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Borer (Part 4) Peeling Fruits and Vegetables

  • Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon


By Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon



Shiur #04: BORER (Part 4)


VIII) Peeling Fruits and Vegetables




Why is one allowed to remove peels on Shabbat?  Is it permissible to use a peeler?  Is one allowed to peel fruits and vegetables for later use? 


Based on our previous shiurim, it would appear that peeling fruits and vegetables would violate the prohibition of borer (selecting), as one is removing the pesolet (refuse — i.e., the peel) from the okhel (food — i.e., the flesh of the fruit or vegetable).  Indeed, the Yerushalmi (7:2) appears to indicate exactly this: "Whoever grinds garlic... and removes the peel [is liable] for borer." 


Despite this, the Beit Yosef writes (end of Ch. 321), that the Sefer Ha-teruma (Ch. 220), Semag (Prohibition 65, Lash) and Semak (Ch. 282, 285a) permit removing peels on Shabbat.  After citing the Yerushalmi, the Beit Yosef notes:


Even so, the Semag, Semak and Teruma write that one should not forbid peeling garlic and onions to eat immediately, because the Yerushalmi is not talking about peeling for immediate use, but peeling to set aside.


According to them, the Yerushalmi only forbids peeling a fruit for later use; however, one may remove the peel in order to eat the fruit immediately.  The Rema (321:19) rules: "It is forbidden to peel garlic and onions when one is peeling to set aside, but [in order] to eat immediately is permitted."  The Magen Avraham (ibid., 30) and the Mishna Berura (ibid., 84) rule that it is permissible to peel apples as long as one does so to eat them immediately.


Derekh Akhila


Why is one permitted to peel a fruit for immediate use?  Why does peeling not violate the prohibition of borer?  The act of peeling is, by definition, separating pesolet from okhel!  The Bei'ur Halakha (ibid., s.v. Liklof) is troubled by this:


It would appear that even for immediate use, peeling should be forbidden, for one who peels apples, garlic and onions takes away the pesolet and leaves the okhel.  We already explained this earlier in Ch. 319: one who selects pesolet from okhel even for immediate use is liable!

It appears that since it is impossible to do it in any other method, and this is the way of eating it, it is not called "pesolet from okhel," because one's sole aim is to eat the inside, and whatever is done for immediate use is permitted.  However, selecting in order to set it aside is forbidden; it cannot conceivably be better than a normal case of selecting okhel from pesolet. 


The Bei'ur Halakha's answer is that since it is impossible to get to the fruit in any other way, peeling is permitted, as this is derekh akhila, the way of eating.  If so, why must the bereira (selection) be for immediate use?  Apparently, only actions for immediate use (when there is no other option) may be classified as "derekh akhila" and allowed.


The Peel is not Commingled with the Fruit


We have found other explanations to permit peeling as well.  One comes from the words of Rabbeinu Chananel (74a), who differentiates between the melakha of borer and the melakha of dash (threshing):


Dash is removing pesolet which is attached to okhel...  So it turns out that zoreh (winnowing), borer and merakked (sifting) all remove pesolet which is mixed with okhel but not attached to it...


According to him, the prohibition of borer is applicable only when the pesolet is mixed in with the okhel, not when pesolet is attached to okhel.  This would mean that there is no prohibition of borer with the peels of cucumbers, apples and the like, because they adhere to the flesh (Tal Orot, pp. 156-157, cited by the Shevitat Shabbat, Borer, Be'er Rechovot, 45).  However, this allowance would not apply to peels which do not adhere to the flesh, e.g., onion and garlic peels (Shevitat Shabbat, ibid.). 


The Arukh Ha-shulchan (319:22) also writes that removing the peel from the fruit has no connection to the prohibition of borer.  How then does he explain the clear ruling of the Yerushalmi that removing the garlic from its peel is forbidden because of borer?  He explains the Yerushalmi as follows:


It appears from their words that peeling a great quantity of garlic or onions is borer, and it is forbidden if one does not eat immediately.  Aside from the fact that it is not clear what bereira (selection) has to do with this, it contradicts an explicit Talmudic passage in Beitza (13b) about peeling barley...  Furthermore, this is mefarek, as Rashi says there, and not borer.

It appears to me that this is the explanation: they are not referring to removing the peels and setting the peels down on their own; rather, as one peels the fruits, the peels are mixed in with them [the fruit]...  In such a case, borer is definitely applicable, and that is why they say that it is only permitted for immediate use...  This is the intent of our master, the Rema, as well — that [the peels and the fruit] are mixed together — even though he does not write so explicitly.  Were it not so, bereira would not be applicable in this case.


