Bread for Seudat Shlishit

Is one required to eat bread for Seudat Shlishit?

In OC 291:1, the Shulchan Aruch writes, “One must be very careful to eat Seudat Shlishit. One who is stuffed can discharge the meal with merely an egg-sized portion [of bread].” In OC 291:5, he writes, “It must be discharged with bread…and this is the main [halacha]...bread must be eaten.” We see from here that the Shulchan Aruch is strongly of the opinion that bread must be eaten in order to properly fulfill the mitzvah of Seudat Shlishit.

On the other hand, in OC 188:8, the Shulchan Aruch writes, “Seudat Shlishit on Shabbat has the status of a Rosh Chodesh meal [and therefore if retzei was omitted from the Birkat Hamazon it need not be repeated].” This seems to imply that one is not required to eat bread at Seudat Shlishit. We derive this from the general rule that if an omission was made in the Birkat Hamazon that does not require one to repeat the Birkat Hamazon, then one was not truly required to eat bread at that meal in the first place.

Both the Magen Avraham and the Taz note this contradiction. The Magen Avraham says (OC 188:16) that the Shulchan Aruch truly maintains that bread must be eaten at Seudat Shlishit. However, he does not require one to repeat the Birkat Hamazon if retzei was omitted in deference to the view that bread is not truly required for Seudat Shlishit. As such, he maintains that, for the purpose of repeating Birkat Hamazon, the rule of safek bracha l’hakel should be applied.