The Meals of Shabbat

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There is a mitzvah to eat three meals of bread on Shabbat. At the Friday night and the first meal on Shabbat day, Kiddush is recited. The laws that relate specifically to the third meal of Shabbat are on the Seudat Shelishit page. Additionally, in order to escort out Shabbat there is a fourth meal at the conclusion of Shabbat, called Melaveh Malka.

Covering the Challah

  1. There are multiple reasons for covering the challah. Some say that it is in commemoration of the Maan which was covered with dew. Others say that it is so as not to "embarrass" the bread as we are reciting the Kiddush before HaMotzei. [1]
  2. Even if one is not going to make Kiddish oneself but rather hear it from someone else one should still cover the challahs. [2]

Having two loaves of Challah

  1. For the Shabbat meals one should have Lechem Mishna meaning that one needs to make Hamotzei over two loaves of bread on Shabbat and Yom Tov in commemoration of the double portion of Man that fell before Shabbat and Yom Tov. [3]
  2. Women are also obligated in Lechem Mishneh.[4] Some say that the women should hear the Bracha from the one making HaMotzei on the two loaves, while others defend the minhag of those who don’t hear the HaMotzei and make HaMotzei on the piece given to them. [5]
  3. Kabbalistically, one should try to have 12 loaves of bread corresponding to the Lechem HaPanim for the meals of Shabbat. If one can't, one should try to have at least 4 loaves and if one has 5 or 6, one should take 4 and leave the others out. Similarly, if one only has 3 loaves, one should use 2 loaves and leave the third one out. [6]
  4. One should wait for everyone to sit before reciting Hamotzei in order to fulfill Lechem Mishna.[7]
  5. Some say that one should hold both loaves even while one is breaking or cutting the first loaf. Others say that one may put one of them down and then break the other.[8]


  1. Some have the custom to cut a little bit of the challah before reciting the beracha. [9]
  2. Some have the custom to recite "birshus," meaning, "with your permission," before reciting the beracha. [10]
  3. It is a custom among Sepharadim to sing "lemivtza al rifta" between netilat yadayim and the beracha of hamotzi for the bread. [11]


  1. Before eating the challah, one should dip it in salt. [12] If one does not have salt, he should dip it in something else which has salt or in sugar. [13]

What kind of challah should be used

  1. Both challahs should be complete. [14] Even if part of the challah is burnt it is still considered whole. [15]
  2. Preferably, both loaves should be fresh but if one is frozen after the fact they may be used for making the Bracha of HaMotzei. [16]
  3. The challahs should not be in a bag or wrapped up during the beracha. [17]
  4. If two pieces of bread stuck together in the oven and then were separated gently each one is considered whole for the mitzvah of Lechem Mishna. [18]
  5. The challahs used should preferably be larger than a Kezayit. [19]
  6. If one only has one loaf of bread one may use Pas habah BeKisnin for the second loaf to fulfill Lechem Mishna. [20]
  7. Preferably pas yisrael should be used, meaning bread that was baked by a Jew, but if this isn't possible then any kosher bread can be used. [21]
  8. If one doesn't have even one whole loaf, it is still preferable to use two slices than just one. [22]
  9. Bagels may be used for lechem mishne and are considered complete even though there is a hole in the middle. [23]

Passing the Challah

  1. One shouldn’t give the Challah directly into the hands of someone else but rather one should place it down on a plate or the table to pass it to someone else. [24]
  2. One should not throw the challah across the table. [25]

How much to eat

  1. It is preferable to eat slightly more than a KeBaytzeh of bread for the meals of Shabbat, however, many say that after the fact one fulfills one's obligation by eating only a Kezayit. [26]However, if one only eats a Kezayit, according to many opinions one shouldn't say the Bracha of Al Netilat Yadayim when washing for the bread. [27]
  2. One should make sure to eat a Kezayit of the bread for the meals of Shabbat within Shiur Kedi Achilat Pras.[28]
  3. For the Bracha on honey challah, see Pas_Haba_Bikisnin#Honey_Challah.