According to him, peeling fruit is linked to the prohibition of mefarek, a subcategory of dash, and not to the melakha of borer.  It appears that in his view, since the peel is not mixed with the flesh of the fruit, but rather only envelops and covers it, the prohibition of borer is not applicable, Thus, the prohibition of dash, which relates to removing food from its natural covering, is the relevant issue.[1]  


Although the Yerushalmi and the Rishonim mention the prohibition of borer in the context of peeling garlic, the Arukh Ha-shulchan is of the opinion that they are not speaking of the act of peeling per se, but rather of a specific case in which the cloves of garlic became mixed with their peels (after the peeling process had been finished).  In such an instance, a prohibition of borer exists, and one must remove the garlic from the mixture in accordance with the normal rules of borer.  According to the Arukh Ha-shulchan, this is also the intent of the Rema: the act of peeling per se is not forbidden, even if one's intent is to eat the garlic or the onions at a later point, but if the garlic or the onions have become mixed with their peels, one may not remove them from the mixture in order to eat them later.


Similarly, the Eglei Tal (Borer, 6 and 11) writes that there is no prohibition to remove the peel from the fruit, even if one intends to leave the fruit for a later time (at least when one peels a lone fruit), because this does not fall under the rubric of the melakha of borer, but rather the melakha of dash.


Peel Eaten with the Fruit


Sometimes, there is another reason to permit peeling fruits or vegetables on Shabbat.  There are many fruits and vegetables that we are accustomed to eat with the peel (a trend which has increased in recent years).  In these cases, one may see the fruit and its peel as one type, so that even if one wants to peel the fruit, there would not be a prohibition of borer.  The Mishna Berura (Sha'ar Ha-tziyun 321:97) writes in the name of Peri Megadim (Eshel Avraham 321:30): "Most people are accustomed to eat apple peels even under normal circumstances; consequently, this should be permissible even to set aside."  This is echoed by the Eglei Tal (Borer, 6).


Removing the Peel with Part of the Fruit


Certain types of fruit cannot be peeled without taking some of the flesh with the peel.  In such a case, there is another reason to permit peeling: we have already mentioned that the view of the Mishna Berura (319:61) that it is permitted to remove the pesolet with a bit of the okhel.[2]


The Menuchat Ahava (Vol. II, 7:12) writes:


If it is a type of fruit to which the peel closely adheres, and when one peels with a knife, part of the flesh comes off with it, it is permitted, according to all opinions, to peel them on Shabbat, even if one's intent is to eat it later on that same Shabbat.


The Difference between the Approaches


What is the practical difference between these views?  According to the Bei'ur Halakha, one may remove the peel only if one wants to eat the fruit immediately, and only if one peels by hand and not with a utensil designed for peeling; according to the other views, there is no action of bereira here at all, and therefore it is permissible to peel even with a specially-designed utensil, such as a peeler, even if one wants to eat the fruit at a later point. 


Summary and Practical Ruling


To conclude, the Rishonim agree that one is allowed to peel fruit on Shabbat.  There are numerous explanations of this:


1.  There is no other way to get to the food, and therefore it is derekh akhila.  (Bei'ur Halakha)

2.   An adhering peel is not included in the prohibition of borer.  (Rabbeinu Chananel)

3.  The peel is not considered to be commingled with the fruit.  (Arukh Ha-shulchan)

4.  Peels which are edible are considered to be the same type as the flesh of the fruit.  (Peri Megadim, Mishna Berura, Eglei Tal)

5.  Many times the peel comes off with a bit of the fruit.


According to the first view, one must be stringent and peel only by hand and for immediate use, while according to the other opinions, these conditions need not be met.


Practically, when it comes to a peel which is usually eaten, one may remove it even not for immediate use, even using a peeler, and this is how Rav Neuwirth rules (Shemirat Shabbat Ke-hilkhatah 3:30).  However, when it comes to a peel which is usually not eaten, one should be stringent in accordance with the view of the Bei'ur Halakha, and one may peel only by hand or with a knife and the like (i.e., not with a utensil designed for peeling), and only for immediate use.


Therefore, if one wants to peel oranges or eggs, one must do it by hand or with a knife, and one may only do it right before eating or right before a meal (as we will explain when we deal with the definition of "immediate use" in the next section), because we do not eat their respective peels or shells.  The same applies to carrots (in our modern reality, in which most people do not eat the top layer of the carrot): one may peel it with a knife, but not with a peeler, and only right before the meal.


