This week’s article is the second part of the Shabbos Salad Preparation series. This week we’ll take a closer look at the prohibition of lash (kneading) on Shabbos, one of the 39 categories of work prohibited on Shabbos. Preparation of which mixtures is permitted on Shabbos? Is preparation of baby food any different? Can instant drinks and dishes be prepared on Shabbos? Sushi, the ultimate k’vod Shabbos is also on the plate this week – how can it be prepared on Shabbos?
Of this, and more, in the following article.
How to Prepare Salads on Shabbos
This week’s parashos, Vayakhel-Pikudei, list the myriad details involved in building the Mishkan. At the beginning of the parasha, the Torah repeats the warning: “Six days work may be done, but on the seventh day you shall have sanctity, a day of complete rest to the Lord…” (Shemos 35:2). Chachomim learn from this pasuk that the Torah forbids building he Mishkan on Shabbos. All the activities that were necessary for building the Mishkan are the categoric titles of the activities prohibited on Shabbos.
In the first installment on salad preparation on Shabbos (Yisro) we focused on the chopping stage of salad preparation and how to prevent the isur of tochen (grinding) or uvdin d’chol (weekday-style work). This installment will focus on the mixing part of salad preparation and how to add dressings and sauces to various foods without transgressing the prohibition of lash (kneading).
Careful with Names!
As an introduction, it is important to note that learning a list of foods that may or may not be prepared on Shabbos from a halacha sefer is risky. Not all recipes are equal, and what a posek might see as permitted might be actually forbidden when prepared differently. Many people prepare dips and salad at varied consistencies and ingredients. These differences can lead to a difference in halacha. Therefore, one must be familiar with the basic halachic terms before determining that the recipe used in their home is the same as the one the posek was referring to in his halacha sefer.
The basic terms will be listed concisely with more details added on later. We will try to mention examples alongside every halachic definition, allowing readers to make proper reference to their own family recipes.
- Some mixtures result in one consolidated mixture — flour and water result in dough; earth and water result in mud. Other mixtures do not achieve a unified blending – ash and water will never be a unified mass.
- Mixing a “thick mixture” i.e. dough, is a Torah prohibition. Mixing a “thin mixture” is forbidden by rabbinic law but can be permitted under certain conditions.
- When the Torah prohibition begins is debated among the sages in the Gemara: Rebbe (Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi) is of the opinion that the Torah prohibition begins with pouring the liquid (water) into the solid (flour) even without mixing. Rabbi Yosi Bar Rabbi Yehuda is of the opinion that the Torah prohibition begins only when the mixture is fully combined. The halachic ruling and its ramification are debated among the poskim.
- Certain changes from the usual method of combining the items and the manner of mixing them may result in permitting a Torah prohibition and/or a rabbinic one.
Definitions of a Mixtures – Thick and Thin
The Chazon Ish (chapter 58:9) defines the mixtures: a thick mixture is one that when moved from one receptacle to another falls in one clump. A thin mixture is of pourable consistency but thicker than water. A mixture that pours like water is not included in the prohibition of lash even m’drabonon, and its preparation is permitted on Shabbos.
Torah or Rabbinic Prohibition
The Torah and rabbinic prohibitions of lash are defined differently among the poskim:
- The Rambam (Chapter 8: 15; chapter 21:33-34) is of the opinion that the Torah prohibition of lash only pertains to a mixture of mixable components after both are fully combined. The prohibition does not apply to pouring the water (liquid) alone. The Shulchan Aruch seems to follow this ruling (321:14-15). Creation of a thin mixture and certain items that are not mixable can result, according to the Rambam, only in a rabbinic prohibition.
- The Tosefos (Shabbos 18a) and other Rishonim are of the opinion that mixing un-mixable items also falls under the Torah prohibition of lash. Following this opinion, the Mishna Brura (321:50) rules that when mixing unmixable items, the Torah prohibition is incurred with the initial stage of pouring the liquid, and is more stringent than a mixable mixture that can possibly turn into one unified mass. The Mishna Brura maintains that since this option is mentioned by Rishonim, heeding this opinion is a must.
