Bread is regarded as the most basic foodstuff. In the Talmud, a meal (requiring a blessing to be recited) is defined by the consumption of a piece of bread larger than an olive. There are several traditions that place bread and salt together:
- It is an imitation of Temple ritual, where offerings were prepared with salt.
- It refers to Genesis 3:19, which says "By the sweat of your brow, shall you get bread to eat"; salt is representative of the sweat.
- Bread and salt are regarded as a natural pair because the Hebrew words *lechem* (bread) and *malach* (salt) are both spelled from the same three letters.
By bringing bread and salt to a new home, one is making it possible for the people who have just moved to sustain themselves.