Shalosh Seudos:  An Overview


(by Rabbi Yair Hoffman for the Five Towns Jewish Times)

Some eat it in shul, others make sure to eat it at home with family.  Regardless as to where it is eaten, however, it is always worthwhile to know more about this Mitzvah of Shalosh Shiddas (See SA 291).  In general, it should be known that there are actually four types of Mitzvos that exist:

  1. There are Super-Torah Mitzvos. They are defined as those explicitly mentioned in the Torah.
  2. There are Torah Mitzvos.
  3. There are Super-Rabbinic Mitzvos. They are defined as those Rabbinic Mitzvos that the Rabbis attached to a Pasuk in the Torah.
  4. And there are Rabbinic Mitzvos.

All, of the four types of Mitzvos have different halachos associated with them.  For example, there is a concept of Mutav sh’yihu shogegim v’al yihiyu mazidim – it is better for people to sin unwittingly and not to sin wittingly.  On the other hand, there is a Mitzvah of Hochayach tochiach es amisecha – rebuking one’s friend or peer.  The Mishna Brurah rules that if Reuvain is concerned that Shimon will ignore his pointing out a Mitzvah to him – then for Type One Mitzvos – one must still give the rebuke (See also Aruch HaShulchan OC 6-8:6).  But for Type Two Mitzvos – one does not rebuke.  By the same token, Type Three Mitzvos beat out Type Four Mitzvos (See PMG, Psicha Kolleles 1:20:33 and 3:30), but not Type Two and certainly not Type One.

Which type is Shalosh Shiddus?


The Gemorah (Shabbos 117b) records a debate between the Chachomim and Rabbi Chidka as to whether one must have three meals on Shabbos or four meals. Rabbi Yochanan points out that both views are based upon a pasuk in Shmos (16:25) which employs the word “Yom” three times.    It is understood that the word Yom signifies a meal.  The debate revolves around whether the previous evening is to be counted among the three or not.  The Gemorah ultimately rejects the view of Rav Chidka that four meals are required.


Rav Eliezer of Metz, author of the Sefer Yereim is of the opinion that eating Shalosh Shiddas is a Torah Mitzvah (Yereim 92).  The TaZ (OC 678:2) is also of the opinion that the obligation to eat Shalosh Shiddas is Biblical – and that it must be fulfilled with bread (274:4).  He is of the opinion that Shalosh Shiddas bread, a Torah Mitzvah, beats out Kiddush wine or Chanukah candles, a Rabbinic Mitzvah.  It seems that both opinions would hold that Shalosh Shiddas is a Type Two Mitzvah.


Interestingly enough, Rabbeinu Tam, the Rebbe of Rabbi Eliezer of Metz, is of the opinion that Shalosh Shiddas is Derabanan (See Sefer HaYashar Teshuvos #74).  The Minchas Chinuch 10:5 and Rav Shulchan Aruch (274:1) both hold that it is Rabbinic.  The Mishna Brurah (291:1 and BH 262:2) writes that most Poskim hold that it is a Type Three Derabanan Mitzvah.


The Mishna Brurah cites the statements of the sages that whomsoever fulfills the three meals on Shabbos is rescued from three very serious travails:  The birthpangs of the times of Moshiach, the judgement of Gehenam, and the travails of the war of Gog.

In Shulchan Aruch Yore Deah (Siman 250) we are told that the community must provide the poor with enough for three meals on Shabbos.

The minimal amount that must be eaten is slightly more than two k’zaisim of bread – less than that is considered Achilas Arai  We must bear in mind that the meal was given for enjoyment and not for Tzaar.

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  1. “We must bear in mind that the meal was given for enjoyment and not for Tzaar.”

    I am an old man and too much food gives me tzaar. When I get up from my shabbos nap, I have a cup of tea and some mezzonos or fruit and have in mind that this will be my third meal. If I were to eat bread, it would throw me off; too much food makes me uncomfortable.

    BTW I heard that Chabad holds that one does not eat a meal of bread rather fruit or the like and darshin it from the pasuk about not finding food. Can some one clarify it?

  2. It is worthwhile publicising that the last seif in Shulchan Oruch siman 391 (recently learnt in Dirshu Mishna Brura schedule) says four words: NOSHIM CHAYOVOS BSHOLOSH SEUDOS – women are OBLIGATED to eat three meals on Shabbos.
    For some reason, this obligation seems not to be known in some circles, possibly as the men eat it in shul.
    It is a mitzva that costs a few pennies, a few minutes, at a time when people are not busy.
    . In the times of the Chasam Sofer, there was an epidemic, and he recommended that everyone should ensure they are eating Shalosh Seudos. This mitzvah can be made fun, with a nash, a story and a game.

    For anyone who has Kiddush with cake before lunch, and doesn’t feel like eating anything later on a short winter Shabbos, you could have bread for Kiddush, and then your lunch can be Shalosh Seudos (as long as lunch is half an hour after Chatzos; ask a shaaloh for details of this).