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Is there a minhag that one should not pass a child over a table to another person to hold? In my family we would pass a child from person to person all the way around the table, but nobody could ever explain the reason. Is there a source for that?

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    Maybe it comes from the halacha that food should not be under a sleeping person. Often, infants being passed around are asleep. Just a thought. – jake May 12 '11 at 16:44
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    This is a question that can only be answered in one direction - if anyone can say "Yes". Nobody will be able to state definitively that there is no such custom... so if nobody answers, consider it a "No"... ;) – Shaul Behr May 12 '11 at 17:05
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    Probably has to do with wide tables, and worry about dropping the baby. Or leaky diapers dripping on the table. Seems more like one of those "I cut off the ends of the roast because my pan was too small. Why did you?" things... – AviD May 12 '11 at 18:58
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    @Shaul, there may be sources that denounce such a custom as nonsense, which will simultaneously prove that it exists and prove that it doesn't (so to speak). – msh210 May 12 '11 at 20:07
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    @msh210, true. There is also no problem from the fact that the food is not on the ground, but rather on a table. Still, sometimes people do things based on what they think is a problem rather than what is a problem in reality. – jake May 12 '11 at 20:20
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The book ‘She’eilat Rav’ records that R. Chaim Kanievsky was asked about this practice. He replied simply that it’s something which people are careful about and referenced Rabbi Yosef Hahn in his Yosef Ometz. IIRC Rav Hahn cites the following section from the Sefer Chassidim (§920):

ילד אחד עמד לפסוע על השלחן שאביו היה משים תדיר ספריו ולא יחדו רק לספרים לבד. וגם כשרצה לאכול עליו לחם ובכל יום ספרים עליו ולקח הספרים מעליו עד שיאכל ועמד הילד על השולחן וירד ונחתך כף רגלו בסכין אמר האב פשעי גרם שהנחתי לבני לפסוע על השלחן שהיו עליו ספרים

From what I’ve seen this has commonly come to be a source people use to attribute this practice while also taking in to account the widespread notion that a table (upon which bread is broken) is likened to the mizbeach.

Text of Rav Chaim:

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Footnote:

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Additional:

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  • It's in chelek 2 – sam Jul 1 at 15:17
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    The Yosef Ometz in this instance is not the Chida,but rather Rabbi Joseph Hann from Germany – sam Jul 1 at 15:35
  • Thank you both. – Oliver Jul 1 at 16:11
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The reason that we have become accustomed not to pass children over the table is because a table is akin to a mizbeach. (An Altar). The Altar was the place where they would sacrifice animals. Enough said :).

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    Welcome to Judaism.SE, and thanks very much for this explanation! You could make it even more valuable by providing some information on where you heard it (even if that's "something my grandmother once mentioned"). – Isaac Moses May 12 '11 at 20:05
  • what about akeidat yitzchak?? – Adam Mosheh Apr 26 '12 at 19:33
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    Any source for this? – Yehoshua Nov 18 '12 at 12:25

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