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301. The Halachos of "Borer" - "Selection"

In general, it is forbidden on Shabbos to separate, or sort out, two kinds of articles which are mixed together. This is no matter what the articles are, whether they are kinds of food, utensils, clothes, or whether one kind of food that one wants to eat is mixed together with another kind of food that one does not want to eat. Selection is permitted in certain circumstances, as we will see in the following Halachos.

302. "Borer", or "Selection" on Shabbos is permitted if it is done in circumstances where it is considered to be in the course of the normal use of the article being selected.  

Selection is looked upon as being in the course of normal use if the following three conditions are all satisfied.

    1) One is separating that which he wishes to use from that which one does not wish to use, as distinct from the reverse.

    2) The selection takes place by hand and not by means of an instrument designed for that purpose.

    3) What is being separated is intended for immediate use, and not for use at some time in the future.

303. In the previous Halacha we learned three conditions that are required to allow "Selection" (Borer) on Shabbos. The first condition was that one must select the good from the bad, and not vise versa. It is important to emphasize that "good" means "that which one wants to use", and not necessarily that which is usable. For example, if one has a pile of walnuts and almonds, if the almonds is the type that one desires to eat, then one should remove the almonds from the walnuts, and not the other way around. Or, if one has a pile of thick and thin towels and one wants to use the thin towels, one should remove only the thin towels from the pile, as opposed to removing the thick towels and putting them aside.

304. When two kinds of articles, both of which are normally used, are lying one on top of another on Shabbos, without actually being mixed together, there is no prohibition of selection (Borer) in such a case, and one may remove the upper articles to reach those underneath (example; plums lying on top of grapes). However, where something usable is covered with something that is not normally used, the removal of the latter from on top of the former does involved the prohibition against selection, even if the two are not mixed together (example; rotten plums lying on top of grapes).

305. The prohibition against selection on Shabbos is transgressed only if one intends to make a forbidden selection, as where one removes a rotten fruit from among good fruit, with a view to improving the general quality of what is left. However, if one picks out the fruit with the object of eating it and subsequently discovers it to be rotten, the prohibition is not transgressed.

306. In Halacha 302 we learned that one of the conditions for selection (Borer) to be permitted on Shabbos is that one selects what they need for immediate use, and not for a later time. It is irrelevant whether the selection is made exclusively for one's own immediate use, or for the immediate use of others, even of an animal. This condition must be met as well, when removing the peel from fruits vegetables and other foods on Shabbos.

307. One must be careful on Shabbos not to remove the bones from fish or meat, since this constitutes the prohibition of selection (Borer).

Here are a few ways that would be permitted.

  • One may place the food into one's mouth while it is still on the bone and then remove the bones after chewing off the meat or fish.
  • One may hold the bone and eat the meat or fish off of it.
  • One may use a knife or fork to remove the meat or fish off of the bone while it is still on the plate, even if one holds the bone on the plate while doing this.
  • One may hold the bone in one hand and pull the meat or fish off of it with the other hand.

308. In the previous Halacha we learned a few permitted ways to remove the bones from fish or meat on Shabbos.

Another two ways that this would be permitted: 

1) One may remove the bones from the meat if
    a) they remove each bone individually and,
    b) they suck on each bone before putting it aside.

 2) Also, many authorities agree that one may remove the bones along with a little bit of meat or fish. In this way, one is not removing only the bad from the good, but rather some good along with the bad.

309. Despite the six different ways that we discussed (in the previous Halachos), to remove bones from fish or meat on Shabbos, there are rabbinical authorities that hold that one may remove the bones in the normal manner. However, if this is done, it should be done only in the process of eating, and not before.

310. On Shabbos, if the food on one's plate contains bones that have no meat on them, it is forbidden to remove the bones unless one sucks them while removing them. They should rather be left where they are until one removes the entire plate. This applies even if the bones contain marrow.

It is very interesting to note that the long established custom of eating "Gefilte Fish" on Shabbos avoids all the problems mentioned in the previous few Halachos because they do not contain any bones. This bears witness to the spirit of sanctity which permeates in the most mundane features in the day-to-day life of the Jewish people.

