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Peninei Halakha > Shabbat > 12 - Food Preparation

12 – Food Preparation

01. Toĥen

Many items naturally exist as organic wholes, but people have learned to break them down and grind them in order to create new and wonderful things. By grinding wheat and other grains, we make flour, which in turn can be used to bake bread, cake, pasta, and the like. Cayenne pepper is made by grinding hot peppers, and coffee is made by grinding coffee beans. By grinding certain healing plants, medicines are made; by grinding other plants, dyes are prepared. Since grinding is a creative activity, it is included in the melakhot prohibited on Shabbat. Grinding metal and crumbling a block of dirt or clay are forbidden as well.

Generally, grinding an object turns it into flour or powder, but the prohibition of Toĥen can also apply to breaking something down into small pieces. For example, one who chops trees into small bits of wood so that they will easily catch fire transgresses the prohibition of Toĥen (Shabbat 74b).

If one wishes to grind hot peppers or the like to prepare food on Shabbat, he may do so as long as he incorporates two shinuyim (changes) into the process. Traditionally, grinding required two utensils: the mortar upon which the material to be ground was placed, and the pestle that was used to crush and grind this material. Grinding with these two utensils is prohibited by Torah law. Grinding using one of them is rabbinically prohibited. For Shabbat use, however, one may grind food as long as two shinuyim are made. For example, the handle of a knife can be used instead of a pestle, and a plate can be used instead of a mortar (SA 321:7). Although the Sages generally forbid food preparation involving melakha even when it is performed with two shinuyim, here they permit it since the action is considered derekh akhila rather than derekh melakha.

The prohibition of Toĥen applies to natural items like plants, fruits, and metals, but does not apply to foods that have already been ground and then recombined. Therefore, bread, matza, cookies, chocolate, or hardened sugar may be made into crumbs (Rema 321:12). Similarly, one may crumble tobacco powder that has hardened. Furthermore, a sick person who has difficulty swallowing pills may crush them, since their components were already ground before they were made into a pill. In such a case there is no problem of Toĥen (SSK 33:4). Some maintain that one may crush the pills only for immediate use, and le-khatĥila this opinion should be followed (Ĥayei Adam 17:4). In any case, even when one may grind or crush something, one may not use utensils explicitly designed for these purposes, like a grater.

One who scrapes off clay or mud that has hardened naturally from a surface and crumbles the dirt in order to use it transgresses a Torah prohibition. If he does not need the dirt, he is transgressing rabbinically. Therefore, if mud or clay has dried on clothes or shoes, it may not be removed if doing so will definitely make it crumble. Only if it is uncertain whether the mud will crumble may it be removed. Even if it is clear that it will crumble, if necessary it may be removed with a shinui. For example, one may remove the mud on his clothing by using the back of his hand, or he may use one shoe to rub the mud off of the other one.[1]

[1]. Kol Bo maintains that removing mud from clothes by scraping it off is not prohibited since one has no interest in causing the mud to crumble. Besides, mud is considered already ground (and not an organic whole). However, Rabbeinu Peretz forbids this. SA 302:7 cites him as “yesh omrim” (there are those who maintain). Although some are lenient in practice (Ĥida; Yalkut Yosef 302:17, 321:22), most Aĥaronim defer to Rabbeinu Peretz’s opinion (SAH 302:17; Ĥayei Adam; MB ad loc. 36; Ben Ish Ĥai, Year 2, Mishpatim 6; Kaf Ha-ĥayim ad loc. 49). In any case, when it is uncertain that the mud will in fact crumble, even those who prohibit would agree that it is a davar she-eino mitkaven and is therefore permitted (R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach in SSK ch. 15 n. 103). It would seem that when dealing with mud and clay, as long as it will not crumble, removing it is not considered Toĥen. If it is clear that it will crumble but there is a great need to remove it, even those who forbid doing so would permit removing it if it is done with a shinui, because then the action becomes a shvut di-shvut (see BHL 302:6 s.v. “o”).

02. Chopping Vegetables and Mashing Bananas and Avocados

The Rishonim disagree whether the prohibition of Toĥen applies to chopping vegetables finely for salad. Some maintain that since cutting the vegetables into small pieces serves a purpose, the prohibition applies. However, according to the majority of Rishonim, this is prohibited only if the vegetables are otherwise inedible, such as when one chops vegetables in order to cook them. In contrast, if the vegetables are edible raw, there is no problem with chopping them. In practice, since this disagreement concerns a Torah law, one should defer to the stringent opinion. Thus one may not cut vegetables finely for a salad (SA 321:12). However, if the salad is being prepared right before the meal, even the stringent opinion permits it. In this case, the cutting is not derekh melakha but derekh akhila, as one may eat finely-cut food on Shabbat (Rashba; Beit Yosef; Rema 321:12). Le-khatĥila it is preferable, even when preparing salad for the upcoming meal, not to cut the pieces especially finely (Beit Yosef; MB ad loc. 45).[2]

May one mash foods like bananas and avocados? Some are stringent and forbid doing so with a fork, including for immediate consumption. Even the stringent opinion permits mashing these foods with a spoon, because that is considered a shinui. However, the lenient position allows mashing bananas and avocados even with a fork for immediate consumption, and the halakha follows this position. Thus one may mash a banana or avocado with a fork for immediate consumption. As we have already seen, the prohibition of Toĥen is not relevant to food being prepared for immediate consumption, as long as the mashing is not done with a special utensil designed for this purpose.[3]

