Why Dip Bread in Salt?: Holy Temple Response on Ask the Rabbi
click here to jump to start of article
Join Our Newsletter

Get latest articles and videos with Jewish inspiration and insights​




Why Dip Bread in Salt?

I was at a Shabbat dinner last week and after they ate the challah, they dipped it into salt. I know there must be a reason, but I was too shy to ask.

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

In Talmudic times the practice was to dip bread in salt to give it some flavor. Jewish law states that for "clean bread" (and ours surely qualifies) this is not required. Even so, salt should always be on a Jewish table, and there is a Kabbalistic custom to dip the bread in salt 3 times at the start of every meal. (Many are particular to do this on Shabbat.)

The reason for this custom is because the table that we eat on is compared to the Altar that once stood in the Holy Temple. The home is likened to a miniature Temple. Just as all offerings on the Altar were salted, the bread that we eat is salted, too.

Also we place salt on the bread because salt is a preserver, symbolizing that this meal is no longer merely a transitory experience, but a moment that will last for eternity.

Further, Genesis 3:19 says that we should eat our bread with the sweat of our brow (sweat contains salt).

The Torah (Leviticus 2:13) speaks of a "Covenant of Salt," where God instructs us to use salt on all the offerings as if to say that His covenant with us is eternal, sealed with salt. Since salt never spoils, it is a symbol of indestructibility.

(sources: Talmud Brachot 55a; Leviticus 2:13 with Rabbi S.R. Hirsch; Mishnah Berurah 167:30)

More Questions

Ask the Aish Rabbi a Question


Give Tzedakah! Help Aish.com create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.
Sign up today!