Which Challah to break

  1. On Friday night, one should cut the lower of the two loaves. On Shabbat morning and Yom Tov night and morning one should cut the upper of the two loaves. [29]

If started a meal Friday afternoon

  1. If one started a meal during Friday afternoon (before 9 hours) and now Shekiah comes, one should cover the bread, make Kiddish, and then finish the meal. [30]
  2. If one had wine during the meal of Friday afternoon, when one makes Kiddish one doesn’t say Borei Pri HaGafen nor HaMotzei. [31]
  3. If one doesn’t have wine and so, one makes Kiddish on bread one shouldn’t make HaMotzei. [32]

Retzeh in Birkat HaMazon

  1. On Shabbat one should add Retzeh in the middle of the third Bracha of Birkat HaMazon. [33]
  2. If one forgot Retzeh and one realized:
    1. before saying Hashem’s name at the end of the third Bracha one should return to Retzeh and then continue from there. [34]
    2. after saying Hashem’s name but before saying Boneh Yerushalayim one should immediately say למדני חוקיך which is the conclusion of a פסוק in Tehillim and then return to Retzeh and continue from there. [35]
    3. after finishing the third Bracha before starting the fourth Bracha one should insert a special Bracha ברוך אתה ה' אלקינו מלך העולם שנתן שבתות למנוחה לעמו ישראל באהבה לאות ולברית ברוך אתה ה' מקדש השבת. [36]
    4. within the first six words of the fourth Bracha (ברוך אתה ה' אלקינו מלך העולם) one should continue with the special Bracha (שנתן...) mentioned in the last option. [37]
    5. after one said the seventh word in the fourth Bracha, one should repeat Birkat Hamazon. [38]
  3. If the meal extended until after sunset on Shabbat, Yom Tov, etc. and one has to insert the special Bracha between the third and fourth Bracha this special Bracha should be said without Shem UMalchut meaning one should just say ברוך שנתן…[39]

Setting the table

  1. One should set one's table nicely, make Kiddish, wash, make HaMotzei, and have a nice meal for Shabbat day. [40]

Kiddish during the day

  1. The text of Kiddish during the day is just Borei Pri Hagefen. [41] However, many have the minhag to say Pesukim before saying the Bracha. Some say two paragraphs "Veshamaroo" and "Zachor". Some skip to the last sentence of "Zachor" starting with "Al cen berach" before saying the bracha on the wine, however, some authorities discourage this practice. [42]

Eating before Kiddish

  1. It's forbidden to taste anything before Kiddish. [43] This law also applies to women. [44]
  2. It's permissible to drink water before Shacharit on Shabbat day since the obligation of Kiddish doesn't apply until one prayed. [45]

Kiddish in the place of a meal

  1. Kiddush of the day must also be made in the place of a meal. [46]

Wine for Kiddish

  1. If there's no wine available one may use Chamar Medina which is beer or another drink which is common in that place but not water. If one doesn't even have Chamar Medina, one should say hamotzi and eat the bread and if one doesn't even have bread, one may eat without Kiddish. [47]