One may use a meat knife to cut a roast into slices, even for later consumption. A knife may be used to slice hard cheese as well. Similarly, one may mash hard-boiled eggs with a fork. Even when it is permissible to cut something or crumble it, one may not do so with a utensil that is designed for this purpose, like a grater (SA 321:9-10). However, one may use a utensil that is designed for cutting things into large pieces. Therefore, one may use a cheese knife or an egg slicer, since its blades are far apart from one another. Similarly, one may slice a loaf of bread as well (SSK 6:3).[4]

[2]. There are three opinions as to what constitutes Toĥen:

  1. a) According to Rabbeinu Ĥananel and Rosh, Toĥen is relevant only to making flour.
  2. b) According to most Rishonim, if cutting something into pieces makes it edible, one may not do so; but if it is edible as is, one may cut it. This is the position of Rid, Ritva, Ra’ah, and Ramban, and it is similar to Rambam’s position as well.
  3. c) Any time one cuts vegetables into small pieces, it is included in the prohibition of Toĥen. This is the opinion of Rashi, Or Zaru’a, and Yere’im. SA 321:12 defers to the opinion of those who are stringent. However, he adds, based on Rashba, that if the food is intended to be eaten immediately, one may cut it. Although almost all poskim agree that one may do so for immediate use, some cast doubt upon this leniency (Shiltei Giborim). Therefore, Aĥaronim write that le-khatĥila it is preferable not to cut salad especially finely (Beit Yosef; MB 321:45).

[3]. There are several reasons for this permission:

  1. a) According to most poskim, the prohibition of Toĥen does not apply to fruits or vegetables that are edible (as we saw in the previous note).
  2. b) Even though SA 321:12 rules in accordance with those who are stringent, nevertheless, when the food is being prepared for immediate consumption, there is no prohibition (Rashba; Beit Yosef; Rema).
  3. c) Even if the prohibition of Toĥen were applicable, according to Igrot Moshe 4:74, Toĥen2, since these foods remain a solid mass even after being mashed, Toĥen does not apply here at all.
  4. d) Mashing with a fork already constitutes a shinui, as this is not the normal way to grind (Or Le-Tziyon 1:28). Yeĥaveh Da’at 5:27 and Menuĥat Ahava 2:8:12 permit this in practice. However, Ĥazon Ish OĤ §57 is stringent, and does not allow it even when the food being prepared will be consumed immediately. He also maintains that mashing is considered a type of Toĥen since it breaks down the structure of the fruit. He adds that if the mashing is done to feed the food to a baby, then it is prohibited based on MA 321:14, because it renders the food edible. SSK 6:1 and Hilkhot Shabbat Be-Shabbat 1:12:15 also state that one should be stringent. But they allow mashing with a spoon, as this definitely constitutes a shinui. Similarly, if the foods are very soft, then even those who are normally stringent allow mashing them with a fork. But in practice the primary position is the lenient one, as this is the position of practically all Rishonim.

[4]. As explained in Terumat Ha-deshen §56, the permission to slice meat, cheese, and eggs is based on two principles:

  1. a) The prohibition of Toĥen fundamentally pertains to foods that grow in the ground.
  2. b) Most poskim maintain that the prohibition is limited to foods that cannot be eaten as is. Although it is true that some elderly people are unable to eat tough meat, nevertheless since most people are able to eat it, it is considered edible. However, one may not use a utensil that is specifically designed for grinding. According to MB 321:36 the prohibition is rabbinic, while according to Nishmat Adam 17:2 it is prohibited by Torah law.

03. Lash

The melakha of Lash refers to the act of kneading, forming dough out of flour and water. However, it also includes mixing any liquid with flour to form dough. Even if the liquid used is viscous, like honey or mayonnaise, it is still forbidden to mix it with flour. As long as one binds the flour and forms dough, this is considered Lash. Along the same lines, if one mixes water with dried earth in order to make bricks or spackle to plug holes in a wall, he transgresses Lash.

One may not perform even a single component of the kneading process. Therefore, one may not pour water onto flour. Additionally, after dough has been formed, one may not shape it.[5]

Lash involves forming something new with characteristics that differ from those of its component parts. Flour on its own and water on its own cannot rise and cannot be baked. Only after they are mixed together can they be made into bread and cookies. Similarly, dried earth or spackle on their own and water on its own cannot be used for building. Only after they are mixed together can they be used to form bricks or to plug holes in the wall.

The Torah prohibition on Lash is limited to a thick mixture. Rabbinically, it is also prohibited to make a loose mixture (as will be explained in the next section). However, if the quantity of the solid added to the liquid is so minimal that it dissolves, the liquid retains its form, and no type of mixture results, then there is no prohibition of Lash. Therefore, one may add coffee or sugar to water, as the granules do not form a mass in the water. In addition, one may prepare infant formula by mixing the powder with water since the mixture does not form a mass; rather, the liquid retains its form, and can be drunk from a bottle. Thus there is no problem of Lash.[6] (One should prepare coffee in a kli shlishi to avoid violating the melakha of Bishul; see above, 10:7.)

