1

The Sages of Israel were wont to follow many customs at meals. All these are included in the realm of mannered behavior. Among them:

When entering for a meal, the man of greatest stature should wash his hands first. Afterwards, all should enter enter and sit down, reclining on couches. The man of greatest stature reclines at the head of the company, and the person who is second in prominence reclines below him. If there are three couches, the man of greatest stature reclines at the head of the company, the person who is second in prominence reclines above him, and the person who is third in prominence reclines below him.

א

מִנְהָגוֹת רַבּוֹת נָהֲגוּ חַכְמֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בַּסְּעֵדָּה וְכֻלָּן דֶּרֶךְ אֶרֶץ. וְאֵלּוּ הֵן. כְּשֶׁנִּכְנָסִין לַסְּעֻדָּה הַגָּדוֹל שֶׁבְּכֻלָּן נוֹטֵל אֶת יָדָיו תְּחִלָּה. וְאַחַר כָּךְ נִכְנָסִין וְיוֹשְׁבִין מְסֻבִּין. וְגָדוֹל מֵסֵב בָּרֹאשׁ וְשֵׁנִי לוֹ לְמַטָּה הֵימֶנּוּ. הָיוּ שְׁלֹשָׁה מִטּוֹת גָּדוֹל מֵסֵב בָּרֹאשׁ וְשֵׁנִי לוֹ לְמַעְלָה הֵימֶנּוּ וּשְׁלִישִׁי לוֹ לְמַטָּה הֵימֶנּוּ:

2

The host should recite the blessing hamotzi. When he completes the blessing, he should break bread. A guest should recite grace, so that he will bless the host. If they are all members of the household, the person of greatest stature should break bread and recite grace.

ב

בַּעַל הַבַּיִת מְבָרֵךְ הַמּוֹצִיא וּמַשְׁלִים הַבְּרָכָה וְאַחַר כָּךְ בּוֹצֵעַ. וְהָאוֹרֵחַ מְבָרֵךְ בִּרְכַּת הַמָּזוֹן כְּדֵי שֶׁיְּבָרֵךְ לְבַעַל הַבַּיִת. וְאִם הָיוּ כֻּלָּן בַּעֲלֵי הַבַּיִת הַגָּדוֹל שֶׁבָּהֶן בּוֹצֵעַ וְהוּא מְבָרֵךְ בִּרְכַּת הַמָּזוֹן:

3

The person breaking bread is not permitted to do so until salt or relishes have been brought before each individual, unless their intention was to eat bread by itself.

One should not break off a small piece, lest one appear stingy, nor a piece larger than the size of an egg, lest one appear like a glutton. On the Sabbath, however, one may break off a large piece. One should break the bread at the place that it has been baked thoroughly.

ג

אֵין הַבּוֹצֵעַ רַשַּׁאי לִבְצֹעַ עַד שֶׁיָּבִיאוּ מֶלַח אוֹ לִפְתָּן לִפְנֵי כָּל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן נִתְכַּוְּנוּ לֶאֱכל פַּת חֲרֵבָה. וְאֵינוֹ בּוֹצֵעַ לֹא פְּרוּסָה קְטַנָּה מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא נִרְאֶה כְּצַר עַיִן וְלֹא פְּרוּסָה גְּדוֹלָה יוֹתֵר מִכְּבֵיצָה מִפְּנֵי שֶׁנִּרְאֶה כִּרְעַבְתָּן. וּבְשַׁבָּת יֵשׁ לוֹ לִבְצֹעַ פְּרוּסָה גְּדוֹלָה. וְאֵינוֹ בּוֹצֵעַ אֶלָּא מִמָּקוֹם שֶׁנִּתְבַּשֵּׁל יָפֶה יָפֶה:

4

The most preferable way to perform the mitzvah is to break open a whole loaf. When one possesses a whole loaf of barley bread and a sliced loaf of wheat bread, one should put the sliced loaf together with the whole loaf, so that one will break open both a loaf of wheat and a whole loaf.

On Sabbaths and on festivals, one is obligated to break bread on two whole loaves. One should hold both in one's hands [when reciting the blessing] and break open one.

