The shaloshudos (the third meal, aka seudat shlishit for the Hebrew inclined) of my youth was finely a pretty gross affair, ice cream scoops of mass produced, aged, tuna fish and egg salad. Dry egg challah rolls that were rarely fresh and some flat soda. Shaloshudos is not one of those things that people look forward to, in fact, I’ve noticed throughout the years that most people go home for shaloshudos and the only folks who hang around are older, nebish, and the occasional loudmouth. To say that the vast majority of third meals around the country are depressing is an understatement.
In large frum communities, there are enough shabbos afternoon minyanim in living rooms and garages to seriously inhibit the funds put forth to the third meal. Add to this, the fact that most of the shul goes home for it and that towards the end of shabbos people are already licking their lips due to motzoi shabbos pizza syndrome and you have a lackluster meal in most cases. Chazal may say that you’re supposed to leave room for the third meal, but I think it’s one of those things that people ignore. Where I come from, a bunch of old men drink flat seltzer, dip stale rolls into less than edible tuna and sing depressing songs and listen to a depressing speech by someone who probably had to be coerced in the back of some takeout food store to stay for shaloshudos in order to give the speech.
So imagine my surprise when I showed up to shaloshudos a few weeks ago and saw what should have been something served at a lavish gala kiddush. Not only was there a table full of interesting salads, dips, and cakes, but there was also cold cuts and a meat cholent. Tonight at shaloshudos there was a cholent with two types of meat and kishke. Shaloshudos in my town is not for the faint of heart, I have watched as shabbos has ended during the rabbis lengthy shalashudos drosh with surprise at the lack of attention people were paying to the clock. I have watched with shock as 30 men (there are always a few who sit and learn in shul) and a full table of women have sat down at what is supposed to be a drab and depressing meal.
It’s inexplicable, how this shaloshudos is possible. Never has there been stale challah, flat soda, or sad looking tuna fish and egg salad. Never has it been empty and never have I been surrounded by nebs (not too many bay area nebs due to the high cost of rent) I’m wondering if there are any other lavish, non-depressing, nice third meals out there. Of course, it doesn’t that the rabbi gets up every week and notes that people have taken their shaloshudos z’chus for the next 3 weeks, people probably fight over sponsoring it and it’s one of the few times that you can sit across from the rabbi and talk in learning or ask all of your inappropriate questions. It also doesn’t hurt that the closest kosher restaurant open on a Saturday night is 380 miles away.
Find out more about the third meal on 4torah.com