[5]. Everyone agrees that one who actually forms dough is transgressing a Torah prohibition, but the Tanna’im disagree whether adding water to flour is a Torah prohibition. According to R. Yehuda Ha-Nasi, one who adds water to flour is transgressing a Torah prohibition because he has taken the first step in the process of making dough; according to R. Yossi Be-Rabbi Yehuda, since one has not mixed the water and flour together, he has only transgressed a rabbinic prohibition (Shabbat 18a, 155b). Most poskim, including Rabbeinu Ĥananel, Rif, Rambam, Rosh, Ba’al Ha-Ma’or, Ramban, Or Zaru’a, Roke’aĥ, Rabbeinu Yeruĥam, and Me’iri maintain that the halakha follows R. Yossi Be-Rabbi Yehuda. However, according to Sefer Ha-Teruma, Yere’im, Smag, and Smak, the halakha follows R. Yehuda Ha-Nasi. (Le-khatĥila one should not wash his hands over dirt nor urinate into dirt, because R. Yossi Be-Rabbi Yehuda agrees that those actions are forbidden. In a time of need one may be lenient, as this is a case of a psik reisha de-lo niĥa lei involving a rabbinic prohibition. See MB 321:57.)There are some materials, such as ash, that are incapable of forming dough. If they are mixed with water they do form a type of mass, but it is not stable and it crumbles once it dries. There are three opinions regarding such materials:

  1. a) One may be more lenient regarding them. He may pour water on the ash, but mixing the two together is rabbinically prohibited (Rambam; Rid; Ritva; and implied by Rif and Rashi).
  2. b) One must be more stringent with them. Since they cannot really form a mass, one is liable as soon as water is poured on them, as even R. Yossi Be-Rabbi Yehuda would agree (following Abaye in Shabbat 18a; according to BHL 324:3 s.v. “ein” this is the ruling of Tosafot, Rosh, Raavad, Rashba, and Ran; it would also seem to be the opinion of Sefer Ha-Teruma and all who follow R. Yehuda Ha-Nasi’s ruling).
  3. c) They are the same as any other material that is subject to Lash. The Tanna’im disagree regarding the status of the prohibition of pouring water on them, but agree that mixing them is prohibited by Torah law (following the opinion of R. Yosef; Ĥazon Ish 56:3 maintains that this is the opinion of most of the poskim mentioned in BHL).

[6]. If the mixture is likely to solidify and harden on its own, then when one adds the water he is already transgressing the Torah prohibition of Lash. This is because the essence of the melakha is joining discrete particles into one solid mass. Thus the Sages state that adding water to flax seeds is considered Lash, because the water causes the seeds to secrete a substance that causes them to stick to one another (Zevaĥim 94b). Similarly, it is prohibited by Torah law to put cement, water, and aggregate together to form concrete; although the mixture starts out loose and pourable, the concrete will subsequently solidify on its own (see Ketzot Ha-shulĥan 130:3). Therefore, one may not make gelatin desserts, as explained below in section 7.

04. Preparing a Loose Mixture with a Shinui

As we have seen, the Torah prohibition of Lash applies to forming a thick mixture. This means that many discrete particles become one solid mass that will not flow or spread out if left on a plate or bowl. In contrast, it is not forbidden by Torah law to form a loose mixture that can be poured from utensil to utensil and that spreads outward if left on a plate or bowl. This is because making such a mixture does not involve kneading, but only stirring. However, since one might mistakenly assume that if one may make a loose batter he may also make a thick dough, the Sages created a fence around the Torah and forbade forming a loose mixture. But one may make such a mixture with a shinui that serves as a reminder that there is a prohibition involved, ensuring that no one will end up making a thick mixture.

The shinui may be in the order the ingredients are added to the mixing bowl. If normally the dry ingredients are added first, followed by the wet ingredients, the wet ingredients should be added first, followed by the dry ingredients. If normally the wet ingredients would be added first followed by the dry ingredients, that order should be reversed. When following this procedure, one must make sure to add the liquid all at once so that a thick mixture will not be formed in the process of making a loose one.

Some maintain that it is unnecessary to incorporate an additional shinui during the stirring stage, as long as the mixture is not stirred as vigorously as one does during the week. Others are more stringent and require a shinui during the stirring as well. For example, instead of stirring the batter using a circular motion, one may stir in straight lines, from side to side, or perpendicularly. Alternatively, one might mix the batter with one’s finger, by shaking the bowl, or by pouring the batter from bowl to bowl. Le-khatĥila it is proper to comply with all the poskim and change both the order the ingredients are added and the way the batter is stirred.

When the ingredients are not usually added in any particular order, the dry ingredients should be added first, followed by the wet ingredients. Additionally, the way the mixing is done should be changed.[7]

One may add liquid to a thick mixture to make it thinner, since this is the opposite of kneading. Kneading leads to discrete units coalescing, while adding water weakens the cohesiveness of the component parts (BHL 321:15, s.v. “yakhol”).

According to this, water may be added to raw tahini, since that makes it more liquid. However, some prohibit doing so, since during the process there is a stage in which the mixture becomes a bit harder (SSK 8:31). Nevertheless, halakha in practice follows those who are lenient, since the eventual result is a loose mixture. Additionally, since the sesame seeds in the tahini were ground and mixed before Shabbat, according to many the prohibition of Lash no longer applies (SA 321:15). In order to avoid any doubt, it is proper to mix with a shinui.

