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At the shabbos meal, why do some people (such as Yodeyan NBZ) not eat the end piece of the challah? Some people don't even just start at the middle, they avoid the end-piece altogether.

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  • Menachem, THANKS! btw: Rabbi Chaim Kanievski said he never hearded about this minhag, but according what you say it make sense! – havarka Jan 26 '15 at 8:46
  • @Menachem You should develop your link to an answer! – Avrohom Yitzchok Jan 26 '15 at 9:38
  • I always eat the end piece which is the most baked, and I always eat it first. One should eat from where the bread is first baked (King Menashe / Rav Assi). so yeah it depends how the bread actually is baked. We bake our own anyway – CashCow Jan 26 '15 at 11:23
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    I’ve heard some have the minhag specifically to eat the end piece, as a segulah for having children. – DonielF Mar 12 at 1:05

11 Answers 11

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Taamei Haminhagim - page 77 - #176 *note on bottom giving a Kabalistic reason, says that it is to be Mevatel tho Koach of the Chitzonim. It seems from his wording that if you take off a small piece of it, you can eat the rest of it.

  • Does it matter along which axis you slice the bread in determining which is the end piece? – Double AA Jan 26 '15 at 14:41
  • @DoubleAA: It would seem to me that the end is what you call the end. – Gershon Gold Jan 26 '15 at 14:56
  • @DoubleAA What I have seen is that nothing is discarded on "round" challos R"H time. – Adám Jan 26 '15 at 17:12
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    @NBZ My friend who does this informs me that in his custom any axis is equally good, so around R"H time they just set their axes such that some edge of the circle is an end piece and discard it. – Double AA Jan 26 '15 at 23:09
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In the sefer Shmiras Haguf Vehanefesh (31:4) by Rav Yitzchok Lerner, Rav Chaim Kanievsky is quoted saying that there is no source for this in the tradional Jewish literature, but if this is ones family minhag he should not change it. See Orchos Rabbeinu 3 page 104, 23 who says that the Steipler zt"l did not eat the end peice.

Personally, I have heard from Rav Moshe Heineman of Baltimore and head of the Star K kosher organization, that he as a student in the Lakewood Yeshiva studied under Rav Ahron Kotler, and observed that Rav Ahron at the shabbos seuda in yeshiva would take specially the end peices of the challah, Rav Moshe Heineman asked Rav Ahron about the minhag not to eat the end pieces Rav Ahron waved him off and said "there is no such source anywhere in shas or the poskim". Rav Ahron remarked that the end pieces were his favorite part of the challah. (See picture below featuring Rabbi Heinemans story printed in The Fire of Torah page 170)

See Yaaros Devash 1:11 page 220 "ul'chach". Minchas Yitzchok 9:8:7, minhag Yisroel Torah 2:7, piskei teshuvos 167:3 footnote 29, Sheilas Rav 2:15:15, Doleh Umashke pare 362, Halichos Chaim 2:15:111.

Rabbi Heinemans story printed in The Fire of Torah page 170

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I heard the reason is that in the older days they use to bake the bread in a common oven. So one bread useD to touch the other. So when you eat your bread you maybe also eat a bit of the bread from the other.
There is an inyan of "koshe leshichecha" something that can make you forget you learning, is gezel.
By not eating the end you're for sure not "gezel" the bread from the other.

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    Welcome to Mi Yodeya. Could you edit in where you heard this? Also, i made a couple changes for style and grammar. If there's anything you don't like, feel free to edit again. – Scimonster Jan 26 '15 at 14:14
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In our house (and also growing up) the end piece was left over because people like the softer middle slices of the challah (also, sliced rye). (Which reminds me, l'havdil, of the Rav Moshe story where he was asked about his custom to hunch - he had trouble standing straight.)