On the other hand, when it comes to cucumbers and apples, since nowadays most people eat the peels, there is no prohibition of borer at all, and it is permissible to remove the peels even using a peeler, and even the night before for the next day's lunch and the like. 






IX) Defining "Immediate Use"




Is one allowed to select before the meal for dessert?  How long before the meal is it permissible to start selecting for the meal?  Is one allowed to select in order to heat up food on the hot plate for a meal which will take place later? 


As we have seen, it is permissible to manually select okhel from pesolet, provided that one has the intent "for immediate use."  Now we must ask: what is the definition of "for immediate use" (le-altar)?  How close must the bereira be to eating?


The Gemara (74a) states, "Abbayei said: '"One may select and eat" for immediate use, "select and set aside" for immediate use.'"  This means that "for immediate use" does not mean that the food must be put in one's mouth immediately; one may set it aside on one's plate.  If so, what is the precise measure of time?  Rabbeinu Chananel (74b) writes: "The measure is the amount of time that one spends at the table during that meal only." 


According to this, it is permitted to select for that entire meal.  Rabbeinu Chananel writes that his words are based on the Yerushalmi (7:2):


If one selects food from food, Chizkiya said: "Liable;" Rabbi Yochanan said: "Exempt." 

There is a beraita opposed to Chizkiya's view — it says: "One may select and eat, select and set aside on the table."  Rabbi Bun bar Chiya says in the name of Rav Shemu'el bar Rav Yitzchak: "Explain it that there were guests eating first things first." 


The Yerushalmi explains that even though there is a prohibition of borer for two types of food, nevertheless the beraita permits one to select and set aside on the table, since one is dealing with a case "that there were guests eating first things first."  Apparently, Rabbeinu Chananel understands that the host leaves all the food on the table, but the guests are "eating first things first" — i.e., they start on the appetizer first, and only after that do they reach the course that is being selected for them.  From this it is clear that one may select food for the meal that one is eating — even the food which one will eat for dessert.  The words of Rabbeinu Chananel are quoted by most Rishonim (e.g., Rosh 7:4).    


The Beit Yosef (319, s.v. Ve-shiur le-altar) understands the view of Rabbeinu Yerucham (12:8) to be even more lenient:


So writes Rabbeinu Yerucham...  But he writes before this, and I quote: "Even though [bereira] by hand is permitted, as we have said, this is only for immediate use — namely, that very meal.  However, for that very day i.e., selecting and setting aside for the needs of another meal on that very day — [bereira] is forbidden."  It appears to me that we should understand this rule in the following way: if one selects after the meal, any selection for the next meal on the same day is considered le-altar; but if one selects in the midst of a meal, one cannot select except for that very meal."


According to this understanding, it is permitted to select even long before the meal, on the condition that one selects only for the next meal.  Conceptually, this means that one's having the next meal in mind neutralizes the status of "selecting for the granary," as the selection is unequivocally not for the sake of storage, and therefore it is permitted, even if the meal will not take place for several hours. 


The most stringent view is cited by the Mordekhai (Hagahot, Ch. 7, #461) in the name of the Ra'avan.  He defines "select and set aside for immediate use" as:


to select and to set aside a mouthful and to put it in one's mouth; alternatively: to select the amount of the meal, to start and to finish immediately after one's selection.  However, [bereira in order] to eat an hour later — this is equivalent to selecting for the granary... 


According to the first option which he mentions, one must eat immediately after the bereira (according to what we have seen, one may put the okhel on the plate and eat it immediately), and in any case one definitely may not select for the entire meal.[3]


The Rema rules (319:1) that one is allowed to select for a meal that one is about to eat immediately: "Whatever one selects for the meal which one is about to eat is called 'le-altar.'"


What is the source of the Rema's view?  His opinion is not in keeping with the view of the Mordekhai, who requires one to eat immediately, or with the view of Rabbeinu Yerucham, who permits selecting for a meal which will be eaten much later.  His words are not even in keeping with those of Rabbeinu Chananel, who (as cited by the Rishonim[4]) implies that is permissible to select only during the meal; the Rema, on the other hand, permits selecting even before the meal, as long as it is close to the meal.[5]


The Peri Megadim (Eshel Avraham 319:6) writes that even though Rabbeinu Chananel's language implies that one is already sitting at the table, the Rema believes that logically there is no reason to make such a distinction (and he understands that even Rabbeinu Yerucham permits this).  Similarly, one may derive this from the words of other Rishonim.[6]


The Bei'ur Halakha (319:1, s.v. Ve-khol Ma She-borer) cites this argument while evaluating whether one can be lenient in accordance with the Rema's view.  After noting that the Tosefet Yerushalayim tries to disprove the Rema's view based on the Yerushalmi, he writes: "In any case, one need not be stringent in this, as the words of the Rema have a source in our Talmud." 