[7]. According to Derisha, a number of Rishonim maintain that changing the order of the ingredients is sufficient. However, Terumat Ha-deshen §53 maintains that one must also change the manner of stirring. SA 321:14 rules that one need not change the manner of stirring (Menuĥat Ahava 2:9:43; Ĥazon Ish 58:5 s.v. “u-mashma” seems inclined to rule this way as well). However, according to MB 321:57 and Ben Ish Ĥai, Year 2, Mishpatim 18, it is preferable to change the manner of stirring as well as the order of the ingredients.When the ingredients are not usually added in any set order, one should begin with the dry ingredients, according to Terumat Ha-deshen, Eliya Rabba, Tosefet Shabbat, and Ĥok Yaakov. However, according to Taz, since in such a case it is impossible to change the order of the ingredients, making such a mixture is simply prohibited. This disagreement is cited by MB 321:57. Since this is a rabbinic law, one may rely on those who are lenient (SSK 8:9; Menuĥat Ahava 2:9:39).

05. Preparing a Thick Mixture with a Shinui

The poskim disagree whether one may make a thick mixture on Shabbat using a shinui when the food is intended to be eaten on Shabbat. Some forbid this, arguing that the Sages permitted kneading with a shinui only in the case of a loose mixture, where the prohibition is only rabbinic. In contrast, a thick mixture may not be made even using a shinui, as it involves a Torah prohibition (Rambam). Others maintain that in order to make food for Shabbat, even thick mixtures may be made with a shinui (Tosafot).

In practice, at a time of need, when it is a case of great necessity, one may rely on those who are lenient and prepare a thick mixture using a shinui. For example, when the only readily available baby food was a thick porridge prepared by adding water or milk to a dry mix of oatmeal or other grain, it was permitted to prepare this porridge with a shinui. Similarly, in times when there was no food available for animals other than a thick mixture of bran and water, it was permitted to make such a mixture with a shinui.

The shinui is relevant both to the order in which the ingredients are added and to the manner of stirring. If there is a set order for the ingredients, it should be reversed. If there is no set order, the dry ingredients should be added first, followed by the wet ingredients. As for the manner of stirring, the spoon may be moved back and forth in a straight line or perpendicularly rather than with a circular motion. If this is not recognizable as a shinui, the spoon should be completely removed from the mixture after each stirring motion.[8]

However, in practice, it is very rare for a leniency to be necessary here, since as a general rule there is no pressing need to prepare a thick mixture on Shabbat. Nevertheless, the lenient opinion is very important, because there are cases in which it is unclear whether a specific type of mixture would be prohibited because of Lash. In such cases, one can follow the lenient opinion and knead with a shinui. It is preferable to do so for fairly immediate consumption (when Rashba is lenient).

In cases where practically all poskim agree that Lash applies to a particular type of mixture, one may not form it even with a shinui. For example, one may not mix sesame seeds or nuts with honey. Similarly, one may not mix butter, cocoa, and sugar together, since they form a thick mixture. Such mixtures are prohibited even if done with a shinui and for immediate consumption.[9]

[8]. In Shabbat 156a we find that R. Yossi Be-Rabbi Yehuda permits making a thick dough of mursan (coarse bran) using a shinui. The law is dependent on two issues:

  1. a) Whom we follow in the disagreement between R. Yehuda Ha-Nasi and R. Yossi Be-Rabbi Yehuda (mentioned above in n. 5). If the halakha follows R. Yehuda Ha-Nasi, then the act of joining the two ingredients is forbidden by Torah law. If this is the case, then changing the order in which the ingredients are combined is not enough to permit an action that is otherwise prohibited by Torah law (Terumat Ha-deshen53). However, if the halakha follows R. Yossi Be-Rabbi Yehuda, then the joining of the materials is only prohibited rabbinically (and according to Tosafot it is permitted), so changing the order is a sufficient shinui.
  2. b) Whether the Sages permit making thick dough using a shinui. According to Rambam and those who agree with him, mursan is incapable of forming a proper dough, so mixing it is only prohibited rabbinically. Accordingly, the entire permission granted by R. Yossi Be-Rabbi Yehuda is limited to rabbinically prohibited kneading. (This is also the opinion of Rid and Ritva. SA quotes Rambam.) On the other hand, many Rishonim feel that mursan can be made into dough and doing so is thus prohibited by Torah law. Accordingly, R. Yossi Be-Rabbi Yehuda permits this kind of kneading with a shinui. (This disagreement is summarized in BHL 324:3 s.v. “ein.”) In times of necessity, one may be lenient. This is because according to most poskim, the halakha regarding adding water follows R. Yossi Be-Rabbi Yehuda; since even those who are stringent agree that mixing with a shinui is only a rabbinic prohibition, the halakha follows those who are lenient. It can also be inferred from Taz and BHL that most poskim are lenient.