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    I won't downvote as everyone is entitled to an opinion, but this type of idea is insulting to the many people who do have this minhag. It also completely ignores the fact that the minhag is specifically to cut off a tip before they start eating, not just to leave over a piece at the end. – user6591 Jan 26 '15 at 18:10
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    @user6591 Why is it insulting? – Double AA Jan 26 '15 at 20:11
  • @Double making someone's minhagim sound like they were based of a silly misinterpretation of what happened. Like the old joke that the Rebbe's 'minhag' was to only cut his toenails after going to the mikva erev shabbos. The chassidim followed suit. When questioned however the Rebbe said he did that so his nails would soften in the water. Ok jokes over. Get the point? Many people have practices that they keep for no other reason than they saw great people doing it. – user6591 Jan 26 '15 at 20:38
  • It's certainly not our place to belittle something practiced by many with nothing more than a silly anecdote. If there would be a real insight or question, that would be a different story, mixing up leftovers with a minhag is the same as the toenail joke. – user6591 Jan 26 '15 at 20:39
  • @user6591 Again, what's insulting? I have customs that I practice which I think are baseless. So what? Also, do we need to pretend that the toenail cutting is actually significant to avoid insulting those chassidim?? That's just encouraging the spread of silliness and is insulting to the integrity of the Torah. – Double AA Jan 26 '15 at 20:42
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I always thought that people didn't not eat the end piece as much as they did eat the rest of the challah. What I mean is that there is an inyan to eat the 'prusas hamotzi' i.e. the peiece of bread that hamotzi is said on and then eaten from. If a person says hamotzi and then cuts off a piece and eats from the rest, then you end up with a lot of bread that's considered prusas hamotzi and everyone can eat from it.

  • +1 this is the rabbi approved explenation I alluded to in my amswer. – user6591 Jan 26 '15 at 18:07
  • @user6591 Yay! I never saw it written anywhere (not that I've read everything) but I'm happy to see that I'm not the only one who has had this thought. – Gavriel Jan 26 '15 at 18:09
  • My Rebbi/Rosh Yeshiva who I mentioned this to said he also had the same idea. He is a nitpicky person (litvish by nature but family originated from Gerr chassidus) so he said according to this idea to be careful when cutting the end, to cut the loaf towards yourself and not the tip away from the loaf. Ahh. Gotta love him. – user6591 Jan 26 '15 at 18:16
  • To add to that, what I do after cutting off a piece from the big challah is then dip the big piece in salt and only then break off a small piece for myself and everyone else. (Nowadays that the bread itself is tasty the main reason to dip 3 times in salt is kabbalistic and I see no reason why dipping the big piece 3 times is a problem. When the bread was not so tasty then there was an inyan to dip each piece in salt.) Do you mind saying who your Rebbe is? – Gavriel Jan 26 '15 at 19:07
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Loewian was right in his answer, but it can be fleshed out a lot more.

If one looks at general (non-Jewish) culture, there is a name for this part of the bread. It is the heel of the loaf, or the butt of the loaf. And it is also a widespread general (non-Jewish) practice not to eat the heel of the loaf. See for example here and here, out of many, many results.

People tend not to like the heel of the loaf because it is almost all crust, which doesn't taste as good. This is the most likely reason for avoiding eating it. However, just as nature abhors a vacuum, a common practice begs for explanations for practices. And those explanations, once established, influence further behavior.

These explanations can be practical. E.g. I've seen people suggest this prevents the bread from getting moldy, or stale, as quickly.

These explanations can be superstitious. Thus, for a pregnant woman, if she avoids the heel it will be a girl, while if she goes straight for the heel it is a boy.

They can be mitzvah-oriented or kabbalistic. Thus, some of these other answers.

The effect of an invented kabbalistic or mitzvah-oriented explanation is two-fold:

  1. It enshrines a practice as minhag or quasi-halacha, such that people won't abandon the practice even when it no longer makes sense. (e.g. if bread were made in some other way.)
  2. It might change how people engage in the practice. If people think it is akin to hafrashat challah, or to transform the rest of the loaf into perusat hamotzi, they might insist on taking it off first. Though even without an explanation, if people believe it is a minhag, then they might take any arbitrary way they observed it done and insist that it be performed in precisely that way. (This was put in to address user6591's remarks.)

