Shiur #19: Betzi'at Ha-Pat (4)

  • Rav David Brofsky








Jeffrey Paul Friedman

August 15, 1968 – July 29, 2012




יהודה פנחס בן הרב שרגא פייוועל

כ"ב אב תשכ"ח – י' אב תשע"ב






Shiur #19: Betzi’at Ha-Pat (4)

Lechem Mishneh (2)


Rav David Brofsky



Last week, we began our discussion of betzi’at ha-pat as it is performed on Shabbat. The Torah (Shemot 16:22) describes the double portion of mann collected on Friday, as mann did not fall on Shabbat. The Talmud (ibid.; see also Berakhot 39b) teaches that “on the Shabbat, one must break bread over two loaves, it is written, ‘twice as much bread.’” In the previous shiur, we summarized a debate regarding the halakhic origin and status of lechem mishneh. Although most Acharonim maintain that the obligation of lechem mishneh is most likely only mi-derabanan (Peri Megadim, MZ 291, and Magen Avraham 618:10 and 254:23), some (Taz 678:2 and Arukh Ha-Shulchan 274:1) insist that the obligation of lechem mishneh must certainly be mi-deoraita. 


This week, we will discuss the nature of this mitzva and the manner in which it is fulfilled.




Lechem Mishneh – How Do We Remember the Mann?


As we saw above, the Talmud teaches that the mitzva of lechem mishneh, like the mitzva of shalosh se’udot, is rooted in the double portion of mann that the Jewish People received on Friday in honor of the Shabbat. What is the manner in which we are to remember the miraculous sustenance of the mann?


The Acharonim offer two suggestions. Some suggest that by simply breaking bread over two loaves, we are reminded of the miracle of the double portion of mann. Others suggest that the miracle of the mann is commemorated in a somewhat more holistic manner. The Midrash (Yalkut Shimoni, Tehillim, Remez 843) asserts that every aspect of Shabbat is meant to be “double”:


R. Yitzchak opened: “See that the Lord has given you the Shabbat” (Shemot 16:29).” What should you see? R. Ami says: The beautiful stone which has been given to you. R. Yitzchak says: Every aspect of Shabbat is double. Its omer is double, as it says, “Two omers for each one” (Shemot 16:22). Its sacrifice is double, as it says, “And on the Sabbath day, two sheep of the first year without blemish” (Bamidbar 28:9). Its punishment is double, as is says, “Every one that desecrates the Sabbath shall surely be put to death [mot yumat]” (Shemot 31:14). Its reward is double: “And call the Sabbath a delight, and the holy of the Lord honorable” (Yeshayahu 58:13)…


R. Yekutiel Yehuda Halberstam (1905–1994), the first Rebbe of the Sanz-Klausenburger dynasty, writes in his Responsa Divrei Yatziv:


The main point of lechem mishneh is that whatever he prepares for the Sabbath meal should be twofold, that the preparation should be “double” (kaful), just as they collected a double portion [for Shabbat] (Shemot 16:22).


This question of whether lechem mishneh reflects a broader them of “double” on Shabbat or whether it narrowly refers to the manner in which the bread is broken may yield a number of halakhic differences.


The Talmud (Shabbat 117b) cites different practices regarding lechem mishneh:


R. Abba said: On the Sabbath, it is one's duty to break bread (li-vtzo’a) over two loaves, for it is written, “Twice as much bread.” R. Ashi said: I saw that R. Kahana held two [loaves], but broke bread over one, observing that “they gathered” is written. R. Zera broke enough bread for the whole meal. Said Ravina to R. Ashi: But does that not look like greed? He replied: Since he does not do this every day but only now [the Sabbath], it does not look like greed. (Shabbat 117b)


R. Abba initially teaches that one should be “botze’a” two loaves of bread. The gemara then cites R. Ashi, who reported that R. Kahana would hold two loaves and “batza” one of them. Finally, the gemara relates that R. Zeira would “batza” for the entire meal.


The Rishonim disagree as to how to properly understand this passage. According to Rashi (Shabbat 117b, s.v. batza), the entire passage follows one view – one should recite the blessing over two loaves, but he must only cut one of them. According to R. Zeira, the cut piece should be large enough for the entire meal in order to demonstrate one’s love for the Sabbath meal.


