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Thought for the Day: Getting Rid of What You Don't Want Without Desecrating the Holy Sabbath

Here's another halachic situation the appeals to the nine year old boy in me.  But first, the setup.  The issur of borer is  to separate p'soles from ochel -- the stuff I don't want from the stuff I do want.  There is no issur at all to separate ochel from ochel.  That is not quite as empty a statement as it may seem at first glance.  The malacha of borer can apply to many things besides food: silverware, coats, s'farim, toys, etc.  Obviously, therefore, what characteristic defines ochel vs p'soles will needs to change with the situation.  However, when it comes to food, the discrimination factor is taste.  Not color, not smell, not origin; taste.

That can either be l'chumra or l'kula.  It is l'chumra when it comes to, for example, chicken cutlets.  If some are really crispy and some are succulent and you really, really want the crispy ones, then the succulent ones are p'soles; even though they are all the same ingredients (protein covered in carbohydrates and fried in fat).  It can also be l'kula.  If you have regular jelly beans that all have the same sick/sweet taste regardless of color, and you really, really dislike the red ones, then you can even push them out of the way to get to the green ones.  You can even separate out red ones for those poor unfortunates whose taste buds are so ruined that they can stomach those things.  The only issur is to take p'soles from ochel, or ochel from p'soles for later, or with a specialized instrument.  Ochel from ochel -- knock yourself out, save it for later, and use fancy pliers.

Now... you've probably heard that if there is a fly in your soup (that's p'soles to everyone who is chayav in mitzvos) that you can remove it if you take a little soup with the fly.  (We're not to the nine year old boy halacha yet, but getting there.)  What allows you to do that?  According to the Chazon Ish, that fly is actually not mixed with all of your soup, there's just a little but of soup mixed with him.  Removing him with a little bit of soup removes the whole mixture, so there is no borer to talk about.  The Pri M'gadim says that borer is only when you remove p'soles alone or ochel alone, but if you remove a mixture of p'soles and ochel from a mixture of p'soles and ochel, then you haven't done anything wrong.  According to the Pri M'gadim, the fly is considered mixed with all the soup, so removing some of the soup with the fly is like removing a mixture from a mixture.  You end up with one side devoid of p'soles, but that's ok.

What practical difference does it make?  (Here it comes...) If you have soup that is thouroughly mixed with flies, then you can't consider each fly as being in his own little pod of soup; he's really mixed with all the soup.  According to the Chason Ish, you can't separate those flies from the soup till after Shabbos.  According to the Pri M'gadim, however, you can remove each one (or a bunch at once) as long as you take some soup with each batch.

Halacha is so YUMMY!

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