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.