Apparently the Tosefet Yerushalayim argues with Rabbeinu Chananel and the Rema, following the view of the Mordekhai that selecting is permitted only for immediate consumption.  According to him, there is a proof to this in the Yerushalmi.[7]  The Bei'ur Halakha, on the other hand, writes that one need not act stringently, since the Babylonian Talmud supports the Rema's view, as the Vilna Gaon notes (cited ibid.): "from the fact that it says, 'even on that very day,' etc., it indicates that le-altar does not literally mean immediately."  The Gemara says that the opposite of "le-altar" is "that very day," implying that the immediacy of "le-altar" is relative; if "le-altar" were to be understood literally as immediate, the Gemara would have to teach us this novelty, that not only is selection for later that day forbidden, but even selection shortly before one eats!  Similarly, since almost all of the Rishonim echo the words of Rabbeinu Chananel, there is no place for the stringency of the Tosefet Yerushalayim, which only accords the view of the Mordekhai.  Thus, le-altar is not measured halakhically by the akhila (eating) but by the se'uda (meal).


The Acharonim (Mishna Berura, 4; Ben Ish Chai, Year 2, Beshallach 1; Halikhot Olam, Vol. IV, p. 75; Yalkut Yosef, 319, n. 12-14) accept the ruling of the Rema, and so we rule halakhically, that one may select before the meal, as long as it is "close to the meal."[8]  However, we still need to define this term.


Samukh La-se'uda 


What exactly is considered "close to the meal" (samukh la-se'uda)?  The Rashba in his Responsa (Vol. IV, Ch. 75) writes:


If one selects in the normal way and sets it aside for an hour later, one is liable; however, eating it immediately is permissible. 


It appears that one may derive from this that bereira for a shorter time is absolutely permissible.[9]  However, it may be that the Rashba is not referring to an hour on the clock, but rather, colloquially, to a short amount of time.  Rav Moshe Feinstein (Iggerot Moshe, OC, Vol. IV, Ch. 74, Borer, 13) raises the question: "Is less than an hour of sixty minutes considered selection to eat le-altar?" He responds,


This hour is not an hour per se, but rather the amount of time that it takes this homemaker to arrange the food for the meal, and before that point, even a short time, [bereira] is forbidden.


The Magen Avraham (321:15) also implies that one must perform bereira right before the meal.[10]  However, the Ben Ish Chai (Year 2, Beshallach 1) understands[11] that the intent is for an actual hour, and he writes:


Everything that is selection for an hour later is considered “borer for a later point” and is forbidden.  However, it is permissible to select for a meal that starts within the hour; even though one may continue eating at the meal for many hours, it is still allowed.


The view of the Eglei Tal (Borer, 5) lies between these two extremes:


It is not called le-altar unless it is within an hour of one's bereira.  If one sits down near mealtime, even though one may tarry eating other things for longer than an hour before one eats the selected items, it is permitted to select for the needs of that entire meal, since one sits down at the meal very close to one's bereira.  If one will not sit down very close [to the bereira], one must not select beyond what one will eat within an hour of the bereira. 


According to this, one may be lenient in the measure of the hour if the akhila itself will take place within an hour, and it is also permissible to select samukh la-se'uda, even if during the meal a great deal of time will pass until one consumes this food.  However, one should not rely on both leniencies simultaneously by selecting close to an hour before the meal.  Rav Ovadya Yosef (Halikhot Olam, Vol. IV, pp. 75-77; Yalkut Yosef, 319, n. 12, 14) concurs with this ruling. 


Lengthy Preparations for the Meal


The Gemara (115a) seems to allow one to crack nuts in the late afternoon[12] of Yom Kippur for after the fast, since the Sages did not issue any decree against this.  The Mishna Berura (Sha'ar Ha-tziyyun 611:9) questions this reading, since peeling fruit for non-immediate use is a Torah prohibition, not a rabbinical ban.  The Mishna Berura explains this based on the words of the Me'iri:


They only allow it in the afternoon, because this is the time that people commonly prepare their food on a weekday, and all will realize that one is doing it for the needs of the night; but before this time, it is forbidden, because it appears that one is preparing for the needs of the day.


