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Questions and Answers on Seudah Shelishit

Questions and Answers on Seudah Shelishit

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"שלש סעודות"
“The third meal

QUESTION: Why are Chabad Chassidim not stringent about eating a full meal with challah for the third meal, and suffice with just tasting some food?

ANSWER: The Torah relates regarding the manna, “Moshe said, ‘Eat it hayom — today — for hayom — today — is Shabbat for Hashem; hayom — today — you shall not find it in the field’ ” (Shemot 16:25). The Gemara (Shabbat 117b) derives from the thrice repeated word “hayom” — “today” — that three meals should be eaten on Shabbat. Nevertheless, halachically there is leniency regarding the need to eat bread at the third meal (see Orach Chaim 291). The reason is that the manna was described as “lechem” — “bread” (Shemot 16:15), and after the third “hayom” — “today” — the verse reads, “Lo timza’uhu basadeh” — “You shall not find it in the field.” Hence, the phenomenon of not finding the bread is commemorated by not eating a meal with bread for the third meal.

(לבוש סימן רצ"ה ס"ה)

Moreover, the Bach (Tur, Orach Chaim 291) writes that the first meal of Shabbat corresponds to the first Shabbat of creation, the second to the Shabbat of the giving of the Torah, and the third to the Shabbat of the World to Come. Since the Gemara (Berachot 17a) says that in the World to Come there is no eating or drinking, a regular meal with bread is omitted.

However, how does one satisfy the stringent ruling of the Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman (see above), that bread should be eaten at the meal?

The purpose of eating tasty food on Shabbat is strictly to experience oneg — “delight.” If eating, however, is detrimental to a person’s health he does not have to agonize himself to eat, but can accomplish his delight by fasting and avoiding to eat (Rav Shulchan Aruch 288:2). Hence, one who has reached the level at which he truly feels the exalted spiritual aura prevailing during the time of the third meal, that it is a period of rava deravin — most favorable Supernal Will — with a resemblance of the World to Come, where there will be no eating, to such a person eating is a tza’ar — agony — and he accomplishes his “delight” by refraining from eating.

The Rebbes of Chabad “felt” the spiritual light which shines during the time designated for Shalosh Se’udot and therefore refrained from eating. Consequently, the Chasidim who are attached to them follow in their footsteps.

A clarification is still necessary, if so, why do they taste some food at all?

Chassidut accepts the opinion of Nachmanidies that the World to Come will follow the Resurrection, and at that time souls will be clothed in physical bodies. Thus, though the Gemara states that there will be no food or drink, there will be spiritual food to maintain the body from becoming extinct. Hence, to commemorate this aspect something is eaten, but in remembrance of the third mention of “hayom” — “today” — which corresponds to the third meal, and which says, “It [manna-bread] shall not be found” — a full meal with bread is omitted.

(לקוטי שיחות חכ"א ע' 84)


"מזמור לדוד ה' רועי לא אחסר"
“A Psalm by David, Hashem is my shepherd, I shall lack nothing.”

QUESTION: Hashem is “ro’eih Yisrael” — “the shepherd of the Jewish people” (Psalms 80:2) and not just David’s?

ANSWER: Indeed David was cognizant that Hashem is everyone’s shepherd and it is He that provides man with his needs. The profundity of this prayer is that he beseeched that, “Hashem ro’i lo echsar” he would never lack the knowledge and conviction that Hashem is his shepherd. Never should he contemplate that, “My strength and the might of my hand made me all this wealth,” but always remember that “it was He Who gave [him] strength to make wealth” (Devarim 8:17-18).

(ר' אברהם דוד ז"ל מבוטשאטש בקונטרס ברכת אברהם)


"בנאות דשא ירביצני"
“He makes me lie down in green pastures.”

QUESTION: In Hebrew a pasture is “mir’eh” so he should have said, “bine’ot mir’eh.” Why does he use the term “desha” which means vegetation (see Bereishit 1:11, Rashi)?

ANSWER: When Yosef was about to yield to his master’s wife and commit a sin, suddenly “nir’eh lo demut deyukno shel aviv” — “the image of his father’s visage appeared to him” — and he immediately fled and went outside (Bereishit 39:11, Rashi). Seeing the image of his father convinced him to run away and not, G‑d forbid, violate Torah law.

