- Question: [Sunday, 26th Marcheshvan, 5783]
What is the source and reason for dipping one’s bread into salt three times after one says Hamotzi, prior to eating from it after the blessing, and does this apply only on Shabbos or even during the week?
According to Kabbalah, as recorded in the Poskim, one is to dip the piece of Hamotzi bread in salt three times prior to eating it. This applies on Shabbos and throughout the week and applies even if there is salt in the bread’s ingredients.
Explanation: According to Halacha, one is to dip one’s bread in salt in order to eat tasty bread out of honor for the blessing. This, however, only applies if the bread does not contain any salt. If, however, the bread contains salt then according to Halacha there is no need to dip the bread in salt and hence today being that all bread already contains salt there is no need to dip the bread in the salt. However, according to the teachings of Kabbalah, one is to always dip the bread in salt, and is to dip it three times into the salt, and so records Admur in his Shulchan Aruch. [To note, however, that elsewhere Admur writes that the above custom of having salt on the table, and dipping in the salt, only applies if there is no salt in one’s bread. If, however, the bread itself already contains salt in its ingredients, as is common today, then there is no need to have salt on the table, and there is no need to dip the bread into salt, even according to Kabbalah.] As for the reason behind this three-time dipping into salt: Salt comes from Gevura and contains the ability to sweeten all severities, as the Gevuros can only be sweetened through their root. Accordingly, we dip the bread in salt with the intent to sweeten the three Gevuros through the Chassadim which is represented in bread.
Sources: See Kaf Hachaim 167:37; See regarding the Halachic requirement to dip bland bread in salt: Admur 167:8; Michaber 167:5; Rambam Brachos 7:3; Brachos 40a; See regarding the kabbalistic requirement of dipping all bread in salt: Admur 167:8; M”A 167:15; Shaar Hamitzvos Parshas Eikev 40b; Siddur Rashash; Teshuvas Beis Yaakov 165; Sefer Haminhagim p. 21; See regarding three times: Admur 167:8; Or Tzadikim Maharam Paparish 23:17; Siddur Arizal; Siddur Rashash; Soles Belula 167:5; Kaf Hachaim 167:37; Sefer Haminhagim ibid