11 – Borer (Separating)

01. Four Melakhot Related to Borer

There are four melakhot that deal with separating okhel (food) from psolet (waste): Dash (threshing), Zoreh (winnowing), Borer (separating), and Meraked (sifting).

The melakha of Dash involves detaching food matter from its husk. The melakha is named for the act of detaching kernels of grain from their stalks and chaff. After the grain was harvested and gathered, its stalks were beaten with flails in order to separate the kernels of grain from them. When there was an abundance of grain, threshing was done by having an animal walk on the stalks over a hard surface. To make the threshing more efficient, a wide board with blades or stones attached to it would be attached to the animal. The animal would pull this board over the stalks, and this would separate the kernels from the stalks. (The details of this melakha will be explained below in sections 17-18.)

After threshing, some straw and chaff would remain mixed in with the kernels. In order to remove this, they would winnow the grain in the wind, that is, they would toss the mixture in the air with a dedicated instrument, and the wind would blow away the lighter chaff and straw while the heavier kernels would fall back to the ground. This is the melakha of Zoreh.

The remaining pile would still contain stones and clumps of earth, which would be removed by hand. This is the melakha of Borer.

After this, the wheat would be ground into flour. But because the outer layer of a wheat kernel, called the bran, is coarse, the grinding process would result in a mixture of flour and coarse particles of bran. In order to separate the flour from the bran, the flour would be sifted with a sieve. The finer flour would filter through the sieve while the bran remains on its surface. This is the melakha of Meraked.

Borer is done by hand, whereas Meraked is done with an implement. In Borer, the psolet is removed from the okhel, while in Meraked the psolet is left in the sieve as the flour passes through. Thus we see that there are multiple ways to separate okhel from psolet. All of these activities, when performed in their normal manner, are prohibited by Torah law. If they are done with a shinui they are rabbinically prohibited, and if they are performed as part of the normal eating process (ke-derekh akhila), they are permitted. All this will be explained below.

The proliferation of melakhot that deal with separating psolet from okhel shows us how central acts of selection and differentiation are in our lives. The world in general is confused and mixed up, and the ability to separate the good parts from the bad allows man to develop and improve the world. These melakhot also allude to man’s spiritual work, because the world is confused and mixed up morally as well, and our job is to distinguish between good and evil. If it were totally clear that good was on one side and evil on the other, it would be easy to always choose the good. The problem is that things are not so clear; even within the good there is evil, and even within the evil there is good. Evil things can sometimes be good in a different place and context. The great challenge that God presented to mankind is to choose the good from the evil, to put everything in its proper place, and thus repair the world.

All this applies throughout the week, when we must engage in the complicated work of separating the bad from the good, which demands that we engage directly with the world’s waste and refuse. But on Shabbat we must focus on the inner goodness of existence, enjoy it, and connect with the foundations of faith. When we draw on the sanctity and faith that we absorb on Shabbat, we gain the ability to distinguish between good and evil all week, and to engage in the work of refinement that is required to repair the world.

02. Derekh Akhila and Derekh Melakha

The most important principle in the laws of Borer is the distinction between one who performs Borer in the manner of the melakha and one who is preparing food for immediate consumption. When okhel is separated from psolet in the manner of the melakha (derekh melakha), it is prohibited by Torah law, whereas one may take okhel from psolet as part of the act of eating (derekh akhila) even le-khatĥila.

For example, if peanuts are mixed together with shells, one does not need to eat the nuts with the shells. Rather, one may remove the nuts from the shells and eat them. This is not considered Borer; it is simply the way one eats, derekh akhila. This is not limited to one peanut either. One may remove a large quantity of peanuts from amongst the shells, place them in a bowl, and bring them to the table to eat, as this is the normal way to eat peanuts. One may also separate food for other people to eat. Therefore, one may remove many peanuts from their shells even in order to serve them to a friend.

There are three conditions that must be met in order for an act of separating to be deemed permissible as derekh akhila, rather than prohibited as derekh melakha:

1) One must pick out the okhel and not the psolet, because this is the way one normally eats. However, if one removes the psolet from the okhel, this is considered derekh melakha (see n. 10).

2) One must take the food with his hand the way one does when eating, and not with an implement designed for straining or separating (see section 7).

3) The preparation must take place just before consumption. If the separating is done long before the eating, this is considered derekh melakha (see section 6).

When these three conditions are met, it is clear that the act of separation is merely one of food preparation. But if even one condition is not met, then the actions are considered derekh melakha and violate a Torah prohibition.[1]

Let us return to the case of peanuts mixed together with shells. One may take the peanuts from the mixture and eat them only when all three conditions are met: 1) He removes the okhel (peanuts) from the psolet (shells); 2) he does so with his hands; 3) he does so for proximate consumption.

However, if one removes the shells from the mixture to prepare the peanuts for eating, since he is removing the psolet from the okhel, this is considered derekh melakha, and he has transgressed a Torah prohibition. Similarly, if he removes the peanuts in order to eat them much later, this is considered derekh melakha since it is not for proximate consumption, and he has transgressed a Torah prohibition. Additionally, if a gadget were devised to help separate peanuts from their shells, it would be forbidden to use it on Shabbat even for the purpose of immediately eating the nuts.


[1]. The three conditions are based on Shabbat 74a, according to the understanding of Rabbeinu Ĥananel. This is also the opinion of Rambam, Ramban, Ran, and many others, and it is how SA 319:1, 4 rules as well, as explained in MB’s introduction to §319. In practice, all Aĥaronim agree with this approach. However, some Rishonim disagree with two of the conditions: Tosafot on Shabbat understand Rashi to mean that one may separate for immediate consumption even with a sifter or strainer. Similarly, Rabbeinu Asher of Lunel maintains that if one wishes to eat immediately, he may separate the psolet from the okhel even using a utensil designed for that purpose. This is also recorded in his nephew’s work, Sefer Ha-hashlama.According to Rid and several other Rishonim, one may remove psolet from okhel for immediate consumption (Birkei Yosef mentions these opinions in Shiyurei Berakha.) Although the halakha does not follow them, these opinions can be combined with other mitigating factors to support leniency (BHL 319:4, s.v. “mi-tokh”). See Harĥavot.

