Breakfast in Halacha


A. Its importance:

It is proper for one to accustom himself to eating Pas Shacharis [i.e. breakfast, a small morning meal with bread].[2] This is in addition to his main meal [i.e. lunch, or early lunch] which is eaten later on.[3] One who does not eat breakfast, and only eats lunch past midday is like one who throws a stone into an [empty] flask of wine, [which is of no benefit[4]].[5] [Nevertheless, some were accustomed to not eat breakfast due to concerns that its Halachically required menue could not be properly fulfilled.[6] Practically, the Poskim[7] negate this worry.]

Breakfast prevents illnesses of the gallbladder:[8] The reason for why eating breakfast is so important is because there are 83 illnesses, which is the numerical value of the word “מחלה”, which are dependent on the gallbladder, and all of these illnesses can be avoided by eating bread with salt and drinking a jug of water in the morning.

B. The time-When to eat breakfast:

Latest time-By 4th hour of day/midday:[9] The first meal of the day is to be eaten in the morning when the 4th hour of the day arrives, and at the very least prior to the end of the 6th hour of the day.[10] One is not to delay eating the meal past this time, as one who does so is like one who throws a stone into an [empty] flask of wine, [which is of no benefit[11]], if he did not yet eat anything that day. [Practically, however, the world is no longer careful in this matter, as we are no longer accustomed to eat a main meal before midday, in  addition to breakfast.[12] Nonetheless, this only refers to the first main meal of the day, which is lunch or an early lunch. However, one is to at least eat breakfast-Pas Shacharis[13]-by this time.[14] Hence, for all intents and purposes, in today’s time Pas Shacharis has the same status as the Seuda Rishona of previous times and must be eaten by at least midday, although initially may be eaten even prior to the 4th hour.[15]]

Earliest time-After Shacharis:[16] One who is accustomed to eating Pas Shacharis [i.e. breakfast], may eat it as soon as he leaves from Shul after Shacharis, even prior to going to the Beis Hamidrash to learn after Davening. [However, some write that it is not proper to eat breakfast prior to one’s set learning session after Shacharis.[17] Practically, this only refers to eating a set meal, however a small breakfast of a Kezayis or Kebeitza of Mezonos in order to not leave one’s stomach empty, is proper to be eaten before learning.[18]]

C. The Menue:

What to eat for breakfast:[19] One should eat bread with salt and drink water for breakfast. [Based on the Talmud, and Arizal, it is also recommended to eat fried eggs, without salt, with olive oil.[20] The following are the details of these menue foods, as recorded in the Achronim:]

Salt:[21] Salt is only necessary if it was not already added to the ingredients of the bread during the kneading. If the bread already contains salt, then there is no need for additional salt during breakfast.

Bread:[22] Regarding the bread, it is not necessary to eat Hamotzi bread, and the custom is to eat Pas Haba Bekisnin [i.e. baked Mezonos, such as crackers or cookies or cake]. The bread or Mezonos is to be from one of the five grains [i.e. wheat, barley, spelt, rye, oats]. However, it does not suffice to eat porridge or other cooked grains. One is to eat a Kebeitza of bread or Mezonos [i.e. 55 grams] for Pas Shacharis, [and is not required to eat more. At the very least one should eat a Kezayis of bread.[23]] It is proper to eat white bread or Mezonos made of wheat.[24] 

Water: Regarding the water, it can be any beverage, and not just water.[25] It is proper to drink a hot beverage, and so is the custom today to drink tea or coffee for breakfast.[26] In fact, drinking coffee is a Segula for memory.[27] If one does not have bread or Mezonos available to eat for breakfast, it suffices to drink coffee with sugar and milk, which also prevents the stomach from remaining empty.[28]

The order of the courses:[29] One is to first eat the bread and then have a beverage [of wine], if available, and if not he is to drink plain water.

D. Other details:

Not to eat breakfast standing:[30] There are three things which weaken a person’s body, and one of them is a person who eats while standing. [This applies especially regarding breakfast, Pas Shacharis.]

Bathroom:[31] One is to go to the bathroom before eating his first meal.