[9]. One can be lenient if a shinui is used, as long as there is also a substantive doubt about whether Lash applies to the mixture under consideration. However, if only a small number of authorities maintain there is no prohibition of Lash, their opinion is not enough to allow forming a thick mixture, even with a shinui. Let us mention two lenient positions that should not be taken into account since only a few authorities follow them:

  1. a) It would seem that Rashba 4:75 allows forming a thick mixture for immediate consumption, and a few Aĥaronim take this position into account in ruling leniently (see Livyat Ĥen67). On the other hand, many did not accept Rashba’s position, and some maintain that even Rashba was stringent in this case. Alternatively, it is possible that Rashba is lenient only when the mixing is done in the course of eating. This means that two foods on one’s plate may be mixed together and consumed (even then it is doubtful whether one may be lenient; see SSK ch. 8 n. 10).
  2. b) Some maintain that just as Toĥen pertains only to produce but not to meat and eggs, so too Lash applies only to produce (Maharshak; see Tzitz Eliezer 11:36). However, according to the majority of poskim, Lash does apply to other things besides produce, as Igrot Moshe states in OĤ 4:74, Lash8.

06. Foods that Are Not Subject to Lash

There is no prohibition of Lash for food that has been mashed. Since it has already been mashed and softened, the act of kneading does not fundamentally change it. Therefore, one may mix a dish of meat, potatoes, and barley that have fallen apart, and one may even add water to the mixture to form one mass. One may also add gravy to mashed potatoes and mix them together. Since the potatoes are already mashed, there is no prohibition of Lash (Responsa Rambam as quoted in Beit Yosef 321:19).[10]

If a mixture was made before Shabbat but some liquid gradually separated from it, it may be mixed again on Shabbat since there is no prohibition of Lash for something that has already been mixed. Since all permit this, it is unnecessary to use a shinui, but one should still stir more slowly than on a weekday. For example, if oil has risen to the top of an eggplant salad, it may be mixed back in with the eggplant. Similarly, if peanut butter separated and there is oil floating on top, it may be mixed back in.

Many poskim seemingly allow adding ingredients to a mixture that had been prepared before Shabbat. However, some are stringent. Therefore, the ingredients may be added with a shinui. For example, hot sauce may be added to hummus as long as it is mixed with a shinui. Similarly, if an eggplant spread was prepared before Shabbat and mashed in its juice, mayonnaise may be added to it on Shabbat with a shinui (see SA 321:15-16). We have already seen (in the previous section) that the shinui can involve moving the spoon back and forth in straight lines or perpendicularly when stirring. If this is not a recognizable change, the spoon should be removed from the mixture entirely after the completion of each stirring motion.

One may mix cake crumbs with soft cheese or milk, since the crumbs were already kneaded when they were made into cake, and thus the prohibition of Lash no longer applies. However, some are stringent and maintain that once the baked item has been crumbled, the original act of kneading has been nullified. Therefore, one should mix the crumbs with a shinui, and do so only for immediate consumption.

Another important principle is that Lash involves taking dry, discrete materials and binding them together. However, if the dry ingredients spread throughout the liquid to which they are added, this is not considered Lash. Therefore, one may add herbs to soft cheese, since the herbal leaves spread out and do not clump together. Similarly, one may mix granola into soft cheese, since the granola bits do not join together and become one mass, but rather adhere to the cheese. One may also mix strawberries or bananas with cream, since the pieces do not bind and become one. One may add sugar or cocoa to soft cheese, because the aim is not to bind the granules of sugar with the cocoa but rather to flavor the cheese.

The Aĥaronim debate whether one may mix two viscous foods like soft cheese and honey. Some maintain that since they form a new thick mixture, it is considered Lash (SSK 8:16). Others maintain that the prohibition of Lash exists only when mixing dry ingredients with wet ones, while one may mix two wet ingredients together (Igrot Moshe, OĤ 4:74). In practice, one may mix the two foods with a shinui.

[10]. Some permit stirring vigorously in the normal way (Taz), but many prohibit vigorous stirring (Baĥ, MA, Eliya Rabba, MB 321:77). Ĥazon Ish 58:9 maintains that if a food has dried out completely, like rice does after some time, it may not be mixed with liquids. In practice, in such a case one should mix with the shinui of stirring perpendicularly.

07. Assorted Laws

One may not make pudding if the mixture is thick enough that it cannot be poured. However, pudding that is loose and pourable may be made using a shinui. As we saw above in section 4, one should begin with the dry ingredients and then add the wet ones, and one should mix with a shinui (Igrot Moshe, OĤ 4:74, Lash §7). Let us reiterate that this shinui may be stirring with a back-and-forth or perpendicular motion instead of the normal circular motion. If this is not recognizable as a shinui, the spoon should be removed from the mixture after completing each stirring motion.

One may not prepare a gelatin dessert by mixing powder and water together. Although the mixture starts out loose, ultimately it hardens. Thus one who mixes water with gelatin powder is transgressing the melakha of Lash (see n. 6 above).

One may not prepare instant mashed potatoes, since adding water to reconstitute the mashed potatoes forms a thick mixture. However, one may prepare instant couscous by pouring water onto it from a kli sheni and stirring it with a shinui.[11]

Everybody agrees that vegetables that are not cut finely may be mixed with oil or mayonnaise. Since the pieces are not tiny, they do not form a mixture. However, if the pieces are finely cut, the poskim disagree whether one may mix them with mayonnaise. Some maintain that one may do so as long as the vegetables do not form a solid mass (Maharshal). Others maintain that if they adhere to each other, even if they do not form a solid mass, it is prohibited (Taz). One who wishes may be lenient, but he should mix the vegetables with a shinui, and prepare the salad shortly before the meal (MB 321:68; see section 5, nn. 8-9).