Shabbat Zemirot

  1. After having eaten one's fill it's proper to sing Zemirot (songs) of praise to Hashem. [48]



  1. Tosafot in Pesachim 100b says that because the maan fell between layers of dew, which preserved it, we cover the challah above and below. Rosh Pesachim 10:3 as well as the Tur 271 quote the Yerushalmi saying that since wheat is written first in the pasuk of the seven species for which Israel is praised and the beracha on it should be recited first, we don't want to embarrass the challah by saying the beracha on the wine first, therefore, we cover the Challah. Mishna Brurah 271:41 cites the reason of the maan even if one recites Kiddush over the Challah one should cover the Challah, but according to the Tur this isn't necessary. THe Mishna Brurah concludes that the minhag is to cover the Challah even in such a case.
  2. Rav Moshe Feinstein (quoted in back of Radiance of Shabbos, Siman 1, Iggrot Moshe OC 5:18
  3. S”A 274:1, Mishna Brurah 274:1. The poskim have a debate of whether this obligation is from the torah or the rabbis. The Taz OC 678:2, Chatam Sofer OC no. 46, and Aruch Hashulchan 274:1 all say it is from the torah while the Magen Avraham 254:23 says that it is only rabbinic.
  4. Meiri Shabbat 118a writes that women are obligated in Lechem Mishneh just as they are obligated in other mitzvot of Shabbat such as the meals of Shabbat, Kiddish, and Havdalah. Mishna Brurah 274:1 rules that women are obligated in Lechem Mishneh based on the reasoning that they too enjoyed from the miracle of the manna. Beiur Halacha 291 s.v. nashim, Chazon Ovadyah (Shabbat vol 2, pg 172), and Aruch Hashulchan 274:4 agree. Shemirat Shabbat kihilchita 55:3 says that although this is the accepted opinion, Rav Shlomo Kluger in Haelef licha shlomo 114 writes that women don't have the custom to eat lechem mishne because it is a mitzva on the sanctity of shabbat which is a mitzvat aseh shehazman grama, and is not included in the source for their obligation in Kiddush.
  5. Sh”t Kinyan Torah 1:88 and Eshel Avraham (siman 274) defend the minhag, while Sh”t Bear Moshe quotes the Chatom Sofer who was insistent on having the women hear the Bracha of HaMotzei from the one making it over two loaves.
  6. Kaf HaChaim 262:2-3
  7. Chazon Ovadyah (Shabbat vol 2, pg 172)
  8. Kaf HaChaim 274:12 writes that one should continue to hold both loaves of bread while one breaks the first loaf. Shulchan Aruch HaRav 274:2 argues that one may place one of them down after the bracha and then break the other loaf. Chazon Ovadyah (v. 2, p. 170) agrees but adds that one who follows the Kaf HaChaim should be blessed.
  9. Mishna Brurah 274:5 quoting the Magen Avraham 274:1. Aruch Hashulchan 274:6. The Tzlach on Berachot 39b says that this is an incorrect practice.
  10. Rama 167:14, Aruch Hashulchan 167:29 and Mishna Brurah 274:2. The Vilna Gaon (Maaseh Rav 78), however, views this as a hefsek and says it should not be recited.
  11. Maran HaHida (Mahaziq Berakha 166:3) writes that he saw Rabanan Qadisha (our Holy Sages) sing LeMibsa’ ‘al Rifta after washing and before hamosi. The Ben Ish Hai (VaYera, 14) quotes the above statement of Maran HaHida and adds: “In our own home we have the custom from our forefathers to recite LeMibsa’ between washing and hamosi, and it should be said at all three meals of Shabbat.” See Sh"t (p.192) by Ribi Barukh Toledano. Ribi Ya’aqob Benaim Sh”t (Maghen Abot, O”H p.426 §40) attests to this being the minhag of Tetouan.
  12. Rama 167:5, Yalkut Yosef 274:18, Taamei Haminhagim pg. 78. Beit Yosef 167 brings from the Shibbolei Haleket that this is because one's table is compared to the mizbeach, and salt was used with every sacrifice in the beit hamikdash. see also Salt and challah by Rabbi Gil Student
  13. Yalkut Yosef 274:18
  14. Shulchan Aruch 274:1. Arukh Ha-shulchan 274:5 says that if a whole one is not available then the mitzva can nevertheless be fulfilled with two broken ones.
  15. Mishna Brurah 274:2.