[1] See Admur 155:1; Kaf Hachaim 155:22-24; Piskeiy Teshuvos 155:8; 157:1

[2] Admur ibid “Vetov Sheyargil Bo”; Michaber 155:2; Bava Metzia 107b; Bava Kama 92b; Pesachim 112a; Taz 155:1; M”A 155:3; Chacham Tzevi1 5; Soles Belula 155:4; Mateh Yehuda 155:2; Kitzur SHU”A 32:11; Kaf Hachaim 155:22

[3] See Michaber 157:1 regarding when to eat the Seuda Rishona, which implies that it is different than Pas Shacharis. Seemingly, Pas Shacharis refers to the smaller breakfast meal, and Seuda Rishona refers to an early lunch; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 155:8 and 157:1

[4] See M”A 157:3

[5] Michaber 157:1; Pesachim 12b; Shabbos 10a

[6] Bach 155 in name of Mordechai Hearuch, brought in Taz 155:1, “Know that we are not accustomed in it, and our Rabboseinu do not eat it”

The reason: As the benefit of Pas Shacharis is specifically when one eats grains which derive from a distance from the city which has not heard the sound of a rooster, or of a ship. Likewise, the benefit is only by one who eats Pas Shacharis consistently. Accordingly, the Sages avoided eating breakfast being that eating the above grain is not always possible. [Poskim ibid]

[7] Taz 155:1 “One who does so does not lose out”; M”A 155:3 “The above is words of prophecy which is not implied from the Talmud”; Chacham Tzevi15; Soles Belula 155:4; Mateh Yehuda 155:2 that from the Talmud it is implied that it refers to regular bread; Kaf Hachaim 155:22

[8] Admur ibid; Tur 155; Levush 155:2; Bava Kama 92b; Bava Metzia 107b; M”B 155:11; Kaf Hachaim 155:22

[9] Michaber 157:1; Pesachim 12b; Shabbos 10a

[10] Michaber 157:1 that one is to eat the first meal by the 4th hour of the day, and that a Torah scholar should eat prior to the 6th hour of the day; See M”A 157:2

How to calculate the four hours: There are various opinions regarding how these hours are calculated [i.e. from time of awakening versus Alos, and Shaos Zemaniyos versus Shavos Shavos of 60 minutes]. [See M”A 1257:1; Mur Uketzia 157; Shulchan Hatahor 157:1; M”B 157:2-3; Kaf Hachaim 157:2; Piskeiy Teshuvos 157:1]

[11] See M”A 157:3

[12] See Piskeiy Teshuvos 157:1 that seemingly the reason for this is due to the many opinions listed regarding how to calculate the hours. Vetzaruch Iyun

[13] See P”M 157 A”A 3 who questions whether one must eat a Kebeitza of bread for this purpose or even mere drinking suffices. However, see Shulchan Hatahor 157:2 that even a mere drink of even water suffices to negate this issue

[14] See Michaber ibid that if he ate at least something that day, then delaying the main meal until the 6th hour is not considered like throwing a rock into a furnace; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 155:8 and 157:1

[15] Piskeiy Teshuvos 155:8 and 157:1

[16] Admur 155:1; Michaber 155:2; Sukkah 26a and Rashi ibid; Shulchan Aruch Hazohar Pirush Even Yikara 157 that so did the Arizal

[17] Reishis Chochma Shaar Hakedusha chapter 15; Seder Hayom writes to learn Torah right away after Davening and only to eat in between if he is weak and plans to learn for many hours and cannot concentrate if he doesn’t eat; Zohar Kadosh Beshalach 62b; Piskeiy Teshuvos 155:1 and 8 footnote 3

[18] Kaf Hachaim 155:23

[19] Admur ibid; Tur 155; Levush 155:2; Bava Kama 92b; Bava Metzia 107b; M”B 155:11; Kaf Hachaim 155:22

[20] Kaf Hachaim 157:29 in name of Or Tzadikim in name of Arizal based on Horiyos 13b as these foods are good for the memory

[21] Kaf Hachaim 155:24

[22] P”M 155 M.Z 1 [Kebeitza]; Kaf Hachaim 155:24; See Tosafus Brachos 37b; See Michaber 157:1 that they would eat another large main meal later on in the morning, and at the very latest by noon. Hence, breakfast was  small meal just to get through the morning.

[23] See Kaf Hachaim 155:23

[24] Kaf Hachaim 157:29 in name of Or Tzadikim in name of Arizal

[25] Kaf Hachaim 155:23; Shaar Hatziyon 155:3

[26] Kaf Hachaim 155:23; See Yifei Laleiv 155:5; Iyun Yaakov 72b

[27] Segulas Yisrael

[28] Kaf Hachaim 155:23; Ashel Avraham Butchach 155

[29] P”M 155 M.Z 1; Kaf Hachaim 155:24

[30] Gittin 70a; Chupas Eliyahu Raba 3, in end of Reishis Chochma; Kaf Hachaim O.C. 155:25; Y.D. 116:90

[31] M”A 157:3; Zohar Teruma 2:154; Brachos 23b; See Sefer Chassidim 818 brought in Kaf Hachaim 3:51; Kitzur SHU”A 32:19

About The Author

Leave A Comment?

You must be logged in to post a comment.