Devarim hanohagim b'seudah

Table manners

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, January 27, 2011

Judaism believes in good table manners. The Shulchan Aruch devotes 12 lengthy sections to customs about behaviour at meal times.

There are several aspects of Judaism's treatment of this subject which seem distinctively (though probably not exclusively)  Jewish. One is the emphasis on how to be a good guest. We are taught to be careful to respect the customs and property of the host. Do not come in and demand food or announce how starving you are. Do not give food from the table to the host and hostess's kids, unless the responsible grown-ups in charge say that it is ok. Opening your home to guests is a big mitzvah, but the quid pro quo is that the guests should behave.

Another is the emphasis on not being a glutton or a slob by gulping down drink or eating a big chunk of bread at once. Meal times are to be elevated from an animalistic experience to a spiritual one.

Last updated: 12:24pm, January 27 2011