03. Two Types of Food Mixed Together

Separating a mixture of two types of food also constitutes a violation of Borer. Even if both foods are edible, since they are different types and one is interested in having each type separately, each is considered psolet in relation to the other. By separating them, one thereby improves them and thus transgresses the prohibition of Borer (SA 319:3; BHL s.v. “le’ekhol”).

Thus, if almonds and walnuts are mixed together, but one only wants the walnuts, the almonds are considered psolet for him. He may remove the walnuts from the mixture to eat immediately, because that is derekh akhila. But if he takes out the almonds, this is considered derekh melakha and he transgresses a Torah prohibition. If he wishes to serve guests almonds and walnuts separately, then they are both considered okhel, and he may separate them from each other to serve immediately. However, one may not separate them and then only serve them later (BHL 319:3 s.v. “hayu lefanav”).

If two foods taste different, they are considered discrete types. Therefore, if roasted meat is mixed with cooked meat, or pieces of chicken are mixed with pieces of turkey, they are treated as two different types of foods, and one may not separate them. In contrast, when all the pieces of meat are of the same type but merely different sizes, there is no prohibition on separating the big pieces from the little ones (Rema 319:3 based on Terumat Ha-deshen).[2]


[2]. However, according to Taz, Ĥayei Adam, and Ben Ish Ĥai, separating large and small pieces of the same type of food is also forbidden. Nevertheless, most poskim, including MA, Pri Ĥadash, Ĥida, and MB §15, are lenient.

04. The Prohibition Applies Only to Mixtures

The prohibition of Borer applies only when there are two items mixed together; if the items are not mixed, but simply next to each other, it is not forbidden to separate them. For example, if walnuts and peanuts are mixed together and one wishes to eat the walnuts immediately, he may take the walnuts out of the mixture, but he may not remove the peanuts. In contrast, if they are next to each other, he may remove all of the peanuts in order to serve the walnuts. Since they are not mixed together, Borer does not apply.

Borer does apply to pieces of different kinds of fish that are mixed together. Following the rules established above, one may remove the pieces one wishes to eat immediately, but one may not remove the pieces one does not wish to eat. Even if the pieces are large, if they are mixed together and it takes effort to find the type he wants, Borer applies, as the pieces he does not want are considered psolet for him. However, if all the pieces of the type of fish he wants are at the bottom of a serving dish, he may remove the top pieces to get to the bottom ones. Since they are arranged such that one type of food is on top and the other is below, separating them is not considered Borer (Rema 319:3; BHL s.v. “le’ekhol miyad”; see SSK ch. 3 n. 7).

Does Borer apply to a mixture of plums and peaches? If there are only a few pieces of fruit, since they are large, they are not considered mixed together, and one may separate them in any way he desires. But if there are many fruits, they are considered mixed, and the laws of Borer apply. Thus, one may not separate them through derekh melakha, but he may take the fruit that he wishes to eat immediately, as that is derekh akhila.

If a pot of soup contains small pieces of chicken or vegetables, since the pieces are small and it is difficult to remove them, the prohibition of Borer applies. This means that one may remove the pieces from the soup and eat them immediately, but he may not remove them from the soup in order to eat the soup without them. In addition, he may not remove them in order to eat them later. But if there are large pieces of meat in the soup, since it is not difficult to search for them and remove them, they are not considered mixed with the soup, and thus Borer does not apply. Therefore, one may remove the pieces from the soup in order to eat the soup by itself, or to eat them later. This is also the case with matza balls in clear soup, as they are not considered mixed with the soup.[3]


[3]. Common human perception determines whether something is considered Borer, and as the component parts get bigger, a larger quantity of them is needed for them to be considered a mixture. See SSK ch. 3 n. 7 in the name of R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach. See also Shevitat Ha-Shabbat, Borer, Be’er Reĥovot §22 and §25; Yalkut Yosef 319:41; and Menuĥat Ahava 2:7:37. On a related topic, several poskim maintain that Borer applies to bottles if they look like they are mixed together. For example, if a box contains both empty and full bottles, one may not remove the empty ones to discard them (R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Shulĥan Shlomo 319:4:2; Ayil Meshulash ch. 19 n. 91 in the name of R. Yosef Shalom Elyashiv). However, Menuĥat Ahava 2:7:27 is inclined to be lenient. In practice, it all depends on the quantity of bottles. Similarly, if many pieces of different types of cake remain after a party, they are considered mixed, and one may not sort them by type.

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.

06. Immediate Use

As we saw (section 2), the prohibition of Borer only applies when it is done through derekh melakha. Separating okhel from psolet in order to eat it immediately is not considered Borer because it is derekh akhila. Therefore, one who wants to shell nuts for his family and serve them immediately may do so. But if he intends to serve them later, it is prohibited by Torah law, because that is derekh melakha. Similarly, if one has a mixture of watermelon seeds and sunflower seeds but wishes to eat only the sunflower seeds, he may not remove the sunflower seeds to eat later on. If he does so, he has transgressed the Torah prohibition of Borer. However, if he wishes to eat them immediately, he may remove all the sunflower seeds he wishes to eat.

One who is preparing a meal may separate enough food for the entire household, including guests. For example, if peanuts and almonds are mixed together and one wishes to serve just almonds, he may take out the almonds and place them on a serving bowl before the meal in order to serve them at the end of the meal. Even if the meal lasts for three hours, since the separation is done near the beginning of the meal and it is normal to prepare all the foods to be served at a meal in advance, removing the almonds is considered derekh akhila and not derekh melakha.

The key is that the okhel must be removed shortly before the meal, i.e., during the normal preparation time for the meal. However, if he does so prior to the normal preparation time, he transgresses the prohibition of Borer. The precise definition of “the normal preparation time” depends on the number of people and the size of the meal. A meal for five demands less preparation time than a meal for thirty, and a meal with one course demands less preparation time than a three-course meal.