311. Putting a piece of watermelon, containing seeds, into one's mouth on Shabbos, and afterwards removing the seeds from one's mouth - in no way involves the prohibition against "Borer" (selection) on Shabbos. If one does not wish to do this, one may shake the seeds off the slice of watermelon, as long as this is done immediately before eating it.

312. After shaking out the seeds of a watermelon on Shabbos, those who are accustomed to remove the remainder of the seeds have Halachic authority to support them, provided that this is done immediately before eating it.

One may also extract the seeds, when opening a Honeydew or other melon where the seeds are concentrated in the center (but not a watermelon), if this is done immediately before eating it.

313. Some fruits, such as most plums or peaches, contain pits which, when removed, do not come away clean, but have pieces of fruit still attached to them. When eating a fruit of this kind, it is permissible to remove the pit with one's hand on Shabbos. Other fruits such as apricot, have pits which come away clean when removed. When eating a fruit of this kind, it is better to open it in such a way that the pit will drop out by itself, or to remove the fruit from the pit, rather than the reverse.

314. Some Halachic authorities allow the removal of a pit from a fruit on Shabbos, even if the pit comes away clean without any pieces of fruit attached to it (see previous Halacha). However, this should be done at the time of eating and not before.

A fruit pit which was removed from a fruit and has no remains of the fruit attached to it, then, if it is not fit even for consumption of an animal it is classified as Muktza on Shabbos, once it was put down.

315. An insect which has fallen into food or drink may not be extracted by itself on Shabbos, even by blowing it out, as this constitutes the prohibition of "Borer". However, the insect may be removed along with some of the food or liquid into which it has fallen. One may do this even if one plans to eat the food at a later time.

316. It is forbidden on Shabbos to pour off the whey which has collected in sour-milk or yogurt, unless one also pours off a little of the sour-milk or yogurt with it. Similarly, one should not pour off the liquid that pickles or olives are in, to get at them, rather one should remove the pickles or olives from the liquid by hand or with a spoon.

317. Fruits or vegetables that are mixed together with inedible matter must be washed off before Shabbos, since one may not wash the inedible matter away on Shabbos. Nevertheless, dirt which is stuck to fruits and vegetables, as well as dust, insecticides and the like, may be washed off - wiped off - or the peel removed (as in with carrots or radishes), provided that this is done directly prior to eating.

318. When eating grapes on Shabbos, one should remove only the grapes that one wishes to eat, leaving the bad ones on the stalk. However, when eating an apple, it is permitted to cut off the bad parts, provided that this is done directly prior to eating it.

319. One is allowed to select, from among articles which are all of the same kind and quality, even those which one does not want to use now. For example, one may remove all the large pieces from a mixture of large and small pieces of meat (all cooked the same way), even if one intends to eat the smaller, remaining pieces. Or for example, one may remove pieces of fish from a plate, as long as all the pieces in the plate are of the same fish, and cooked the same way. This is allowed even if some of the pieces have more bones than others.

320. On Shabbos, a fruit which is only partly bad may be removed from a dish of fruit which is all of the same variety and quality, even if one has no intention of eating it. A fruit which is altogether rotten may not be removed, even from a dish containing only identical fruit.

321. One may not remove rotten fruit on Shabbos from a bowl of good fruit, as this constitutes the prohibition of Borer. However, if one is afraid that the rotten fruit will ruin the good fruit, he may remove the fruit adjacent to the rotten fruit if he plans to eat those good fruits right away. If he does not plan to eat them right away, he may only remove the good fruit surrounding the adjacent fruit.

322. The prohibition of Borer applies to articles as well. For example, if one has clothes belonging to two different people, or clothes that serve two different purposes, such as Shabbos and weekday clothes, one should only remove the clothes they want to use now, leaving the others behind. The same applies if Milchige and Flaishige cutlery become mixed together. One may not sort them on Shabbos, but may pick out the items one needs, prior to use. (We will learn more about cutlery later on Iy"h).

