My Plate, My Food
‘My Loaf Is Forbidden To You’
R. Hiyya bar Abin asks what the din is when Reuven tells Shimon, “My loaf of bread is forbidden to you” and then gives Shimon a loaf of bread as a gift. Since the bread is now in the legal possession of Shimon, Shimon should perhaps be able to eat it. The Gemara states (according to the version of the Ran) that perhaps Reuven’s vow only forbids Shimon from eating bread while a guest at his table. The Ran (ad loc.) explains that even if Shimon is permitted to eat bread that he receives from Reuven as a gift, he is nevertheless forbidden to accept an invitation to eat bread at Reuven’s table because the bread served to him there belongs to Reuven and is covered by Reuven’s vow.
A Guest For Dinner
The Mefaresh (see also Rashi, ad loc.) has another version of the Gemara which states that if Reuven invites Shimon as a guest and subsequently declares, “My loaf is forbidden to you,” Shimon may continue eating bread at Reuven’s table. The Mefaresh explains that by virtue of Reuven’s invitation to Shimon to eat with him, Shimon has acquired the right to eat a portion of bread at his table. Therefore, the bread served to Shimon is not covered by Reuven’s subsequent vow since that bread was no longer in Reuven’s possession when he made the vow.
Whose Food Is It?
The Maharsham (Responsa, Vol.3:291) notes that the Ran and Mefaresh apparently disagree as to who legally owns the food served to a guest. The Ran maintains that it belongs to the host whereas the Mefaresh assumes that a guest acquires legal possession of food served to him.
A Halachic Ramification
The above-mentioned dispute has halachic ramifications regarding the laws of kiddushin. The Ri”az (cited by the Shiltei Gibborim, end of “Ish Mekadesh” in Tractate Kiddushin) states that if a guest takes his portion of food and proposes to a woman with it, she is legally betrothed (even though it is essential that the groom have legal ownership of the item he uses to propose). The Ri”az assumes that the host has no objection if his guest chooses to use his portion of food to propose to a woman and he may therefore use it (see the Rema, Even HaEzer 28:17).
The Maharsham comments that the ruling of the Ri”az is consistent with the position of the Mefaresh that a guest legally owns the food served to him. However, according to the Ran – who asserts that a guest does not own the food served to him – a guest cannot propose to a woman with the food he is served.
Individually Plated Portions
Rabbi Shlomo Kluger (Nidrei Zerizin Vol.3 Ch.4:21) suggests reconciling the ruling of the Ri”az with the position of the Ran. He cites the Magen Avraham who draws a distinction between food served on a common serving platter and food served on individual plates. The Magen Avraham (Orach Chayim 175:4) submits that food served to a guest on an individual plate becomes the legal possession of the guest since it was given exclusively to him. Food served on a common serving platter, in contrast, belongs to everyone seated at the table.
The Nidrei Zerizin suggests that when the Ran states that bread served to guests legally belongs to the host, he is referring to bread placed on a common serving plate. If a host has vowed to forbid his food to an individual guest, that guest may not eat the host’s food, even from the common serving platter, because the host paid for it. Even if the guest legally owns part of the food, he still may not eat it because the host also owns a share of it.
The Ri”az, in contrast, who permits a guest to propose to a woman with food he is served, is referring to food served to him on an individual plate. (It is possible that the Ran also agrees that this food belongs entirely to the guest [as the Magen Avraham writes] since it was served to him exclusively.)