  16. Sh”t Yabia Omer 7:32, Or Letzion (vol 2, chapter 21:2). Tshuvot V’hanhagot 2:170 and Shmirat Shabbat K'hilchata 55:12 say that since the bread will soon become edible it is still evident that you have two loaves. Sh"t Bitzel Hachochma 3:110, and Rav Moshe Feinstein (cited in Radiance of Shabbos page 76) likewise maintained that one may use frozen challah as Lechem Mishnah. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach quoted in note 39 in SSK chapter 55 says that it might only be permissible if the bread will defrost by the end of the meal.
  17. MB 167:23, Shemirat Shabbat Kihilchita volume 2,55:11:38, and Rav Scheinberg quoted in The Radiance of Shabbos page 79 footnote 18. see also Sh"t Rivivos Ephraim 1:201
  18. Chazon Ovadyah (Shabbat, vol 2, pg 176).
  19. Shemirat Shabbat Kihilchita vol. 2, 55:5, Rav Scheinberg quoted in The Radiance of Shabbos page 79 footnote 15.
  20. Chazon Ovadyah (Shabbat, vol 2, pg 185), Shemirat Shabbat Kihilchita volume 2, 55:16 and Rav Moshe Feinstein quoted in The Radiance of Shabbos page 78 footnote 13.
  21. Mishna Brurah 242:6.
  22. Aruch Hashulchan 274:5 and the HaNetziv in Meishiv Davar 1:21 and the reasoning being that the obligation for lechem mishne and whole bread are two separate ones.
  23. Sh"t Rivivot Ephraim 1:204:2
  24. Yalkut Yosef (Shabbat vol 1 pg 312), Piskei Teshuvot (Siman 274 note 7)
  25. Rabbi David Yosef (Halacha Brurah Vol: pg. 49, Magen Avraham 167:38, Pri Megadim A:A 167:38, Mishnah Brurahh 167:88, Minhag Yisroel Torah 167:4, Throwing Bread on Halacha Yomit
    • The Behag (Shabbat chap. 16) says that one should eat the three meals of Shabbat and it is permissible separate the two daytime meals by covering the table, making Birkat HaMazon, and then HaMotzei and eating a KeBaytzah of bread. The Ran (Shabbat 43b s.v. Tanu) quotes this Behag. The Tur 291:1 writes that one should eat a KeBaytzah for Seudat Shelishit. The Bet Yosef 291:1 explains that the Tur is following the Behag. What's the reason to have a KeBaytzah?
    • (1) The Bach 291:3 writes that the reason to have a KeBaytzah is that it is preferable to have a Kebaytzeh in order to be obligated to make Birkat HaMazon, even though the actual standard halacha is that someone who ate only a Kezayit one is obligated to make Birkat HaMazon. The Eliyah Rabba (291:3) and Hagahot Ben Aryeh (on Behag Shabbat chap 16), however, reject the Bach because they understand that there's no preference for having a KeBaytzah in terms of Birkat HaMazon.
    • (2) The Machasit HaShekel 291:1 writes that the reason a KeBaytzah is necessary is order to make it into a significant meal and not just a snack, though after the fact if one eats only one Kezayit one fulfilled ones obligation. Though, according to this explanation, the Magen Avraham 291:1 and Mishna Brurah 291:2 explain that really slightly more than a KeBaytzah is necessary because a significant meal is defined in Hilchot Mincha (Shulchan Aruch 232) to be more than a KeBeytzah.
    • (3) The Beiur HaGra 291:2 writes that the amount of a KeBaytzah is learned out from Hilchot Sukkah. The Hagahot Ben Aryeh (on Behag Shabbat chap 16) asks that this explanation can not explain the position of Shulchan Aruch who holds that in Hilchot Sukkah (Shulchan Aruch 639:2) a significant meal is more than a KeBeytzah. Birkat Eliyahu (commentary to Bieur HaGra 291:2) answers that the Gra thought that really everyone agrees that a significant meal is a KeBaytzah, but for Sukkot the reason a significant meal is defined as more than a KeBaytzeh is because by Sukkot we're supposed to dwell in the Sukkah just as we dwell indoors.
    • (4) Hagahot Ben Aryeh (on Behag Shabbat chap 16, authored by Rav Zev Wolf Ben Aryeh, father of Rav Yisrael Salanter) explains that the Behag is only discussing a case where one wants to have Seudat Shelishit immediately following the Shabbat day meal and in order to show that Seudat Shelishit is a significant meal, one needs to eat a KeBaytzah, but in general if Seudat Shelishit was eaten as a separate meal, one only needs to eat a Kezayit for the meals of Shabbat.