323. It is prohibited on Shabbos to remove broken Matzos from a box, leaving only the whole ones that one needs for Lechem Mishnah. Rather, one should remove the whole Matzos, leaving the broken ones behind. However, should one wish to set the table using only whole Matzos for aesthetic reasons, the broken Matzos which are not required for that meal, may be removed from among them, since they are in effect equally usable for the purpose in hand, so that the selection takes place from among articles which are all of the same kind.

324. Removing the peel of fruits or vegetables on Shabbos does not constitute the prohibition of Borer, since it is impossible otherwise to reach the food that one intends to eat, and also because it is part and parcel of the normal process of eating them. This applies even to edible peels, such as the peels of apples or tomatoes.

325. Edible peels or skins, such as of apples, peaches and tomatoes, may be removed from food on Shabbos even with a specially designed peeler, and even for a meal later on during Shabbos. However, shells, peels or skins which are not normally eaten, such as egg shells, banana peels and peanut shells, may be removed with a knife, but not with a specially designed peeler. Also, they may be removed only directly prior to eating.

326. There is a more stringent view that holds that even edible peels or skins should only be removed prior to eating, and not with an instrument specifically designed for that purpose.

With regard to poultry, one should be careful not to remove the remains of any feathers from the skin, even if the bird is cooked, since this comes under the general prohibition of "shearing" on Shabbos.

327. It is permissible on Shabbos (in terms of "Borer") to remove a bakery label or sticker from a loaf of bread, but care should be taken to remove it together with some of the crust, so as not to tear the lettering printed on it.

In regard to removing eggshells, since they are not fit for consumption even by animals they are Muktza and may not be moved, except while being taken off the egg.

328. It is forbidden on Shabbos to remove peas, beans and the like from their pods, since this is akin to the prohibition of "threshing". An exception is made if the pods, as well as their contents, are edible, as in the case of pea pods when they are still fresh and green.

329. The thick peel of a melon may be peeled off on Shabbos, even with a knife, provided that this is done just before the meal. One may also remove the stems from fruits and vegetables such as plums or tomatoes, before the meal.

330. The outside leaves of lettuce which are not fit for eating may be taken off on Shabbos in order to reach the good leaves, provided that this is done just before the meal. Lettuce leaves may be examined on Shabbos to make sure there are no insects on them. Insects that are found should be removed along with a piece of the leaf.

331. It is permitted to use a nut cracker to open nuts on Shabbos. Even though we learned (Halacha 302) that one should not use a specially designed instrument, even when taking good from the bad directly prior to eating, in this case it is permitted since the cracking of the shell does not complete the selection.

332. If no other suitable instrument of normal use is available, one may crack nuts with a hammer on Shabbos, even if before Shabbos their was no intention to use the hammer for this purpose. However, a stone should not be used to crack nuts, unless, prior to Shabbos, it was designated for use on a regular basis.

333. Shell which remain attached to the nut after it has been cracked, and the thin, internal shell of a peanut may be removed on Shabbos, provided this is done only prior to eating.

After cracking nuts, if pieces of nut are mixed with pieces of shell, one should only remove the pieces of nut, leaving the remains of the shell where they are. This too should be done also, only prior to eating.

334. When the wrapping around candy is stuck to the candy, the candy may only be removed just before being eaten. Otherwise this could fall into the prohibition of "Borer" since the candy and wrapper are not distinctly separate.

It is allowed on Shabbos, in honor of guests, to peel more fruit than they can eat, in order to show hospitality.

335. If grapes are lying on top of plums for example, one may remove the grapes to reach the plums. However, if rotten fruit are lying on top of good fruit, it is forbidden to remove the rotten fruit to get to the good fruit. Rather, one should empty out the bowl and then choose the good fruit from among the bad fruit.

336. Grapes or Bananas may be plucked from a bunch that was severed from the tree before Shabbos, provided that they are to be eaten immediately.( Note: The stalk remaining after all the grapes have been removed is Muktza). Some authorities forbid the removal of dates from a cluster, even for immediate consumption.

337. It is permissible to look through a card index in order to take out a card which is required at the time. This is analogous to removing grapes to reach the plums (Halacha 335). The fact that in the course of the search one may take hold of cards which one does not need is irrelevant (as is explained in Halacha 305). One may also thumb through the cards in order to find the place of a card which one has taken out and now wants to return to the index.