If one does not know exactly when the meal will begin, one may separate the okhel for the meal from the psolet a little early in order to ensure that the meal begins on time. However, one should take care not to do it earlier than is necessary to ensure that the meal will be ready on time.[6]

If one intended to separate okhel from psolet for the needs of an upcoming meal but ultimately finds that he prepared enough for an additional meal has not transgressed, as long as he did not intentionally and deceptively overprepare (SAH 319:3; MB 5).[7]


[6]. This is implied by Rema 319:1 and MB ad loc. 4-6. Igrot Moshe OĤ 4:74, Borer 13 states accordingly, as do SSK 3:69 and Menuĥat Ahava 2:7:6. Ben Ish Ĥai, Year 2, Beshalaĥ 1 is lenient and permits Borer up to an hour before a meal.[7]. One who separates okhel from psolet in order to eat it later transgresses a Torah prohibition. Even if he ends up eating it immediately, he has still transgressed the prohibition. According to Ben Ish Ĥai, Year 2, Beshalaĥ 3, if one separated food with the intention of eating it immediately but then changed his mind, he has transgressed a rabbinic prohibition. SHT 319:5 presents a similar idea in the name of Pri Megadim. In contrast, if circumstances beyond his control prevented him from eating it immediately, he has not transgressed the prohibition (Menuĥat Ahava 2:7:31).

If one has a mixture of good and rotten fruits and wants to prepare a fruit bowl for his guests, he may separate an entire bowl full of good fruits if this is the accepted way of serving fruit to guests, even if he knows that they will eat only a few fruits. Since presenting a full bowl is a way of honoring one’s guests, the host reaps immediate benefit even from fruit that is left uneaten (Ben Ish Ĥai, Year 2, Beshalaĥ 3; SSK 3:44 and n. 129).

07. By Hand and Not with an Implement

As we saw earlier (section 2), one may remove okhel from psolet in the normal way of eating if three conditions are met. One of the conditions is that the separating is done by hand and not with an implement designed for separating. For example, one may not use a strainer to separate seeds that are mixed together with their shells, even if he wishes to eat them immediately.

Spoons and forks are not considered implements designed for separating. Rather, they assist the hand in grasping food. Therefore, one may use a spoon or a fork to remove okhel from psolet. For example, if a dish contains different types of food, one may use a fork to remove the type he wants, put it on his plate, and immediately eat it.

One may not remove olive pits with a device specifically designed for this purpose, as it is an implement designed for separating (SSK 3:59).

People often place grains of rice in salt shakers to prevent the salt from clumping. Although the holes of a salt shaker are small and only let the salt through (while blocking the rice), they nevertheless may be used on Shabbat, as their purpose is not to separate but to dispense salt. The proof of this is that people use salt shakers even when they do not contain grains of rice (see section 8 regarding a peeler, section 13 regarding a slotted spoon and Borer with a ladle, n. 15 regarding olives, and section 14 regarding a teapot).

08. Removing Peels and Pits

One may remove peels from fruit in order to eat them. Even though removing the peel is similar to removing psolet from okhel, it is not forbidden because this is the normal way to eat a fruit that has a peel. Therefore, one may peel garlic, onions, nuts, eggs, grapefruits, bananas, oranges, etc. for immediate consumption. However, one may not peel them to eat later on, because that is derekh melakha (Rema 321:19). For immediate consumption, one may remove a peel with a knife because it is a utensil designed to help one’s hand through derekh akhila and not derekh melakha (see Igrot Moshe OĤ 1:124).[8]

When one who is eating a plum reaches the pit, he may throw it out and continue eating. One who is eating apricots or dates may open them (and check them for bugs), throw out the pit, and eat them, because this is the normal way of eating these fruits (MB 321:84).

One who is cutting up a melon for immediate use may throw out all the seeds, because removing them is comparable to removing the peel of a fruit. Similarly, one may remove the peel of a melon or watermelon immediately before eating it. One may also remove the stem of a fruit before eating it (SSK 3:18 and 3:37-39; compare to section 10 below, which explains that one may remove watermelon seeds before eating watermelon).

The poskim disagree whether removing the edible peel of fruits or vegetables, like those of apples, pears, cucumbers, and carrots, presents a problem of Borer. Some say that since the peel can be eaten, there is no issue of Borer, but rather it is like cutting a fruit in two. Thus, one may peel them even to eat later on, and may even use a peeler to do so. Others maintain that since one does not want the peel, it is considered psolet for him, and the rules of Borer apply to it. Accordingly, a peeler is considered an implement designed for separating, and therefore it absolutely may not be used. However, one who wishes to be lenient has support for doing so.[9] One may still peel these fruits with a knife for immediate consumption.


[8]. Beit Yosef and Rema 321:19 quote Smag, Rabbeinu Yeruĥam, Smak, Terumat Ha-deshen, and Hagahot Maimoniyot, all of whom maintain that one may not peel garlic and onions for later because of Borer (though one may do so for immediate use, as that is derekh akhila). However, it seems from some Rishonim (Rabbeinu Ĥananel, Arukh, and Me’iri) that Borer does not apply to a case where the psolet and okhel are attached to each other. There is a dispute about what this means: Tal Orot explains that Borer does not apply at all to cases where the peel is fully attached to a fruit or vegetable, as with an orange. In contrast, in cases such as onions or garlic, where the peel is more loosely attached, Borer does apply (cited in Yalkut Yosef 319:57-58). Others explain that these Rishonim mean that when psolet and okhel are found side by side, whether joined completely or more loosely attached (like onion and garlic), Borer does not apply, because Borer is relevant only when psolet and okhel are mixed together (summarized in Menuĥat Ahava 2:7:39-41). In practice, since this is a case of uncertainty about Torah law, the vast majority of poskim rule stringently. This is the explicit ruling of Beit Yosef and Rema 321:19, and is the position of MA and MB 321:83 as well. Therefore, one may peel garlic and onions for immediate use only. However, where there are additional uncertainties, the lenient view is taken into consideration.[9]. There are three opinions on this matter:

1) MA 321:30 and MB 321:84 forbid peeling apples for later. This implies that the rules of Borer pertain to the removal of a peel. This is also the opinion of Igrot Moshe OĤ 4:74, Borer 8. Similarly, Responsa Maĥazeh Eliyahu §51 forbids using a peeler, as does Ayil Meshulash, p. 104.

2) SSK 3:34, nn. 88 and 90, presents as the first and primary opinion that if most people regularly eat the peel of a given fruit or vegetable, it may be peeled even with a peeler, and even for later consumption (this also seems to be the opinion of Pri Megadim as cited in SHT ad loc. 97).

