ARCHIVES: HILCHOS SHABBOS; 39 MELACHOS; TOCHEN

(PROHIBITION OF GRINDING)

BELOW ARE THE HALACHOS FROM THE  DAILY EMAILS THAT WERE SENT OUT TO THE “HALACHA FOR TODAY” DAILY EMAIL LIST

HALACHOS FOR WEDNESDAY, JUNE 1,  2011

1) We will now begin learning the Halachos of the Melacha of “Tochen”, grinding.

In the Mishkan the Melacha of Tochen was employed when they ground up the many different spices necessary to make the Ketores, incense, as well as grinding wheat kernels to make flour used for the Menachos, Lechem HaPanim, Lachmei Todah etc.

 

The Av Melacha of Tochen is “Grinding”; The Tolados of Tochen are applicable to activities where one breaks a large item into smaller parts (e.g. chopping, dicing, shredding etc.) as we shall see B’Ezras Hashem in the very near future.

 

Tochen applies to non-food items as well as to food items.

 

2) One who grinds wheat kernels and turns them into flour or grinds any whole spice and turns them into powder on Shabbos has transgressed the biblical Av Melacha of Tochen. (See Rambam Hilchos Shabbos Perek 8 Halacha 15)

 

Cutting fruits or vegetables into “very small” pieces is biblically forbidden and doing so is a Toladah of Tochen. (Shulchan Aruch Siman 321:12)

 

This applies even to vegetables that are able to be eaten raw. (See Mishna Berura ibid. S”K 38)

What is considered “very small” pieces is not clearly defined in the Poskim. (See Biur Halacha Siman 321:12 Dibur Hamaschil Hamechatech)

 

Thus, one must be careful to not cut the pieces any smaller then what would usually be considered by people as “very small”.

 

The fact that the pieces can be further cut into even smaller pieces does not automatically render the original pieces large enough to be permitted.

 

It is best to consult a Rav to determine minimum size that the pieces need to be to be permissible on Shabbos.

HALACHOS FOR THURSDAY, JUNE 2,  2011

1) It is permissible to cut a fruit or vegetable [or other food item] into sections, and doing so is not subject to the prohibition of Tochen.

 

According to many Poskim, it is even permitted to use a specialized utensil (e.g. egg or cheese slicer) as only actions that are considered Tochen (i.e. very small pieces) are subject to restrictions of specialized utensils (as we shall discuss in the near future B’Ezras Hashem.) (See Igros Moshe Orach Chaim Vol. 4 Siman 74: Tochen;4. See also Shmiras Shabbos K’Hilchaso Perek 6 footnote 12 quoting HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach Zatzal)

 

2) Most  contemporary Poskim maintain that the prohibition of Tochen only applies if the food is being diced “very small” both in its length and its width, but if slicing a tomato, egg or any other item in only one direction, there is absolutely no prohibition and it may be slices as thin as desired. (Ruling of Rav Moshe Feinstein Zatzal in  Igros Moshe Orach Chaim Vol. 4 Siman 74:Tochen;3. Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach Zatzal in Shu”t Minchas Shlomo Siman 91:13 also rules this way.)

 

There is a minority opinion that maintains that thinly slicing a vegetable, even in one direction, is a prohibition of Tochen. (See K’tzos HaShulchan Siman 129; Badei HaShulchan 2 quoting the ruling of the Tzemach Tzedek. See also Sefer Orchos Shabbos page 217 footnote 12 where he quotes Maran HaRav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv Shlita as ruling this way as well.)

For Halacha L’ma’aseh a Rav should be consulted.

HALACHOS FOR EREV SHABBOS KODESH, JUNE 3,  2011

(Double Portion L’Kavod Shabbos Kodesh)

Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh

 

1) If the fruits or vegetables are being prepared for a salad immediately before the meal, it is permitted to dice them into small pieces. (Rama Siman 321:12 based on Shu”t HaRashba Vol. 4 Siman 75)

 

2) The reason for this is that if being done immediately before eating we don’t deem it “grinding” rather we deem it a normal “manner of eating” to cut up our food before we eat it. (See Mishna Berura Siman 321:44)

 

The same applies for preparing food for one’s pets (or any animals that one is obligated to feed) that the food may be cut up for them into small pieces immediately before feeding them. (ibid.)

