Photo Credit: Jodie Maoz

One of the highlights of Shabbat morning is the kiddush that often follows services. As these “kiddushes” are snack and refreshment-type affairs rather than a full meal, bread is usually not served. While the requirement to cover all bread that is on the table when Kiddush is recited is well known, what is not as well known – or at least not as widely observed – is that all cake and other mezonot foods should probably be covered as well.1

One of the reasons that bread must be covered while reciting Kiddush is due to the general rule that bread is to take precedence over all other foods at a meal. Indeed, a blessing on bread exempts most other foods that are going to be eaten at the meal from requiring their own blessing. On Shabbat, however, it is not possible to begin the meal with a blessing on bread (at least not at the first two Shabbat meals), as one may not begin the Shabbat meal until Kiddush is recited. Therefore, we cover the bread in order not to “embarrass” or “disgrace” it while the wine takes precedence as part of the Kiddush requirement.2

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What is often overlooked, however, is that not only does bread take priority over wine, but cake (mezonot) takes priority over wine as well. For example, when partaking of cake and wine as a snack during the week, one must recite the blessing over the cake first. It follows logically, therefore, that any mezonot products that are on the table when Kiddush is recited should also be covered so that they too should not feel “embarrassed” or “disgraced” that they are being bypassed in favor of the wine.3

Nevertheless, a number of authorities justify the common practice of not covering mezonot items on the table. Some argue that only bread must be covered when Kiddush is recited, because bread can theoretically be used for Kiddush while mezonot items cannot. Hence, the mezonot items cannot claim to be “disgraced” if Kiddush is recited over the wine first.4 Somewhat related to this explanation is the opinion that mezonot items need not be covered if one intends to first eat bread after reciting Kiddush.5

It is also suggested that since people often return home to eat their Shabbat meal after having been at a kiddush, the earlier recitation of Kiddush is somewhat insignificant. Indeed, even one who recites Kiddush and then partakes of cake and other snacks should, according to some authorities, recite Kiddush again before beginning the main Shabbat meal.6 This is because a number of authorities rule that the mitzvah of Kiddush is only truly fulfilled when bread is eaten afterwards.7 There is also a view that only the one reciting Kiddush, or those intending to drink from the Kiddush wine, must cover their mezonot items, while the mezonot items of the other participants need not be covered.8

There are two additional reasons for covering the bread when Kiddush is recited, neither of which are applicable to mezonot items.(9) So clearly, covering mezonot items at kiddush is not truly required though doing so has its merits. On a related note, one who eats cake on Shabbat should best recite the blessing upon two whole pieces of cake rather than one, though doing so is not truly required.10

 

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    1. There are two additional reasons for covering the bread when Kiddush is recited, neither of which are applicable to mezonot items.(9) So clearly, covering mezonot items at kiddush is not truly required though doing so has its merits. On a related note, one who eats cake on Shabbat should best recite the blessing upon two whole pieces of cake rather than one, though doing so is not truly required.(10)Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 47 note 125.
    2. Tur, OC 271:9.
    3. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 55:5; Be’er Moshe 6:63; Levushei Mordechai, OC 46; Rivevot Ephraim 2:115:106.
    4. Eishel Avraham, OC 182; Ta’amei Haminhagim, 365; Az Nidberu 2:8.
    5. Be’er Moshe 6:63. See also Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 47 note 123.
    6. Salmat Chaim 1:59; Teshuvot V’hanhagot 1:262.
    7. Igrot Moshe 4:63:8.
    8. Shulchan Shlomo 271:16:2; Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 47 note 125.
    9. Namely, to recall that the that fell from Heaven was covered with dew (Pesachim 100b) and for the principle of Yikra D’Shabbata. (Tosfot, Pesachim 100b.Cf. Aruch HaShulchan, OC 271:22).

10. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 77:17; Magen Avraham 280; Minchat Yitzchak 3:13.

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Rabbi Ari Enkin, a resident of Ramat Beit Shemesh, is a researcher and writer of contemporary halachic issues. He teaches halacha, including semicha, one-on-one to people all over the world, online. He is also the author of the “Dalet Amot of Halacha” series (9 volumes), the rabbinic director of United with Israel, and a rebbe at a number of yeshivot and seminaries. Questions and feedback are welcomed: rabbiari@hotmail.com.