3) Some maintain that even if a peel is only eaten in distressing circumstances and only together with its fruit, Borer does not apply, since the peel is part of the fruit. We may combine this view with the opinion of Rabbeinu Ĥananel and others who maintain that Borer does not apply to removing peels (as explained in the previous note) as well as the opinion of those who maintain that one may perform Borer even with a utensil if it is for immediate use (as explained in n. 1 above). This is also the position of Menuĥat Ahava 2:7:13. Yalkut Yosef 319:58, 61 states that those who are lenient have an opinion to rely on. (We might suggest that even those who prohibit this do so rabbinically, which might be inferred from the laws of separating leaves that are edible but not usually eaten, as explained in MB 319:7.) She’arim Metzuyanim Ba-halakha §80, Kuntres Aĥaron 24 permits using a peeler on the grounds that it is comparable to a knife, rather than an implement specifically used for separating. It would seem that le-khatĥila one may rely on the second opinion, and there are grounds to be lenient in accordance with the third opinion as well.

09. Bones in Fish and Meat

When eating fish with bones, one may remove the bones in the course of eating. In other words, one may begin eating the fish, and when he gets to the bones that are in his way, he may remove them with his hand or a fork and continue eating. The same applies to eating meat with bones. For a small child, one may remove the bones from fish or meat before the child starts to eat, as this is the normal way of feeding children.

Some, however, are stringent and maintain that removing bones from fish or meat is prohibited because it is removing psolet from okhel. In their opinion, one must remove the food from the bones. But the primary position is the lenient one, namely, that as one eats he may remove the bones from the fish or meat, as this is the normal way to eat them.[10]

In contrast, if dried bones that have no meat on them are mixed into food, they are considered the same as all other psolet, and may not be removed from the food. Rather, one should eat the food and leave the bones on the plate (BHL 319:4, end of s.v. “mi-tokh”; Ben Ish Ĥai, Year 2, Beshalaĥ 11).


[10]. The stringent opinion: According to Ma’amar Mordechai 319:7 and Ĥazon Ish 54:3, one may not remove the bones. Rather, one must take the food and leave the bones on the plate. To do this, one may hold the bone with one hand or a knife, and remove the food with the other hand or a fork. Even though one hand is holding the bone, this is not considered removing psolet from okhel, because the other hand is actively taking the food. One may also put the food in his mouth and remove the bones from there. If a bone has a little fish or meat on it, he may remove it from the larger piece of fish or meat, eat what is stuck to it, and then throw it out. But if there is no food on it, one may not remove the bone.In contrast, many maintain that one may remove the bones from fish or meat for immediate consumption. There are three bases for this permissive ruling:

The first basis – and the primary one – is that this is the normal way of eating fish and meat. This is the approach of BHL 319:4, s.v. “mi-tokh”; Ben Ish Ĥai, Year 2, Beshalaĥ 10; and Yalkut Yosef 319:37 (based on R. Yaakov ibn Ĥabib and Tzemaĥ Tzedek).

The second basis is that even if removing the psolet first is not the way that a particular food is eaten, nevertheless, the closer the removal of the psolet is to the time of eating, the more authorities permit it on the grounds that it can be considered derekh akhila. First, as we saw in n. 1, according to Rid and several other Rishonim one may remove psolet from okhel for immediate consumption. Even though SA 319:4 rules that this is forbidden, the permissive opinion may be combined with other mitigating factors to support leniency. Second, even following the ruling of SA, there is still a disagreement about whether the prohibition of removing psolet from okhel applies when the food is being prepared for absolutely immediate consumption. In such a case, Mahari Abulafia permits while Maharit Tzahalon forbids. BHL 319:4 s.v. “ha-borer” states that this is a disagreement among the Rishonim. According to those who are lenient, even if removing the bones first is not the normal way to eat fish, one may still remove them because any time close to consumption is considered derekh akhila. Third, Shevitat Ha-Shabbat (Borer, Be’er Reĥovot 3) states that according to all Rishonim, if one starts eating and reaches a bone, he may remove it, as this is not derekh melakha but derekh akhila.

The third factor is that Rabbeinu Hananel and other Rishonim maintain that Borer does not apply when the psolet is attached (see n. 8 above). BHL derives something similar from Yam Shel Shlomo (See Menuĥat Ahava 7:14-15). This opinion can be combined with the other mitigating factors to support leniency.

In practice, BHL attempts to find justification for those who remove bones from fish before serving it. Some are lenient only when it is for absolutely immediate consumption, and BHL agrees with this le-khatĥila. Shevet Ha-Levi 1:83 and Menuĥat Ahava 7:15 also present this approach. Igrot Moshe OĤ 4:74, Borer 7, is lenient if it would be difficult to eat the food otherwise (SSK 3:12-14 records both of these opinions). In the main text, I write that one may remove the bones as he eats, in order to comply with all the opinions that Shevitat Ha-Shabbat quotes as part of the second factor. Nevertheless, one who wants to feed fish to a small child may indeed remove the bones beforehand, since, as we have seen, this is the opinion of the vast majority of poskim.

10. Removing Watermelon Seeds and Rotten Fruit

While cutting a watermelon, one may remove the seeds by shaking out each slice. Any seeds that remain may be removed by hand or with a knife, because that is the normal way to eat watermelon. This is on condition that it is done for immediate consumption. Le-khatĥila one should remove the seeds with some type of shinui (Ben Ish Ĥai, Year 2, Beshalaĥ 7). Some are stringent and require that one place the piece of watermelon into one’s mouth and remove the seeds from there (Ĥazon Ish 54:1), but in practice most poskim maintain that the seeds may be removed before the watermelon is placed into the mouth, because that is the normal way of eating.[11]

If a fruit bowl contains a mix of good fruit and fruit that has begun to rot, one may remove all of the fruit that one wishes to eat or to serve guests at the upcoming meal (MB 319:7). If he does not intend to eat all the good fruit now, but is worried that the rotten fruit will cause the good fruit in the bowl to rot, he can spread out all the fruits so that they are no longer touching one another, but he may not separate the good fruit and bad fruit into separate piles.

When dealing with a partially rotten fruit, the point where the rotten part touches the good part is considered a mixture. Therefore, cutting off the rotten bit is forbidden, because that would constitute removing psolet from okhel. The solution is to cut out some of the good part together with the rotten part.