ד

מִצְוָה מִן הַמֻּבְחָר לִבְצֹעַ כִּכָּר שְׁלֵמָה. אִם הָיְתָה שָׁם שְׁלֵמָה שֶׁל שְּׂעוֹרִים וּפְרוּסָה שֶׁל חִטִּים מַנִּיחַ שְׁלֵמָה בְּתוֹךְ פְּרוּסָה וּבוֹצֵעַ מִשְּׁתֵּיהֶן כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּבְצַע מֵחִטִּים וּמִשְּׁלֵמָה. בְּשַׁבָּתוֹת וּבְיָמִים טוֹבִים חַיָּב לִבְצֹעַ עַל שְׁתֵּי כִּכָּרוֹת נוֹטֵל שְׁתֵּיהֶן בְּיָדוֹ וּבוֹצֵעַ אַחַת מֵהֶן:

5

The person who breaks bread should give a slice of bread to each individual, the latter should each pick up the piece with his hand. The person who breaks bread should not place the bread in the hand of a person who is eating unless the latter is a mourner.

The person who breaks bread should take the bread first and eat. Those assembled may not eat until the person who recites the blessing tastes [from the bread]. The person reciting the blessing may not taste [from the bread] until those assembled complete the recitation of Amen. Should the person breaking bread desire to honor his teacher or a scholar of greater stature than he by allowing him to take the bread before he does, he may.

ה

הַבּוֹצֵעַ נוֹתֵן פְּרוּסָה לִפְנֵי כָּל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד. וְהָאַחֵר נוֹטֵל בְּיָדוֹ. וְאֵין הַבּוֹצֵעַ נוֹתֵן בְּיַד הָאוֹכֵל אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן הָיָה אָבֵל. וְהַבּוֹצֵעַ הוּא פּוֹשֵׁט יָדָיו תְּחִלָּה וְאוֹכֵל. וְאֵין הַמְּסֻבִּין רַשָּׁאִין לִטְעֹם עַד שֶׁיִּטְעֹם הַמְבָרֵךְ. וְאֵין הַבּוֹצֵעַ רַשַּׁאי לִטְעֹם עַד שֶׁיִּכְלֶה אָמֵן מִפִּי רֹב הַמְּסֻבִּין. וְאִם רָצָה הַבּוֹצֵעַ לַחֲלֹק כָּבוֹד לְרַבּוֹ אוֹ לְמִי שֶׁהוּא גָּדוֹל מִמֶּנּוּ בְּחָכְמָה וְיַנִּיחֶנּוּ לִפְשֹׁט יָדוֹ קֹדֶם לוֹ הָרְשׁוּת בְּיָדוֹ:

6

Two people should wait for each other when [eating from the same] dish. When three people are [eating from the same dish], it is not [necessary] to wait. When two have completed eating, the third should also cease. If, however, one completes eating, the other two need not cease.

One should not talk during a meal lest a dangerous situation arise. For this reason, if wine is brought in the midst of the meal, each person should recite the blessing alone. Were one to recite the blessing and another to answer Amen while he is swallowing, a dangerous situation might arise.

One should not look at the face of a person who is eating or at his portion, lest he become embarrassed.

ו

שְׁנַיִם מַמְתִּינִין זֶה לָזֶה בִּקְעָרָה. שְׁלֹשָׁה אֵין מַמְתִּינִין. גָּמְרוּ מֵהֶן שְׁנַיִם הַשְּׁלִישִׁי מַפְסִיק עִמָּהֶן. גָּמַר אֶחָד מֵהֶן הַשְּׁנַיִם אֵין מַפְסִיקִין לוֹ אֶלָּא אוֹכְלִין וְהוֹלְכִין עַד שֶׁגּוֹמְרִין. אֵין מְשִׂיחִין בִּסְעֵדָּה כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יָבוֹא לִידֵי סַכָּנָה. וּמִפְּנֵי זֶה אִם בָּא לָהֶם יַיִן בְּתוֹךְ הַמָּזוֹן כָּל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד מְבָרֵךְ לְעַצְמוֹ. שֶׁאִם בֵּרֵךְ אֶחָד וְעוֹנֶה הָעוֹנֶה אָמֵן בִּשְׁעַת הַבְּלִיעָה יָבוֹא לִידֵי סַכָּנָה. וְאֵין מִסְתַּכְּלִין בִּפְנֵי הָאוֹכֵל וְלֹא לִמְנָתוֹ שֶׁלֹּא לְבַיְּשׁוֹ:

7

An attendant who stands before those dining should not eat together with them. As an act of mercy, one should allow him to taste each dish to satisfy his desire. If the assembled give him wine, he should recite a blessing over each cup, because his drinking is dependent on their desire, not his own.