The word “desha” (דשא) is an acronym for “deyukno shel aviv” (דיוקנו של אביו) — “the image of his father.” David prayed that he should merit at all times to see the image of his “Father” in Heaven, and thus he would always be “al mei menuchot” — “besides still waters” — i.e. live a tranquil life free of temptation and sin.

(תפארת שמואל - מאלכסנדר, דברי שמואל – מסלונים על חנוכה)

* * *

Another interpretation of the words “nir’eh lo demut deyukno shel aviv” — is that “es iz im gefelen gevaren” — he took a liking — and came to the realization that a Jew’s appearance should resemble that of Yaakov. Contrary to his attempts to modernize himself (see Rashi 37:1) he now realized that the better way for a Jew is to emulate the lifestyle of Yaakov, which will protect from assimilating in a society which is alien to the Torah way of life.

(מצאתי בכתבי אבי הרב שמואל פסח ז"ל באגאמילסקי, ע"ד "רואה אני דברי אדמון", כתובות ק"ה ע"ב)


"אך טוב וחסד ירדפוני כל ימי חיי"
“Only goodness and kindness shall pursue me all the days of my life.”

QUESTION: David should have simply asked to be blessed with goodness and kindness all the days of his life, why the mention of “yirdefuni” — “Shall pursue me”?

ANSWER: There is no person who lives an absolutely tranquil life. Everyone is confronted by worrisome moments. It may be financial matters, lack of nachas, health problems or inadequate spiritual accomplishment etc. King David prayed that if it were destined for him to be pursued by worries, he should be “yotze” — meet his quota — by being blessed with material wealth and that all the days of his life he should be pursued and inundated by incessant requests for assistance to help institutions dedicated to causes of goodness and kindness.

(חפץ חיים)


"בהאי שעתה דביה רעוא"
“At this [most propitious] time, in which there is favor.”

QUESTION: According to the Zohar (Shemot 88b) the period of Shabbat afternoon (Minchah) is a time of “rava deravin” — “favor of favors” — i.e. a time when His most favorable Will is disposed toward the Jewish people. Therefore in the Minchah prayer the verse “May my prayer to you Hashem eit ratzon — at this time of favor (Psalms 69:14)” is recited.

Why is this time so propitious?

ANSWER: Rashi (Bereishit 1:1) explains that the Torah starts with the word “Bereishit” — “In the beginning” — to teach that the entire creation was for the sake of the Jewish people, who are called “reishit [tevu’ata]” — “the first [of His crop]” (Jeremiah 2:3).

The actual creation was preceded by a “ratzon elyon” — “Supernal Will” — to create a world (Eitz Chaim p. 1). This Supernal Will was aroused in Him, so to speak, through His infinite love of Klal Yisrael.

The first day of creation was Sunday. Since according to the Jewish calendar a day starts with nightfall, the creation commenced on Motza’ei Shabbat subsequent to the Supernal Will during Minchah time, in which His exceptional love for the Jewish people was manifested. On every Shabbat at Minchah time, the Supernal Will is repeated, making the period propitious and most favorable for Klal Yisrael.

(בני יששכר מאמרי שבת ח:א בשם ר' מ"מ זצ"ל מרימונוב)

Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky has been a pulpit rabbi for over thirty years, and is author of more than ten highly acclaimed books on the Parshiot and holidays. His Parshah series, Vedibarta Bam, can be purchased here.
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Alex NYC April 9, 2016

Third Meal Dear Rabbi Bogomilsky,

Thanks for the insightful articles. I enjoy reading all of your articles and Chabad.org in general.

Would it be ok if you added a line somewhere that generally, in other communities, it is very widely accepted in the Halacha is that a person should wash for the third meal. In fact, I recently heard from a Sefardic Rav that the Zohar is very strict about the issue going as far as to say that the times of Moshiach and the wars of Moshiach may be delayed. (not to subtract from your point, but just to point out that generally it is important to do so. Also, In my experience, most Chabad siddurim list an entire excerpt from the Alter Rebbe quoting the importance of eating at the meal, with a note that it's a Chabad custom to not wash.

Again, not subtracting from your article by any means - just feel that a clarification would be good so people don't think that everyone shouldn't wash.

Thanks so much!

Your fan,

Alex Reply

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