• March 24, 2023

Melaveh Malkah

Chiyuv of Melaveh Malkah

  1. One should always set his table motzei Shabbos to escort out the Shabbos even if he only needs to eat a kezayis (גמ’ שבת קי”ט:, שו”ע סי’ ש’). Just as we must honor Shabbos as it enters, we must honor it as it exits in the same way one escorts a king when he leaves the city (רש”י שם, מ”ב סק”ב). Also, since Shabbos is referred to as a kallah, we escort it just like we escort a kallah (מדרש, מ”ב סי’ רצ”ג סק”א).
  2. Refresh the soul. An additional reason given for eating melavah malkah is the same reason we smell besamim – to refresh the soul. Similarly, we eat and drink to refresh the soul (של”ה שבת, נר מצוה, דרוש חת”ס ח”ג דף ק”ב ע”ב, חי’ חת”ס שבת דף קנ”ז ע”א).

Type of Chiyuv

  • The chiyuv of this seudah is not on the same level as the chiyuv of the three Shabbos seudos, which are attached to pesukim; this seudah is just a mitzvah (מג”א סי’ רע”ד סק”ב, שו”ע הגר”ז, מ”ב סי’ ש’ סק”ב).

Niskoy/Luz Bone

  • It says in the old sefarim that there is a body part called the niskoy [this is the luz bone (מטה משה סי’ תקי”ז)] which, after burial, remains intact after all the other bones have decomposed until techiyas hameisim. The only food this bone derives benefit from is food eaten at the melaveh malkah seudah (שבלי לקט הובא בטור ובב”י). We therefore eat on motzei Shabbos to give life to this bone.
  • Location of the bone. Some explain this bone is located in the upper section of the spinal column; more specifically, the vertebra protruding from the back of the neck, which is the seventh vertebra. Others explain it is the tailbone, found at the bottom end of the spine, the eighteenth vertebra in the spine (ערוך ערך לוז, רוקח). Yet others explain it is located on the spot where the tefillin knot is placed (אריז”ל, ליקוטי תורה פ’ שופטים, אור החמה פ’ נח סי’ ט’).


  • This seudah is a powerful segulah to have success in all endeavors; good parnassah (הרי”ץ גיאות הל’ הבדלה, סגולת ישראל מערכת פ’ אות כ”ו); long life (ס’ אור השבת בשם רבי דוד מלעלוב); healthy babies (תולדות קול אריה מכתב קל”ז אות ט”ו); an easy birth (see below, 13); a full recovery (ס’ דרך צדיקים, ארחות חיים סי’ ש’ בשם ארחות יושר פ”י דף קנ”ה); and more.

When Should I Eat Melaveh Malkah?

  • Right after Shabbos. It is proper to eat this seudah shortly after Shabbos since it is meant to escort out the Shabbos, and one is escorted when they leave, not after they have already left (מ”ב סק”ב, שער הציון סק”ה). Within an hour is considered “shortly after Shabbos” (סידור יעב”ץ עמ’ תתל”ט). However, if one is not hungry, he can delay the seudah until he has an appetite (מ”ב שם).
  • Four hours. Some say one can eat melaveh malkah until four hours after Shabbos (חמדת ימים ח”א שבת פרק ח”י ס’ מוצאי שבת אות ס”ה, כפה”ח אות נ”ט, יסושה”ע שער ח’ פי”ב). Many poskim hold it is better to do this lechatchilah, but one can still fulfill the mitzvah later (חסד לאלפים).
  • Until chatzos. However, many poskim hold one can fulfill the mitzvah until halachic midnight (שע”ת מחזיק ברכה בשם האריז”ל, בא”ח שנה ב’ פ’ ויצא כ”ז).
  • All night. If one did not have the option of eating melaveh malkah before chatzos, he can eat it until alos hashachar (חסד לאלפים, תוספת מעשה רב אות ל”ט, זמירות דברי יואל).
  • Sunday. If one had absolutely no way to eat melaveh malkah motzei Shabbos, there is still significance in eating a seudah on Sunday having in mind that it is to escort out Shabbos (א”א בוטשאטש סי’ קעד ס”ד, טע”מ).

