This a sequel to this question for which an answer cites O.C. 167:5 that likens one's table to an altar.

My follow up questions:

  • When? Only while eating? And is it only while eating a meal that contains bread, or any type of meal? What about a snack or if one drinks just water?
  • Is it only for a dedicated eating table? What if the table is used for eating as well as working?
  • nice hagdaros 👍 – alicht Jul 17 at 18:56
  • What difference does it make that we could test if this status is present? – Double AA Jul 17 at 19:03
  • @DoubleAA E.G., do you need to remove the knife for saying al hamichya? And for 2nd question, if it's a multi-use table maybe even for Birkat Hamazon you can leave a knife there. – DanF Jul 17 at 19:06
  • @DanF Beis Yosef brings two reasons that one has to remove the knife. If it’s because of שלחן דומה למזבח and that doesn’t applies to מזונות, then you perhaps have a נפק״מ between that and the מעשה שהיה (since the חורבן is discussed in על המחיה also). – DonielF Jul 17 at 21:59
  • It is NOT considered Halachicly, only allegorically, so I think it's up to the person. – Al Berko Jul 18 at 13:11

As pointed out , the source is in Chagiga 27a.

Rashi and Tosafos both say that the reason being that one does Hachnosas Orchim at one's table.


שולחנו מכפר עליו - בהכנסת אורחין:‏

One's table atones - by inviting guests


שלחנו של אדם מכפר. דגדול כח הלגימא כדאיתא בהגדת חלק (סנהדרין דף קג.):‏

One's table atones. Because the power of Legima is great, as we see in Sanhedrin 103b

Note that Tosafos in the printed version points to Sanhedrin 106a - a typo

If we go to Sanhedrin 103b we learn:

א"ר יוחנן משום רבי יוסי בן קסמא גדולה לגימה שהרחיקה שתי משפחות מישראל שנאמר (דברים כג, ה) על דבר אשר לא קדמו אתכם בלחם ובמים ‏

Rabbi Yoḥanan says in the name of Rabbi Yosei ben Kisma: Great is Legima, as it distanced two clans from the Jewish people, as it is stated: “An Ammonite or a Moabite shall not enter into the assembly of the Lord…because they met you not with bread and with water” (Deuteronomy 23:4–5).

So we see that Legima is offering people food.

Putting it all together, I would propose that any location where one actually hosts guests has the atonement value of a Mizbeach. (This seems clear from Rashi; from reading Tosafos one could argue that even if it only has the potential to host guests but one hasn't yet done so, it would still qualify.)

I would also propose that any type of food being served would qualify, as the Ammonites and a Moabites were not expected to serve full meals; they were expected to be hospitable.

So to answer your #1: When? Once you've hosted guests at it, it has this special status.

And #2: Any surface - once it was used for hosting guests has this special status.

But I cannot find any concrete proof - just reading between the lines.

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