Is it true that the Chabad custom is specifically not to wash hands for (and eat) bread for shalosh seudos, and, if so, why?


2 Answers 2


In Hayom Yom (22 Adar I) the Rebbe quotes the Rebbe Rasha”b (Meheirah Yishamah 5648) as saying, “The obligation to eat Shalosh Seudos is learned from the Passuk “Hayom Lo”, therefore we don’t need to eat bread, but one must taste something. As Rabbi Yossi said (Talmud, Shabbos 118b) “May my portion be among those who eat Shalosh Seudos”.

So Minhag Chabad is to make sure to taste something for Shalosh Seudos, and the reason why they don’t wash for bread is because of the Posuk “Hayom Lo”.

What this means is as follows: The Gemarah in Shabbos learns out the obligation to eat 3 meals of Shabbos from the following Posuk: “And Moshe said, eat [the Monn] today (Hayom), because today (Hayom) is a Shabbos for Hashem, today you will not (Hayom Lo) find [the Monn] in the field”. Since the Pasuk says the word “Hayom” 3 times (when speaking about the Monn which served them as bread), we learn that one must eat 3 meals on Shabbos.

Based on the words of Rabbeinu Bechayei the Tzemach Tzedek rules (Piskei Dinim Chiddushim on Rabbeinu Yerucham p. 357) that since this meal is learned from the words “Hayom Lo”, unlike the first two meals which are learned from the word “Hayom”, we don’t need to eat bread for Shalosh Seudos, unlike the first two meals.

  • I once read a lengthy sicha justifying not eating anything physical and learning Torah instead to fulfill the third s'uda . Do you recall this?
    – WAF
    Jan 23, 2011 at 3:42
  • vaguely........ Jan 23, 2011 at 4:30
  • The often quoted Zohar of Rabi Shimon Bar Yochai not eating bread and being yotzei with Torah instead was talking about Shabbos Erev Pesach. A bit shaky to apply it to every Shabbos.
    – Yahu
    Jan 23, 2011 at 7:06
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    @WAF: are you referring to the sicha at hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=15998&st=&pgnum=97? On the contrary, the Rebbe there explains at length why it is important to eat something for Shalosh Seudos, but on the other hand why it is our custom not to wash for it - and also how this fits with what the Baal Hatanya writes in his Shulchan Aruch. (He also cites the Zohar that Yahu mentioned, but points out that indeed we don't apply this in general.)
    – Alex
    Jan 23, 2011 at 18:19
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    This a pretty big chiddush by the Rebbe. Do we have any other examples of him making new drashas on pesukim that contradict pshat shulchan aruch?
    – Double AA
    Jun 20, 2012 at 20:44

The reason is (perhaps) due to the fight between the two potential successors of the "previous Rebbe" of Chabad. Although there are older sources on the topic relating to the Rebbes, the widespread custom in Chabad was for the chasidim themselves to wash (according to the halacha), up until the mid-20th century.

"Finally since Gourary (the previous Rebbe's elder son-in-law) was delivering a chassidic discourse at the Shlosh Seudos meal in 770, the Rebbe abolished this ritual in Lubavitch. Of course Gourary continued to lead the 770 meal, but it was sparsely attended as all knew that this was without the Rebbe’s blessings." - R. Zalman Alpert (YU Reference Librarian)


  • 3
    The Rebbe didn't "abolish" anything. Chabad Chassidim do eat Shalosh Seudos, we just don't wash for it. Why would that prevent anyone from saying Chassidus at the time? This is just another one of these so-called "scholarly" explanations that see the Rebbe as, G-d forbid, some kind of Machiavellian maneuverer.
    – Alex
    Jan 23, 2011 at 18:16
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    I don't understand why the -1; the previous answer did not answer the question at all. The question is not whether you have to eat bread; a cursory glance in the Shulchan Aruch shows that not to be the case; the question is why Chabad specifically does not (against the l'chatchila halacha) and why Chabad changed their practice not to in the last 60 years. And to that, my answer (quoting an esteemed scholar) seems reasonable. And yet I am attacked for the uncomfortable nature of my non-apologetic answer and my supposed associations. Since when is mi.yodeya a forum for such vitriol?
    – Curiouser
    Jan 27, 2011 at 13:27
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    @Curiouser Just to be clear, the custom to not wash for Shalosh Seudas goes back to the Alter Rebbe after he was released from prison, and you can look in his siddur for the source. The real question is why people assume that before 60 years ago the entire Jewish people were washing on bread for S.S. or eating at all.
    – user1292
    Mar 7, 2012 at 21:48
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    this is totally made up. earlier chasidim going back to the times of the alter rebbe did not necessarily always wash for the third meal. see the siddur where it emphasizes to eat something but not necessarily wash. claiming that the lubavitcher rebbe did away with an obligatory meal based on a disagreement is nothing short of ridiculous and insulting. you should delete your answer
    – Dude
    Apr 11, 2019 at 20:20

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