The Rashba (Shabbat 177b, s.v. Rabbi Zeira) disagrees. In his view, R. Abba and R. Kahana maintain that after reciting the blessing over both loaves, one must cut only one loaf, while R. Zeira believes that one must cut both loaves. In his responsa (530), the Rashba rules in accordance with R. Huna, who maintains that one need only cut one of the loaves. The Gra (274:1) accepts the Rashba’s interpretation, but he rules like R. Zeira, maintaining that both loaves should be cut. He notes that R. Shlomo Luria (Maharshal) concurs with this conclusion.


In summary, Rashi maintains that the blessing is recited on both loaves, but one need only eat from one of the loaves, while the Rashba maintains that this is a debate between R. Abba and R. Zeira. The Shulchan Arukh (274:1) rules in accordance with Rashi, while the Gra (see also Bach 274 and Maharshal) requires that one eat from two loaves. Some (see Be’er Heitev 274:2) cite the view of the Arizal, who would place twelve loaves on the table, corresponding to the twelve loaves of the Lechem Ha-Panim.


How are we to understand this debate? One might suggest that if lechem mishneh is intended to serve as a “reminder” of the miracle of the double portion of mann, then it may be sufficient to simply recite the blessing over two loaves. If, however, every aspect of the Sabbath much be performed “kaful,” in a double fashion, then perhaps both loaves should be cut. (Interestingly, the Ba’al Ha-Mikhtam [Berakhot 19b] explains that only one loaf is broken in order to serve as a reminder of the miracle, as the Jewish People saved one portion for the next day and it did not spoil [see Shemot 16:24, 15:20]).


This question may also relate to the debate regarding whether one must have lechem mishneh for se’uda shelishit. The Rambam (Hilkhot Shabbat 30:9), and Shulchan Arukh (291:4) rule that one should have two loaves for se’uda shlishit. The Rema records that the custom it to recite the blessing over only one loaf, but “it is good to take two.” The Da’at Zekenim (Shemot 16:22) cites a possible explanation. He suggests that the Jews were given four portions on Friday – one for Friday morning, a second for Friday Night (leil Shabbat), a third for the Sabbath morning meal, and one for the second Sabbath day meal (se’uda shelishit). Seemingly, if lechem mishneh is meant to be a reenactment of the miracle of the mann, there was no double portion for the second Sabbath day meal. Of course, this account of the mann is subject to debate (ibid.). Furthermore, even if lechem mishneh is strongly related to the mann, the Yalkut Shimoni relates that everything on Shabbat should be “double,” and not necessarily reenacted as it was in the desert.


This may also relate to the debate we discussed last week regarding whether and why women are obligated in lechem mishneh. We noted that the Ran cited two opinions – whether a women’s obligation in lechem mishneh is due the principle of “af hen hayu be-oto ha-nes” (women also benefited from the miracle), as Rabbeinu Tam explains, or because men and women share equal obligations regarding the mitzvot of Shabbat. Perhaps Rabbeinu Tam views the mitzva of lechem mishneh as a reenactment of the double portion that the Jews received in the desert, and women are therefore obligated due to the principle of af hen. The Ran, however, may feel that although we remember the double portion when fulfilling lechem mishneh, it is simply a detail of the betzi’at ha-pat, and therefore not subject to the principle of af hen.


Lechem Mishneh – Betzi’at Ha-Pat or Se’udat Shabbat


            We might take this debate a step further and suggest that the Rishonim disagree as to whether lechem mishneh is a halakha that relates to the entire Shabbat meal or whether it becomes an integral part of the betzi’at ha-pat on Shabbat (see Sefer Harerei Kedem 2:89; Sefer Ratz Ka-Tzvi, chapter 54). Based upon what we saw above, we might suggest that according to Rashi, lechem mishneh is a requirement of betzi’at ha-pat, while according to the Rashba, this remains a debate among the Amora’im.


