Halacha for Wednesday 7 Shevat 5781 January 20 2021

Showing Respect to Bread

Question: Our custom is that on Shabbat, after the head of the household slices the bread, in order to distribute the bread among the many guests, he throws a piece to everyone around the table. Is this custom halachically correct?

Answer: The Gemara (Berachot 46a) states that regarding the blessing on the bread made on Shabbat, the head of the household should not honor anyone else with reciting this blessing; rather, he should do so himself, break the bread, and give it out to everyone seated at the table. The reason for this is in order for him to give out generous pieces, about the size of an olive’s volume, to all those seated. (The holy Zohar, Parashat Ekev, discusses another reason for this based on Kabbalah). Thus, the custom that the head of the household slices the bread and gives out to everyone is indeed a fine custom. This is the prevalent custom throughout the Jewish nation.

We must now discuss the fact that the head of the household throws a piece to everyone seated at the table. Indeed, Tosafot (Berachot 50b) state that throwing bread is forbidden, even when the bread will not get ruined as a result, for bread retains a unique stringency and must be treated with respect; throwing it is certainly disrespectful. Several other Rishonim rule accordingly.

On the other hand, the Rashba quotes Rav Hai Gaon who rules leniently regarding throwing bread if does not get ruined as a result, just as it is permissible to throw other foods that do not get ruined (like throwing wrapped candies at a joyous event). This is not considered disrespecting the bread.

Halachically speaking, Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 171) rules that bread may not be thrown from one place to another, even if it will not get ruined as a result, since throwing is considered extremely disrespectful, even more so that other usages of bread. It goes without saying that we follow the ruling of the Shulchan Aruch.

Nevertheless, there were great Chassidic Rebbes who would customarily throw pieces of bread to those assembled, especially when the table was very long. The are several Acharonim who have supported this custom. Indeed, Hagaon Harav Chaim of Sanz (in his notes) writes that since this is permissible according to the majority of Rishonim and this is the prevalent custom, there is room for leniency. However, even he writes that one should abstain from throwing the bread wherever possible.

This is especially true regarding the bread upon which the blessing is recited on Shabbat about which the Peri Megadim (quoted by Mishnah Berura, Chapter 197, Subsection 88) states that according to all opinions, it may not be thrown, for this is considered degrading to the Mitzvah. It is therefore appropriate that every G-d-fearing person abstain from throwing the bread at the Shabbat table, for this stands in contrast with the simple understanding of the words of the Poskim (especially since degrading bread can cause poverty, G-d-forbid).

Summary: The head of the household should recite the blessing, break the bread, and give out a generous piece to each person sitting at the table. One should not throw the bread; rather, it should be passed around in a plate or any other manner.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

The Mitzvah of Counting the Omer

The Torah states (Vayikra 21, 15): “And you shall count for yourselves, from the day following the Shabbat, from the day the waved Omer offering is brought, seven complete weeks shall they be.” Our Sages (Menachot 65b) have a tradition that the “day following the Shabbat” ref......

Read Halacha

Question: How many “Kezayit”s (olive’s volume) of Matzah must one consume during the Pesach Seder?

Answer: One is obligated to eat altogether three “Kezayit”s of Matzah during the Pesach Seder. Every Kezayit amounts to approx. 30 grams of Matzah. Nevertheless, there is room for stringency to eat four or even five “Kezayit”s of Matzah, as we shall now explain. The Order......

Read Halacha

Chol Ha’Mo’ed

The days between the first and seventh days (outside of Israel between the second and eighth days) of the Pesach holiday and the days between the first day of Sukkot and the holiday of Shemini Atzeret (outside of Israel between the second day of Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret) are called “Chol Ha&......

Read Halacha

The Pesach Seder-Kadesh

The Pesach Seder-Kadesh The famous order of the Seder of the eve of Pesach, Kadesh, Urchatz, Karpas, Yachatz, Magid, Rochtza, Motzi, Matzah, Maror, Korech, Shulchan Orech, Tzafun, Barech, Hallel, Nirtzah, was established by the leader of the entire Jewish nation, Rashi. The entire Jewish nation cus......

Read Halacha


Everything is Foreseen and Permission is Granted

Israeli Independence Day is celebrated today. Since we have discussed this topic several times in the past, we will not delve into this matter lengthily at this point. Let us just note that according to Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l, although one must show thanks to Hashem for removing the ......

Read Halacha

Megillah Reading- Coronavirus

Every member of the Jewish nation is obligated to read the Megillah on the day of Purim. One must read it during the night and once again the next day, as the verse states, “My G-d, I call out to you during the day and you do not answer; during the night I have no rest.” This verse is wr......

Read Halacha

One Who is Unsure Whether or Not One Has Counted the Omer

We have already explained that one who has forgotten to count the Omer one day during the counting period may no longer count with a blessing on the subsequent days. The reason for this is because the Rishonim disagree as to whether the Mitzvah of counting the Omer is one long Mitzvah that span......

Read Halacha

Anyone Who Brings Merit to the Public, No Sin Shall Come Through His Hand

Our Sages teach us in Pirkei Avot (Chapter 5, Mishnah 18): “Anyone who brings merit to the public, no sin shall come through his hand.” The Tosafot (Yevamot 109b) question this, for Elisha ben Avuya taught Torah to Rabbi Meir and nevertheless, he strayed from the path, became a heretic, ......

Read Halacha