    • What's the halacha? Shulchan Aruch 291:1 codifies the Tur's statement that one should eat a Kebaytzeh for Seudat Shelishit. The Malbushei Yom Tov 291:1 in fact argues that he sees no reason that one be obligated to eat more than a Kezayit as the Gemara Shabbat 119b says that a Kezayit is sufficient for the Friday night meal. [The Sh"t Maharil (end of Siman 94) and Radvaz 1:489 seem to only require a Kezayit.] Eliyah Rabba 291:3 quotes this. See the Machasit HaShekel who answers the Malbushei Yom Tov's question from the Gemara Shabbat. The Mishna Brurah 291:2 quotes the Magen Avraham who says that one should eat more than a KeBaytzah, however, some say one only needs a Kezayit and he concludes that preferably if one is able, one should be strict to have a Kebaytzeh. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 54:20 agrees. Yalkut Yosef (Shabbat vol 1, p. 313) writes that for the Friday night meal and Shabbat day meal one needs to have a KeBaytzah of bread and if that’s difficult one may have a Kezayit of bread (and in such a case one should wash without a Bracha).
  26. See Netilat_Yadayim_for_a_meal#Minimum_amount_of_bread_to_obligate_Netilat_Yadayim.
  27. Yalkut Yosef (Shabbat vol 1, p. 313) writes that one should eat a Kezayit of bread for the meals of Shabbat within the time of Kedi Achilat Pras.
  28. S”A and Rama 274:1
  29. S”A 271:4 based on Shmuel’s opinion on Pesachim 100a
  30. S”A 271:4 writes that one doesn’t make a Borei Pri HaGafen as the wine is already covered from the wine earlier in the meal. Mishna Brurah 271:18 says because of Safek Brachot one doesn’t make another HaMotzei.
  31. S”A 271:4
  32. S”A 188:4,5
  33. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 44:12, Mishna Brurah 188:22
  34. Chaye Adam 47:16 writes that if one realizes after having said Baruch Atta Hashem one should conclude with למדני חוקיך so that Hashem’s name isn’t in vain and then one may return to Retzeh. Mishna Brurah 188:22 and Rav Mordechai Eliyahu (comments to Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 44:16) agree. [See Igrot Moshe 4:93 who disagrees with the Mishna Brurah regarding inserting למדני חוקיך in Shmoneh Esrei.]
  35. S”A 188:6, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 44:12. The S”A HaRav 188:9 writes that the logic behind this is that as long as one didn’t begin the fourth Bracha it’s as though one is still in middle of the third Bracha. The reasoning here is based on the discussion in S”A 114 (see Yaaleh VeYavo in Shmoneh Esrei section).
  36. Chazon Ovadia (Berachot pages 101-102), Or Litzion (vol 2 p. 113), and Shemirat Shabbat Kihilchita (vol 2 p. 212 n 6) write that as long as one still within the first six words of the fourth bracha one should continue with the special Bracha for Shabbat and then say say the fourth bracha from the beginning. Mishna Brurah 188:23 quotes the Chaye Adam 47:18 who says that if one is still within the first six words of the fourth Bracha one may continue with the special Bracha insertion and then start the fourth Bracha again. Even though the Beiur Halacha s.v. Ad questions this Chaye Adam, the Halachos of Brachos (pg 515-6) rules like the Chaye Adam. However, the Birkei Yosef 188:7 says that once you say the word baruch for the fourth beracha you can no longer say the beracha of "asher natan" and you have to go back to the beginning of birkat hamazon. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 44:13, Ben Ish Chai chukat 20, and Shulchan Aruch Harav 188:4 agree with the Birkei Yosef.
  37. S”A 188:6
  38. Halachos of Brachos (pg 511) based on Beiur Halacha 188:10 s.v. mazkir, Kesot HaShulchan 47:3
  39. Shulchan Aruch 289:1
  40. Pesachim 106a writes that the primary Kiddish is at night but there's also a Kiddish of the day. Even though it seems to be Deorittah as the gemara learns it from a pasuk, the Rishonim agree that the pasuk is only an asmachta (Ravad and Magid Mishna (Hilchot Shabbat 29:10), quoted by Bear Heitiv 289:2) and the obligation of Kiddish during the day is only Rabbinic. The gemara concludes that the text of such a Kiddish is just Borei Pri HaGefen. Rambam (Hilchot Shabbat 29:10) and Shulchan Aruch 289:1 rule this as halacha.
  41. Mishna Brurah 289:2
  42. Rambam (Hilchot Shabbat 29:10) and Shulchan Aruch 289:1 rule that since there's an obligation to make Kiddish it's forbidden to eat anything before Kiddish just like the Kiddish of Friday night.
  43. Mishna Brurah 289:6
  44. Tur writes in the name of his father, the Rosh, and Shulchan Aruch 289:1
  45. Shulchan Aruch 289:1
  46. Shulchan Aruch 289:2, Mishna Brurah 289:10
  47. Mishna Brurah 289:5