The Me'iri is not discussing the prohibition of borer, but according to the Mishna Berura, his words may help us understand why there is no problem of bereira in this case:


With this he explains also the implication of the allowance to crack nuts since one is not eating le-altar — although we have established above, in a gloss [of the Rema] in 321:19, that this is forbidden!  Indeed, according to what we have said above, it is no problem: since it is close to the evening, it as if one prepares to eat le-altar.

Note that, according to this, it is clear that if one does not have many vegetables or nuts, and one does not need to spend a lot of time preparing them, certainly one should delay the matter until close to dark, so that it will be close to the evening meal.


According to him, since one shells the nuts close to the evening, at the time when people would prepare supper on a weekday, this is considered "peeling" for immediate use.  According to this, one may start selecting a bit before the meal, if the bereira is part of the process of preparing the meal and this process lasts until near the meal.  However, the Mishna Berura limits himself and says that only if one has a great quantity is one allowed to start this bereira a long time before the meal; however, if it is a small amount of okhel, one must start the selection a bit later, so that one will complete the act samukh la-se'uda.


In any case, one may select close to the meal even if the meal will take many hours, and it is permissible to start the bereira at a much earlier point, depending on the quantity one needs to select.  To put it simply, one must complete the preparations very close to the meal, as the Magen Avraham indicates.  On the other hand, the Ben Ish Chai rules leniently: one may complete these preparations close to an hour before the meal.  One may adopt the definition of Rav Moshe Feinstein for "samukh la-se'uda" — namely, "the amount of time that it takes this homemaker to arrange the food for the meal."  In other words, one must complete the preparations for the meal according to the normal timetable.  If so, it appears that one may start the preparations so that they will be completed a few minutes before the meal, as every person is accustomed to include a certain "safety margin."


If there are number of types of preparation for the meal, it is preferable to leave the bereira for the end: removing peels that are not normally eaten (or even peels that are normally eaten, if possible), sorting silverware, etc.  However, if there is a reason to do the bereira before other preparations, there is no problem in this, even if the bereira will not be close to the meal, since it is logical that all preparations for the meal fall under the same rubric.  The Ayil Meshullash (Ch. 8, n. 22) writes something similar in the name of Rav Karelitz, and one may enlist the view of the Ben Ish Chai, who permits any act of selection within an hour of the meal.


Bereira and Essential Acts


We have seen above that one may select samukh la-se'uda even if one will not eat the given item for a while.  On the other hand, if one wants to eat something outside of the context of a meal, one must select and eat immediately (though there are those who allow this within one hour).  What is the basis of the distinction?


It appears that the rule is that an act bereira must be near in time to the "use" of the okhel, but each time the definition of "use" changes.  If one simply eats the food, akhila is the use, and then one needs to select shortly before the actual ingestion. 


However, in the context of a meal, the fact is that the meal begins once all of the food is prepared; consequently, bereira le-altar in this case means completing the act of selection near the start of the meal.


According to this approach, if one must do a number of actions long before the meal so that the food will be ready for it, and in order to execute a given act one must first perform bereira, the bereira must merely be proximate to the given act — the relevant "use" or "purpose" in this case.  Rav Neuwirth (Shemirat Shabbat Ke-hilkhatah, Ch. 3, n. 4) quotes Rav S.Z. Auerbach to this effect:


It may be that the onions need to remain in the soup for a long time in order for the food to taste good; if so, there is good reason to say that it is considered le-altar and permissible...  The same applies if one is peeling produce in order to put in a salad and moving up its preparation makes it taste better.


Similarly, Rav Auerbach (ibid., 74) rules that one may select and remove a given food from the refrigerator in advance of the meal so that it will reach room temperature by mealtime.  Since a great deal of time is required for the food to be properly prepared for the meal, such an act is considered part of the process of preparing the meal, and the only relevant question is whether bereira is done soon before this act.[13]


However, Rav Auerbach points out (Shemirat Shabbat Ke-hilkhatah, Tikkunim U-milllu'im, Ch. 3, n. 200) that this is limited to an act that people are accustomed to do in the hours before mealtime; however, an act which is normally done some days before the meal, though it may improve the taste of the food, is not considered part of the process of preparing the meal, and one may only do it right before the meal.


