Halakhah הֲלָכָה

Does your family cover the חַלָּה (hallah) during Kiddush?

One of the sources for this custom comes from this week’s parashah. The Talmud writes that, when the מָן (mann, miraculous food) fell, it was covered on top and below with layers of dew (Yoma 75b). In order to remember this miracle, some people have the custom to cover their hallah on top and below (Tur, Orah Hayyim 271).
Another reason for this custom is related to the order of blessings. If you have two foods in front of you, how do you decide which one to make a בְּרָכָה (berakhah, blessing) on first? The Talmud (Berakhot 41a) says you should recite the blessings based on the Torah’s order of the foods in the שִׁבְעַת הַמִּנִים (shiv’at haminim, the seven species of the Land of Israel). Here’s the list:
אֶ֤רֶץ חִטָּה֙ וּשְׂעֹרָ֔ה וְגֶ֥פֶן וּתְאֵנָ֖ה וְרִמּ֑וֹן
אֶֽרֶץ־זֵ֥ית שֶׁ֖מֶן וּדְבָֽשׁ׃
A land of wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates,
a land of olive oil and date honey.
Since wheat comes before grapes in this pasuk, the berakhah on hallah (made from wheat) would normally come before the berakhah on wine (made from grapes). However, since we begin Shabbat with Kiddush, we cover the hallah, which allows us to change the usual order.
The Tur (Orah Hayyim 271), citing the Talmud Yerushalmi, says that, since we would normally make the berakhah on the hallah first, it might feel “embarrassed” that the berakhah on the wine got priority. In order to protect the hallah from this awkward feeling, the custom is to cover it until after Kiddush.
What about covering other foods during Kiddush?
  • According to the second explanation, that the hallah is covered because of the usual order of blessings, you should cover any food on the table that is made from wheat and barley (because wheat and barley come before grapes in the pasuk about the shiv’at ha-minim).
  • According to the first explanation, that the hallah is covered to remind us of the mann, you only have to cover the hallah, nothing else.