Preparing egg salad is also subject to dispute. On the one hand, there are reasons to be lenient: All the ingredients (eggs, onion, and mayonnaise) are already edible, and it does not become a homogeneous mixture like dough. On the other hand, it does generally form a thick mixture. In practice, one may prepare egg salad. The eggs may be mashed with a fork, as long as the mixing is done with a shinui and the preparation is done for fairly immediate consumption.

The same procedure should be followed when making tuna salad with eggs and mayonnaise and when making chopped liver with eggs. Although the mixture they form is homogeneous, one may mix them with a shinui for fairly immediate consumption.[12]

[11]. The poskim disagree whether one may form a mixture using matza meal. Many prohibit doing so, maintaining that the matza meal has been processed to such an extent that its original pre-matza kneading is no longer relevant (Taz; MB 321:57). Others are inclined to be lenient (AHS ad loc. 20; Maharsham). Since the issue is in doubt, a shinui should be incorporated. Preparing couscous is less problematic, since one could argue that the individual grains do not really stick together; in any case, in order to avoid any doubt, a shinui should be incorporated when making this as well.[12]. SSK 8:28 permits making egg salad using a shinui even when it becomes a thick mixture (as it permits mashing eggs and cooked potatoes with a fork), and adds in n. 92 that this is the widespread custom. It suggests a number of reasons for this leniency. For starters, the egg is cooked and ready to eat, and the salad is not really one homogeneous mixture. Furthermore, if the egg salad is being prepared for a meal, only a small amount is being prepared, which counts as a shinui. We should add that as we saw above in n. 9, according to Rashba one may form a mixture when preparing the dish for immediate consumption. Further, some maintain that Lash applies only to foods that grow in the ground. On the other hand, some consider egg salad comparable to vegetables, and are stringent if they form a mixture (Hilkhot Shabbat Be-Shabbat 13:31). As we saw in section 5, when in doubt one may mix with a shinui. This has an additional advantage, as it is likely that if one mixes with a shinui, the mixture will not become integrated into a solid mass.

08. Squeezing Fruits

Juicing – that is, squeezing fruits in order to release their juice – is a violation of the prohibition of Mefarek, a tolada of the melakha of Dash. While Dash involves separating wheat kernels from their husks, Mefarek involves separating juice from its fruit. It is prohibited by Torah law to squeeze olives to produce oil or to squeeze grapes to produce wine. Wine and oil are important liquids, and the majority of olives and grapes are grown in order to produce these liquids. In contrast, the prohibition of juicing other fruits, which are not grown primarily for their juice, is rabbinic.[13]

One may not juice a fruit for the purpose of extracting its juice in order to drink it. However, if the purpose is to add flavor to food, one may juice fruit directly into food, since in such a case the squeezing is never viewed as producing a discrete quantity of liquid. The juice that is considered part of one food is simply transferred to another food. Therefore, one may squeeze grapes into food, a lemon into a vegetable salad, or an orange into grated carrots. Similarly, a lemon may be squeezed onto fried fish, even though the juice is not absorbed by the fish. Since it is meant to flavor the fish, it is secondary to it and considered a part of it (SA 320:4; SSK ch. 5 n. 15).

If one wishes to squeeze a lemon in order to make lemonade, he should not squeeze it into an empty pitcher or into water. Rather, he should squeeze the lemon into the sugar in such a way that all the juice is absorbed by the sugar. This way, he is transferring the juice from one food to another, which is permitted.[14]

One may squeeze out excess oil from fried foods, or excess liquid from pickled foods, in order to improve their taste. Similarly, these excess liquids may be squeezed into other food. However, if one wants the liquid that is being extracted, then squeezing these foods is prohibited (SA 320:7).

One may cut a grapefruit and eat it with a spoon, even though in the process juice will flow from it. Since most of the liquid remains in the grapefruit, it is not prohibited. One may also cut up fruit for fruit salad, even though cutting the fruit will cause a bit of juice to flow out. This is not prohibited because one does not intend to separate the juice from the fruit, and most of the juice remains inside the fruit. If there is some juice remaining when one has finished eating the fruit salad or grapefruit, one may drink the juice.[15]

[13]. In the past, some fruits were normally not juiced. Shabbat 144b permits juicing such fruit: “One may squeeze plums, quinces, and sorb apples.” Although according to a few Rishonim (Smak and Rabbeinu Yeruĥam) one may never juice any fruit, and a few Aĥaronim defer to their opinion (Ĥayei Adam 14:3; Ben Ish Ĥai, Year 2, Yitro 3), the majority of Rishonim and Aĥaronim allow those fruit to be juiced (SA 320:1; BHL s.v. “mutar”). However, today there are no fruits that are not juiced. Therefore, one may not squeeze any fruit in order to release its juice.According to Ran, the Torah prohibition of juicing applies only to olives and grapes, because squeezing them creates important beverages – oil and wine. This is also implied by Rambam, and many Aĥaronim rule this way as well, including AHS 320:10. However, Rashi, Rashba, and Ritva maintain that it is prohibited by Torah law to juice any fruit, if the majority of that fruit’s crop is used to make juice.