[11].Kaf Ha-ḥayim 319:47 and Yalkut Yosef 319:63 are lenient, following Ben Ish Ḥai. Igrot Moshe OḤ 4:74, Borer 7 is lenient when one does not have another option and for feeding a baby. SSK 3:17 cites both opinions and adds that one who is lenient and removes the seeds before eating has an opinion on which to rely. In n. 34, SSK states that R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach is lenient because this is the way in which the watermelon is eaten. He points out that this case is less problematic than removing bones from fish. This is because it is possible to remove a bone together with some fish, put the combination into one’s mouth, eat the fish, and throw out the bone. In contrast, this cannot be done with watermelon seeds. The many poskim who permit removing fish bones before eating the fish would certainly be lenient regarding removing watermelon seeds before eating the watermelon.

11. Straining Liquids

Straining liquids can also involve a Torah prohibition, depending on the state of the liquid. If a liquid has psolet in it that makes it undrinkable, and straining makes it drinkable, then straining it is prohibited by Torah law. If the liquid is drinkable even without straining, one may strain it with a strainer even if this improves the drink slightly. The improvement does not fundamentally change it, and thus this is not prohibited.

In an intermediate case, where the drink is cloudy and most people would not drink it without straining it unless they had no choice, one may not strain the drink using a strainer. There is a disagreement about whether one may strain it with a piece of cloth, which is an unusual way of straining. Most Rishonim allow this, while Rambam prohibits it. Aĥaronim write that one should be stringent and follow Rambam (SA 319:10; MB 42).

Therefore, lees that are mixed with wine may not be strained to separate out the wine, since it is otherwise undrinkable. Doing so is prohibited by Torah law (SA 319:9; MB 32). If the wine is drinkable but so cloudy that most people generally would not drink it, one may not strain it with a strainer, and it is preferable not to do so with a cloth either. However, wine that is drinkable may be strained to improve its clarity. Since one could drink it even beforehand, straining it is not considered a melakha.

Accordingly, since most people are used to drinking orange juice with pulp and do not strain it, one may remove the pulp with a strainer on Shabbat.[12]

Similarly, one may turn on a filtered tap or pour water from a vessel with a built-in filter (such as a Brita pitcher). Since the water is drinkable even before it is strained, straining it is not considered a melakha.


[11]. Kaf Ha-ĥayim 319:47 and Yalkut Yosef 319:63 are lenient, following Ben Ish Ĥai. Igrot Moshe OĤ 4:74, Borer 7 is lenient when one does not have another option and for feeding a baby. SSK 3:17 cites both opinions and adds that one who is lenient and removes the seeds before eating has an opinion on which to rely. In n. 34, SSK states that R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach is lenient because this is the way in which the watermelon is eaten. He points out that this case is less problematic than removing bones from fish. This is because it is possible to remove a bone together with some fish, put the combination into one’s mouth, eat the fish, and throw out the bone. In contrast, this cannot be done with watermelon seeds. The many poskim who permit removing fish bones before eating the fish would certainly be lenient regarding removing watermelon seeds before eating the watermelon.[12]. Nevertheless, one may not strain the liquid from cooked vegetables because they are considered two different types of food, and if one wishes to eat only one of them, the other is considered psolet for him. In contrast, orange juice with bits of pulp is just one type of food, and therefore separating the pulp from the juice is not considered Borer (see R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach cited in SSK 3:53-54, 57 and n. 173; this approach is also found in Igrot Moshe OĤ 4:74, Borer 3).

12. Separating Broth from Pieces of Food in Soup

One may not separate the broth from the vegetables or noodles mixed into a soup. Although the broth, the vegetables, and the noodles are all edible, it is still forbidden to separate two types of foods (as we have seen in section 3). However, one may separate them in the normal course of eating, as long as the three conditions for derekh akhila delineated in section 2 are met (okhel from psolet, not with a specialized implement, and for immediate consumption).

Therefore, if one wants to eat the broth immediately but not the vegetables (rendering them psolet for him), he may tip the soup pot and pour off the broth into a bowl. Although the broth is being removed from the mixture, it is not prohibited because the okhel is being removed from the psolet. However, one may not do this with the help of a strainer or even a utensil that is not specifically designed for separating (such as a fork or spoon) or a pot cover (by bringing it close to the bowl and opening it slightly, allowing only the broth to pass though). In contrast, one may use a ladle and fill it only with broth. Since using a ladle is the normal way of removing soup, it is not considered straining with a utensil.[13]

If one wants to eat only the vegetables and noodles, he may not tip the pot to pour out the broth. This is considered removing psolet from okhel, which is forbidden even if his objective is to eat the vegetables and noodles immediately. In contrast, one may lift the ladle out of the soup while holding it close to the side of the pot, in such a way that it will fill with only vegetables and noodles, because he is merely taking the food that he wants and not performing an act of separation. Once the ladle is out of the pot, one may not pour broth from the ladle back into the pot, because that would indeed be removing psolet from okhel.

If the vegetables and noodles fell to the bottom of the pot and there is clear broth above them, that broth is not considered mixed with them. Therefore, even one who wishes to eat the vegetables may remove the broth on top with a ladle or tilt the pot and pour off the broth. However, after pouring off this top layer of broth, one may not continue tipping the pot to remove the soup that is mixed with vegetables and noodles.[14]


[13]. If one removes okhel from psolet for immediate consumption using an implement that is designed specially to separate (such as a strainer), he transgresses a Torah prohibition. If he separates using of an implement that is not designed specifically for straining (such as a fork or a pot cover), it is only rabbinically prohibited, since it is an unusual way of separating. SSK ch. 3 n. 177 rules that it may be prohibited to hold a spoon or ladle against the side of a pot to collect only vegetables, as this is straining with the help of an implement. For this reason, Menuĥat Ahava 2:7:34 forbids gradually filling up a ladle with soup in such a way that only liquid will fill it. Orĥot Shabbat 3:75-76 quotes lenient opinions on this matter. Nishmat Shabbat §144 does so as well. It seems that in practice one may be lenient since there is no prohibition on removing okhel from psolet in the normal way for fairly immediate consumption, and this position is reflected in the main text. Regardless, this is a case of doubt about a rabbinic law, where we typically rule leniently.[14]. Shabbat 139b and SA 319:14 explain that one may gently pour wine from one bottle to another. To avoid Borer, one must take care to stop pouring when the flow of wine stops, before the drops of wine percolating through the lees start to come out. In this case there is a disagreement about whether one may pour out those last drops of wine for immediate consumption. Most poskim permit this; since he wants the wine that he is pouring off, this is considered removing okhel from psolet, which is permitted for immediate consumption (MA; MB 319:55; Yalkut Yosef 319:45). However according to R. Shneur Zalman of Liadi (in vol. 1 of his siddur) and Eglei Tal, what is left in the receptacle in his hands is the result of Borer, meaning that he has removed psolet from okhel, which is forbidden even for immediate consumption. In sum, according to most poskim, soup mixed with vegetables and noodles may be spilled off in order to eat the soup immediately. Although some prohibit this, maintaining that it is considered removing psolet from okhel, the halakha follows the majority of poskim who maintain that it is considered removing okhel from psolet. We may add to this the factor that some poskim permit removing psolet from okhel if it is for immediate consumption (Rid and Tur), as explained above in n. 1. Furthermore, some maintain that there is no prohibition of Borer for liquids unless the separating is performed with an implement that is specially designed for the purpose (Responsa Maharitatz Yeshanot §203). But one may not spill off the soup in order to eat the vegetables, since according to the majority of poskim that qualifies as removing psolet from okhel.