            There may be numerous ramifications of this debate. For example, regarding the manner in which the loaves should be cut, the Shulchan Arukh (273:1) rules that one should cut the bottom loaf.  The Rema adds that this is only at the evening meal; during the day meal of Shabbat or Yom Tov, one should cut the upper loaf. He attributes this practice to “derekh ha-kabbala,” the mystical tradition. The Rema adds that the loaves should be “sheleimot,” whole. One might ask the following questions: Is the requirement of sheleimot part of the mitzva of lechem mishneh, or is it a separate “hiddur,” part of the halakhot of “betzi’at ha-pat” that we discussed previously? Second, if one only has one loaf, is it better to recite the blessing over the whole loaf, forgoing the mitzva of lechem mishneh, or is it preferable to break the loaf in half in order to fulfill the mitzva of lechem mishneh?


The Netziv, R. Naphtali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin (1817-1893), relates in his Responsa Meishiv Davar (21) that in his father-in-law’s house, one who came late to a Sabbath meal was given two pieces of bread for lechem mishneh. He explains that the requirement for “shalem” is only a mitzvah min ha-muvchar; it is no different than the general halakhic preference to recite ha-motzi over a whole loaf. However, he adds that the Rema cited above (291) implies that if one has a whole loaf, one should not break it in half in order to recite ha-motzi over two pieces. The Minchat Yitzchak (10:24) concurs, adding that if there is only one loaf of bread, if may be preferable according to the Netziv to break the loaf in half before serving it to the person reciting ha-motzi. Furthermore, one may say ha-motzi over a whole loaf and a “pat ha-ba’ah be-kisnin” (a food upon which one recites mezonot) in order to fulfill the mitzva of lechem mishneh.


            If the requirement of lechem mishneh is unrelated to the betzi’at ha-pat, but is rather part of the broader obligation of se’udat Shabbat, then certainly one can fulfill one’s obligation with two pieces of bread. One might even suggest that it may be preferable to fulfill lechem mishneh and forgo the mitzva min ha-muvchar of shalem (although the Netziv disagrees with this conclusion). If, however, the obligation of lechem mishneh relates to the betzi’at ha-pat, then it should be performed with whole loaves. One should probably not sacrifice one aspect of betzi’at ha-pat for another.


            Some Acharonim relate this issue to the another question. Must one actually hear the blessing of ha-motzi recited over two loaves of bread, or is it sufficient to participate in a se’uda during which two loaves of bread were blessed? The Resonsa Divrei Yatziv (see also Responsa Kinyan Torah 1:88), cited above, relates that women are not accustomed to hearing the blessing of ha-motzi recited over two loaves; rather, they say the blessing of ha-motzi over the slice of bread they receive. This was apparently common in Poland, especially in Hassidic communities, where the women sat separately from the men. He explains that the mitzva of lechem mishneh is not fulfilled through a form of shelichut. Rather, once the ba’al ha-bayit begins the meal by reciting the blessing over two loaves of bread, all who participate at that meal have fulfilled their obligation. The Sefer Ratz Ka-Tzvi (chapter 54) also cites this custom, but insists that if lechem mishneh is part of the manner in which the bread is broken (the betzi’at ha-pat), the women may not fulfill their obligation unless they actually hear the ba’al ha-bayit recite the blessing of ha-motzi over two loaves. He notes that this is the view of the Arukh Ha-Shulchan and the Shulchan Arukh Ha-Rav.


Se’udat Shabbat and Betz’iat Ha-Pat


It is worth noting that the topic of lechem mishneh appears twice in the Talmud, in two different contexts. In Shabbat (117b), the Talmud cites the halakha of lechem mishneh in the context of the obligation to eat three meals on Shabbat. However, in Berakhot (39b), the Talmud cites this halakha in the context of betzi’at ha-pat, the manner in which one break bread before a meal. Indeed, one might suggest that both explanations of lechem mishneh are correct: It is both part of the larger obligation of shalosh se’udot and an inherent part of the betzi’at ha-pat on Shabbat.


            Furthermore, the Rambam also cites this halakha twice. In Hilkhot Berakhot (7:4), after describing the details of betzi’at ha-pat, he adds that on Shababt and Yom Tov, one must recite the blessing over two loaves. In Hilkhot Shabbat (30:9), he also cites this obligation when he describes the obligation to eat three Sabbath meals as a fulfillment of oneg Shabbat. The Rambam also apparently believes that lechem mishneh is related to both the se’udat Shabbat and the betzi’at ha-pat.


            Next year, we will continue our study of the laws of Berakhot, beginning from the type of bread upon which one recites the blessing of ha-motzi. Best wishes for a restful and enjoyable summer.