Mi Yodeya is a question and answer site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

The Shabas table song "Ki eshm'ra Shabas" includes the following stanza:

רָשׁוּם/רָשַׁם בְּדַת הָאֵ׳ חוֹק אֶל סְגָנָיו בּוֹ לַעֲרוֹךְ לֶחֶם פָּנִים בְּפָנָיו עַל כֵּן לְהִתְעַנּוֹת בּוֹ עַל פִּי נְבוֹנָיו אָסוּר לְבַד מִיּוֹם כִּפּוּר עֲוֺנִי

It is written/He wrote in the law of God a rule for his lieutenants: to set showbread before Him on [Shabas]. Therefore, to fast on [Shabas] is by the decree of His wise ones forbidden: but for Yom Kipur.

In other words, there's a rabbinically-instituted ban on fasting on fast days if their dates happen to fall on Shabas; on Yom Kipur, however, which is Biblically rather rabbinically declared, there's no such ban, and one may [in fact must] fast.

Rabbi Yaakov Emden's sidur explains:

כתוב בתורת ה׳ (ויקרא כד ח) מצוה לכהניו לסדר בשבת לחם הפנים לפניו על השלחן בביהמ״ק ולסלק הלחם המונח משבת העבר ולאכלו בשבת ולכן אסור מד״ס לצום בשבת וכשחל בו יו״כ חובה לצום

Written in God's Torah (Lev. 24:8) is a command to His kohanim to set the showbread on the table before Him on Shabas, and to remove the bread sitting there from the previous week and eat it on Shabas. Therefore, it's forbidden by rabbinical decree to fast on Shabas. But when Yom Kipur falls on [Shabas], there's an obligation to fast.

(Translations are my own, and somewhat loose.)

Two questions:

  1. Why extend the obligation to eat the showbread to a general ban on fasting? What does one have to do with the other?
  2. Is there any source other than this song for saying that the ban on fasting on Shabas is derived from the laws of the showbread? [I've always understood that the ban on fasting on Shabas derives from the rules of oneg Shabas.]
share|improve this question
ShA OC 288 does sound like it's due to oneg, as you say. (from the din of taanit chalom on shabbat having to fast extra on sunday for breaking 'oneg') – Double AA Jun 10 '12 at 8:07
I'm not sure that this commentary is from R. Yaakov Emden, actually; I don't see these zemiros at all in the first edition of his siddur. (The printers of the later editions, published under the name Beis Yaakov, added a lot of material from other sources; in their introduction they list some - but not all - of these. The Eshkol edition distinguishes them by printing all of the additional material in a different typeface; I'd have to look there to see which one they use for this.) – Alex Jun 11 '12 at 0:40
@Alex, ah, good to know: thanks. I found this commentary in a popular modern version of his sidur and assumed it was his. In any event, my question stands according to whoseever commentary it is, even if that's not Rav Yaakov Emden. – msh210 Jun 11 '12 at 0:43
This is interesting, because I thought three meals is a Biblical requirement – Ypnypn Sep 10 '15 at 3:35
One of my Rabbanim had a drasha on this, which I could retell, but I doubt that it counts as a source – Matt Oct 16 '15 at 6:59

Why extend the obligation to eat the showbread to a general ban on fasting? What does one have to do with the other?

We have another case of something affecting only Cohanim, and a decree was implemented for all Yidden; washing before bread.

Because the Cohanim have to wash before eating Terumah, therefore we all have to wash before eating bread - and make a Bracha on it. (For sources, see this answer.)

So if the Cohanim had to eat the Lechem Hapanim on Shabbat, possibly a general ban on fasting was declared to ensure the Cohanim didn't fast and forget to eat them.

Is there any source other than this song for saying that the ban on fasting on Shabas is derived from the laws of the showbread?

Unlikely. Here's why:

The Lechem Hapanim could be also eaten on Motzai Shabbat. There are even opinions that they can be eaten all week long. (Source)

The Daf al HaDaf (page 60) asks your question as הדברים תמוהים - "the explanation in Rabbi Yaakov Emden's siddur is puzzling".

His only answer - brought in brackets - is that Rabbi Yaakov Emden's siddur holds like the Chacham Tzvi (סימן קנ"א) who holds that it's better to eat them on Shabbat.

As a commenter stated, the Chacham Tzvi was Rabbi Yaakov Emden's father.

That would explain why nobody else seems to understand his fasting-Lechem Hapanim connection, as it's seemingly based on the Chacham Tzvi's view, which few - if any - others seem to agree with. Everybody else seems to prefer to use the other version of the song, viz. גם בו להתענות.

share|improve this answer
Keep in mind that the Chacham Tzvi was R. Yaakov Emden's father, and it may not be as puzzling... – wfb Oct 14 '15 at 18:42
@Danny Schoemann: Also, I don't know if this would illuminate what you found on Daf al HaDaf, but the Alter Rebbe says this prohibition to fast is derived from Yerushalmi Ta'anit toward the end of chapter 8. I looked there and That is the source for the prohibition. But the meforshim on the page point to the Yerushalmi Nedarim, chapter 2, halacha 3 or 5 if I remember. It doesn't discuss there Shabbat fasting but an individual poskining contrary to the majority for themselves. And it uses the same language, "הדברים תמוהים". – Yaacov Deane Oct 15 '15 at 14:59
@Danny Schoemann: A possible resolution can be found from a teaching by the Ba'al Shem Tov concerning the different ways of viewing the order of Shabbat. In one view, Shabbat is at the end of 6 days and is like reward. The other view is that Shabbat is the main thing and all the other days are influenced by it. See the following link for details. sichos-in-english.org/books/making-chassidim/08.htm – Yaacov Deane Oct 15 '15 at 14:59

This song is recounting how everything we do on Shabbat is kadosh (think in terms of being transparent to its originating source) and is a sign (think that it is an indicating marker, like a road sign along the way). That is the repeating phrase (אות היא לעולמי עד בינו וביני) "It is an eternal sign between Him and me."