Women’s Chiyuv

  1. Some poskim say women are completely exempt from melaveh malkah (תורת השבת סק”א). Others hold it depends whether women are obligated in Havdalah (see Issue 157, par. 21) – since we hold they are obligated in Havdalah, they are also obligated in melaveh malkah (פמ”ג סי’ ש’ סק”א). Yet others rule that women have the same obligation as men in this seudah (מחצית השקל סק”א בדעת המג”א, כף החיים סק”ב). Thus, it is certainly proper for women to be stringent.
  2. Easy birth. Tzaddikim have said that any pregnant woman who eats or drinks something and declares it is for the mitzvah of melaveh malkah has a segulah to give birth easily be”H (ר’ אלימלך מליזענסק, דברי יצחק אות לב).

What to Eat

  1. Bread. Lechatchilah, one should try to specifically eat at least a kebeitzah of bread like at the Shabbos seudos since that is the implication of the Gemara (ביאור הגר”א סק”ב, מ”ב סק”א, חזו”א).
  2. Meat, cooked dish. Lechatchilah, it is proper to make a nice seudah with meat or other dishes if they are available (מ”ב שם) and one can eat them. Some enhance the mitzvah by cooking something fresh for melaveh malkah even if there are leftovers from Shabbos (מג”א, מהרש”א בגמ’ שם, מחזיק ברכה אות ד’). Others enhance the mitzvah by eating a food they are particularly in the mood for (א”ר סק”א).
  3. Mezonos. If one does not have bread or is full from seudah shelishis and is afraid eating bread will be achilah gasah, especially in the summer when people finish seudah shelishis late, he can eat baked or cooked mezonos food for melaveh malkah (חיד”א במחזיק ברכה ס”א, חיי אדם כלל ח’ סל”ו, מ”ב שם, זמירות דברי יואל).
  4. Fruit. If it is hard to eat mezonos too, one can eat fruit for melavah malkah (מג”א, מ”ב שם).
  5. Tea. If one cannot eat anything, he can fulfill melaveh malkah by drinking hot coffee or tea, as the Gemara says (שם) hot water on motzei Shabbos is therapeutic (סידור יעב”ץ עמ’ תתל”ט ס”ד). Some people drink tea or coffee right after Havdalah to fulfill the mitzvah of melaveh malkah right after Shabbos (above, 7) and also not to get caught up in doing things before eating melaveh malkah (below, 29; הליכות חיים בשם בעל דברי יציב). They can eat a melaveh malkah seudah later (חק לישראל, הגר”י וועלץ מילואים).

Hot Water on Motzei Shabbos

  1. Chazal say (שבת דף קי”ט ע”ב) hot water and hot bread on motzei Shabbos are therapeutic. Therefore, it is proper to drink and wash with (רש”י) hot water and eat hot bread at the melaveh malkah seudah. It is a form of honor for Shabbos to enjoy at the melaveh malkah seudah something which was forbidden on Shabbos (מהרש”א שם, כף החיים סי’ ל”א אות ס”ב).
  2. Hot bread. Even if one does not bake fresh bread on motzei Shabbos, he can heat up bread (יד יוסף או”ח סי’ ש’ בשם מהר”ם א”ש) or make toast (שיבת ציון שבת ח”ב עמ’ שכ”ט).

Lighting Candles

  • Some people light more candles on motzei Shabbos than they do during the week (מ”ב סק”ג). Since this is also to escort out the Shabbos, they light candles right after Havdalah. Some understand this as part of having a set table, so the main point is that the candles burn during the melaveh malkah seudah (מחצית השקל בדברי הט”ז). If one has in his house a chandelier or special light for Shabbos, he should leave it on after Shabbos as part of the honor of escorting out Shabbos.

Zemiros on Motzei Shabbos

  • There is a minhag to say piyutim and zemiros on motzei Shabbos to escort out the Shabbos just like a king is escorted when he enters and when he exits (ב”י בשם שבלי הלקט, מ”ב סק”ג). Similarly, a kallah is escorted with songs and praises, and Shabbos is also called a kallah (אור זרוע ח”ב סי’ צ”ה).
  • Eliyahu Hanavi. There is a minhag to mention Eliyahu Hanavi on motzei Shabbos as a tefillah that he come and announce the geulah (רמ”א סי’ רצ”ה ס”א). The Gemara says (עירובין דף מ”ג ע”ב) Eliyahu does not come on erev Shabbos or erev Yom Tov because of the burden involved. On Shabbos there is also a possibility the issur of techumin applies above ten tefachim. Thus, on motzei Shabbos, when it is possible he will come and announce the geulah, we mention him (מג”א סק”א). Meticulous people also sing the other songs we have today (א”ר, מ”ב סי’ רצ”ה סק”ז). If one did not have the chance to say them on motzei Shabbos, he can still say them on Sunday (עשה מו”ר בעל קנה בשם כשלויתי אותו בנסיעה ביום ראשון).
  • רבון העולמים וכו’. There is a minhag to say “רבון העולמים וכו’ החל עלינו את ששת ימי המעשה וכו’,” as this tefillah is mentioned in the Yerushalmi (ברכות פ”ה סוף ה”ב). It is proper to follow this minhag carefully (טור סי’ רצ”ט, מ”ב סי’ רצ”ה סק”ז).
  • Parshas Vayishlach when traveling. There is a minhag that one who will be traveling overseas during the week should say parshas Vayishlach from the beginning until the end of the posuk “ויצב שם מזבח וגו’” – i.e., until the fifth aliyah (באר היטב סי’ רצ”ט סקי”ד).