HALACHOS FOR SHABBOS KODESH

1) Some Poskim disagree with the above leniency of the Rama and maintain that even for immediate consumption it is forbidden to cut into very small pieces. (See also Chazon Ish Siman 57 Dibur Hamaschil U’Bikur and Dibur Hamaschil Aval where he adds some more restrictions even for those who do hold of this leniency.)

 

Therefore, it is best even when cutting it into small pieces, to avoid making the pieces too small. (See Mishna Berura Siman 321:45.)

 

2) However, if you see people who are not stringent with this, and they prepare their eggs and onions (a traditional Shabbos dish in many circles, known in Yiddish as “Aier mit Tzvibel”) on Shabbos morning very finely diced, do not chastise them as they have on whom to rely, provided they do so immediately before eating. (ibid.)

HALACHOS FOR SUNDAY, JUNE 5, 2011

1) We learned yesterday that the Rama allows cutting foods into very small pieces if done immediately before the meal.

 

However, this leniency only applies if they are being cut with a regular knife, but if a special instrument is being used (e.g. a grater) to cut them into very small pieces, it is prohibited even according to the Rama. (See Mishna Berura Siman 321:45 and Biur Halacha Dibur Hamaschil Midi)

 

2) According to some Poskim, the leniency of cutting food into small pieces immediately before the meal applies only to cutting into small pieces.

 

However, crushing or mashing fruits and vegetables [in the regular manner] is prohibited even if done immediately before the meal. (See Chazon Ish Siman 57 Dibur Hamaschil V’Aamnam)

 

Other Poskim, however, do not differentiate between cutting and crushing and allow it all if done immediately before the meal. (See Shu”t Rivash Siman 184 quoted in Biur Hagra Siman 321:10. See also Pri Megadim, Aishel Avraham, Siman 321:14 and Shu”t Igros Moshe Orach Chaim Vol. 4 Siman 74: Tochen; 4)

HALACHOS FOR MONDAY, JUNE 6, 2011

1) A fruit or vegetable that was cooked or baked and thus became soft due to the cooking or baking may be crushed or mashed, as it is no longer subject to the prohibition of Tochen. (Based on Rambam Hilchos Shabbos Perek 21:13)

 

Thus, for example, potatoes that have been cooked may be mashed in the regular manner with a fork on Shabbos (though not with a specialized mashing utensil as we will B’Ezras Hashem discuss in the near future.)

 

2) The above only applies if the items in question were fully cooked to the point of being totally soft.

If they are not fully cooked and thus not sufficiently soft the above leniency will not apply and they will still be subject to the prohibition of Tochen. (See Shmiras Shabbos K’Hilchaso Perek 6 footnote 21 quoting HaRav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach Zatzal)

 

Additionally, this leniency only applies if the vegetable became soft due to cooking or another action; if it became soft on its own due to being overripe, such as an avocado, this leniency will not apply. (See Chazon Ish Siman 58:9. See also Shmiras Shabbos K’Hilchaso Perek 6:7.)

 

 

 

HALACHOS FOR TUESDAY, JUNE 7, 2011

(Triple Portion l’Kavod Chag HaShavuos)

Halachos for Tuesday, Erev Shavuos

 

1) It is permissible to spread fruit jam that has pieces of fruit in it, onto a piece of bread provided that the pieces of fruit are significantly soft (as is usually the case)

 

2) There is a debate amongst the Poskim if the prohibition of Tochen applies to  a fruit or vegetable which when mashed does not separate into individual pieces but rather just changes shape but remains one large mass.

 

An example of this is bananas and avocadoes, which when mashed do not separate, rather the entire mixture stays bound together.

 

The Chazon Ish (Siman 57 Dibur Hamaschil L’Inyan) rules that it is still subject to the prohibition of Tochen, and may not be mashed in the regular manner..

 

Rav Moshe Feinstein Zatzal (Igros Moshe Orach Chaim Vol. 4 Siman 74;Tochen:2) rules that they are not subject to the prohibition of Tochen and may be mashed in the regular manner.

