05. Removing Psolet from Okhel

As we have seen, it is considered derekh akhila to remove okhel from psolet in order to eat it immediately. However, removing psolet from the okhel is a transgression of Borer.[4]

Even when the psolet is minimal and it is easier to remove it from the mixture than to remove the okhel, removing the psolet is still considered Borer. For example, if an eggshell falls into egg salad, one may not remove the shell on its own, because one may not remove psolet from okhel. Rather, one may only remove it together with a little bit of egg. Since the egg removed with the shell is edible, it has value. Since the action is considered separating one form of okhel from another, one may do so. Similarly, if a lemon seed falls into a salad, one may not remove the seed on its own, but only together with a bit of salad. (See section 15 below regarding removing a bug from food).[5]

If a bunch of grapes contains some good grapes and some rotten ones, one may not remove the rotten grapes. Rather, when he wishes to eat, he should pick out and eat the good grapes.

If one who does not like onions is served a salad with pieces of onions in it, he may not remove the onions from the salad because they are considered psolet for him. If he wishes to eat the salad he should eat the parts he likes and leave over the pieces of onion. If there is someone present who is willing to eat his onions, he may take them out for his friend to eat immediately, because then the pieces of onion are considered okhel (SSK 3:23-24).

If one who does not like mushrooms is served soup with mushrooms in it, he may not remove the mushrooms from the soup. He also may not remove one mushroom at a time by spooning a little soup together with each one; since he will need to remove many mushrooms, it is obvious that he is really only interested in removing them. This is considered removing psolet from okhel, thus violating the prohibition of Borer (see n. 18 below). But if his friend likes mushrooms and is prepared to eat them immediately, he may remove the mushrooms from his bowl and put them into his friend’s bowl.


[4]. If one intended to remove okhel and accidentally removed psolet, he has not transgressed a Torah prohibition, since he did not intend to perform this action. Since the psolet is already in his hand, he may simply put it down, separating it from the mixture (SSK ch. 3 n. 11). Others maintain that it is proper to return the psolet to the mixture so as not to benefit from the mistake (Menuĥat Ahava 2:7:9).[5]. According to MB (BHL 319:4, s.v. “mi-tokh”), if one takes a little okhel together with the psolet, he may remove them together. Since he is removing some okhel as well, it is not considered removing psolet from okhel. This is also the ruling of Shevitat Ha-Shabbat (Borer, Be’er Reĥovot §20). However, according to Ĥazon Ish OĤ §53 and 54:3, if one’s intention is indeed to remove the psolet, the small amount of okhel removed with it does not help. Based on all the Aĥaronim who permit removing a bug with a bit of liquid (quoted below in n. 18), it would seem that the halakha does not follow Ĥazon Ish.

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