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There is a gemara (Pesachim 110) describing the concern for ruach ra with eating even numbers of foods, in particular:

  1. 109b - Question: Why did Chachamim enact to drink four cups? This is dangerous! i. Beraisa: One should not eat two (or any even number of) things, drink two cups[...]

and

  1. Rav Dimi: A tradition from Moshe from Sinai teaches that one should be concerned for two eggs, two nuts, two gourds and two of another matter. Chachamim were unsure what the other matter is, therefore they decreed about everything.

The gemara presents different rejoinders from the Sages of Blessed Memory explaining why the four cups are okay on Pesach. But the only responses that would seem to apply also to the lechem mishnah, the "double bread" (the two loaves we bless on Shabbos and Yom Tov and at all festive meals, I think) are Rav Asi's Berachos 51b that "we do not bless Birkas ha'Mazon on a cup of punishments" (i.e., that the blessing/mitzvah aspect means we are unassailable by default) and the Tosfos that "ruach ra is not frequent among us." Neither seems to be a full explanation of why lechem mishneh is okay.

Is this discussed anywhere? (I am also reminded of the fact that the ur- lechem mishneh, the showbreads [and, @DoubleAA notes, the double manna], were in an even number - 12 [2] - and that we have 12 strands total in most lechem mishneh at the Shabbos table.)

  • What do you mean "the original lechem mishneh, the showbreads"? Wasn't the original lechem mishneh the manna that fell on Friday (Ex 16:22)? – Double AA Jul 31 '17 at 20:07
  • @DoubleAA Yes you're right – SAH Aug 2 '17 at 1:55
  • What makes you say the showbreads were called lechem mishneh at all? I'm confused why you're including them at all. – Double AA Aug 2 '17 at 12:51
  • @DoubleAA You may be right. I don't know that they were "called" lechem mishneh but I have heard that they are the source for some of our customs with lechem mishneh, especially the fact that each challah is ideally made with six strands. Unfortunately there is a lot of misinformation surrounding women's mitzvos so I don't know if it's true – SAH Aug 3 '17 at 17:03
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Interesting question. It is dealt with at the bottom of this site (the same one you quoted, incidentally). A summary of the answers there:

  1. Zugos are only a problem when the entire pair are consumed (four cups of wine), but lechem Mishnah wasn't enacted to eat two entire loaves, just to make hamotzi on them (Rabbi Yisroel Shaw)
  2. Some texts of Pesachim 110b say loaves aren't subject to zugos since they're entirely made by man (See Rabbeinu Chananel who doesn't have this girsa)
  3. Maharsham cites the Zohar Parshas Ekev, p. 273a which asks this and says there's no issue of sheidim and thus zugos on shabbos (see Rav Yaakov Emden's question on this on their site). Apparently there's an issue on yom tov, otherwise the gemarra doesn't make sense (although this doesn't explain lechem mishneh on yom tov)

Note: their site lists various opinions who say zugos aren't a problem today. See Ben Yehoyada who says the minhag in Baghdad was to specifically send gifts of zugos to each other to show how the shedim have no power.

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