338. We learned in Halacha 302 above, that whenever selection is permissible, it should be done by hand and not with the aid of an instrument. A knife, fork or spoon may be used if the intention is to prevent one's hands from getting soiled, or because the food is too far away to reach with the fingers. (In this case, the cutlery function as an extension of one's hand). One may also use a spoon to pick up liquid, which cannot be held in the hand. However, one may not use cutlery if the intention is simply to make the selection process easier.

339. One is not allowed on Shabbos to take off the skin which forms on a saucepan of boiled milk, unless one removes it with some of the milk. One may however, pour the milk out carefully in such a way that the skin remains stuck to the side. One may even hold the skin with a spoon, while pouring the milk out.

340. Straining liquid on Shabbos if forbidden unless it is for the purpose of removing matter which is of so little consequence that it can be considered part of the liquid. In such a case, the liquid may be strained, even through a normal strainer. However, this is only if most people drink the liquid without straining it, and only if the person in question usually drinks it without straining it. Thus, milk containing very small clots of cream may be strained, provided one is not usually particular about drinking it without straining, since most people do not bother to strain it.

341. Food may not be put into a strainer on Shabbos to remove any superfluous liquid which it has absorbed. Examples are toast or biscuits which have been soaked in water or milk. It is, however, permitted to squeeze unwanted liquid out of food, if indeed this is done to improve the quality or flavor of the food.

342. It is forbidden to strain fruit juice on Shabbos (which of course must have been squeezed before Shabbos) to remove the flesh of the fruit still remaining in it, if most people are particular about straining (or if the person in question is particular) - See Halacha 340. However, if one buys a container of fruit juice that has some pulp (for example, orange juice), then since it is obviously drunk with the pulp by most people, and if the person in question also usually drinks it this way, then such juice may be strained (if today one decides to drink it without the pulp).

343. One may not strain soup on Shabbos, whether one requires the clear soup, or whether one requires the solid that remains on the strainer. One also may not strain noodles from the water in which they were cooked. However, noodles may be picked up with a perforated ladle if one does not pause or tarry in the process of transferring the noodles, and if one's sole intention is to transfer the noodles from one place to another - (i.e. if it is of no substantial consequence that some of the water may flow out).

344. In spite of the prohibition of Borer on Shabbos, one may use a water tap fitted with a filter. If the filter becomes detached, it may only be replaced on Shabbos in a provisional manner and not fixed on tightly, since this may fall within the prohibition of construction.

345. It is permissible on Shabbos to pour clear tea essence out of a tea pot, even if there are tea leaves in the bottom of the pot and even if the spout contains a strainer. According to one view however, it is forbidden to pour essence through the strainer if the essence is mixed with the leaves, but another view permits it, provided it is for immediate use.

346. Tea bags may be used to make tea on Shabbos, but only by putting them into water which is already in a Kli Shlishi and, according to some authorities, the water temperature must be less than Yad Soledes (45 degree centigrade) when the tea bag is inserted.

It is best to remove the tea bag with a spoon and not by pulling on the string, since it is possible the tea bag would be held over the liquid in the cup for long enough to allow the essence absorbed in it to drip back in, and this would be a problem of Borer.

347. Boiling water may be poured into a strainer containing tea leaves on Shabbos, upon condition that the tea leaves were boiled up before Shabbos. This is not a problem of "Borer" since the strainer separates the water from the tea leaves immediately upon its being poured in and also, the water which comes out is the same water which has just been poured in, and it was separate and drinkable even before the whole process took place.

348. When selecting what one requires in the permitted manner, we learned that one may select only that which one needs for immediate use (see Halacha 302 - URL below). However, one may select however much one needs for the meal or purpose at hand. This is so even if one is preparing a banquet which will last for several hours, or even if one has invited a large number of people , so that one is occupied with the preparations for a considerable time before hand. It is also permitted to select before the meal that which one needs for the last course of a multi-meal.

349. One may only engage in permitted selection if they will be preparing for the meal up until the meal begins. However, a person helping in the kitchen is not allowed to do permitted selection if the meal is not yet due to begin, even if he wishes to do so in order to enable him to go home before the time for the meal arrives.

