QUESTION: Must the challos which will be used for Lechem Mishneh on
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
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 de-Shabata, the glory of Shabbos. It is
considered a far greater honor to Shabbos if Kiddush is recited first, and
only then is the Shabbos food brought to the table in honor of Shabbos
which has just been sanctified by reciting Kiddush. 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.
Based on the above, it would seem that instead of placing the
challos on the table and then "hiding" them, it would be best not to bring
the challos at all to the table until after Kiddush is recited. Indeed,
that is the opinion of some poskim,(3) and some families observe that
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 Shabbos by having challos on the table throughout the entire
Shabbos, even when it is not meal time.(6)
To allow the table to be moved after the Shabbos candles have burnt
(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 holiness of the table.(11)
QUESTION: Based on the aforementioned, should other Shabbos foods
brought to the table before or after Kiddush?
DISCUSSION: Since we have established that for the sake of yikra de-
Shabata 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 de-Shabata does not apply.(14) It therefore makes no difference when
the Shabbos food is placed on the table on Shabbos morning.
QUESTION: If yikra de-Shabata does not apply to Shabbos morning,
then, do we cover the challos during the Shabbos morning Kiddush?
DISCUSSION: Although yikra de-Shabata does not apply on Shabbos
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] that apply to Shabbos morning as well as to
So as to "hide the shame" of the challos. Normally, ha-motzi is the
first berachah 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
to "hide" the "shame" of the challos, we cover them.(15)
So as to remember the miracle of the Manna, which fell from Heaven
wrapped in layers of dew.(16)
QUESTION: When cakes or pastries are being served at a Shabbos
Kiddush, do they need to be covered as well?
DISCUSSION: Two of the three previously mentioned reasons do not
apply in this case. Yikra de-Shabata 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 mezonos is
recited before the blessing of ha-gafen. Indeed, some poskim rule that
cakes and pastries should be covered during the recital of the morning
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
remain covered until after the ha-motzi blessing is recited?
DISCUSSION: Here, too, the answer depends on the exact reasoning
the halachah. If the main purpose of covering the challos is yikra de-
Shabata, 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 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
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
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 was
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. 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 that it is customary to honor the Shabbos in this
way. See Be'er Heitev O.C. 180:2.
7 Rav Chayim of Valozhin, 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) and that for yikra de-Shabata to be properly fulfilled, 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
16 Tosafos, Pesachim 100b. Based on this reason, Shulchan Aruch writes
that one should cover the challos underneath as well to symbolize the
underlying 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).
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 (Shiyurei ha-Minchah 77:8), Tikunim u'Milluim 47,
note 116 and Bris Olam, Kiddush 34.