ז

הַשַּׁמָּשׁ שֶׁעוֹמֵד לִפְנֵי הַמְּסֻבִּין אֵינוֹ אוֹכֵל עִמָּהֶן. וְדֶרֶךְ רַחֲמָנוּת הוּא לִתֵּן לְתוֹךְ פִּיו מִכָּל תַּבְשִׁיל וְתַבְשִׁיל כְּדֵי לְיַשֵּׁב דַּעְתּוֹ. וְאִם נָתְנוּ לוֹ יַיִן מְבָרֵךְ עַל כָּל כּוֹס וְכוֹס שֶׁנּוֹתְנִין לוֹ. מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵין שְׁתִיָּתוֹ תְּלוּיָה בִּרְצוֹנוֹ אֶלָּא בִּרְצוֹנָם:

8

Should one of the assembled go out to urinate, he need wash only one hand [before] entering. Should he speak with a friend and thus remain outside for an extended period of time, he should wash both his hands [before] entering.

If [the company] was sitting and drinking, he should enter, sit in his place, wash his hands [with his back turned], and then turn to face the guests. Why should he wash in his place? So that the others will not say that he did not wash his hands because bread is not being served.

ח

יָצָא אֶחָד מִן הַמְּסֻבִּין לְהַשְׁתִּין מַיִם נוֹטֵל יָדוֹ אַחַת וְנִכְנָס. דִּבֵּר עִם חֲבֵרוֹ וְהִפְלִיג נוֹטֵל שְׁתֵּי יָדָיו וְנִכְנָס. אִם הָיוּ מְסֻבִּין לִשְׁתִיָּה נִכְנָס וְיוֹשֵׁב בִּמְקוֹמוֹ וְנוֹטֵל יָדָיו וְאַחַר כָּךְ מַחֲזִיר פָּנָיו לָאוֹרְחִין. וְלָמָּה נוֹטֵל בִּמְקוֹמוֹ שֶׁמָּא יֹאמְרוּ לֹא נָטַל יָדָיו מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵין שָׁם אֲכִילָה:

9

Raw meat should not be placed on bread, nor should a full cup be passed over bread. Similarly, bread should not be used as a support for a plate, nor should it be thrown. The same applies to pieces [of meat or fish] and other foods that do not have shells - e.g., berries, grapes, and figs - because they will become disgusting.

It is permissible to cause wine to flow through pipes in the halls of bridegrooms, and roasted grains and nuts may be tossed at the bridegrooms in summer. This is not permitted in the winter, however, because they will become disgusting.

We should not wash our hands with wine, whether it has been mixed with water or not. Similarly, we may not spoil any other food or beverage in a contemptuous and derisive manner.

ט

אֵין מַנִּיחִין בָּשָׂר חַי עַל הַפַּת. וְאֵין מַעֲבִירִין כּוֹס מָלֵא עַל הַפַּת. וְאֵין סוֹמְכִין אֶת הַקְּעָרָה בְּפַת. וְאֵין זוֹרְקִין אֶת הַפַּת. וְלֹא אֶת הַחֲתִיכוֹת וְלֹא אֶת הָאֳכָלִין שֶׁאֵין לָהֶן קְלִפִּין כְּגוֹן תּוּתִים וַעֲנָבִים וּתְאֵנִים מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהֵן נִמְאָסִין. וּמֻתָּר לִמְשֹׁךְ אֶת הַיַּיִן בְּצִנּוֹרוֹת בְּבָתֵּי חֲתָנִים וְזוֹרְקִין לִפְנֵיהֶם קְלָיוֹת וֶאֱגוֹזִים בִּימוֹת הַחַמָּה אֲבָל לֹא בִּימוֹת הַגְּשָׁמִים מִפְּנֵי שֶׁנִּמְאָסִין. וְאֵין נוֹטְלִין יְדֵיהֶן בְּיַיִן בֵּין חַי בֵּין מָזוּג. וְכֵן אֵין מַפְסִידִין שְׁאָר אֳכָלִין וּמַשְׁקִין דֶּרֶךְ בִּזּוּי וּבְעִיטָה:

10

It is forbidden for guests to take any of [the food] that they have been served and give it to the sons or the daughters of the host. Perhaps the host will become embarrassed because all he had was what he had served and that will have been taken away by the children.