13. Additional Laws of Separating Liquids from Solids

Since pickles are large, they are not considered mixed with the brine in which they are pickled. Thus, when opening a jar of pickles, one may pour out the brine. In contrast, since canned peas and corn are small, they are considered mixed with the liquid in which they are canned. Thus, one may not pour out the water from these cans. Similarly, one may not pour off the oil or water from a can of tuna. If one wishes to serve the tuna without the liquid, he may use a spoon to remove the tuna from the container and move it to another plate. This way he is removing the okhel from the psolet for immediate consumption.

It is uncertain whether canned olives are considered mixed with their brine or not. Since this is a case of doubt that relates to a Torah prohibition, we must be stringent. Therefore, one may not spill out the brine, and one may not use an implement designed to remove the olives. But one may use a fork or spoon to remove the olives from the brine in order to eat them immediately.[15]

We have already seen (section 4) that if soup contains large chunks of meat or vegetables, they are not considered mixed with the broth, on account of their size. Thus one may take them out even if he wishes to eat them only later on. Similarly, one may remove the chunks using a slotted spoon, just as one may remove the chunks with a fork, since the prohibition of Borer does not apply in this case at all. In contrast, if the soup contains small pieces of meat or vegetables, it is considered a mixture. Therefore, one who wishes to remove the pieces for immediate consumption should remove them together with some soup using a regular spoon or ladle and not a slotted spoon, since doing so separates the pieces from the broth using an implement that facilitates separation. If there is no other implement handy, one may use the slotted spoon on two conditions: that he does not intend to separate the meat or vegetables, and that he does not keep the spoon over the pot in order to allow the soup to drain out (see Harĥavot 11:13:5 and SSK 3:58).

One may spill soup mixed with remnants of food into a sink that has a strainer in it to protect the drain from getting clogged. Although the strainer will stop the food remnants from going down the drain, this is not prohibited. This is because Borer is applicable only when separating okhel from psolet; when one intends to use neither the liquid nor the food remnants, all of it is considered psolet (SSK 12:17).


[15]. It is clear that pickles, on account of their size, are not considered mixed with the liquid. This is the opinion of SSK 3:23; Yalkut Yosef 319:48; and Orĥot Shabbat 3:25. The status of olives is questionable. If we consider them mixed with the liquid, then using a special implement to remove them is transgressing a Torah prohibition. On the other hand, if we say that on account of their size they are not considered mixed with the liquid, one may remove them even with the help of a special implement. However, since this is a case of uncertainty about a Torah law, one should be stringent. SSK 3:20 rules that one may not spill off water that gathers on top of leben (a Middle Eastern dairy product similar to yogurt), on the grounds that it is removing psolet from okhel. However, many are lenient because leben is relatively solid, and thus the liquid is not considered mixed with it (Yalkut Yosef 319:47; Orĥot Shabbat 3:28).In the main text, I write that one may remove tuna from the oil or water in which it is canned with a spoon (but not a fork), even if it will be eaten soon at the upcoming meal. Since one is not immediately putting the food into his mouth, using a fork is considered Borer with the help of a utensil. If he does wish to eat the tuna straight from the can, then he may use a fork, holding the forkful of food over the can for a bit so the liquid will drip off, since this is truly derekh akhila.

14. Teapots and Tea Bags

A teapot is used to cook tea leaves and prepare liquid essence of tea from them. At the mouth of the teapot is a strainer that prevents the tea leaves from pouring freely into the cup. When the tea leaves sink to the bottom of the teapot and there is clear tea essence above them, one may certainly pour the clear essence into a cup. But when the tea leaves and the water are mixed, some say that one may not pour the essence through the mouth of the teapot because the strainer separates the liquid essence from the tea leaves. Others permit this. Since it is easy to add hot water (from a kli sheni) to the teapot, ensuring that a large volume of liquid is not mixed with the essence, it is preferable to do this and thus avoid risking a possible prohibition of Borer. When it is impossible to add water, be-di’avad pouring out the essence through the strainer is permitted.[16]

One may make tea by putting a tea bag into hot water (in a kli shlishi, as explained above in 10:8). However, when lifting the tea bag from the water, it is proper to take care not to hold it over the cup to allow the tea bag to drip the last few drops into it. This is because some maintain that the tea bag, which keeps the tea leaves from getting loose, is considered a utensil for straining, in which case holding it up would be considered separating the tea essence from the leaves using a utensil (see section 7). Instead, one should remove the tea bag from the cup and immediately put it in the garbage or into another cup. Some are stringent and lift the tea bag using a spoon, thus removing some tea along with the tea bag (see SSK 3:64).


[16]. Some are stringent and do not pour through the strainer at all, even if the water on top is not mixed with the tea leaves that have sunk to the bottom. This is the approach of Siddur Beit Menuĥa; Ben Ish Ĥai, Year 2, Beshalaĥ 18; Kaf Ha-ĥayim 319:113; and Shevet Ha-Levi 1:84. In contrast, some are lenient even when the tea leaves are mixed with the water. This is the approach of Yeĥaveh Da’at 2:51 and Menuĥat Ahava 2:7:43. The reason is that people are not truly bothered by tea leaves, and would be willing to drink tea with leaves mixed in, figuring that at worst their teeth will strain them out. Thus, this tea can be considered a liquid that most people can drink without straining (SA 319:10 and section 11 above). In the main text I follow the intermediate position, which is the opinion of Ĥazon Ish, OĤ §53, s.v. “min ha-amur” and Or Le-Tziyon 2:31:11. SSK 3:62 mentions the intermediate and lenient positions. R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach’s rationale for leniency is mentioned in n. 140 there: that it may be permitted to separate with a utensil for immediate consumption. Shulĥan Shlomo 319:34:2 adds that if a few tea leaves are able to pass through the strainer, then there is no concern that this case is Borer.