 

It is best to be stringent and mash these fruits in an irregular manner (as we shall discuss shortly)

HALACHOS FOR WEDNESDAY, FIRST DAY OF SHAVUOS

1) Foods that do not grow from the ground, such as meat, eggs, cheese etc., are not subject to the prohibition of Tochen and may be cut into very small pieces [for human consumption]. (Shulchan Aruch Siman 321:9)

 

However, if cutting up meat, or other foods that do not grow from the ground, to feed an animal that would otherwise be unable to eat the large pieces, it is indeed subject to the Melacha of Tochen, and only permitted immediately before feeding them. (Rama ibid. See also Mishna Berura S”K 33 and 34 that some Poskim rule leniently and allow it in all situations.)

 

2) The leniency of permitting to cut non growing items to be cut as small as desired is only when they are being cut by hand or with a knife.

 

However, a specialized utensil (e.g. egg or cheese slicer, meat tenderizer, grater etc.) may not be employed to cut these foods, as doing so is a transgression of “Uvda D’Chol, weekday activity”. (See Mishna Berura Siman 321:36)

HALACHOS FOR THURSDAY, SECOND DAY OF SHAVUOS

1) Usually in regard to Melachos of Shabbos, if one transgressed them in an unusual manner (Shinui) although it would not be a biblical transgression, there would still be a rabbinical transgression.

However, in regard to the Melacha of Tochen, Chazal teach us that if it is done in an unusual manner, the Melacha has not been transgressed at all, even rabinically. (See Talmud Shabbos 141a and Tosefta Beitza Perek 1 quoted in Bais Yosef  Siman 321)

 

2) One who grinds a spice into a powder on Shabbos using a mortar and pestle, a spice mill or a similar device which is usually used to grind spices, has transgressed the biblical transgression of Tochen. (See Rambam Hilchos Shabbos Perek 8 Halacha 15 and Mishna Berura Siman 321:23)

However, if one grinds the spice using the back of a knife or fork and grinds it onto the table or into another non specialized dish, it is permitted, provided that the spices being ground are for use for this Shabbos. (Shulchan Aruch Siman 321:7 and Mishna Berura S”K 24)

 

The same principle applies to all fruits and vegetables, and if they are cut up using a Shinui, an irregular manner, such as doing it with the back of a knife or spoon it is permissible to cut them up or crush them into very small pieces.

HALACHOS FOR EREV SHABBOS KODESH, JUNE 10, 2011

(Double Portion L’Kavod Shabbos Kodesh)

Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh

 

1) An item which was already ground up is no longer subject to the prohibition of being ground up again.

 

Thus, breads, cakes, cookies and similar items, which are made from wheat which was already ground up into flour, may be ground up into crumbs on Shabbos. (See Rama Siman 321:12 and Biur Halacha Dibur Hamaschil Lefarer)

 

2) The grinding up of a previously ground item may even be done with the assistance of a fork or knife. (ibid.)

 

However, this should not be done with a specialized grinding utensil as utilizing such a utensil is considered “Uvda D’Chol, a weekday way of doing things” (ibid.)

HALACHOS FOR SHABBOS KODESH

1) A sugar cube may be ground up to produce loose sugar, as the cube was originally loose sugar, and thus no longer subject to the prohibition of Tochen.

Likewise, salt or sugar which, due to the moistness in the air, hardened into a clump may be ground up and returned to its original loose state.

 

However, they may only be ground back into the state from which they started (i.e. regular salt/sugar crystals) but may not be further ground up to make them finer and more powdery than they originally were as doing so would be a prohibition of Tochen.

 

2) Dried mud or similar grime that got stuck to ones shoes or clothing may not be scraped off on Shabbos as doing so may cause the mud to be ground up. (See Shulchan Aruch Siman 302:7)

In extreme circumstances where not removing the mud will be an issue of “Kavod Habriyos, affecting the human dignity of the wearer” a non-Jew may be asked to remove the offending matter from the shoes or clothing. (See Mishna Berura Siman 302:36 and Sha’ar HaTziyun Os 44)

 

Tam V’Nishlam.

With gratitude to Hashem Yisborach, this brings us to the end of our foray into Hilchos Tochen.

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