Folding the Tallis

  • In order to engage in a mitzvah right away, there is a minhag to fold one’s tallis on motzei Shabbos (מ”א סי’ ש’ בשם מהרי”ל, מ”ב סי’ רצ”ט סק”מ), i.e., to already prepare it on motzei Shabbos for the following Shabbos.
  • It also shows that when one folded it on Shabbos, that was only temporary, as he is undoing it now. This way, he doesn’t transgress the issur of folding clothes on Shabbos (נימוקי  או”ח סי’ ש’ סק”א).
  • When to fold it. Some fold the tallis right after Maariv on motzei Shabbos, while saying ויהי נועם (קיצור השל”ה בשם מהרי”ל הובא בליקוטי מהרי”ח), to show that melachah was assur until now. However, others say one should not do anything while saying ויהי נועם; instead, one should fold it after Havdalah (ליקוטי מהרי”ח שם).

Doing Melachah on Motzei Shabbos

Before Eating Melaveh Malkah

  • Some refrain from doing substantial melachah before eating melaveh malkah (מ”ב סי’ ש’ סק”ב). This makes it clear the kedushah of Shabbos is still present, giving the seudah the significance of escorting out the king (תשובות והנהגות ח”א סי’ רס”ו). Nevertheless, our minhag is not to be careful about melachah before eating (שם).

Melachah for Women

  • Strictly speaking, any melachah may be done after Havdalah on motzei Shabbos (טור בשם ירושלמי), and many people follow this (נתיב חיים, ערוה”ש שם סכ”ב). However, in some communities, there is an old tradition that women do not do strenuous melachos on motzei Shabbos night (אבודרהם הובא במג”א סי’ רצ”ט סקט”ו, תוס’ רבינו פרץ פסחים נ: הובא בתשב”ץ סי’ פ”ח בהג’), at least until chatzos (שו”ת דברי יציב או”ח סי’ קל”ז). Even this minhag does not apply to all melachos, as will be explained.
  • Sewing. Sewing, weaving, and the like are included in the above minhag (מקור חיים לחו”י, שו”ת רבבות אפרים ח”ב סי’ ק”ז) unless there is a necessity or it is for many people, in which case one may be meikel (שו”ת חיי הלוי ח”ד סי’ כ”ג).
  • Laundry. Back when laundry was done by hand, women refrained from doing laundry. However, now that laundry is done by pushing a button, women are not machmir (פסקי תשובות סי’ ש’ הע’ 60).
  • Haircut. Strictly speaking, one may get a haircut motzei Shabbos (קובץ הלכות שבת ח”א פכ”ד ס”ו הע’ י’). However, in some places there is a minhag not to get a haircut motzei Shabbos to avoid showing disrespect to Shabbos (מנהג פרנקפורט, מנהגי מהרי”צ הלוי פ”ה אות כ”ד, שו”ת חיי הלוי ח”ג סי’ כ”ב), unless there is a significant need, e.g., someone who will be a chosson, etc.
  • Cutting nails. There is also a minhag not to cut nails motzei Shabbos out of respect for Shabbos (שם) unless there is a need or it is for a mitzvah, e.g., to remove a chatzitzah or the like.
  • Work for profit. Some also refrain from doing melachah for payment or profit (תוספת שבת סי’ רצ”ט סקי”ח). However, everyone agrees business dealings that are not melachos are mutar.

Can I Call America from Eretz Yisroel on Motzei Shabbos?