15. Removing Insects from Food, and Additional Laws

If an insect falls into a cup of tea and is floating on top, some permit removing it on its own. Others are stringent and maintain that removing the bug on its own is Borer, because it is considered psolet that is being removed from okhel. It is proper to be stringent and remove the bug with a spoon in such a way that some liquid is removed with it. Alternatively, one can tilt the cup and pour off some tea together with the bug.[17]

This also applies if a bug fell into soup or food. One may remove it with some of the food using a spoon. However, if multiple bugs fell into the soup or food, one may not remove them with a bit of food. This is because it is clear that what one actually intends is to remove the psolet, and therefore the okhel in the spoon is secondary to the bug. Since one is separating psolet from okhel, he is transgressing the prohibition of Borer. The way to get around this problem is to remove a large amount of food together with each bug, such as by using a cup, so that the majority of what is being removed is okhel. Then it is considered separating okhel from okhel, which is permitted.[18]

One may rinse off fruits that have dirt on their peels for immediate consumption. However, one may not soak the fruit in water so that the dirt separates and sinks to the bottom.[19]


[17]. Thus states Taz 506:3; MB 319:61; Ben Ish Ĥai, Year 2, Beshalaĥ 13; and additional Aĥaronim. R. Shneur Zalman of Liadi writes in his siddur writes that removing a bug might obligate a person to bring a sin offering (that is, it violates a Torah prohibition). In contrast, some are lenient and allow the bug to be removed by hand, either because a bug floating on top of water is not considered mixed (Mahari Ĥagiz) or because the prohibition of Borer for liquids only applies to using a strainer, and not to separating by hand (Responsa Maharitatz Yeshanot §203). Menuĥat Ahava 2:7 n. 106 and Yalkut Yosef 319:28 cite them at length, but nevertheless add that in practice it is preferable to remove the bug together with a little liquid using a spoon.[18]. See SSK ch. 3 n. 41 and ch. 5 n. 24 and Shulĥan Shlomo 319:43, which cite the following in the name of R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach: One may not remove multiple bugs mixed into soup, even if one removes them together with a bit of soup. This is because even when it is just one bug, R. Shneur Zalman of Liadi in his siddur says one might violate a Torah prohibition. To be sure, many Aĥaronim maintain that the prohibition of Borer is not relevant here because the bug is floating on top and is not mixed in with the food. But if there are many bugs, then it is considered a mixture of okhel and psolet; thus, one who removes the bugs, even just using a spoon, is clearly focused on removing the psolet. That is all according to R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach. It is reasonable that if one removes a lot of food with each bug, then this is not considered removing psolet from okhel but rather removing psolet together with okhel.

[19]. Shabbat 140a states that one may not soak cresses in order to remove the psolet stuck to them. This is recorded in SA 319:8. MB ad loc. 28-29 extends this law to other fruits and vegetables as well. According to BHL, this is prohibited by Torah law, while according to Pri Megadim (Mishbetzot Zahav 5) it is rabbinic, since it involves a shinui. As a result of this, some prohibit washing off fruits (Minĥat Yitzĥak §38, which adds that minimally one should wash them with a shinui). Others prohibit washing many pieces of fruit (see Shevet Ha-Levi 1:52; Az Nidberu 1:15 and 8:6-7). However, most poskim maintain that there is no prohibition on washing fruit, either because there is no prohibition of Borer here at all, or because this is the normal way to eat. If the second reason is correct, then one may wash the fruit only for fairly immediate consumption. This is indeed the approach of Ketzot Ha-shulĥan §125, Badei Ha-shulĥan §16; Igrot Moshe OĤ 1:125; Tzitz Eliezer 6:37; SSK 3:22; Livyat Ĥen §52; Menuĥat Ahava 2:7:20.

16. Utensils, Games, Silverware, and Books

Just as the prohibition of Borer applies to food, it applies to other items as well, such as books, utensils, and clothing (Taz; MB 319:15). All the above rules for Borer with food apply to other mixtures as well. In other words, one may remove from a mix something he wishes to use immediately, because this is not derekh melakha but the normal way this item is used. However, one may not remove the item in order to use it later. Similarly, one may not sort a mix, and all the more so one may not remove the items he does not want.

For example, if children mixed together pieces from different games, they may not be separated. But if the children wish to play with one of the games now, they may remove the desired pieces from the mix. This sorting is not considered derekh melakha but derekh misĥak (the normal way of playing), because a game normally begins with taking out its pieces.

There is also a problem of Borer with mixed-up silverware. Although the pieces are large and the difference between the different types of silverware is apparent, nevertheless, when there are many pieces, they are considered mixed. Therefore, one may not sort silverware and place each type separately. However, when washing the silverware, one may dry each utensil separately and place it in the proper compartment, because this does not involve selecting the utensil from the mixture in order to sort it. Rather, one is taking each piece randomly in order to dry it, and once it is in his hand he may place it in the appropriate compartment.[20]

Before a meal, one may take the mixed-up silverware and put the appropriate pieces next to each plate. The reason is that this is not a normal way of sorting, but rather the normal way one prepares for a meal. This permission is on condition that it is done close to the time of the meal.

Borer can also apply to books. For example, if many different ĥumashim are mixed in a pile, and a synagogue attendant wishes to distribute the appropriate ĥumashim to worshipers, he may not remove the ĥumashim that are not being used from the pile. Similarly, he may not remove the appropriate ĥumashim from the pile long before the service. Rather, close to the time of services one may remove the appropriate ĥumashim from the pile, because this is not derekh borer but rather the normal way to take books to use.

Books on a shelf are not considered mixed. Therefore, one may remove books he wishes to learn from, even if he will not actually use the books until hours later. One who used many books may return them to the bookcase on Shabbat for the sake of neatness. In the course of returning them, he may put each book in its proper place (R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach in SSK 3, nn. 220 and 239).


