Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Borer -- The Choice Malacha

I know, I know... no cute titles!  That's the rule.  Hey... wait... that means that I can, nay must, have one cute title in order to fulfill the dictum of "every rule has an exception".  Whew.

The malacha of borer involves separating what you want (ochel) from what you don't want (p'soles).  There are lots of very important details because separating ochel from p'soles goes by another name: eating.  Relatively minor changes can take you from a building olam haba by eating your Shabbos s'uda to turning up the thermostat in gehinom.

Acts performed to get food into your mouth are called eating, acts performed to prepare for later are called borer.  There are three basic categories of actions that are by nature borer.
  1. Preparing for later; bad news.  How much is later and from when do you measure?  Most poskim let you prepare for the next meal as long as you finish close to meal.  If either the meal or the preparation are protracted, however, you are just asking for trouble.
  2. Taking p'soles min ha'ochel.  By definition the p'soles is what you don't want, so that's borer and not eating.  Even though the delay may only be seconds, that's enough to make it borer mi'di'oraisa.  I am not a big radish fan, so picking radishes out of my salad is not eating.  Even though it would improve my eating experience, that joy would certainly be dampened by the realization of having just profaned the holiness of Shabbos.
  3. Using a special gadget to separate makes it borer.  A sifter, obviously; but so is a slotted spoon.  What about a fork?  If you are using because you don't want to get your fingers dirty and so your mom won't yell at you, that's eating.  If you are using it to separate noodles from soup, though, that's borer.  Even though you want the noodles and even though you are eating them now, since your choice of fork (as opposed to spoon) was because you wanted them separated, that's borer.
So if it's b'yad (with your hand or it's agent), miyad (for immediate consumption), and ochel min ha'p'soles (separating what you want from what you don't want), then it's eating.

What about if the food is entirely encased in an inedible covering; bananas, oranges, walnuts, and the like?  Since you can't eat the food without removing that covering, removing the covering is called part of the eating process.  In fact, any time the p'soles is not mixed with the ochel, but it preventing you from getting to that succulent treat, there is lots of room to permit.

בתיאבון/bon appétit!


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Sometimes a Food Loses Its Identity When It Loses Its Bracha; Sometimes It Doesn't

Let's start with a question: Why are We Allowed to Drink Coffee and Whiskey Made by Non-Jews?  Before you ask,"Why would I think that I shouldn't be able to drink whiskey and coffee made by non-Jews?", I'll tell you. Simple, we all know that Chazal made a decree -- known as בישול עכו''ם/bishul akim -- that particular foods cooked by non-Jews are forbidden.  There are basically two criteria that determines if a dish falls into this category:
Is not consumed raw.Fit for a royal banquet. Cooked carrots, therefore, are not a problem since they can be eaten raw (I actually prefer them that way).  Baked beans are find because the are not prestigious enough.  (For great synopsis of the laws, see the article on the Star-K site, FOOD FIT FOR A KING, by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlita.)  There are lots of cool questions and details (baked potatoes are prestigious, does that make even potato chips and issue?) which are for another time.  Clearly, though, both coffee an…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…