Covering The Challos During Kiddush
QUESTION: Must the challos which will be used for lechem mishneh on
Friday night be placed on the table before Kiddush is recited, or may they
be brought to the table after Kiddush?
DISCUSSION: According to the basic halachah, there is no need for
the challos to be on the table during Kiddush. As a matter of fact, it may
be preferable that they not be there during Kiddush at all. This is based
on the Talmud's statement(1) that one should cover the food on the table
before reciting Kiddush on Friday night. Why? The basic explanation given
by the Rishonim(2) is Yikra deShabata, the "glory of Shabbos." It is
considered a far greater honor to Shabbos if Kiddush is recited first, and
only afterward the Shabbos food is brought to the table in honor of
Shabbos - which has just been sanctified by reciting Kiddush. However, by
covering the challos during Kiddush and uncovering them once Kiddush is
over, we act as if the challos were not really there during Kiddush and
were actually "brought to the table" after Kiddush was recited.
QUESTION: Why, then, do most people bring the challos to the table
DISCUSSION: Based on the previous Discussion, it would seem that
instead of placing the challos on the table and then "hiding" them, it
would be best not to bring them at all to the table until after Kiddush is
recited. Indeed, that is the opinion of some poskim,(3) and some families
observe that custom.(4)
But most homes follow the traditional custom of placing the challos
on the table before Kiddush and keeping them covered [at least] until
after Kiddush is recited. While the exact source for this custom is not
clear,(5) there are a number of possible explanations as to its origin:
* To honor the Shabbos by having challos on the table throughout the
entire Shabbos, even when it is not mealtime.(6)
* To allow the table to be moved after the Shabbos candles have burnt out.
(7) By placing challos on the table before Shabbos begins, the table
becomes a basis (a base) for the challos as well as for the candles and it
is therefore permitted to be moved.(8)
* To properly fulfill Shulchan Aruch's ruling of "setting the Shabbos
table" in anticipation of Shabbos.(9) Since challos are a main part of the
meal, the table is not considered "set" unless the challos are on it.(10)
* According to Kabbalistic teachings, placing the challos on the table
enhances the table's holiness.(11)
QUESTION: Based on the aforementioned, should other Shabbos foods
be brought to the table before or after Kiddush?
DISCUSSION: Since we have established that for the sake of yikra
deShabata we cover the challos to make it appear as if they are not on the
table, it follows that all other Shabbos foods should only be brought to
the table after Kiddush is recited.(12) Indeed, there are many people who
are careful to do so.(13)
But this concept applies only on Friday night; on Shabbos morning,
yikra deShabata does not apply.(14) It therefore makes no difference when
the Shabbos food is placed on the table on Shabbos morning.
QUESTION: If yikra deShabata does not apply to Shabbos morning,
why, then, do we cover the challos during Shabbos morning Kiddush?
DISCUSSION: Although yikra deShabata does not apply on Shabbos
morning, there are other explanations given by the Rishonim (for the
Talmudic statement mentioned earlier that food on the table must be
covered during Kiddush on Friday night) which apply to Shabbos morning as
well as to Friday night:
* So as to "hide the shame" of the challos. Normally, ha-motzi is the
first blessing to be recited and bread is the first food eaten at a meal.
When Kiddush is recited, the wine "usurps" the place of the bread.(15)
* So as to remember the miracle of the Manna, which fell from Heaven
covered in layers of dew.(16)
QUESTION: When cakes or pastries are being served at a Shabbos
morning Kiddush, do they need to be covered as well?
DISCUSSION: Two of the three reasons mentioned previously, do not
apply in this case. Yikra deShabata does not apply on Shabbos morning at
all, and remembrance of the Manna applies only to lechem mishneh, not to
mezonos items. But the other reason, the one regarding the "shame" of the
challos, applies to mezonos as well, since ordinarily the blessing of
borei minei mezonos is recited before the blessing of borei peri ha-gafen.
Indeed, some poskim rule that cakes and pastries should be covered during
the recital of the morning Kiddush.(17)
But not all poskim agree. Some(18) hold that mezonos items do not
need to be covered during Kiddush because only challos - which can be used
for Kiddush and are being bypassed in favor of wine - are being "shamed."
Mezonos items, however, are generally not eligible to have Kiddush recited
over them, so they cannot be "shamed" by the wine taking precedence over
QUESTION: May the challos be uncovered right after Kiddush, or must
they remain covered until after the ha-motzi blessing is recited?