350. Prior to a Shabbos meal, one may select from a bowl of fruit that which one wishes to eat during the meal. If fruit has fallen to the ground in such a way that it has to be sorted out from the dust, mud, earth or stones, one should be careful to pick up only as much as is required to be eaten immediately.

351. On Shabbos, clothes should not be selected until immediately before they are put on. One should be especially careful not to pick out in the evening the clothes that the children should wear the next morning.

352. On Shabbos, a book should not be taken out of the bookcase until just before one wishes to read it. If, for some reason it is more convenient to remove the book a considerable amount of time before one requires it, one may take it out, but should then read a little of it before putting it down to be read again later.

353. One of the conditions for allowing selection on Shabbos is that it be done only for immediate use. "Immediate use" though, must be for a real purpose. For example, it is forbidden to select one kind of food from another in order to store it in the refrigerator, since this is not the purpose for which food is intended. It is permitted only if one's intention is to eat the food after it cools down, since in that case the refrigerator is part of the process of preparing the food for immediate eating, which is its true purpose.

354. The ingredients of a dish of chopped eggs and onions for example, may be peeled, shelled and picked out if they are being prepared for a meal which is to start right away. However, if the meal is not intended to be eaten right away, it is prohibited, even though the selection is done for the purpose of immediately proceeding with the preparation of the food. This is because the real object of these actions is not to chop the eggs and onions, but to eat them. (See previous Halacha).

355. On Shabbos, if bottles in a refrigerator are not arranged in any order, but are simply standing side by side, jumbled together, one should take out only the variety which one wishes to drink during the meal, and only immediately prior to the meal. However, if the bottles are arranged according to kind, the bottles in front may be removed so that one can reach the desired variety.

356. All the food selected on Shabbos should be eaten at the meal for which the selection was made. Nevertheless, if some of the food is left when one has finished eating, or if one changes one's mind and decides not to eat any of the food at that meal at all, it may be eaten at a subsequent meal and one does not thereby transgress the prohibition of "Borer".

357. Sorting is forbidden on Shabbos, unless it is for immediate use. For example, a bowl that is filled with a mixture of various nuts may not be sorted by placing each type of nut into it's own section of the serving bowl, unless one wishes to eat all of the nuts sorted at the immediately ensuing meal.

358. If one has a batch of assorted cutlery on Shabbos, it is not permitted to sort it into its various categories so as to put each away in its allotted compartment, nor to pick out all of the items of one variety and put them away in their allotted compartment. It is permitted to dry each piece of cutlery separately, as it comes to hand, and then directly put it into its allotted compartment.

359. It is not permitted on Shabbos to take different categories of cutlery out of their individual, allotted compartments, allow them to become mixed together in one's hand, and then sort them out again by laying them on the table in a set order, unless one does so immediately before the meal at which they are to be used. However, if they do not become mixed together in one's hand, but are taken straight from their compartments and on to the table, this may be done even a long time before the meal.

360. If cutlery used for dairy food becomes mixed with cutlery used for meat dishes, one is not allowed to sort them out on Shabbos, but one may pick out such items as one needs, and no more, immediately before the meal at which one wants to use them.

361. It is forbidden to sort books on Shabbos, with the object of putting them back in their proper places in a bookcase or on a shelf. However, if one wishes to clear books from a table, one may pick them up, one by one, as they come to hand, and put each into its appropriate position on the shelf.

362. One is not permitted to sort a jumbled collection of different toys on Shabbos, and arrange them in the toy chest, each in its allotted place, since, every time a toy is picked up, it is for the sole purpose of sorting it out from the others, and this is forbidden.

Pages which have become detached from a book and are not in their right place on Shabbos, may only be put back into their correct position with the object of reading them immediately.

Squeezing Fruit on Shabbos

363. Squeezing fruit in order to extract the juice is forbidden in general on Shabbos. No fruit may be squeezed either into an empty vessel or into a liquid, regardless of whether the fruit is squeezed by means of an instrument or by hand. We will discuss some permitted forms of squeezing in the coming Halachos, I"yh.

