Ask The Rabbi

Where the Bread Ends

The Color of HeavenArtscroll
Topic: Bread, Eating the Ends

Binyomin S Altman wrote:

Hi there, I was told by more than 1 person about some kind of a minhag [custom] people have regarding eating the ends of bread. The basic reasoning being that eating the end causes forgetfulness. Later, I found no source for this and when I asked my uncle about this he showed me a footnote in a sefer that quoted a renowned Rabbi as saying that he has always done it (avoided eating the ends) but that there is no clear source for it. So, should one avoid eating ends of bread?


Dear Binyomin,

The Talmud lists ten things which are detrimental to one's understanding of the Torah. One of them is eating bread not completely baked. This can be understood as follows:

Someone who rushes to eat the bread before it is fully baked will approach Torah study with the same lack of patience. He'll rush through each subject without taking time to clarify all the the details and reasons. The result will be an unsatisfying, 'half-baked' grasp of the matter.

The custom to avoid bread-ends apparently started in the days when many people were too poor to afford their own oven, and townspeople would bring their dough to a large communal oven to bake. In order to conserve space, they placed the doughs end to end, and often the bread stuck together. As a result the end part was not well-baked and therefore not eaten.

Commercial bakeries today often bake in the same way, and if you notice you can see where the loaves were pulled apart. Some bakeries put doughs side by side and they stick together on the sides. It would follow, then, that the side should not be eaten. The reality is that both the ends and the sides are almost always completely baked, and there's no need to protest if someone eats them. As a boy, I remember my father referring to the end piece as the 'krychik' - it was the prized morsel in our family because it was the crispiest piece!

Sources:

  • Talmud Tractate Horiyot 13b

 
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