  • Calling a non-Jew. A person in Eretz Yisroel or Europe may call or send an email on motzei Shabbos to a company or individual in America if he knows it is a non-Jew or it is reasonable to assume so. Even though it is still Shabbos in America, there is no issur (שו”ת שבט הלוי ח”ג סי’ קע”ב ועוד).
  • Calling a Jew. However, one may not call a Jew in America when it is still Shabbos for him even if he is not shomer Shabbos ר”ל, as doing so causes him to be mechalel Shabbos. One may also not send an email to a mechalel Shabbos because he might read it and respond on Shabbos.

Tearing Keriyah at the Site of the Beis Hamikdash

Keriyah at the Site of the Beis Hamikdash

  • There is a halacha in Shulchan Aruch that one must make a tefach-long tear in his garment upon seeing the site of the Beis Hamikdash (שו”ע סי’ תקס”ח ס”ב); see Issue 18, where we elaborated on the relevant halachos. Many people in Yerushalayim go to the Kosel to daven on motzei Shabbos, especially during the winter when the nights are long, and every week we are asked whether one must tear on motzei Shabbos.
  • Erev Shabbos. Some say according to the minhag of Yerushalayim, there is no chiyuv to tear keriyah after chatzos on erev Shabbos and Yom Tov (ספר א”י שם סי”א, עיר הקודש והמקדש ח”ג פי”ז אות ה’). Others say this heter has no basis and should not be relied on (ארחות רבינו שם בשם החזו”א, והגריש”א, אשרי האיש שם).
  • Some explain that the minhag to be meikel after chatzos on erev Shabbos is when one is already in his Shabbos clothes and will be at the Kosel until Shabbos comes in with no option of changing before Shabbos. Only in this situation is there a heter not to tear keriyah; if one will return home before Shabbos, there is no heter not to tear keriyah even if it is after chatzos (מרן הראב”ד ירושלים, תשוה”נ ח”א סי’ של”ד). Some say this heter only starts at plag haminchah (ספר הר הקודש עמ’ י”א). In any case, it is clear the heter is not because the person is in his Shabbos clothes; it is to prevent one from wearing torn clothing on Shabbos itself.

Motzei Shabbos

  • Chiyuv to tear. Accordingly, there is no heter whatsoever not to tear keriyah on motzei Shabbos even if one is in his Shabbos clothes. Despite some people’s misconception, motzei Shabbos is like any other weekday with respect to the chiyuv to tear keriyah (הגריש”א, אשרי האיש ח”ג פע”ג אות י”ז).
  • Transferring ownership of clothing. Some people use a tactic in which they transfer ownership of their clothing to a friend or their wife, thinking this exempts them from having to tear keriyah. However, the poskim write one should not do this (שו”ת אור לציון ח”ג פ”ל אות ה’, והגריש”א הערות מו”ק כ:). Some say it does not even work from a halachic standpoint since it is not a full transfer, as it is only for the purpose of not having to tear keriyah. Also, it is assumed the one who acquires the garment does not care if the wearer tears it since he anyway will not wear it. That being the case, the wearer is allowed and obligated to tear keriyah (הגרשז”א מעדני שלמה עמ’ ס’, תשוה”נ ח”א סי’ של”ד).
  • Residents of Yerushalayim. Some poskim write that residents of Yerushalayim do not need to tear keriyah even if they did not see the site of the Mikdash for 30 days (ברכי יוסף סק”ב); people in Yerushalayim follow this minhag (ספר א”י שם ס”ט, שו”ת דברי יואל ח”א סי’ ל’ אות ו’, והגרשז”א מעדני שלמה עמ’ נ”ח). The reason is that if they can easily go to the site of the Mikdash and do not, it is clear they do not really feel the pain of the churban; thus, they do not tear even when they do go.
  • This minhag is not just for residents of the Old City; it applies to residents of modern Yerushalayim as well (שם).
  • Avreichim, bochurim, and seminary girls from chutz la’aretz who are learning in Yerushalayim can follow the minhag Yerushalayim in this matter while they are in Yerushalayim. However, if they travel to chutz la’aretz for more than 30 days, they must tear keriyah the first time they see the site of the Beis Hamikdash after returning.
  • Similarly, if a resident of Yerushalayim travels to chutz la’aretz for more than 30 days, e.g., to raise money or to work as a shochet, he must tear keriyah upon returning to the site of the Beis Hamikdash (ספר א”י שם).

Zerachya Shicker is the translator for the English version of חוקי חיים. The Chukai Chaim is a halacha sheet in a league of its own. Started in August 2016 (Av 5776), the Chukai Chaim currently has a readership in the tens of thousands across the globe.

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