364. Common examples where squeezing fruit is forbidden on Shabbos would include squeezing lemons or oranges, or squeezing the juice out of shredded carrots. It is also forbidden on Shabbos to chop up fruit to such an extent that part of the fruit pieces become liquefied.

365. In spite of the prohibition of squeezing fruit on Shabbos, lemon may be sliced and placed into tea or cold water, even though some of the juice will come out by itself. However, it is forbidden to squeeze the lemon with one's hand or with a spoon, even while it is in the drink. Also, care must be taken that the tea's temperature be less than Yad Soledes (Halacha 231) , so that one does not fall into the prohibition of cooking on Shabbos.

366. It is permissible on Shabbos to squeeze fruit by hand onto solid food (but not into another liquid nor into an empty cup, and not by using a specially designed device). However, this leniency applies only if the food will absorb most of the liquid being squeezed into it, or if the purpose of the liquid is only to improve the flavor of the food.

367. While the leniency of squeezing fruit by hand onto non-liquid food applies to all fruit, it is desirable not to squeeze grapes on Shabbos, even in the circumstances specified in the previous Halacha, (a repeat appears below), except for the purpose of feeding a baby.

368. As we learned in Halacha 366 above, a lemon may be squeezed by hand into solid food on Shabbos, even if most of the juice is not absorbed into the food - so long as most of the juice extracted is indeed used to improve the taste of the food. Examples would be to squeeze lemon into sugar, white cheese, fish or even into a salad. However, the lemon may not be squeezed into a vessel first, even if the intention is to pour the juice directly into the solid food.

Note: If lemon pits fall into the food while squeezing, care should be taken not to transgress the prohibition of selection. The pits should be removed together with some of the food.

369. Lemon may be squeezed on Shabbos into sugar, even if one's purpose is to put the juice soaked sugar subsequently into water. Some authorities take a stricter view on this however, if indeed one intends to put it into water. In any event, all agree one should not put the sugar into water with a temperature of Yad Soledes or more (Halacha 231) , unless the water is in a Kli Shlishi, in order not to transgress the prohibition of cooking on Shabbos.

370. One may improve the taste of food on Shabbos by squeezing out juice from it, so long as this is done immediately prior to the meal. It is thus permissible to squeeze extra juice out of pickles, or the excess oil out of fish to make them more tasty. Any juice removed may be used afterwards.

371. The prohibition against squeezing fruit on Shabbos is not transgressed if one sucks the juice out of a fruit into one's mouth. In this way, one may suck on sugar cane or oranges. One may hold the fruit while doing this, but care must be taken not to squeeze the fruit with one's fingers while it is being sucked.

372. In the previous Halacha we learned that it is permitted squeeze the juice of fruits on Shabbos with one's mouth, into one's mouth, even while holding the fruit. However, with regard to grapes, a stricter attitude should be adopted. Consequently, if one wishes to eat only the inside of grapes, without the skin and pits, one should place the grape into the mouth, eat the flesh and then take out what is left.

373. Juice which has oozed out of grapes on Shabbos or Yom-Tov, even by itself, may not be drunk on that day. (Other types of fruit will be addressed in the coming Halacha). The reason is that, if it were permitted to drink the juice one might, on another occasion, actually come to squeeze it out. The juice which is forbidden to be drunk may not be moved, since it is Muktza.

374. On Shabbos, juice which has oozed out of fruits on its own (other than grapes - see previous Halacha), may be drunk on Shabbos if the fruit was intended specifically for eating. For example, one may drink the juice that oozes out of a grapefruit while it is being cut. However, if the fruit was not intended specifically for eating, but rather for pressing purposes, then juice that comes out by itself on Shabbos may not be drunk on that day.

375. There is nothing wrong with cutting a grapefruit in half on Shabbos and eating it with a spoon, provided that one is careful not to squeeze the grapefruit intentionally, AND provided one does not intend specifically to drink the juice which inevitably runs out, rather than to eat the flesh.

376. If one requires pomegranate juice for a small child suffering from diarrhea on Shabbos, one should try and squeeze the juice out with a Shinui (in a manner other than usually adopted). One may, thus, squeeze the fruit with a spoon directly into an empty cup, but one should, so far as possible, not hold the spoon in the same way as one usually would on a weekday. If this is not feasible, then since it is for the use of a sick child, one may squeeze the juice out in a normal way (although not, of course, with an electrical appliance).

