Parshas Ki Savo
Covering the Challos
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 that one should cover the food on the table
before reciting Kiddush on Friday night. Why? The basic explanation given by
the Rishonim 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 before
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, and some families observe
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, 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.
- To allow the table to be moved after the Shabbos candles have burnt
out. 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.
- To properly fulfill Shulchan Aruch’s ruling of “setting the Shabbos
table” in anticipation of Shabbos. Since challos are a main part of the
meal, the table is not considered “set” unless the challos are on it.
- According to Kabbalistic teachings, placing the challos on the table
enhances the table’s holiness.
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. Indeed, there are people who are careful to
But this concept applies only on Friday night; on Shabbos morning, yikra
deShabata does not apply. 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
- 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.
- So as to remember the miracle of the Manna, which fell from Heaven
covered in layers of dew.
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 earlier 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.
But not all poskim agree. Some 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.
In practice, everyone should follow his family’s custom, as there are
conflicting views 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. On Shabbos
morning, the challos should be completely covered during Kiddush and partly
uncovered for ha-motzi. For seudah shelishis, the challos should not be
covered at all.
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
Discussion: L’chatchilah, no, since the challos can be seen. If no other
cover is available, such covers may be used.
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.
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. Keser Rosh 92.
8. See 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; Rav 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, 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 purpose.
17. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 55:5; Teshuvos Levushei Mordechai, O.C. kamma, 46.
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 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.
Weekly-Halacha, Text Copyright © 2010 by Rabbi Neustadt, Dr. Jeffrey Gross and Torah.org.