A person should not send a friend a cask of wine with oil floating on its surface, lest one send a friend a cask that is [almost] entirely wine with only [a small amount] of oil on its surface. The recipient may be [unaware of the cask's contents,] invite guests [with the intention of serving them oil,] and become embarrassed [at his inability to do so]. Similarly, any other activity that may cause a person who holds a feast to become embarrassed is forbidden.

י

אָסוּר לְאוֹרְחִים לִטּל כְּלוּם מִמַּה שֶּׁלִּפְנֵיהֶם וְלִתֵּן בְּיַד בְּנוֹ אוֹ בִּתּוֹ שֶׁל בַּעַל הַבַּיִת שֶׁמָּא יִתְבַּיֵּשׁ בַּעַל הַסְּעֻדָּה שֶׁהֲרֵי אֵין לוֹ אֶלָּא מַה שֶּׁהֵבִיא לִפְנֵיהֶם וְנִמְצְאוּ הַקְּטַנִּים נוֹטְלִים אוֹתָם וְהוֹלְכִים. לֹא יִשְׁלַח אָדָם לַחֲבֵרוֹ חָבִית יַיִן וְשֶׁמֶן צָף עַל פִּיהָ שֶׁמָּא יִשְׁלַח לוֹ אָדָם חָבִית שֶׁכֻּלָּהּ יַיִן וִידַמֶּה שֶׁהוּא שֶׁמֶן וְשֶׁמֶן הוּא שֶׁעַל פָּנֶיהָ בִּלְבַד וִיזַמֵּן אוֹרְחִים וְיִתְבַּיֵּשׁ. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בִּדְבָרִים אֵלּוּ הַמְּבִיאִים לִידֵי בּוּשָׁה לְבַעַל הַסְּעֻדָּה אֲסוּרִין:

11

After [everyone] finishes eating, the tables should be removed and the place where they ate should be swept. Afterwards, [those assembled] should wash their hands [as mentioned above].

[This practice should be followed] lest pieces [of bread] the size of an olive be found on the floor. It is forbidden to walk or wash over [pieces of this size]. If, however, the pieces are smaller than an olive, it is permissible to destroy them intentionally.

יא

גָּמְרוּ מִלֶּאֱכל מְסַלְּקִין אֶת הַשֻּׁלְחָן וּמְכַבְּדִין אֶת הַמָּקוֹם שֶׁאָכְלוּ בּוֹ וְאַחַר כָּךְ נוֹטְלִין אֶת יְדֵיהֶם. שֶׁמָּא יְשַׁיְּרוּ שָׁם פֵּרוּרִין שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהֶן כְּזַיִת שֶׁאָסוּר לְהַלֵּךְ בָּהֶן וְלִרְחֹץ עֲלֵיהֶן. אֲבָל פֵּרוּרִין שֶׁאֵין בָּהֶן כְּזַיִת מֻתָּר לְאַבְּדָן בַּיָּד:

12

When water is brought to wash, the one who recites grace washes his hands first, so that the person of greatest stature will not sit with dirty hands while others are washing. The remainder of the people eating wash one after another.

Honor is not paid to anyone with regard to [the order of washing], because honor is not extended with regard to dirty hands, crossing bridges, or on the roads, with the exception of an entrance that is fit to have a mezuzah, and even then only with regard to entering.