Grinding and Chopping on Shabbos

377. It is in general forbidden on Shabbos to grate, chop or shred raw food of a kind which grows in the ground, such as uncooked fruits or vegetables. It is permissible to cut up such food with a knife, provided that the resulting pieces are not too small, and only directly before the meal at which they are to be eaten. If it is for a small child or for someone who cannot swallow larger pieces, one may cut the fruits of vegetables into very small pieces, but again, only directly prior to the meal.

378. Banana, avocado and other raw fruit should not be spread on bread on Shabbos, as this is included in the prohibition against grinding. This prohibition does not apply however to a fruit which is so soft that, if one tried to pull it along, the part one is holding would come away in one's fingers.

379. As a rule, it is forbidden to squash or mash bananas, tomatoes and the like in the usual way on Shabbos. So if one wishes, for example, to mash a banana for a small child, one should use a spoon or the handle of a fork (and not its prongs).

380. The prohibition against grinding on Shabbos is not applicable to fruits and vegetables which have been cooked to such an extent that they are soft and easy to mash. As a result, one may spread jam or preserves on a slice of bread or a cracker.

381. Cooked potatoes and other vegetables may not be creamed or mashed very fine on Shabbos by being put through a strainer designed for this purpose. However, cooked vegetables may be mashed with a fork, even with the prongs (compare to Halacha 379), on condition that they were at least partly crushed out of shape before or during cooking and mash easily.

382. Food which is made from a previously ground substance, such as bread, Matzos, or cookies, may be crushed or crumbled on Shabbos. However, it must not be done with an instrument specifically designed for this purpose such as a grater. Also, it must be intended for eating on the same day, although not necessarily immediately after preparation.

383. One may grind chocolate on Shabbos, since it was already ground before being formed. The same applies to lumps of sugar or salt which have formed due to moisture. However, this should be done with an instrument not specifically designed for grinding, and only for use on the same day - as we learned in the previous Halacha.

384. It is permitted on Shabbos to slice bread, meat, salami and the like with a specially designed slicing machine, so long that it is operated by hand and not electricity, of course. One may even regulate such a machine to get slices of the desired thickness.

385. Porridge, rice, cornflour and the like, which were cooked before Shabbos and have since dried up, may be loosened by stirring, or softened by pouring hot water over them, even from a Kli Rishon. One may also dissolve any lumps by pressing them against the plate with a spoon, but one should not remove the lumps (if one does not wish to eat them), because of the prohibition of Borer - selection.

386. Food that does not grow from the ground may be mashed or chopped on Shabbos, so long as one does not use an instrument designed specifically for that purpose. One may, thus, mash boiled eggs or cooked meat or fish, even with the prongs of a fork. However, the food must be intended to be eaten during the course of that Shabbos, but not necessarily directly before eating. (Please note however that shells, peels or skins which are not normally eaten, such as egg shells, banana peels and peanut shells, may be removed only directly prior to eating - see Halacha 325 above).

The prohibition of kneading on Shabbos

387. The prohibition against kneading on Shabbos applies not only to food substances, but also to materials which are inedible. Examples are pouring water onto earth or cement or mixing them with water.

Actual kneading is not necessary for the prohibition to apply as long as two separate substances are being mixed together in such a way that they fuse together to become one mixture, due to the natural consistency of the substances being mixed. We will see more examples in the coming Halachos.

388. The prohibition against kneading on Shabbos applies only if the following three conditions are met:

  1. Two separate substances are being combined.
  2. Either:
    • One of the substances is a liquid, and the other is comprised of either
      • soft pliable matter, such as dough,
      • small ground up or chopped up particles,
      • a stiff consistency, such as thick honey.
    • Or, both of the substances being combined are made up of the consistency mentioned above.
  3. The substances combine in such a way that they mingle and fuse together into one mixture, either 
    • because one of the substances is a liquid
    • due to the water content in one or both of the substances
    • due to the consistency of the two substances, such as honey and soft cheese.

