of saying it together with another person versus saying it alone.[22] Accordingly, some Poskim[23] conclude that it is specifically not to be done, and one who missed the saying of the Minyan should specifically say it by himself.[24] Furthermore, it also potentially contradicts the Kabbalistic[25] instruction for a person to say Vayechulu only three times, and not more.[26] Practically, the widespread custom today [even amongst many Sephardim[27]] is for one who missed saying it with the Minyan to try to say it together with another person, as rules the Mishneh Berurah.[28]

The Chabad custom: Some suggest that according to the ruling of Admur[29] there is no need for two people to say Vayechulu together, and the reason written by the Posek who required it, is negated by him. Practically, while many Chabad Chassidim are not accustomed to be particular to say Vayechulu with another person together, nonetheless, some of the Alterer Chassidim were accustomed to do so.[30] Thus, whatever one chooses to do has upon whom to rely. However, Rav Eliyahu Landa Shlita related to us that indeed the Chabad custom is not to say it together with a second person and so is the more widespread custom in Chabad.



Vayechulu may be recited alone, and so is the custom of some to be particular to say it alone if they could not say it with the Minyan. However, others are accustomed to try to say it together with one other person. Each should follow his custom. The widespread Chabad custom of today and previous times is to say it alone.


If someone asks you to say Vayechulu with them, and you are accustomed to say it alone, should you oblige?

According to some Poskim, saying Vayechulu together as a pair, or more than three times total, is negated, as stated above in the article. Thus, if you follow the approach to say it alone and not ask for another person to say it with you, you should likewise try to avoid saying it with another person. In such a case explain to the individual the issue, and ask him if he can find someone else to say it with who is not particular in this matter. Certainly, however, one may break from his custom and do so for the sake of peace, especially if that is the custom in that Shul.  



[1] Admur 268:12; See Kaf Hachaim 268:33-36

[2] Admur ibid; Michaber 268:7; Tur 268:7; Rosh Brachos 10:15; Tosafus Pesachim 106a

[3] Admur ibid; Michaber ibid; Tur ibid; Levush 268:7; Hamanhig Shabbos 5

[4] Admur ibid; M”A 268:10; Taz 268:5; Tur ibid; M”B 268:19; Biur Halacha 268:7 “Umeumad”

The reason it is said together in unison: As some Talmudic Sages hold that testimony needs to be said in unison by the witnesses. [See Tana Kama Sanhedrin 30]. Now, although we do not rule like this opinion [see Michaber C.M. 28:9], nonetheless regarding the testimony of Maaseh Bereishis, we do like the Tana Kama and testify all together. [See M”A ibid and Machatzis Hashekel ibid and Levushei Serud]

[5] Admur ibid; Michaber ibid; Tur ibid

[6] Admur ibid; Taz ibid; Tur ibid; M”B 268:19; See Michaber C.M. 28:5

[7] See Admur 268 Kuntrus Achron 2

[8] Implication of Taz 268:5, as brought in Admur ibid that according to him he is not required to stand; Elya Raba 268:14, brought in P”M 268 M”Z 5 and M”B 268:19, that he should not stand

[9] So writes Admur ibid, Elya Raba ibid, M”B ibid and, Kaf Hachaim 268:36, in this opinion, however see P”M ibid who writes in name of Elya Raba that he is not to stand

[10] Admur 268:12 and Kuntrus Achron ibid; 271:19; Michaber 271:10 “And he says Vayechulu standing” and 271:19; M”A 268:10; Mateh Moshe 429; Tosefes Shabbos 271:25; Pesach Hadevir 268:7; Kaf Hachaim 268:36

[11] Admur ibid

[12] The reason: It is customary to recite Vayechulu standing as through the statement of Vayechulu we are testifying that to Hashem regarding Maaseh Bereishis, and witnesses need to testify in a standing position. [Admur 268:12; Tur 268; Taz 268:5; Tosefes Shabbos 271:25; Kaf Hachaim 271:61] Now, although there is no testimony with a lone witness, nonetheless, in truth he joins all the other many witnesses of Kelal Yisrael as there is no requirement for the witnesses to say it together and in unison. [See M”A ibid; Michaber C.M. 28:8-9]

[13] Admur ibid; Piskeiy Teshuvos 268:10

[14] Tana Kama in Braisa Sanhedrin 30a

[15] Mishneh Sanhedrin 29a; Rebbe Nasan 30a

[16] Michaber C.M. 28:9; See Smeh C.M. 28:37 who initially suggests that the order is that both witnesses testify together and afterwards they go in one at a time for the interrogation. However, he later negates this. See Machtzis Hashekel on M”A 268:10

[17] See M”A 268:10; Machatzis Hashekel ibid; Levushei Serud ibid

[18] See Piskeiy Teshuvos 268:10; Lev Hashabbos [Nachmanson] p. 95; Koveitz Harbaim 2 p. 496

