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The Ancient Napkin

I'm not Jewish, but am interested in ancient Jewish customs. I've heard there is a custom of folding a napkin and placing it at a certain place that conveys a certain message after eating a meal. Can you tell me if this is true and if so, what is the message?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

I've answered tens of thousands of questions in this forum, and I've never heard this one before!

Although there is no Jewish law about this, there is something about napkins vis-a-vis guests mentioned in the Talmud - Baba Batra 93b. In ancient Jerusalem, there was a custom to have a napkin, towel or tablecloth, hanging on the door, kind of like a flag. When it was hanging, guests would know that it was meal-time and they could come and eat. When it was removed, it was a sign to others that the meal had ended.

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Due to limited resources, the Ask the Rabbi service is intended for Jews of little background with nowhere else to turn. People with questions in Jewish law should consult their local rabbi. Note that this is not a homework service!

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