We will see examples in the coming Halachos, to understand this better.

389. It follows from the conditions laid out in the previous Halachos, that it is permissible on Shabbos to knead one substance by itself (as opposed to two separate substances). Therefore, one may crush a banana for a small child with the handle of a fork. There are also authorities who allow the kneading of already baked crumbs, as long as one does not add water to them.

390. We learned in Halacha 388 (above) that kneading is not transgressed on Shabbos unless the two substances fuse together into one mixture. Thus, one may pour oil, vinegar or mayonnaise onto vegetables, such as potatoes, which have been cut up (so long as the pieces are not too small), and add salt and seasonings, to prepare a salad. One may, similarly, make a fruit salad on Shabbos.

391. It is permissible on Shabbos to mix together two substances that will not fuse together into one. Thus, one may for example, mix granulated sugar with cocoa powder or cinnamon.

392. The prohibition against kneading on Shabbos applies even if one mixes together two substances that were placed together already before Shabbos. Also, the prohibition is applicable even if one does not actually knead or directly mix two substances together, but simply pours the one into the other on Shabbos and they mingle and stick to each other by themselves.

393. The general rule is that it is forbidden on Shabbos to prepare a thick mixture. It is also forbidden to prepare a thin mixture on Shabbos, such as a bottle of formula for a baby, unless one is careful to make the following two variations in the usual method adopted.

  1. One should reverse the normal order of putting in the ingredients, such as putting the formula into the bottle first, before the liquid. Also, the liquid should then be poured in quickly, to ensure that the mixture is indeed a thin mixture right from the start.
  2. One should stir the mixture in a different way, such as by shaking the bottle sideways. If a spoon is used, one should mix by making alternate strokes, one back and forth and another from side to side. This may be repeated a number of times, although it is preferable to remove the instrument from the mixture after each stroke.

394. Where a thick mixture would not keep if prepared before Shabbos, so that it is necessary to make it on Shabbos, one should add sufficient liquid before Shabbos to at least saturate the whole of it. Then, on Shabbos, one may add liquid to the mixture if this will only thin the mixture, and not thicken it. Also, one should vary the usual methods in the two ways described in the previous Halacha (when making a thin mixture on Shabbos) i.e. one should reverse the normal order of putting in the ingredients, and stir the mixture in a different way (see previous Halacha).

395. We learned in Halacha 393 that one may make a thin mixture on Shabbos with certain conditions. It follows therefore, that it is permissible to mix cream or yogurt with soft cheese on Shabbos, if the result is a thin mixture, and if one adopts the variations in method described in the above mentioned Halacha. One may not mix honey and cheese, even for immediate consumption, since this results in a thicker mixture.

396. The prohibition against kneading on Shabbos does not apply to the stirring of thin liquidly jam or sugar into yogurt or cream, since this produces an even thinner mixture than one started with. This is not the case if one mixes them into soft cheese, since the resultant mixture may well be thicker than the original cheese.

397. Liquid may be mixed on Shabbos, with food that has become soft in cooking. Consequently, potatoes that have become at least a little squashed in cooking and are easy to crush, may be mashed, even with the prongs of a fork. Also, one may have gravy poured over them, even from a Kli Rishon, and they may then be mixed together with the gravy.

398. If the liquid has evaporated from food which is standing on a covered fire, one may gently pour water into it from a Kli Rishon which is also standing on the covered fire. Even though the water and food will mix together, the prohibition against kneading is not transgressed. (See also Halacha 240)

399. Baked food may be dipped into liquid on Shabbos, since this does not knead the food, but simply makes it soft and disintegrate. However, one may not press or knead together bread which has become soft and disintegrated in liquid, to make it into one piece again.

400. There is a custom to eat chopped eggs and onions on Shabbos. One should prepare the mixture in the following manner. The shell may be removed from the eggs, and the onions may be peeled and diced (not too finely) only before the meal at which they are to be eaten. The eggs may then be mashed with the prongs on a fork. The eggs and onions may then be mixed together. If an eggshell falls into the mixture, one should not remove it (Borer), rather, one should remove the mixture from the shell, or where this is difficult, one may remove the shell together with some of the food.