Many people (especialy chassidim) are very particular to have certain foods on Shabbos. Fish, soup, cholent, liver, eggs and onions, kugel, and I'm sure I'm missing a few others.

What is/are the significance of these foods? (asides from tasting good!)

What other special Shabbos foods am I missing?

  • There is a book called "Rite and Reason", which explains some of these items.
    – DanF
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 21:08

3 Answers 3


There is a Takanath Ezra about some foods in Shabbat. The Mishna in Nedarim (3, 10) says

הנודר משובתי שבת--אסור בישראל, ואסור בכותים; מאוכלי השום--אסור בישראל, ואסור בכותים. מעולי ירושלים--אסור בישראל, ומותר בכותים.

and further (8, 4)

רבי יוסי בנו אומר, אמר קונם שום שאיני טועם עד שתהא שבת--אין אסור, אלא עד לילי שבת, שלא נתכוון זה, אלא עד שעה שדרך בני אדם לאכול שום

"מאוכלי השום" Jews and Kuthim are called "garlic eaters". It is an habits to eat garlic in Lel Shabbat. Why? Let's go. I will explain a little more.
Gemara BK (82A):

עשרה תקנות תיקן עזרא שקורין במנחה בשבת... וכו' ומכבסים בחמישי בשבת ואוכלין שום בערב שבת וכו'

Ezra established 10 decress, some of them are related to Shabbath. It is in this context that he establishes to eat garlic. The Gemara enumerates five medicinal virtues of garlic, including that enhance male fertility. It also specifies that night Sabbath is the right time has congugale life for students in Torah (which reintegrated into their homes only at weekends).

To drink wine. There is some texts that I remember.
The first in Gemoro Pessahim(106A)

ת''ר {שמות כ-ח} זכור את יום השבת לקדשו זוכרהו על היין

We should mention Shabbat with wine

The second is a Gemara in Nazir (4A):

ור' שמעון נמי הכתיב מיין ושכר יזיר ההוא מיבעי ליה לאסור יין מצוה כיין הרשות מאי היא קדושתא ואבדלתא גמרא הרי מושבע ועומד עליו מהר סיני

According to the first reading stage, the Gemara seems to consider that the use of wine Kidush and Havdalah is a commandment of the Torah.
The Mefaresh explains

דכתיב זכור את יום השבת לקדשו זוכרהו על היין אין לי אלא בכניסתו ביציאתו מנין ת''ל כו' (. פסחים דף קו) וקי''ל דנשבע לבטל את המצוה פטור

He actually thinks that even a Nazir to drink wine at Kidush (This opinion is reported in Tosfoth Rabbi Yehuda Hachassid (Brachoth 20B) in the name of Rabbi Yosef Kara who reports himself rabbi Klonimus of Rome.), and reports a drasha on which we will focus later.
The Mishna in Berachoth (6, 5) says:

בירך על היין שלפני המזון, פטר את היין שלאחר המזון.

He who blesses the wine before the meal makes quit from. blessing of the wine after the meal. and the Gemara (42B) explains that this is true only in Shabbath and Yom Tov, where we mark the meal with wine.
In many places Tosfoth counters this explanation, he thinks: The Gemara in Nazir is written otherwise, references to verses are only allusions and not sources. The use of wine at Kidush is a rabbinic command but it is nonetheless a command. As this is the Halacha. But we have learned the source of the consommation of wine on Shabbath in the Gemara. Many very important elements contained in the response of mbloch. There are still some supplements which I have learned by hearing and say that I do not know original references.


I know a few but far from all - what I find interesting is that there are many halachic reasons behind them

  • soup: the gemara in Brachot 44a says any meal without soup cannot be called a meal

  • cholent (from the French chaud-lent, hot-slow): can stay on the fire/plata all night therefore no issue with the melacha of hazara (returning a dish to be cooked)

  • gefilte fish: doesn't have bones so no risk to perform the melacha of borer (selecting the bad from the good)

  • kugel: possibly because it is dry and tastes good even without sauce, therefore no issue of bishul of a dish in sauce (see also here)

  • fish in general: fish is the only animal that didn't fault before the mabul (flood) and therefore wasn't destroyed, see also here on MY and there

  • challot: two loaves of bread for lehem mishne (either the double portion of manna on Fridays, or shamor v'zakhor et yom hashabat)

  • couscous: I need a placeholder for this (my Sephardic wife wouldn't forgive me otherwise) but cannot think about the halachic background

As @Daniel notes in the comments, it is a mitzva to eat hot food on shabbos lunch, based on the words of Ba’al HaMaor (R Zerachiah HaLevi from Gerona, who lived in the mid-1100s) - from here

It is a Takanas Chachamim to enjoy the Shabbos with a hot dish. Whoever does not do so is suspect of being a ‘Min’ (heretic), the reason being that the heterodox Karaites, who denied the Rabbinic Mesorah, prohibited eating any hot food on Shabbos. The Ba’al HaMaor explains that one who refuses to eat a hot dish on Shabbos (cooked before Shabbos), is suspect of following their heretical interpretation of the Torah and not those of our Chachmei HaDoros.

Finally meat is not included in the list above, because, unlike what most people think, it is only a mitzva to eat meat if one enjoys it. Says the Mishna Brura 242:1 "[...] one should delight in Shabbat according to the custom, with food and drink that is considered delight for them. And since in general, most people get their delight from meat and wine and sweets, therefore [...] one should have a lot of meat and wine and sweets according to one’s abilities"

  • 2
    I believe the etymology of cholent is debated. Wikipedia describes the possibility that you mentioned as a "folk etymology". You also might want to add that some hold that there is almost a requirement to eat warm food at Shabbos lunch. See judaism.stackexchange.com/a/35723/1713
    – Daniel
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 20:02
  • @Daniel it is Mefurash in Rashi in Shass. If I find time to find it I'll give you a link.
    – kouty
    Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 12:11
  • @kouty I'd love to see this reference if you ever get a chance !
    – mbloch
    Commented Feb 29, 2016 at 19:41
  • @ I think that it was a false remember. One friend indicated: באור זרוע וספר התרומה הלכות ערב שבת שהייה חזרה sorry
    – kouty
    Commented Mar 6, 2016 at 10:24
  • see also judaism.stackexchange.com/q/87824/11501 re meat & fish & wine all corresponding to foods eaten in the world to come, since shabbat is a taste of the world to come
    – mbloch
    Commented Dec 21, 2017 at 6:08

I recently became aware that many Shabbat foods share a gematria (specifically a mispar katan mispari) of seven (and Shabbat is the seventh day of the week). None of other than the Vilna Gaon calls our attention to this (taken from here)

ner (Shabbos candles) (spelled nun, reish) 50+200=250, and 2+5+0=7

yayin (wine for Kiddush) (spelled yud, yud, nun) 10+10+50=70, and 7+0=7

challah (loaves of bread) (spelled ches, lamed, hei) 8+30+5=43, and 4+3=7

dag (fish) (spelled daled, gimmel) 4+3=7

basar (meat) (spelled beis, shin, reish) 2+300+200=502, and 5+0+2=7

with two more not mentioned by the Gaon

marak (soup) (spelled mem, reish, kuf) 40+200+100=340, and 3+4+0=7

cholent (meat and potato stew) (spelled tes, shin, ayin, lamed, ayin, nun, tes) 9+300+70+30+70+50+9=538, and 5+3+8=16, and 1+6=7

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