One may not wring out clothing that has absorbed liquid if one wishes to use the liquid, because of the prohibition of Dash. There is a disagreement whether this is prohibited rabbinically or by Torah law. If the wringing out will also clean the garment, then the Torah prohibition of laundering comes into play. (See above 11:17 and in Harĥavot; below 13:5 and Harĥavot.)

[14]. However, SA 320:6 maintains that one may squeeze lemons into an empty pitcher; since people do not drink pure lemon juice, it has no importance. Thus, a lemon is categorized as a fruit that is never squeezed for its juice; as we saw in the previous note, according to most poskim, such fruits may be squeezed for their juice. In contrast, according to Ĥayei Adam 14:4, one may not squeeze a lemon even into sugar, since one intends to turn the lemon into a drink. Most poskim, however, maintain that one may squeeze a lemon into sugar (Ĥida; Ben Ish Ĥai, Year 2, Yitro 5; and MB 320:22).

[15]. Even though it is clear that cutting a grapefruit or orange will release juice, one may cut them because this is a case of an unintended psik reisha in a double rabbinic prohibition:

  1. a) The squeezing is not being done in the normal fashion.
  2. b) The prohibition of squeezing grapefruit and oranges, according to many, is only rabbinic. Many poskim have written this, including SSK ch. 5 n. 49. In Shabbat 143b, R. Yehuda maintains that if the juice left afterward on the plate flows out by itself from fruit designated for eating, one may drink this juice. If it flowed from olives and grapes, then even if they were set aside to be eaten, one may not drink the juice. (Since squeezing out the juice is a Torah prohibition, the Sages prohibited even juice that flowed out on its own.) This is the ruling of SA 320:1. Generally, when preparing fruit salad, even if grapes are used, most of the juice is from other fruits. Even if juice does flow out of the grapes, it mixes with the other fruits and their juice. Therefore, one may drink the juice that remains. (Orĥot Shabbat 4 n. 44 states something similar to this.) The poskim disagree whether one may suck the juice out of a fruit held between the teeth. In practice, regarding grapes we are stringent, as squeezing them is a Torah prohibition (Rema 320:1). However, once a grape is actually in one’s mouth, there is no problem of squeezing (MB ad loc. 12).

09. Pickling and Salting Foods

The Sages forbade pickling cucumbers (or olives and the like) in brine or vinegar, because pickling is comparable to cooking. Similarly, the Sages forbade salting foods if doing so fundamentally changes them, as is the case with radishes, onions, garlic, turnips, and cucumbers. Salt helps sweat these vegetables, extracting their bitterness, changing their textures, and improving their taste. Thus, salting is comparable to the melakha of Me’abed (below 18:6), and its impact on foods is similar to that of cooking (SA 321:2-6; MB ad loc. 15).

One may salt an individual piece of a vegetable and then eat it, because this does not resemble pickling. Many also permit salting multiple pieces at once, as long as the pieces will be eaten soon (SA 321:4). However, the custom is to be stringent and eat each piece immediately after salting it. This is because if one waits to eat a salted piece until after additional pieces have been salted, it may look like he is pickling food (MB 321:20; Kaf Ha-ĥayim ad loc. 26).

Salting multiple pieces together is permissible if one adds oil as well. This is because the oil reduces the saltiness, making it clear that one is not pickling, but rather flavoring his food (MB 321:14). Similarly, one may add salt to a cucumber and radish salad being prepared for the upcoming meal. This is because preparing the salad also involves adding oil and spices that weaken the salt, making it clear that one is not pickling (Taz 321:1; MB ad loc. 14). One may also add as much salt as one wishes to vegetables that are not normally pickled, such as tomatoes (SSK 11:2).

The Sages also prohibited things that resemble pickling. Therefore, one may not prepare large quantities of salt water or other pickling agents on Shabbat. However, one may prepare a limited quantity of such mixtures – enough for dipping foods during the meal. Concentrated salt water (i.e., a mixture that is at least two-thirds salt) may not be prepared even in small quantities, since it resembles preparing brine to pickle fish (SA 321:2).

10. Coloring Food

There is an accepted principle that the prohibition of dyeing does not pertain to food. Therefore, one may add turmeric to a dish, even though it will color the food yellow. Similarly, one may dip bread in wine even though it will turn the bread red (SA 320:19). This is because the Torah prohibition is limited to long-lasting dyeing (like that of clothing or walls). Rabbinically, short-term coloring is prohibited as well. However, the short-term coloring of food is not included in this prohibition. This is because the primary concern with food is its taste, not its color; furthermore, people do not normally color most foods.