Similarly, it is clear that if one can do the act closer to the meal and wants to do it earlier merely for the sake of convenience (for example, one wants to prepare the meal earlier in order to go afterwards to the synagogue), one must not allow this bereira.  The basic distinction is between the needs of the meal and the needs of the person; bereira can only be advanced when the impetus is objective and culinary in nature, not when it is subjective and human.


A practical application of this is that one would be allowed to remove the meat from the sauce in order to heat it on a hotplate, even though there are many hours before the meal, since placing the meat on the hotplate is necessary so that it will be hot at the time of the meal, and thus it is permissible to select the meat for the sake of the act of heating.  However, if one does not need the meat to be heated for so long, and it merely makes one's life easier by freeing one to concentrate on other things, one may not select earlier.


Additional Points of Le-altar

For Others


Selecting for other people who will eat le-altar is permitted, as indicated by the anecdote of Rav Bivi cited in the Gemara (74a), and the Rema (319:1) rules accordingly.[14]  The Ben Ish Chai (Year 2, Beshallach 3; Rav Pe'alim, Vol. I, Ch. 12) rules that one who is selecting for of others is allowed to select a quantity greater than what is needed in order to honor the guests:


If one selects a full platter in order to present it to the guests for their immediate enjoyment, and at the time of selection one knows clearly that the guests will not eat all of the food on the platter — or even one third of it! — one is selecting all of this solely in order to fill up the platter in the guests' honor.  Indeed, it is an embarrassment to present a half-empty platter to them, so my conclusion is to permit this, because we regard the entire platter as necessary for that meal, and doing so is permitted.


The reason is that the honor of the guests is also an essential element of the se'uda, so that the person is actually selecting for the sake of the meal.


The Selected Food


The Bei'ur Halakha (319:1, s.v. Ha-borer) cites an argument concerning the rule of okhel which has been selected in a prohibited way on Shabbat:


See the Peri Megadim, who writes that if one does select, it may be forbidden [to use the selected item] for that Shabbat, because one is benefitting from a melakha on Shabbat...  However, according to what the Vilna Gaon has written above 318:1, there is no need to be stringent with other melakhot [aside from cooking] after the fact, if one does so inadvertently.


According to the Peri Megadim (Eshel Avraham 319:1), okhel which was selected in a prohibited manner may not be eaten during that Shabbat, while the Bei'ur Halakha writes that one may rely on the view of the Vilna Gaon (318:1), who allows one to partake of the product of an inadvertent melakha.[15]  Practically, there is another reason to be lenient here, because one could have done bereira in a permissible way, and if so this is not considered to be benefit from a melakha.[16]


If one selects for later (not le-altar) use, can one rectify the problem by eating the food immediately?  The Ben Ish Chai (Rav Pe'alim, Vol. I, Ch. 12) rules that one may not correct the violation, since at the time that one does the bereira, it is considered a melakha.  However, there are those who understand that this would alleviate the problem.  It seems to be preferable to mix everything together again, thereby undoing the gain from the prohibited bereira.  By doing so one may solve the problem, and certainly one does not lose anything — even according to the Ben Ish Chai (see Yalkut Yosef 319:11).


Is it a problem if after bereira and akhila, some of the food is left over?  The Mishna Berura (5) rules that there is no problem:


And if one's intention is to leave something for after the meal or for another meal, one is liable to bring a sin-offering.  However, if in the course of events something is left of one's bereira after the meal, this is of no consequence, since one has already performed the selection in a permissible manner.


In other words, since one had intended to select food for the meal, and the food has indeed been used at the meal (unlike a person who selects and decides not to eat[17]), there is no problem in this case.  In light of this, it is clear that one who selects samukh la-se'uda need not be exact; one may prepare whatever amount one thinks may be needed for the meal.  However, the Mishna Berura (based on the Tur) adds that if one intentionally prepares an excessive amount, one is liable (see Yalkut Yosef 319:1).        





[1]  According to Rabbeinu Chananel and the Arukh Ha-shulchan, one may ask: why is peeling fruit not forbidden as a violation of dash?  We will deal with this in our shiurim on the melakha of dash.

[2]  In fact, even the Chazon Ish, who generally opposes this view, may concede in this case, since the commingling exists only in the place where the peel touches the fruit, and when one removes the peel with a bit of the fruit, one takes the entire area of the mixture, just as the Chazon Ish rules leniently to allow removing a fly with a bit of liquid (see our previous shiur; see also Menuchat Ahava, Vol. II, 7:12).  On the other hand, one may argue that this case should be treated more stringently than removing the fly with a bit of the liquid, so that even the Mishna Berura would concede in this case.  This is because the normal way to prepare these fruits is to remove the peel with part of the flesh; thus, it may be that the flesh which comes off with the peel is insignificant relative to the peel, and it is considered as if one is removing only pesolet.  This is the view of most halakhic authorities: one may not peel fruit for later use, even though generally a bit of the flesh comes off with peel.  The Ketzot Ha-shulchan (Ch. 125, Baddei Ha-shulchan, 42) puts it this way: "The little bit of the apple's flesh which adheres to the peel is insignificant in relation to the peel since this is the common way — to remove the peel with a bit of the apple — and it is selecting pesolet from okhel."

[3] The Eglei Tal (Borer, 9) writes that the Ra'avan does not believe that it is permitted to select only for immediate use, as he cites (Ch. 351) the words of Rabbeinu Chananel that "le-altar" is as long as one is sitting at the table. 

[4] See, for example, the Me'iri (74a, s.v. Zeh She-biarnu): "They explained in the Western Talmud [the Yerushalmi, this is Rabbeinu Chananel's source], that [bereira is permissible] as long as one is sitting at the table — not that they will eat immediately after the selection.  Rather, as long as one is sitting and one's intent is to eat the food or feed it to the family before they leave the table, it is le-altar and permitted."

[5] The words of Tosafot imply that only use during the meal is considered le-altar.  The Gemara (74a) tells that Rav Bivi poured out a basket of fruit and pesolet before Rabbi Ammi and Rabbi Assi, and Rav Dimi is unsure whether this was to avoid the prohibition of borer or simply to appear magnanimous.  Tosafot (s.v. Ve-lo yadana) write that it cannot be that the question is why Rav Bivi did not select the fruits in front of them, since according to all opinions one may pick okhel from pesolet for immediate use; the question is why he did not select the fruit ahead of time.  From the words of the Tosafot it appears that le-altar is only when one selects in the midst of the meal, but when one selects before the meal, this is not necessarily le-altar (and this may be the Gemara's question). 

[6] The Sefer Ha-ittim (p. 337) seems to support the Rema, because he writes that if one selects and sets aside at the table with intent to sit down and eat, this is called le-altar.  This implies that one selects before one sits down.  The second possibility cited above by the Mordekhai ("to select the amount of the meal, to start and to finish immediately after one's selection") also seems to be in line with the Rema.

[7] It appears that he understands the Yerushalmi's "guests eating first things first" as meaning that the guests eat immediately everything which the host selects and sets before them, not, as Rabbeinu Chananel understands it, that the guests start with the appetizer and eventually reach the selected okhel.

[8] Rav Yosef Karo (Beit Yosef 319, s.v. Ve-ha’mordekhai) understands the view of the Rambam (8:13) as distinguishing between one who is picking okhel from pesolet and one who is selecting between two types of okhel when it comes to le-altar.  In the former case, the Rambam writes that one who selects "even for that same day" is liable, and the Beit Yosef understands that he agrees with the view of the Mordekhai, that one should select close to eating, or in any case the view of Rabbeinu Chananel, that one should select close to the meal.  Concerning bereira of two types of food, the Rambam writes that if one selects for a later point, "for example, one selects in the morning to eat in the afternoon, one is liable," and the Beit Yosef derives from this that only in such a case would one be liable — not to set aside for three or four hours later.  Similarly, in the Shulchan Arukh (319:2-3), Rav Yosef Karo copies the language of the Rambam, and according to this, one who perform bereira on two types of food (or silverware, etc.) is allowed to select for a point some hours in the future.  The Magen Avraham (ibid., 6) writes that according to Rav Yosef Karo, it is forbidden to perform bereira on two types of food from one meal to the next, but for a shorter time, it is permitted.  However, the Bei'ur Halakha (s.v. She-birer Shacharit) cites a dispute among the Acharonim about this issue, and he concludes that "one should be careful about this, as it touches on a Torah prohibition" (Sephardic halakhic authorities also rule stringently.  Nevertheless, the lenient view can be taken into account when there are other mitigating factors.)

[9] When it comes to le-altar, the Gemara distinguishes between liability and permissibility, without raising the in-between option of "forbidden, but not liable" (a rabbinical prohibition).

[10] The Magen Avraham writes that this is the implication of the words of the Rishonim commenting on Shabbat 114b-115a.  The Gemara there permits trimming vegetables on the afternoon of Yom Kippur.  The Rishonim (Rashba, Ran, et al.) question this: is this not a violation of borer?  This implies that even though one is preparing the vegetable for the next meal, this is not le-altar, and it appears that one must do this immediately before the meal.  However, this proof is not compelling.  The Gemara permits trimming vegetables in the afternoon, even though the meal will only be at night, once the fast ends — some hours later.  This would certainly be a violation of borer.  Still, it is certainly feasible to maintain that one cannot select for the next meal if that meal will not occur for a long time, but one may do so a bit closer to the meal, even if it is not immediately before.

[11] The Az Nidberu (Vol. VI, 72:5) writes that "samukh la-se'uda" would be within one half-hour, as this is the definition of "samukh" in other circumstances, e.g., eating before the Seder (see Rashbam, Pesachim 99b, s.v. Arvei Pesachim). 

[12] The literal term is "from the mincha and above," which is roughly equivalent to the last fifth of the daytime (measured from sunrise to sunset). 

[13] Rav S.Z. Auerbach (Shemirat Shabbat Ke-hilkhatah, Ch. 3, n. 185) goes even further, ruling that one is allowed to select an item to give to another who is about to leave but has no intention of using the object immediately.  In this case, he maintain, the borrowing is the use, and the act of borrowing is done le-altar.  (However, there are those who dispute this; see Ayil Meshullash 8:27, in the name of Rav Elyashiv and Rav Karelitz.)

[14] However, Mahari Abulafia (cited in the Responsa of the Maharitatz, Ch. 23) writes that Rav Dimi's doubt in the Gemara flows from the question of whether it is permitted to select for others when one is not partaking oneself; accordingly, he forbids one to do so.  However, one may be lenient practically given that one is allowed to select even for the sake of one's animal (Tosefta 17:6, Rashba's Responsa, Vol. IV, Ch. 75; Rema 321:12).  The words of Tosafot (74a, s.v. Ve-lo yadana) also imply that this is not the basis of Rav Dimi's question; rather, he is troubled by selecting okhel from pesolet for non-immediate use.  The Mishna Berura (319:6) rules that it is permissible to select for others even if one does not intend to partake.

[15] From the words of the Bei'ur Halakha it appears that one may rely on the Vilna Gaon, particularly when it comes to melakhot other than cooking.  He seems to be referring to melakhot which involve no fundamental change in the item itself and are reversible, in which case we may enlist the view of the Ritva (Eiruvin 41b), that the prohibition of benefitting from the product of a melakha on Shabbat does not apply to these melakhot.

[16] However, it may be that this is not a sufficient reason on its own, for there may be a punishment, even if one does not derive tangible benefit from the violation.  A fuller treatment of this topic is beyond the purview of this chapter.  The Maharsham (Da'at Torah, beginning Ch. 319) rules leniently on this matter.  Indeed, Rav Ovadya Yosef (Yalkut Yosef 319:15) rules leniently even in cases of deliberate violation.

[17] According to the Peri Megadim (Mishbetzot Zahav 319:2), one who selects for immediate use and then decides not to eat the food is not liable, since at the time of the bereira one had a legitimate aim.  However, one may not do so in the first place; one must eat the okhel right away.  The Mishna Berura (Sha'ar Ha-tziyyun, 5) cites this view and questions it in light of a ruling of Rav Yosef Karo concerning trapping on Shabbat (316:6): one may continue to sit by the door of a house even if a wild animal has entered it (and is now "trapped" by one's blocking the door) since at the time of one's sitting down, there was no problem.  The Mishna Berura argues that this applies in our case as well: since at the time of bereira one does nothing wrong, one cannot say that failing to eat the food would create a retroactive violation.  Nevertheless, this comparison is questionable, since sitting by the doorway of an empty house is not an action of trapping in any way, while here one is definitely doing an act of bereira, just with the intention to eat immediately, and it may be that this case is more serious (unless we say that bereira le-altar is not considered an act of bereira at all).  The Shevitat Shabbat (Borer, Be'er Rechovot, 9) writes this and adds that the words of the Beit Yosef (319, s.v. Ve-shiur Le-altar) imply that if one does not eat, one is liable.  He writes, "Similarly, if one selects before the meal, one must eat the food at the first meal, and if one leaves it until one gets up from the meal, it is not called le-altar, and one is liable," but there are those who explain his words otherwise.  (See Yalkut Yosef 319:12.)  To summarize, according to the Mishna Berura, one may change one's mind after selecting le-altar; according to the Peri Megadim, there is a rabbinic ban; and some understand that the Beit Yosef sees it as a Torah prohibition.