As others noted, Minchas Yitzchak, Rav Kanievsky, and Rav Aharon Kotler all stated that there is no source for this minhag. In light of this, it is not insulting to suggest that this arose from an extremely common, non-Jewish practice. This is not chukat hagoyim since there are good practical reasons for it, just as using an umbrella when it rains is neither a minhag nor chukkat hagoyim. And that certain tweaks where people insist on behavior arose from either the belief it is a minhag (and thus encrusting a particular way of performing it) or from offered ex-post-facto explanations of the practice.

  • The fact that none of the 10 answers here provide any classical sources further supports this theory. – Double AA Jul 20 '16 at 13:31
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The Minchas Yitzchok writes in a responsa chelek 9:Siman 8:7 that he has this tradition, but that he couldn't find a source for it.

If he practiced it and tried to source it but couldn't, I would assume there is no real source.

Theories to backwards engineer a reason would be a different story though. I myself might post my own Rabbi approved theory at some point.

  • "If he practiced it and tried to source it but couldn't, I would assume there is no real source." I'd only assume that there's then no extant written source. – msh210 Jan 27 '15 at 3:08
  • @msh210 please see my source below – hazoriz Aug 18 at 23:41
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The Taamei ha'Minhagim also suggests the reason is bakers used to stick down the end of the challah with saliva so it was a health-risk to eat the ends.

  • Where does the Taamei ha'Minhagim suggest that? – Double AA Jul 20 '16 at 0:59
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Similar to @user6591 and @Gavriel's idea (above)


It seems to be a natural result of fulfilling the correct way of baking bread on Shabbos

Shulchan Aruch Harav 167:4

Among the guidelines of proper conduct is not to cut off a [very] small piece of bread, because then one appears miserly. Nor, should he cut off too large a slice, i.e., one larger than an egg, during the week, because then he appears like a glutton. On Shabbos, however, it is a mitzvah to cut off a large piece, sufficient to last throughout the entire meal. One need not be concerned about [appearing] gluttonous, as explained in sec. 274[:3].
All the above applies when one eats alone. If one eats together with the members of his household or with guests, ...

Talmud Brochos 39b and Shabbos 117b

Rabbi Zeira would break off one large piece from the loaf, and eat from it for the entire Shabbat meal.

So when one cuts a big piece off (the size which should be enough for the entire meal) automaticly a (small) piece that is not eaten is left over


Sources: Shulchan Aruchv O"H 274:2 and Ramo 167:1

  • This doesn't say not to eat the small piece. It just says to eat the big piece first. Doesn't answer the question – Double AA Aug 19 at 0:23
  • @DoubleAA please reread it, it says to eat only one piece for the entire meal (any size necessary) – hazoriz Aug 19 at 0:26
  • But what if you underestimated? There's no prohibition on the small piece. It does not say you must only eat from one piece. It says you should take a full portion to start with. And if you want more later, that's not a problem at all. – Double AA Aug 19 at 0:28
  • @DoubleAA nu (it is just self deprecating (maybe even gluttonous) (to eat it), since it is not the optimal way to do it) (the word "prohibition" was not used by the OP) – hazoriz Aug 19 at 0:30
  • No, it's prohibited to not eat it if you're still hungry. To mevattel oneg shabbos for a non existent kiyum of only having eaten from the big piece is assur midina. – Double AA Aug 19 at 0:31
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Heard reason we don't eat challah end pieces is to remind us of the mitzvah of Hafroshas Challah

  • Welcome to Mi Yodeya Rav Vogdor! Thanks for the answer. – mevaqesh Jul 19 '16 at 6:17
  • If one did not take off Chala before shabbos this would be the right way to do it – hazoriz Aug 19 at 2:01
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I grew up with the tradition that my mother ate the end piece of the challa. We were told that it was a segula for fertility, but maybe the link to the women's mitzva of hafrashas challa is closer to the truth.

  • Welcome Mei! It would be wonderful if you could provide a source or avoid speculative answers! Thank you! – Shoel U'Meishiv Jul 19 '16 at 14:35
  • I guess she did it because it she liked the crust, and out of honor honor her she got it – hazoriz Aug 18 at 23:31

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