Nafka minnah

Nafka minnah (Aramaic: נפקא מינה, lit. "emerges from it" ) is a Talmudic phrase used in analytical debates. It is often used in the phrase Mai nafka minnah? (מאי נפקא מינה), which asks, "What is the practical difference?"


The question mai nafka minnah is a way of testing the difference between two or more explanations for a given law, by investigating the different practical halachic rulings that would follow from each explanation. In other words, it means "so how do they differ in practice?"

It is contrasted with the question be-mai peligei, which also means "how do they differ", but implies that the two views have the same practical consequences and that the difference is the intellectual process by which they are arrived at (for example, which Biblical verse is the relevant authority).


Examples of a nafka minnah abound, both in Jewish law as derived from the Talmud, as well as in any situation that presents multiple rationales for a particular item.

To begin the Shabbos meals, kiddush is recited, followed by the eating of challah. During kiddush, the challah should be covered,[1] which has led to a market for commercially available challah covers that are often beautifully decorated with embroidery or other designs. There are three reasons given for this practice:

  1. As a commemoration of the manna, which was covered by dew.[2]
  2. As a mechanism to allow for the wine to be consumed prior to the bread.[3] In Jewish law, blessings are recited prior to the consumption of food or drink, and when faced with multiple food and drink items, there are laws stipulating which items should precede which others. Bread, as a staple food item, precedes all other foods and, in fact, the blessing recited over bread covers other food items (with some exceptions). If the bread was allowed to remain uncovered during the kiddush, its preferential status would be belittled (known as kadima, literally "first") when the wine is consumed first.[4]
  3. As a display of honor for the Shabbos meals (יקרא דשבתא - lit. "preciousness of Shabbos").[5] The notion of covering the challah is based on giving each course a sense of newness and fanfare by allowing it to "make an entrance." Each course is therefore brought out separately, rather than having them all at the table when the meal begins. Because the challah is supposed to be on the table during kiddush,[6] though, it is kept covered until it is ready to be served.

Now that the custom to cover the challah has been established together with its three reasons, one could ask what the nafka minnah would be between the three reasons—how would a difference in practice occur as a result of one rationale being dominant over another? Each of the following bullets represents a distinct nafka minnah:



  1. Shlomo Ganzfried, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, 77:8
  2. Shlomo Ganzfried, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, 77:8
  3. Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, Hilchot Shabbos 271:9 + associated Mishnah Berurah
  4. Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, Hilchot Shabbos 271:9, associated Mishnah Berurah
  5. Talmud Pesachim 100b, Tosafot she'ein
  6. Yehoshua Neuwirth, Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchatah 47:24
  7. Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, Hilchot Shabbos 271:9; associated Mishnah Berurah
  8. This is the view of Rabbi Hershel Schachter, rosh yeshiva at Yeshiva University.
  9. Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, Hilchot Shabbos 271:9, associated Mishnah Berurah
  10. Yehoshua Neuwirth, Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchatah 56:7
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