I heard that it was preferred, or perhaps even required, to avoid eating food while standing. For example, as people often do at a cocktail party or a shul kiddush.

With the reason being that "animals eat standing up thus we Jews only eat while sitting"

Is it a minhag? Chumra? Halacha? Sources? Thanks.

  • Your language (in the title and first sentence) is confusing; surely you don't entertain the possibility that it is preferred to eat while standing up? – Dave Apr 5 '12 at 5:45
  • @Dave I've edited to match what I believe Larry's intended meaning was... if I have failed to do so accurately, I encourage him to edit accordingly. – yoel Apr 5 '12 at 5:48
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    Al Pi Kabala there is a very serious inyan to sit while eating. The Arizal used to make sure to sit down before taking the first sip of the Kidush cup. – Hacham Gabriel Apr 6 '12 at 1:56
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    My mother always warned me that if I ate standing up I would get really big feet. – Double AA May 2 '12 at 0:38

Maseches Derech Eretz Zuta Ch. 5 states: "One who is a Talmid Chacham (Torah scholar) should not eat while standing." From the context it is evident that this behavior is considered unrefined. Apparently there would not be anything halachically wrong for a non-scholar to eat while standing, though it's quite understandable why one would want to avoid it. Certainly it is not forbidden to do so -- the Gemara in Berachos 51b actually discusses cases where one ate while traveling or standing. (I would note that regarding this matter, a "Talmid Chacham" is probably anyone who is perceived as a Torah scholar, even if he does not consider himself to be particularly learned.)

Another point is that the Gemara in Gittin (70b) lists eating (or drinking) while standing as something that damages a person's body. Rambam (Hilchos De'os 4:3) simply states that one should sit or lean to his left side when he eats.


Ketzos Hashulchan (39:3), quoting the Elyah Rabbah (OC 170:23), who in turn quotes the Rokeach (329), writes that it is common decency to only eat and drink while seated. This is also brought by Ba'er Heiteiv (OC 170:16) and Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (42:2).

The Mishnah Berurah (296:6) writes that one should drink the cup of Havdalah sitting, "because lechatechila one1 should not drink while standing". In contrast, Shulchan Aruch Harav (OC 296:15) writes that after finishing Havdalah one should sit down to drink the cup, "because a Talmid Chacham (Torah scholar) should not eat or drink standing". This is based on the Derech Eretz Zuta (5:1), which specifically states "Talmid Chacham".

As a (slightly related) aside, Shulchan Aruch Harav (OC 199:1)2 writes that a waiter commonly eats standing (and that he can join a zimmun as such), yet the gemara (berachos 52b) states that Beis Hillel holds the waiter must be a Talmid Chacham (and also according to Beis Shammai there is no objection to the waiter being a Talmid Chacham), yet this (that a Talmid Chacham should not eat or drink standing) is not brought as an objection.

1 I.e. everyone, not only Torah Scholars.

2 Quoting Rabbenu Yonah, Rosh, et al.


From Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim Siman 183:9 and 206:6 it would seem that there is no Issur to eat/drink while standing or walking.

  • I don't see how 206:6 is relevant to the discussion. – Ploni Aug 9 '17 at 12:18
  • @Ploni אבל העומד על אמת המים מברך ושותה, it says stood and said Beracha and drank. – Meir Zirkind Aug 11 '17 at 4:31

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