Why Do We Bring Bread and Salt to Someone Moving Into a New Home?

Answered by
Amy W. Helfman, Judaica Librarian

Bread is regarded as the most basic food. In the TalmudTalmudתַּלְמוּדThe Jewish legal work that comprises the Mishnah and the Gemara. There are two works of Talmud: The Palestinian Talmud was compiled between 200-450 C.E. in the land of Israel and is also called the Jerusalem Talmud or Talmud Yerushalmi. The Babylonian Talmud or Talmud Bavli was compiled in Babylonia between 200-550 C.E.   , a meal that requires a blessing is defined by eating a piece of bread larger than an olive. There are several traditions that place bread and salt together:

  1. It imitates Temple rituals, where offerings were prepared with salt.
  2. It recalls Genesis 3:19, which says, "By the sweat of your brow, shall you get bread to eat;" salt represents the sweat.
  3. Bread and salt are regarded as a natural pair because the Hebrew words lechem (bread) and malach (salt) are spelled with same letters.

By bringing bread and salt to a new home, we make it possible for the people who have just moved in to sustain themselves.