DISCUSSION: Here, too, the answer depends on the exact reasoning
behind the halachah. If the main purpose of covering the challos is yikra
deShabata, then once Kiddush is recited, there is no longer any reason to
keep them covered; on the contrary, the challos should be immediately
uncovered. Similarly, if the primary reason for the halachah is to "hide
the shame" of the challos, then there is no longer any reason to keep them
covered once borei peri ha-gafen has been said. But if the reason to cover
the challos is to commemorate the miracle of the Manna, then it is
appropriate to leave the challos covered until after ha-motzi is recited,
since that is when the mitzvah of lechem mishneh is fulfilled.(20)
In practice, everyone should follow his family's custom, as there
are conflicting views(21) and customs and all have valid sources. One who
has no family custom should adopt the following procedure: On Friday
night, he should leave the challos covered until after ha-motzi.(22) On
Shabbos morning, the challos should be completely covered during Kiddush
and partly uncovered for ha-motzi.(23) For seudah shelishis, the challos
should not be covered at all.(24)
QUESTION: May the challah cover be made from a see-through
material? May the cover be perforated or made from a mesh-like material
(which will make the challos visible)?
DISCUSSION: L'chatchilah, no, since the challos can be seen. If no
other cover is available, such covers may be used.(25)
1 Pesachim 100a.
2 Rashbam and Tosafos, Pesachim 100b, quoting She'iltos. This explanation
is quoted by the Tur, O.C. 271:9; Magen Avraham 271:7 and Mishnah Berurah
271:15 as the primary reason for covering the challos during Kiddush
Friday night. See also Sha'ar ha-Tziyun 271:48.
3 The Gaon of Vilna, quoted in Ma'asei Rav 118. This was also the custom
during Talmudic times, when each participant at a meal was served at his
own individual table. Food was laid on the tables in advance, but the
tables were not brought into the dining area until after Kiddush.
4 As attested to by Aruch ha-Shulchan 271:22 (who objects to this custom).
See also Nefesh ha-Rav, pg. 158.
5 See Tosafos, Pesachim 100b, s.v. she'ein, who write that already in
their day it had become customary for the challos to be brought to the
table and then covered. Tosafos, however, do not explain why the challos
could not be brought to the table after Kiddush was recited.
6 See Taz, Y.D. 178:7, who writes that it is customary to honor the
Shabbos in this way. See Be'er Heitev, O.C. 180:2.
7 Rav Chayim of Volozhin, quoted in Keser Rosh 92.
8 As explained in Mishnah Berurah 277:18.
9 O.C. 262:1.
10 Minchas Yitzchak 3:13-10.
11 Ben Ish Chai, Vayeira 17, quoted in Kaf ha-Chayim 262:21.
12 See Toras Shabbos 271:8 and Peri Megadim (Eishel 271:7 and Mishbetzos
12) which say that for yikra deShabata to be fulfilled properly, all of
the foods on the table should be covered.
13 See Misgeres ha-Shulchan 77:1. See also Mi-Peninei ha-Rav, pg. 69.
14 Sha'ar ha-Tziyun 271:49, quoting Mordechai; Harav S.Z. Auerbach
(Shemiras Shabbos k'Hilchasah 47, note 125).
15 Tur, O.C. 271, quoting Yerushalmi.
16 Tosafos, Pesachim 100b. Based on this reason, Shulchan Aruch writes
that one should cover the challos underneath as well to symbolize the
bottom layer of dew. Many people use a challah board or tray for this
17 Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 55:5; Teshuvos Levushei Mordechai, O.C. kamma,
46. Even according to this view, however, only the person making Kiddush
(and others who are partaking of the wine) needs to cover his mezonos
items. All other participants do not need to cover their mezonos, since
they are not "shaming" the mezonos by listening to Kiddush; Harav S.Z.
Auerbach (Shemiras Shabbos k'Hilchasah 47, note 125). Igros Moshe, O.C.
5:19-18, however, holds that "shaming" the bread applies to those
listening to Kiddush as well.
18 Eishel Avraham, O.C. 182.
19 Ta'amei ha-Minhagim 365, Kuntress Acharon; Az Nidberu 2:8.
20 Mishnah Berurah 271:41, quoting Chayei Adam. Peri Megadim (quoted by
Sha'ar ha-Tziyun 48), however, maintains that even according to this
reason it is sufficient to cover the challos until after Kiddush.
21 Note that some poskim are of the opinion that the challos should not be
covered during ha-motzi, since a blessing should be made on an item which
is visible, not hidden from sight; see Peri Megadim (Mishbetzos) 271:12.
22 Aruch ha-Shulchan 271:22.
23 Nimukei Orchos Chayim, O.C. 271.
24 Aruch ha-Shulchan 291:10 and 299:14; Shulchan Shelomo, addendum to vol.
1, pg. 27.
25 See Minchas Shabbos (Sheyarei ha-Minchah 77:8), Tikunim u'Miluim 47,
note 116 and Bris Olam, Kiddush 34.
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