[20]. Yabi’a Omer 5:31 states, based on several Aĥaronim, that since pieces of silverware are large and the differences between the types are readily apparent, they are not considered mixed, and thus the prohibition of Borer does not apply to them. However, most poskim maintain that Borer does apply to a mixture of silverware. Since this is a case of doubt about a Torah law, one should be stringent. This is the approach of SSK 3:85, Menuĥat Ahava 2:7:27, and many others. We should note that one may wash and dry dishes on Shabbat only if it is possible that they will be used again on Shabbat; if they will not be used until after Shabbat, this is prohibited (SA 323:6; MB 29; below 22:15).

17. The Melakha of Dash

The melakha of Dash involves separating the grain kernels from their stalks. This is generally done with the help of a tool or an animal (as explained in section 1). Thus, one who goes through husks by hand to separate the kernels has not transgressed a Torah prohibition, as he is not performing Dash in the usual fashion with a tool. However, the Sages forbid this because he is still separating the wheat kernels from the stalks. This is all on condition that he rubs the stalks off of the kernel with his hands, without a shinui. If he wishes to eat unprocessed wheat, he may rub the stalks with a shinui; for example, by using his fingertips rather than the palm of his hand.[21]

The prohibition of Dash is not limited to grains. Rather, any action that separates food from its natural setting is a violation of Dash. Therefore, one may not remove legumes like peas or beans from their pods. Doing so in the way that it is done commercially for huge amounts of produce is a Torah prohibition, while doing this by hand is a rabbinic transgression. However, one may do this by hand with a shinui. If the pods are green and edible, then one may remove the legumes without a shinui, because the prohibition of Dash applies only when the shell is inedible (MB 319:21).

There is a tolada of Dash called Mefarek, which involves removing one thing from within another thing, and it constitutes a Torah prohibition as well. This includes squeezing grapes and olives (as will be explained below, 12:8) and milking an animal (as explained below, 20:4). Similarly, if one is interested in the liquid absorbed in a piece of clothing, one may not squeeze it out. The Rishonim disagree how egregious this action is. According to Rambam and Ramban, squeezing out clothing to extract the liquid absorbed in it is prohibited rabbinically, while according to Rabbeinu Tam and Rosh it is prohibited by Torah law (as explained in Harĥavot).

While a woman may nurse her child, it is prohibited by Torah law for her to express milk into a container because of the tolada of Mefarek (SA 328:34-35). If a woman’s breasts are engorged and she is suffering as a result, she may express milk in such a way that it goes to waste, either into the sink or into a vessel that contains something that will ruin the milk. This is because when the milk goes to waste, the prohibition involved is only rabbinic, and the Sages are lenient where pain is caused (SA 330:8). One may also attach an electric breast pump to a timer and then pump milk when the machine turns on (see below, 28:7).


[21].According to Rif, Rambam, Rosh, and Ramban, the permission granted in Beitza 13b to rub wheat stalks manually with a shinui refers to Shabbat, while on Yom Tov one may do so even without a shinui. According to Rashi and Tosafot, the permission to rub the stalks by hand with a shinui refers to Yom Tov, while on Shabbat even with a shinui one would be transgressing rabbinic prohibition. The halakha is in accordance with those who are lenient, since this is the opinion of most poskim. In additionthis is a case of doubt about a rabbinic mitzva, where we are generally lenient. This is also the ruling of SA 319:6. See Rema 510:1.

18. Cracking Walnuts, Almonds, and Peanuts

One may crack nuts on Shabbat, even though this constitutes removing food from its casing. This is not considered Dash because Dash is a melakha that is done commercially in the field or factory at the end of the harvesting process. Examples of this include removing kernels of grain from stalks in order to sell them or bring them to a mill, or removing peas and beans from their pods in order to sell them to the masses. In contrast, Dash does not apply to a fruit that is normally removed from its outer layer before eating. Since nuts are normally cracked right before eating, doing so is not considered Dash.

Similarly, one may shell peanuts and slide off their thin, papery covering on Shabbat. Although nowadays the vast majority of nuts are shelled in the factory, nevertheless, since nuts are sold in their shells as well, cracking them in order to eat them is still not considered Dash.

Almonds have an outer green hull and an internal hard shell. Generally almonds are sold with the outer hull already removed and the hard shell still intact. One may remove the hard shell in order to eat the almonds. But if the green hulls were left on the almonds, one may not remove them because of Dash (Rema 319:6; MB ad loc. 24). In contrast, one may remove the hull of a single almond and eat it, and then remove the hull from another one and eat it. Since one is shelling and eating only one almond at a time, this is not the normal, commercial way that Dash is performed, but rather derekh akhila (Kalkelet Shabbat).[22]


[21]. According to Rif, Rambam, Rosh, and Ramban, the permission granted in Beitza 13b to rub wheat stalks manually with a shinui refers to Shabbat, while on Yom Tov one may do so even without a shinui. According to Rashi and Tosafot, the permission to rub the stalks by hand with a shinui refers to Yom Tov, while on Shabbat even with a shinui one would be transgressing a rabbinic prohibition. The halakha is in accordance with those who are lenient, since this is the opinion of most poskim. In addition, this is a case of doubt about a rabbinic mitzva, where we are generally lenient. This is also the ruling of SA 319:6. See Rema 510:1.[22]. Shevet Ha-Levi 1:81 is stringent regarding shelling multiple almonds. Menuĥat Ahava 2:6:3 rules similarly regarding almonds and peanuts. SSK ch. 3 n. 104 is lenient regarding shelling multiple almonds in order to eat them, maintaining that since they are generally sold with the hard shells, the removal of the latter is not derekh melakha but derekh akhila. Az Nidberu 12:7 rules similarly regarding peanuts. Since this is a case of doubt about a rabbinic law (since the peeling is done by hand and not with a utensil), the halakha follows those who are lenient, as does the custom here. One may also remove a peanut’s thin, reddish-brown peel. This is the approach of Or Le-Tziyon 2:31:7 and Yalkut Yosef 319:59. One who wishes to act in accordance with all the opinions should shell and eat the almonds and peanuts one at a time. This is because according to Tzemaĥ Tzedek and Kalkelet Shabbat, when done this way there is no prohibition of Dash at all. See Menuĥat Ahava, n. 16. In any situation where one is in doubt about whether removing a shell raises a problem of Dash, it is preferable to avoid the problem by shelling the units of food one by one and eating them. Similarly, when shelling with a shinui, such as with one’s fingertips, there is no prohibition of Dash.