By: The OU Kosher Halacha Yomis Team
In a previous halacha it was mentioned that one’s first bite of bread must be from the crustiest part of the loaf, which is usually the end piece. If so, why is it that some have a custom not to eat the end pieces of a loaf?
Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky, zt”l said that he did not know of any source for this minhag, and presumably he was not concerned about this. This was also reportedly the response of Rav Chaim Kanievsky, zt”l. Some have suggested that the source for this minhag is the Gemara Horiyos (13b). The Gemara lists 10 things that can cause one to forget their learning. One of them is eating from a loaf of bread that is not fully baked. It could be that in some communities the loaves were crammed into an oven and this led to the ends not baking fully. However, today the ends of the challah are often the crustiest part of the bread, and therefore this concern no longer applies.
However, the Minchas Yitzchak (9:8) writes that he personally was careful not to eat the ends of a loaf of bread, because people say that it causes one to forget their Torah learning. Although he writes that he too does not know of any source for this minhag, he advises that the minhag be continued. He quotes a Yerushalmi (Terumos 8:3) which says that when it comes to matters of sakana (danger), one must be concerned about what people say, even if it appears to be without merit. He suggests that forgetting Torah knowledge might be comparable to a sakana. Sefer Piskei Teshuvos (167:3) explains that although Shulchan Aruch writes that one must first eat from the crustiest part of the bread, which is usually the end piece, it is enough if one eats from the second slice.