Halacha for Monday 7 Kislev 5784 November 20 2023

Birth Pangs of Mashiach- The Laws of Seuda Shelishit

During these days, when the world is an absolute upheaval, many people ask what they can do to be saved from the terrible calamities which occur prior to Mashiach’s arrival, also known as “the birth pangs of Mashiach”?

The Gemara (Sanhedrin 98a) states that in order to be saved from the birth pangs of Mashiach, “One should be involved in Torah study and acts of kindness.” Torah and acts of kindness act as a shield from the suffering associated with Mashiach’s arrival.

Another Gemara (Shabbat 118a) states: “Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said in the name of Bar Kappara: One who fulfills the law of three meals on Shabbat shall be saved from three punishments: The birth pangs of Mashiach, the judgment of Gehinnom, and the War of Gog and Magog.”

This means that holding three meals on Shabbat will protect one from the War of Gog and Magog, which will break out shortly before the arrival of Mashiach when the king of Persia and others will come to fight against the Jewish nation (see Yalkut Shimoni, Section 499).

The Laws of the Three Shabbat Meals
The Gemara (Shabbat 118b) states: “One must eat three meals on Shabbat.” This is derived from verses in the Torah regarding the Jewish nation’s sojourn in the desert, they did not have actual bread and their sustenance was the Manna that fell from Heaven. The verse (Shemot 16) states that Moshe told them: “Eat it ‘today’, for it is a Shabbat ‘today’ for Hashem; ‘today’ you shall not find it in the field.” From the fact that the verse uses the word “today” three times, our Sages derived that one must eat three meals on Shabbat. All three meals must be established on bread based on the words of the Rambam we have quoted in the previous Halacha that one must partake of bread during all three of the Shabbat meals.

The Samag and Tosafot (Shabbat 117b) rule in accordance with the opinion of the Rambam that one must partake of bread during all three meals, for our Sages derived the obligation to eat three meals on Shabbat from the verse regarding the Manna, which was the sustenance of the Jewish nation in the desert and which was, in fact, their bread. The Rosh, Ritba, Nimukei Yosef, Meiri, and other great Poskim rule likewise.

The Opinion of Rabbeinu Tam
Nevertheless, Rabbeinu David Abudirhem (page 49d) quotes Rabbeinu Tam as writing that there is a distinction between Seuda Shelishit and the other meals in that one need not recite Kiddush before it and it is the conclusion of all of the Shabbat meals. Thus, one may fulfill one’s obligation of Seuda Shelishit by eating cakes or other pastries made out of the five types of grain. He proceeds to support this view. Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l (in his Chazon Ovadia-Shabbat, Part 2, page 343) quotes a question sent to Rabbeinu Tam from Rabbeinu Moshe of Fontaiza recorded in Rabbeinu Tam’s Sefer Ha’Yashar where Rabbeinu Tam proves from the words of our Sages that one may fulfill one’s obligation of Seuda Shelishit even by eating fruits; Rabbeinu Moshe mentions in the text of his question that he had heard Rabbeinu Tam instructing his followers that one may fulfill Seuda Shelishit by eating fruits. Indeed, Rabbeinu Tam replied that one may, in fact, fulfill one’s obligation by eating fruits and he proceeds to explain this issue eloquently.

The Bottom Line
Halachically speaking, Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 291, Section 5) rules, as follows: “One must partake of bread for Seuda Shelishit. Some say that one may even use pastries made out of the five grains for Seuda Shelishit. Some say that one may even use things that are eaten together with bread, such as meat or fish. Some say that one may even use fruits for Seuda Shelishit. The first opinion that one must eat bread for Seuda Shelishit is the primary one unless one is overly full.”

This is indeed the correct Halacha and preferably, one should partake of bread during Seuda Shelishit. This is especially true regarding Shabbatot during the summer months (when the day is long) when there is no real reason to abstain from eating bread during Seuda Shelishit, for several hours have passed since the Shabbat day meal. On the contrary, one should be wise and not overeat during the day so that one will be able to partake of Seuda Shelishit in the most halachically preferable manner. Only if one is overly full and cannot eat bread during Seuda Shelishit may one fulfill Seuda Shelishit by eating a Kezayit of cake or other cooked foods made from the five grains. If one cannot eat cake, one should eat meat or fish. If cannot eat any of the above foods, one may even fulfill Seuda Shelishit by eating fruits.  

During this time when people are looking for ways to be saved from the birth pangs of Mashiach, one should be extra careful to fulfill this Mitzvah in the most preferable way possible and have a bread meal for Seuda Shelishit.

8 Halachot Most Popular

Parashat Ki Tetze

Gathered from the teachings of Maran Rebbeinu Ovadia Yosef ztzvk”l (from the years 5744-5772) (written by his grandson HaRav Yaakov Sasson Shlit”a) (translated by our dear friend Rav Daniel Levy Shlit”a, Leeds UK) Ellul is the Time to Engage in Battle Against the Yetzer Hara, ......

Read Halacha

Eating Cake on Shabbat Morning

Today's Halacha is dedicated for the merit and protection of All Our Dear Soldiers May Hashem give them strength and courage to vanquish our enemies and may they return home safe and sound amid health and joy. May Hashem protect all the captives and have mercy upon them so that no harm befalls......

Read Halacha

 The “Shehecheyanu” Blessing

Our Sages teach us (Eruvin 40b) that one should recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing upon seeing a new fruit that renews once a year. Even if one sees this fruit in the hands of another person or on the tree, one should recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing. Nevertheless, the P......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Blood Found in Eggs

Blood in Eggs Blood found in eggs is forbidden for consumption, for this blood indicates the beginning of the embryotic development of the chick and this chick has the halachic status of “fowl” whose blood is forbidden for consumption by Torah law; thus, the opinion of the Rosh and Tosa......

Read Halacha


Parashat Terumah

From HaGaon Rav Zevadia HaCohen Shlit”a, The Head of the Batei Din in Tel Aviv (translated by our dear friend Rav Daniel Levy Shlit”a, Leeds UK) The Difference Between Moshe and Betzalel [Understanding Why Betzalel Was Able to Make the Menorah, Whilst Moshe Couldn’t] This Sh......

Read Halacha

The Proper Method for Reciting Blessings

During the days preceding Tu Bishvat, we have discussed some laws of blessings. We shall now discuss the law that the food must be in front of the individual before reciting a blessing, for this is the first law in reference to the laws of blessings. Waiting Until the Food is Brought Before the I......

Read Halacha

The Scent of Lemon

Question: If one smells the pleasant scent of a lemon, which blessing should one recite? Answer: The Gemara (Berachot 43b) states: “Mor Zutra said: One who smells the fragrance of an Etrog  (citron), or a quince recites the blessing of ‘Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech Ha’......

Read Halacha

Parashat Vayechi

From HaGaon Rav Zevadia HaCohen Shlit”a, The Head of the Batei Din in Tel Aviv (translated by our dear friend Rav Daniel Levy Shlit”a, Leeds UK) The Power of a Good Word In the weekly Parashah, Yaakov Avinu gathered his sons and blessed them before he passed away, as the Torah sta......

Read Halacha