יב

הֵבִיאוּ לָהֶם מַיִם לִנְטִילָה כָּל שֶׁמְּבָרֵךְ בִּרְכַּת הַמָּזוֹן הוּא נוֹטֵל יָדָיו תְּחִלָּה. כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יֵשֵׁב הַגָּדוֹל וְיָדָיו מְזֹהָמוֹת עַד שֶׁיִּטּל אַחֵר. וּשְׁאָר הַסּוֹעֲדִין נוֹטְלִין יָדָן בַּסּוֹף זֶה אַחַר זֶה. וְאֵין מְכַבְּדִין בְּדָבָר זֶה שֶׁאֵין מְכַבְּדִין בְּיָדַיִם מְזֹהָמוֹת וְלֹא בִּגְשָׁרִים וְלֹא בִּדְרָכִים אֶלָּא בְּפֶתַח הָרָאוּי לִמְזוּזָה וּבִשְׁעַת כְּנִיסָה:

13

After [the assembled] finish washing their hands, drying their hands, and reciting grace, the person who recited grace should recite the blessing over the incense when the incense burner is brought in. Everyone should answer Amen.

יג

גָּמְרוּ לִטּל יְדֵיהֶן וְנִגְּבוּ יְדֵיהֶן וּבֵרְכוּ בִּרְכַּת הַמָּזוֹן וְהֵבִיאוּ אֶת הַמֻּגְמָר. מִי שֶׁבֵּרֵךְ בִּרְכַּת הַמָּזוֹן הוּא מְבָרֵךְ עַל הַמֻּגְמָר וְכֻלָּן עוֹנִין אָמֵן:

14

If wine is available, [grace should be recited over a cup of wine]. We bring a cup that contains a revi'it or more and spices. [The person reciting grace] should hold the wine in his right hand and the spices in his left hand while reciting grace. Afterwards, he should recite the blessing on the wine, and then the blessing on the spices.

If the spices were fragrant oil or the like, he should spread them on the head of the attendant afterwards. If the attendant was a Torah sage, he should spread it on the wall so that he will not be going out to the marketplace with perfume.

יד

אִם הָיָה שָׁם יַיִן מְבִיאִין כּוֹס מַחֲזִיק רְבִיעִית אוֹ יָתֵר עַל רְבִיעִית. וּמְבִיאִין בְּשָׂמִים וְאוֹחֵז אֶת הַיַּיִן בִּימִינוֹ וְאֶת הַבְּשָׂמִים בִּשְׂמֹאלוֹ וּמְבָרֵךְ בִּרְכַּת הַמָּזוֹן. וְאַחַר כָּךְ מְבָרֵךְ עַל הַיַּיִן. וְאַחַר כָּךְ מְבָרֵךְ עַל הַבְּשָׂמִים. אִם הָיוּ הַבְּשָׂמִים שֶׁמֶן עָרֵב וְכַיּוֹצֵא בּוֹ טָחוֹ בְּרֹאשׁ הַשַּׁמָּשׁ. וְאִם הָיָה הַשַּׁמָּשׁ תַּלְמִיד חָכָם טָחוֹ בַּכֹּתֶל כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יֵצֵא מְבֻשָּׂם לַשּׁוּק:

15

Although grace does not require wine, should one recite grace over wine according to the custom we have mentioned, [several conditions must be met:]
One should wash out the cup over which the blessing is recited on the inside and rinse its outside.
It should be filled with undiluted wine. When one reaches the blessing for Eretz Yisrael, one should add a small amount of water so that it will be pleasant to drink.
Conversation should not be made over the cup over which grace is recited. Rather, everyone should remain silent until grace and the blessing of the wine is concluded, and then they should drink.

טו

אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין בִּרְכַּת הַמָּזוֹן צְרִיכָה יַיִן. אִם בֵּרֵךְ עַל הַיַּיִן כַּמִּנְהָג שֶׁאָמַרְנוּ צָרִיךְ שֶׁיָּדִיחַ כּוֹס שֶׁל בְּרָכָה מִבִּפְנִים וְלִשְׁטֹף אוֹתוֹ מִבַּחוּץ. וִימַלְּאֶנּוּ יַיִן חַי. וְכֵיוָן שֶׁהִגִּיעַ לְבִרְכַּת הָאָרֶץ נוֹתֵן לְתוֹכוֹ מְעַט מַיִם כְּדֵי שֶׁיְּהֵא עָרֵב לִשְׁתִיָּה. וְאֵין מְשִׂיחִין עַל כּוֹס שֶׁל בִּרְכַּת הַמָּזוֹן אֶלָּא הַכֹּל שׁוֹתְקִים עַד שֶׁתִּכְלֶה בִּרְכַּת הַמָּזוֹן וּבִרְכַּת הַיַּיִן וְיִשְׁתּוּ: