Tochen (Part 5) Tochen Achar Tochen

  • Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon



By Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon



Shiur #18: TOCHEN (Part 5)



IX) Tochen Achar Tochen



Our final question as we examine the melakha of tochen regards the nature of an item's status as tachun, ground.  Once a substance has reached this point, does a further act of techina have any significance?  In halakhic terminology, do we rule that ein tochen achar tochen (there is no grinding after grinding), i.e., once a substance has undergone techina, any additional crushing, chopping, grinding, milling, etc. is meaningless; or do we say that yesh tochen achar tochen (there is grinding after grinding), i.e., one may still violate a prohibition of tochen by breaking down that which is already tachun? 


The Yere'im (Ch. 274, 133b) writes in the name of the Rashbam (Rabbeinu Shemuel ben Me'ir) that one may crumble bread on Shabbat, since the bread is made from flour, which has already been milled:


Crumbling bread is allowed, since it has already been ground, and we have no precedent of tochen achar tochen.  This I have written in the name of Rabbeinu Yosef, from the commentary of Rabbeinu Shemuel, may the memory of both be a blessing. 


This is cited also by the Semag (Prohibition 65, Tochen) in the name of the Rashbam, and the Ran (32a, Rif, s.v. Amar Rav Pappa) mentions the same ruling.  On the other hand, in his Responsa (Vol. IV, Ch. 75), the Rashba implies that the prohibition of tochen is applicable to bread as well.  To the question "May one crumble bread in order to give it to chickens on Shabbat?" he concludes, after some discussion:


This is only when one minces food in order to eat it the next day, or even on that day but an hour later...  However, to eat it immediately, it is permissible, for they did not forbid one to eat his or her food in large pieces or small ones...  Therefore, even to crumble it before chickens in order to feed them is permitted for immediate use; one is merely rendering it food.


The Rashba allows one to crumble bread before the chickens only if one does so proximate to their eating, since according to him, techina le’altar (for immediate use) is permissible, as we learned in previous shiurim.  This implies that the fact that the bread has already been ground in the past is not a reason to allow its techina.  The Mishneh La-melekh (Hilkhot Chametz U-matza 1:3) maintains that this is the view of the Rambam as well: there is a prohibition of tochen achar tochen. 


The Rema (321:12) rules leniently, that ein tochen achar tochen:


It is permissible to crumble bread in front of chickens.  Since it has already been ground, there is no need to be concerned, because ein tochen achar tochen.


Therefore, one may crumble bread, matza, cookies, etc. on Shabbat.  However, as we have pointed out earlier, in any case it is forbidden to grind using a grater or another utensil specially designed for techina.  (The Bei'ur Halakha writes the same, Ch. 321, s.v. Le-farer Lechem.) 


The Reason for the Allowance


The Vilna Gaon (ibid.) writes that this allowance is derived from the view of Rabbi Eliezer in the Tosefta (15:14), who says that:


One may rub that which is rubbed, lay out that which is laid out, bake that which is baked or cook that which is cooked.


In other words, after parched ears of grain, which we have discussed in a previous shiur, have undergone the process of rubbing (to remove the husk), they may be subjected to it for a second time on Shabbat.  This is similar to the permit to prepare a bed which has already been set up (without any problem of construction concerning the canopy), and to reheat cooked or baked food (without being worried about bishul, cooking).  According to the Vilna Gaon, the Tosefta teaches us that the rule of ein tochen achar tochen is part of a general principle which states that carrying out the same act on the same object a second time does not constitute performing a melakha.  Just as we say ein bishul achar bishul, that there is no significance to cooking a food which has already been cooked, the same is true of a food which has already been ground: there is no significance to the fact that one grinds it again.  This view is also expressed by the Shevitat Ha-shabbat (Introduction to the Melakha of Tochen, 7).


The Chazon Ish (Ch. 57, s.v. Inyan) explains the rule in a different way:


The reason that there is no [prohibition of] techina upon bread is that there is no tochen unless one is breaking down a natural bond; breaking down a manmade bond is not within the category of tochen.  This is true even when the bond holds together a substance which has never gone through the process of grinding, but which comes into the world discretely. 


According to him, the allowance is not based on techina which has been done in the past, but the way in which the parts have been fused together.  The prohibition of techina is applicable only when breaking down a natural bond, but by breaking a bond which was created by human action one does not violate the prohibition of tochen.  It appears that according to him, only something which has been created in a natural way is considered one unit, and therefore one may not break it down; something which has been combined by people is not legally considered to be truly unitary, and therefore the prohibition of tochen is not applicable to it.


A Naturally Ground Substance


Does the rule of "ein tochen achar tochen" apply only to something which has passed through a process of techina in the past?  What if an entity which is loosely connected or separated (equivalent to tachun) in its natural form but is later changed into one mass?  Is it then permissible to return it to its “tachun” status? 


According to the Chazon Ish, it is clear that it makes no difference how the item became separated — in any case, if the bond is created by human action, there is no prohibition of tochen is returning it to a separated state.  The Chazon Ish writes this explicitly, stating that the prohibition of tochen is applicable "even when the bond holds together a substance which has never gone through the process of grinding, but which comes into the world discretely." 


