I recently saw by a Friday night dinner that the challah bread was dipped in salt a few times. Is there a specific amount of times to dip it, and why dip it in the first place?

  • Good question! It has to do with the fact that sacrifices all had salt on them I believe
    – andrewmh20
    Sep 13, 2015 at 4:34
  • See this article. Some people have the specific custom to dip three times, corresponding to the three mentions of the word "salt" in Vayikra 2:13 and the fact that the gematria of both the Hebrew word for salt and the Hebrew word for bread is triple that of the Tetragrammaton (the comments in the linked article attribute the second reason to the Kaf HaChayim).
    – Fred
    Sep 13, 2015 at 4:34
  • 2
    See: judaism.stackexchange.com/a/13726/2246
    – andrewmh20
    Sep 13, 2015 at 4:35

3 Answers 3


Great question. I myself have had this question and looked it up, and I found the article Why Do We Dip the Challah Bread in Salt? to be very interesting.

To sum up what's written there:

It's dipped in salt every time bread is eaten, and not only on Shabbos. The reason is that your table is compared to an altar, and since sacrifices brought on the altar all had salt, so too your bread should.

Based on Kabbalah, it is done because bread represents divine kindness, whereas salt represents strict divine judgment. And, we want kindness to overpower strict judgment.

It is done three times because, again based on Kabbalah, bread (לחם in Hebrew) has the numerical value of 78, the name of G-d (י-הוה in Hebrew) has the value of 26, and 26 x 3 = 78 (26 is the value of G-d’s name, and 3 is the 3 times we dip). This reminds us that we don't only live from the bread we eat; but, also the blessing of G-d in our food.

  • The "Lechem"/Bread/Chesed (לחם) and the "Melach"/Salt/Gevurah (מלח) essentially neutralize each other. They are both derived from G-d's essence which relates back to G-d's four letter name which transcends the division of the two. This is alluded to in the actual "dipping" (הטביל) or (טבילה) which in Mispar Katan is also 26 (20 plus 5 plus 1) when including the count for the letters and word itself. Three dips reveals the common root and essence of both the salt and the bread. Sep 16, 2015 at 17:42
  • Minhag Chasam Sofer - and incidently, my minhag - is not to dip on Friday night, because there were no Korbonos brought. On a normal night, the emurim and pedarim were sacrificed; on Friday night, they were not. Accordingly, we dip every meal of the week except Shabbos eve.
    – chortkov2
    Jul 14, 2019 at 20:56

Shulchan Aruch Harav 167:8

...If the bread is made from fine flour, it is flavored with spices or with salt as our bread is, or the person desires to eat plain bread,he need not wait for [salt or relish]. If, however, he desires to wait, he has license to do so. He need not be concerned with the interruption made between washing and reciting the blessing HaMotzi, since [he is waiting for something] necessary for the meal, even if it is not necessary for the blessing HaMotzi.

Nevertheless, it is customary to place salt on the table [before the recitation of the blessing HaMotzi, even when the bread does not require it. The rationale is that] the table is comparable to the altar [of the Beis HaMikdash] and our food, to a sacrifice, and it is written: “On all your sacrifices offer salt.” [Moreover,] when Jews sit at the table and wait for each other to wash their hands, they are [idle], without mitzvos. [Hence,] the Satan makes accusations against them and the “covenant of salt” protects them. Therefore, it is a mitzvah to place it on the table even if one does not partake of it. According to Kabbalah, one should dip the piece of bread [over which the blessing HaMotzi was recited] in salt three times....


The Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot 40a, says that a host should not serve a meal until salt or relish has been laid on the table and for health reasons.

Isaac ben Solomon Luria, known as Ari, wrote that G-d is composed of ten parts, called Sefirot. He had the mystical view that when you dipped the bread in salt three times it was symbolically joining the parts of G-d.[1] He saw that the Hebrew word for bread, lechem (l-ch-m), shares the same letters of the Hebrew word for salt, melach (m-l-ch), though in a different order.

Moses Isserles, or Ramah, who lived after the Ari, rationalized the dipping of bread on kosher salt. He wrote that:

“It is a mitzvah to set salt on the table before breaking bread because the table is like the [Temple] altar and food like a sacrifice.... And it is a shield from demons.”

  • 2
    I can be wrong but I very strongly doubt the Ari wrote that God is composed of 10 parts. He might have written that God's influence in the world is channeled through 10 sefirot or channels. Do you have a source for your assertion?
    – mbloch
    Nov 9, 2019 at 16:16
  • Some think the Ari did not think that G-d is composed of 10 sefirot “parts.” Yet others felt it was metaphorical. Some even think the Rashi felt that G-d has a body.
    – Turk Hill
    Nov 10, 2019 at 0:07

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