If you look at the Roshei Teivot of this repeating phrase, it emphasizes another association (אהל עבו היינו ע״ב ו) His thick tent (a reference to the clouds of glory, the thick clouds, which surrounded the Jewish people after leaving Egypt). His tent is also a reference to the Tent of Meeting, the Mishkan. It also has the implication that this was the place where the 72 (ע״ב) letter name was pronounced by Aharon HaKohen Gadol on Yom Kippur. And that all of this was to draw kindness (chesed "חסד" which is gematria of 72) into this world from above. This is accomplished through the middle path which is called "Tiferet" and is associated with Yaacov Avinu and the letter "Vav" which has a gematria of 6, like the sixth day. The conclusion and end of this middle path is the sefirah of Yesod which is what connects with and leads into Malchut "Kingship". Malchut being a reference to the Shabbat Kallah which we greet at the close of the sixth day in reciting Lecha Dodi and Eishet Chayil and also to our declaration the HaShem is King of the Universe in the recital of kiddush on Shabbat.

So we see an association between what was done coming out of Egypt, what was done in the Temple (the Mishkan is the Temple and the Temple is the Mishkan) and what we do every Shabbat.

The stanza in the song says, "To the first generation was given My holy one (meaning Shabbat). A wonder in giving a double portion of bread (the Manna) on the sixth. Thus it is with all sixths, you will double my sustenance."

This means that the concept of doubling the bread is related to six. In the Temple, that translated to the requirement that the Lechem HaPanim was 12 breads (2 times 6). One for each tribe that came out of Egypt. Part of the language for kiddish is to say 'in remembrance of going out of Egypt'.

Although the general custom of Ashkenazim is to use only two challot for kiddush, the practice of the Kabbalists, particularly those who follow the teachings of the Ari z"l, is to place 12 challot on the table for Shabbat kiddush. This is done in two arrangements of six, one on top of the other. This follows the precise wording from VaYikra 24:5-9. It says there that every Shabbat, without interruption, the children of Israel will arrange this bread before G-d as an eternal covenant. And it will be for Aharon and his children (meaning those who follow the practice and teaching of Aharon. Aharon is called Ish Chesed, and those who follow his teachings and practice are 'Chassidim'. Additionally, the entire Jewish people are called 'a nation of priests' like in Shemot 19:6.). And they will eat it in a holy place because it (the bread that is placed) is Holy of Holies to Him from the fire offerings of HaShem. And this is an eternal law (חק עולם).

The command from the Torah is that when you place the arrangement of bread, you will eat it. It is prohibited to fast on Shabbat because you must place the bread as part of the observance of Shabbat.

And this is following what happened to the children of Israel when they went out from Egypt. If they left the Manna over from Shabbat, it spoiled. They couldn't stockpile it for later usage.

The only exception to eating the bread on the day it was placed is Yom Kippur. If Yom Kippur falls on Shabbat, we are commanded to fast because we were specifically commanded to fast on that day. It is "Shabbat Shabbaton", the Sabbath of Sabbaths.

And that is precisely the text of song as it continues. "Marked as the law of G-d as a law (חוק כמ״ש ויקרא כד:ט) to His officers concerning it, 'to arrange the showbread before Him.' Therefore, to fast on it (the day you arrange it) is prohibited according to those who understand it (or understand Him), except for Yom Kippur when you will fast."

And this is precisely why this section from VaYikra is recited at the conclusion of Shabbat morning prayers in the siddur of the Alter Rebbe. It teaches the requirement to make the arrangement of twelve challah loaves for kiddush to fulfill the mitzvah properly.

This is also what is found in the Siddur of Rabbi Shabtai of Rashkov, the Siddur Kol Yaacov and the Siddur HaAri z"l from Zolkova.

share|improve this answer

Because of this question (what does lechem hapanim have to do with the prohibition of fasting?) R. Wolf Heidenheim emended the text of the zemer to read: גם להתענות בו... in which case, the two items have no relationship to one another. This also appears to be the Sephardic/Yemenite version as seen e.g., here and here, among other siddurim [the exact wording is גם בו להתענות...]. Alternatively, R. Yitzchak Suvalsky explains that there is a connection related to the the astrological destiny of Shabbat which the Jewish people transcend by means of the lechem hapanim [it seems like a far-fetched explanation].

If I were to make up my own explanation, it would be based on the view of the Zohar/Rashba/Vilna Gaon that the lechem mishneh requirement corresponds to the lechem hapanim [by cutting both loaves at each meal, for a total of twelve "loaves." See e.g., here.] If this is correct, then the mitzvah of lechem hapanim is connected to the obligation to eat three meals on Shabbat.

share|improve this answer
There's only one thing I find troubling about the emending the text. According to the siddur of Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato, the author of the zemer was Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra. Are you saying Rabbi Heidenheim discovered the correct text from Ibn Ezra was according to his change or that he felt Ibn Ezra made an error? I don't see many late Acharonim emending the writings of Rishonim. – Yaacov Deane Oct 15 '15 at 4:10
@YaacovDeane I assume R. Heidenheim emended the text on his own (I'm not sure). But as it happens, there are a (minority of) manuscripts which support his general view. And there certainly are many late acharonim who emend the writings of rishonim, see for example the Rashash (or any of the other acharonim cited in Oz ve-Hadar, for example the Or ha-Chamah and יבלחט"א He-Akov le-Mishor, who are quite contemporary) – wfb Oct 15 '15 at 15:30

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.