Some are stringent and avoid coloring drinks, as the change made to them is more obvious. Additionally, it is somewhat more common to color liquids than solids, since liquids are sometimes used for dyeing clothing and walls. Therefore, even though drinks are made for drinking, and not for their appearance, it is rabbinically forbidden to color them (Ben Ish Ĥai, Year 2, Pekudei 3-4). However, according to most poskim there is no prohibition of coloring even drinks. This is the halakha in practice (Darkhei Moshe 320:2). However, if possible, le-khatĥila it is preferable to defer to those who prohibit coloring drinks. Therefore, when mixing red and white wines, it is preferable not to pour the red into the white, as this will color the drink. Rather, one should pour the white wine into the red, because then the change in color is not obvious when the white wine becomes part of the red. Similarly, when preparing juice from concentrate, it is preferable to put the concentrate into the cup or pitcher first, and then add the water. This way the water is immediately blended with the concentrate, and the coloring is not obvious. Similarly, when preparing tea using liquid essence, it is preferable to put the essence in first and add the water to it (SHT 318:64-65; see above 10:8, which explains that one should pour the water from a kli sheni).[16]

[16]. Most poskim maintain that the prohibition of dyeing does not apply to food and drink (SA 320:9; Darkhei Moshe ad loc. 2; Ĥakham Tzvi §92; Mateh Yehuda 318:2; and many others). However, some are stringent. For example, Nishmat Adam 24:3 is concerned that it may even be prohibited by Torah law if the goal of the dyeing is to sell the food. BHL 320:19 rejects this. Nevertheless, there is a rabbinic prohibition of preparing on Shabbat for weekdays, and therefore one may not dye food in order to sell it (see MB 320:56). Others maintain that while it is true that the prohibition of dyeing does not apply to foods, there is a rabbinic prohibition to color drinks (Rav Pe’alim, OĤ 3:11 and Ben Ish Ĥai, Year 2, Pekudei 3-4; Ha-elef Lekha Shlomo §336; Lev Ĥayim 3:78). Although this is a rabbinic law, and most poskim are lenient (see Yabi’a Omer 2:20), le-khatĥila it is preferable to be stringent. Even those who are stringent allow mixing a clear drink into a colored one (Ĥesed La-alafim 320:6; SHT 318:65). If the intent is to color, then it is reasonable to be stringent even when it comes to food (Ben Ish Ĥai, Year 2, Pekudei 3; Menuĥat Ahava 3:13:8 and nn. 26, 30; SSK 11:39). See Harĥavot.

11. Writing, Building, and Spreading

One may not write letters or draw pictures on a cake using candies or frosting. Though this is not prohibited by Torah law since the letters are not long lasting, it is rabbinically prohibited.

If a cake has letters or pictures on it, one may not cut through the letters, but only between them. If the letters are formed in the cake or cookie itself, as is typically found on tea biscuits, they may be cut, as these letters are insignificant (below 18:3).

If it is necessary to open a package of food that has writing on it, one should try to do so without tearing the letters. However, if there is no way around this, he may open the bag even if he will tear letters (as explained below in 18:3).

One may not churn milk into butter on Shabbat. Many believe this is prohibited by Torah law as a tolada of Boneh, because it involves changing the food from a liquid to a solid (Shabbat 95a; MT 10:13). One also may not shape food into impressive designs, as this is a type of building (MA 340:17; Ĥayei Adam 39:1).

One may spread food on bread or crackers, as the prohibition of spreading (Memare’aĥ) does not apply to foods. One also may change the appearance of the spread to make it look more appealing, smoothing it as desired. Thus, one may put hummus on a serving plate and spread it into a circle for aesthetic reasons since the food is already ready to eat, and smoothing it does not improve it in any way. Some are stringent and do not permit smoothing foods to make them look more appealing. One who chooses to be stringent should be commended (Rema 321:19).

12. Ice and Water

The Sages forbade crushing snow, hail, or ice in order to turn them into water, because this resembles a melakha (see the next paragraph). However, one may add ice cubes to water even though they will melt. Since he is not actively melting the ice, it is not prohibited (Shabbat 51b). One may chip away at a chunk of ice in order to put some into a cup or container, even though bits of ice may melt during the process, as it is not his purpose to turn the ice into water. Similarly, one may walk on snow even though as one walks a little snow will melt, because this is not his intention (SA 320:9-12).

A few poskim (Sefer Ha-Teruma and Rosh) maintain that one may not crush ice and turn it into water because turning a solid into a liquid is considered producing something new. According to this, heating congealed gravy or the like is also prohibited, since heating the gravy will liquefy it. However, according to the majority of poskim, the prohibition of crushing snow is not because something new is being formed, but because crushing snow is similar to squeezing fruit in that both actions are done with one’s hands. According to them, one may liquefy congealed gravy indirectly by warming it (Rambam, Ramban, Rashba, Smag, Smak). The Sephardic custom is to be lenient in this regard. The Ashkenazic custom is to be stringent le-khatĥila and refrain from liquefying congealed food by heating it. When necessary, even Ashkenazim may be lenient (SA 318:16).

This is the law for making ice as well; Sephardic tradition allows it, while some Ashkenazim are stringent le-khatĥila. However, when necessary, such as on a hot day, even Ashkenazim may make ice (SSK 10:4). Some Ashkenazic poskim are lenient even le-khatĥila and allow making ice even if it is not a hot day. This is because ice does not have a sustained existence as a solid. It starts melting immediately upon being removed from the freezer, so making ice is not really creating anything new (Tzitz Eliezer 6:34; 8:12).

One may add spices to foods even though they create a new smell in the foods. Although one may not cause clothing to smell nice by creating a new smell, there is no comparable prohibition for foods (SA 511:4; MB ad loc. 24).

According to many poskim, one may not whip an egg or make whipped cream, because it looks like one is preparing them for cooking (Shabbat 109a following Rashi; MB 321:68). Others are lenient (see Livyat Ĥen §66).

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