However, according to the Vilna Gaon, the question arises: does this allowance exist only when an action of techina has been performed, because ein tochen achar tochen; or perhaps the allowance is for everything that is tachun there is no significance to its being ground anew.

It is possible to resolve this question based on the words of the Rema.  The Shulchan Arukh (321:8) rules that one may not grind clumps of salt unless one employs a shinnui, while the Rema limits his words.  (His source is the view of Tosafot, Beitza 14a, s.v. Beit Hillel.)


It is specifically [grinding] coarse salt [which is prohibited], but salt which was originally fine and then was cooked and formed clumps — it is permissible to cut it with a knife as one cuts bread.


The Rema allows one to crush salt, which forms clumps after having been in the form of fine grains, since ein tochen achar tochen — just as we say concerning bread.  From this, one may derive that the allowance is applicable even to something which starts out tachun: once something has once been in a tachun state, there is no prohibition to grind it and return it to this state.


The Mishna Berura (30) adds that sugar has the same status as salt for this purpose.  Therefore, one may crumble a clump of sugar or a sugar cube, since the sugar was originally granular.  However, it is forbidden to transform sugar into confectioner's (powdered) sugar, because this is a totally new techina; the grains of sugar had never been in the state of powder.


Can Techina Be Undone?


Is it permissible to crumble chocolate? At first glance, this should be permissible, since in the process of manufacturing chocolate, it is liquefied and then it solidifies again, so that one may apply the rule that ein tochen achar tochen.  Specifically according to the view of the Chazon Ish, one should permit it, because the manufacturing of chocolate is done by human agency.  This is how Rav Neuwirth (Shemirat Shabbat Ke-hilkhatah 6:11) rules.


However, this allowance is not clear.  The Yerushalmi (7:2) states that one who grinds earthenware is liable because of tochen.  This would seem to contradict our assumption: earthenware is made from dirt, which was originally granular, so why do we not say here that ein tochen achar tochen?  The Shevitat Ha-shabbat (Introduction to the Melakha of Tochen, 7) answers this question, in the midst of expressing an important aspect of ein tochen achar tochen:


This is comparable to bishul.  We have established that ein bishul achar bishul; nevertheless, if the first act has been undone, yesh bishul achar bishul — just as when one re-forges metal which has already been forged and has hardened...  This is also true of liquids, according to the Shulchan Arukh...  The same applies to techina, because when one mills wheat, it is this techina which makes it edible; therefore, techina of bread is meaningless, because one is milling milled flour.  However, this is not true about earthenware which has been fired; in this case, the first techina has been nullified, and therefore there is a problem of tochen. 


In other words, we must draw our analogy from the issue of bishul: there are situation in which the first act loses its significance, and in these cases we say that yesh bishul achar bishul.  For example, when a previously forged piece of metal is re-forged, one is liable; and according to many Rishonim, the same applies to boiled liquids which have cooled.  The same applies to tochen if the first act of techina has been nullified, someone who grinds the substance again is liable.  Because of this, one who grinds earthenware is liable because of tochen: granted, earthenware is made from crumbly dirt, but whenever it is shaped and fired, the earthenware receives a new identity.  In Talmudic parlance (Bava Kama 96b), "A new face [=entity] has arrived here."  There is no sign of the first techina, and therefore the prohibition of tochen is applicable to it once again.


According to this, crumbling chocolate should be forbidden; after all of the processes which it undergoes, it returns to its original solid state, and there is no hint of the fact that it has been liquid previously, so that the first techina has been voided. 


Practically, it seems that, even according to the Chazon Ish, who holds that it is permissible to crumble things which have been bonded by human actions, one must forbid crumbling chocolate.  The view of the Chazon Ish is that the artificial cohesion created by human beings is not considered a true connection, and therefore there is no prohibition to undo it.  However, in a case in which people create a chemical compound which is actually of one piece, it makes sense that even the Chazon Ish would concede that the substance is considered one body, and naturally it is forbidden to reduce it to crumbs.  Beyond this, the hardening of the chocolate is not effected in an artificial manner; human beings merely reduce the high temperature and make it possible for the chocolate to solidify and harden in its natural way.  Therefore it makes sense that that techina of chocolate is forbidden even according to the Chazon Ish (See the Orechot Shabbat {5:21, n. 35} who explains this matter along these lines).


However, as we have seen above, one may crumble chocolate with a shinnui (alteration), e.g., with a spoon or a knife-handle.



May one crumble a tablet? It makes sense that this should be permissible, since the tablet is not a return to the compound's original state, as we say of chocolate; the compound is created initially in the form of a power, and only afterwards is it compressed into the shape of a tablet or pill.  This is the ruling of Rav Neuwirth (Shemirat Shabbat Ke-hilkhatah 33:4). 




In conclusion, the halakhic consensus is that ein tochen achar tochen, and therefore one is allowed to grind bread, cookies, etc.  Similarly, one may crumble a clump of sugar, or salt or a tablet.  Nevertheless, it is forbidden to create a totally new thing; therefore, it is prohibited to turn sugar into powdered sugar, and it seems that crumbling chocolate would also be forbidden.

Translated by Rav Yoseif Bloch