[19] Admur 268 Kuntrus Achron 2; 271:19; Michaber 271:10; 271:19; M”A 268:10; Mateh Moshe 429; Elya Raba 268:14; Tosefes Shabbos 268:10; Kaf Hachaim 268:35 based on Arizal; Prior to 100 years ago, there is no record in any of the Poskim of there being a need or encouragement to saying it together with another

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that Vayechulu may not be said alone without a Minyan, as it is testimony, and hence if one desires to say it alone he is to say it without intent of testimony and simply like reading in the Torah. [Taz 268:5; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid; Yalkut Yosef Shabbos 1 p. 212 and later on in Miluim 1 on page 492 in name of Rav Ovadia Yosef]

[20] M”B 268:19, brought in Ketzos Hashulchan 77 footnote 24, in implication of M”A ibid who says that initially we follow the Tana Kama in Sanhedrin 30 that it be said in unison; See Tur ibid “It is testimony and by testimony the verse states and two men stood”; See also Sefer Hapardes of Rashi p. 310; See Lev Hashabbos ibid that so is a possible understanding of the M”A according to the Machatzis Hashekel and Levushei Serud

[21] See Taz 268:5 and P”M 268 M”Z 5, brought in Admur Kuntrus Achron ibid, M”B ibid and Biur Halacha ibid, that it is to be said specifically with the Tzibur, with a full Minyan of ten, in order to testify, hence implying that when a Minyan is not present, it no longer makes a difference if it is said alone versus together with another. See also M”A 268:10 who proves from Michaber C.M. 28:8 that there is never a need for the witnesses to testify together, and it is only customary by Vayechulu to say it together to be Yotzei also according to the Tana Kama in Sanhedrin 30, and hence perhaps the custom of saying it together was only accepted when it said after Shemoneh Esrei, however not to require one to search for another person when saying it alone [See Lev Hashabbos ibid that so is his understanding of the M”A according to Admur, in contrast to that of the Machatzis Hashekel and Levushei Serud and in his conclusion that seemingly even the M”A as explains the Machatzis Hashekel and Levushei Serud do not argue with the Taz on the factor of saying it together with ten, and therefore everyone would agree that there is no Inyan to say it together without a Minyan]; See Ketzos Hashulchan 77 footnote 24 who after quoting the M”B he references to the M”A ibid, seemingly intending to say as above;

[22] Chazon Ish 38:10

[23] See Kaf Hachaim 268:3; Chazon Ish 38:10; Halichos Chaim in name of Divrei Yatziv, brought in Piskeiy Teshuvos 268 footnote 67

[24] The reason: As it seems like arrogance to search for two and make it as if his testimony is needed. [See Chazon Ish ibid] Furthermore, since there are no Poskim prior to this opinion who make such a statement, and the custom of Jewry was not to be particular in this prior to the statement of the M”B ibid, therefore one should not be stringent against the old custom. [See Divrei Yatziv ibid; Lev Hashabbos ibid in opinion of Admur, and in conclusion likewise in opinion of Taz and M”A] Furthermore, it is not to be done due to reasons of Kabbalah, as explained next. Furthermore, it is not to be done as it emphasizes that one is intending to say it for the sake of testimony, and according to the Taz ibid, one requires ten people to say it for the sake of testimony. Thus, the Chumra of the M”B causes one to be lenient against the Taz! [See Koveitz Harbaim 2 p. 496; Vetzaruch Iyun, as we rule like the M”A, and according to the M”B the M”A would encourage saying it together with another person] Furthermore, it makes one show that he holds the Halacha follows the Tana Kama in Sanhedrin ibid, when in truth we rule like Rebbe Nasan. [See Koveitz Harbaim 2 p. 496]

[25] Kaf Hachaim 268:3 and 33 in name of Arizal

[26] Hence, by asking someone who already said it to say it again on behalf of the two people stringency, would be transgressing the Kabalistic instructions, being that the person would now end up saying it for times. [Piskeiy Teshuvos 268 footnote 67; However, see Admur and Rama 263:1]

[27] See Yalkut Yosef Shabbos 1 p. 212 and later on in Miluim 1 on page 492 in name of Rav Ovadia Yosef that one should try to say it with two, and if he cant then he should say it alone with intent to not testify

[28] See Maaseh Ish 4:221; Orchos Rabbeinu 4:161; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid footnote 69

[29] See Admur 268 Kuntrus Achron 2 that also a single reciter of Vayechulu should say it standing being that it is testimony, hence implying that even a single individual may say it with intent to testify, hence there being no need for two people to say it together. Furthermore, in the end of the Kuntrus Achron, Admur implies that the entire concept of testimony as was accustomed is only applicable when it is said with an “Eida Sheleima,” which is a full Minyan. Hence, even if one said it with another person, it would be no better than saying it alone, as a full Minyan is still not present; See Lev Hashabbos ibid for a lengthy analysis in this matter and how he came to the similar conclusion that according to Admur it need not be said with another person, and therefore should not be said, due to it breaking the custom

[30] It is told that Rav Shlomo Chaim Kesselman was particular in this matter, that after he finished Davening late he would ask a Bochur to come say Vayechulu with him, and this led to all the Bochurim in the Yeshiva doing the same.

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