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Are people insistent upon cutting bread with a knife rather than tearing it apart manually?

If so, why?

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Probably depends on whether it is a challah designed for cutting or tearing (e.g., breakaway challah). I was at someone's home where the cutter did use a knife on breakaway challah, though. –  Tzvi Dec 12 '10 at 16:25
    
An answer Here –  SimchasTorah Dec 14 '10 at 3:37
    
@SimchasTorah The lengthy and speculative thread you linked mentions this issue several times but doesn't seem to arrive at any clear conclusions. Did you find any? –  WAF Dec 14 '10 at 15:09
    
@WAF Is this about Challah on Shabbat or any bread at all? –  Double AA Oct 29 '13 at 21:39

3 Answers 3

I was told a Knife is used because ripping it open makes a person seem like a Ravenous animal eating after tearing it apart and it lacks manners hence a Knife.

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Our family tradition was always to tear the first piece for everyone by hand, since a knife is a symbol of violence and challah is a symbol of peace (shalom bayit?).

Subsequent pieces were cut with the knife.

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@Jeremy The idea of a knife representing death and not life is the reason for covering or removing it after the meal, I believe. But many certainly maintain the practice of using a knife to cut their bread. –  WAF Dec 13 '10 at 17:25
    
I thought we removed the knife so we don't stab ourselves out of grief while bentching and mentioning Yerushalayim, and then getting overwhelmed by sorrow over its loss. –  Jeremy Dec 15 '10 at 14:17
    
What about the tradition that the Shabbos table substitutes for the altar and that, at least, the passing of the challah knife over the challah was in memory of the sacrifices on the altar? –  Bruce James Jan 17 '13 at 15:20
    
@Jeremy If only we were all on that level... –  Double AA Oct 29 '13 at 21:06

O Ch 167 (1) uses the root חתך (to cut) four times to my count. Cutting is done with a knife. If the Shulchan Oruch would have required us to tear apart the bread, it could have used a different expression eg קרע.

I learnt this when once I was a guest given two rolls over which to make my own blessing. When I tore one apart I was reproved by my host.

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And what word would the Shulchan Aruch have chosen if he wasn't trying to require us to do anything? –  Double AA Oct 29 '13 at 20:06
    
What kind of seperatory technique is implied by the roots בצע and פרד which also appear in that Se'if? –  Double AA Oct 29 '13 at 20:09

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