- All the poskim who follow Rabbi Yosi bar Yehuda are of the opinion that even when mixing unmixable items, the prohibition begins only once the mixture is combined as much as possible, not beforehand. The only halachic authority that sees it differently is the Rambam (see above, 1). The Chazon Ish (Orech Chayim 58:3) follows this majority opinion.
- The Trumos (chapter 220) and others follow Rebbe’s ruling, that pouring the water is a Torah prohibition. The Shulchan Aruch (321:15) notes this opinion as a yesh omrim (“some say” – a secondary opinion), indicating that optimally one should follow it, but in extenuating circumstances, one can be lenient.
A slight change in the normal manner of preparation can permit an otherwise rabbinic prohibition. A Torah prohibition, however – according to the Rambam and Shulchan Aruch would not be permitted even if performed with a change, and according to the Taz (Orech Chayim 324:1) and Mishna Brura (324:7) even if performed with a major change – would be permitted only if extremely necessary such as preparing food for a baby, or a dish that would spoil if prepared ahead of time. The Chazon Ish (58:2) and Rav Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe, Orech Chayim IV, chapter 74:9-11) specify that this change must be one that will lower the quality of the end product and is not a normal preparation method at all.
Since as specified above, l’chatchila one should also be stringent with the initial stage of the kneading process – adding the water — one should add the liquid in a different manner than usual. The Rama (321:15) explains that one should change the order of adding ingredients. If regular preparation calls for adding the dry ingredients to the wet – on Shabbos one should add the wet to the dry. If normal preparation mandates adding the wet ingredients to the dry — Shabbos preparation would be vice versa. An additional change should be in the mixing process, for example: instead of mixing with the spoon — mix with a knife, spoon handle, or any other utensil that is not usually used for mixing (fingers, anyone?).
The Chazon Ish (58:2) and Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe Orech Chayim volume IV, chapter 74:9-11) note four changes in mixing methods mentioned in the poskim.
The best difference in mixing is refraining from mixing in a circular motion, using instead only crisscross movements to combine the mixture. According to the Chazon Ish one should also lift up the mixing utensil between each stride. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein’s ruling is similar to the Chazon Ish’s here: since one can easily fall into a circular motion when not lifting the utensil with every swish, one must make sure to lift up the mixing apparatus after every movement through the mixture. However, a careful individual may mix in a strict crisscross motion without lifting the utensil out each time.
Another change can be mixing a small amount at a time. According to the Mishna Brura (321:14) this is applicable only at mealtime, when mixing a small amount occurs by way of eating, not beforehand. The Chazon Ish, however, is of the opinion that mixing a small amount, returning it to a large serving dish, and then taking another small amount to mix is also a possibility to permit a Torah prohibition because this affects the overall result.
Another change mentioned in the Gemara is changing the order of adding ingredients, but this is an insufficient change for a Torah-prohibited mixture. The Rishonim also mention mixing without a spoon (using one’s finger).
Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe: Orech Chayim, volume IV, chapter 74:9-11) and Rabbi Nissim Karelitz (quoted in Orechos Shabbos, chapter 6:8 footnote 21) permit combining two mixtures such as sour cream with jelly, or honey with cream cheese. Orechos Shabbos explains: the prohibition of lash involves casing merging of two separate items into one mass. When no liquid is being used as a bonding agent, the prohibition of lash is inapplicable. Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, though, is stringent (Shmiras Shabbos Kehilchaso, chapter 8:1, 16).
Today, with advance of refrigeration, there is no room for leniency in preparing food items of a thick consistency on Shabbos, even if implementing a change in the manner of preparation. Food for a baby, though, which must be fresh, may be prepared while changing the manner of preparation such as mixing it in a crisscross motion. When preparing a thin mixture, one can implement the other changes mentioned above.
Preparation of techina is an interesting process. The sesame paste (tahini) is initially a thick liquid. When it comes in contact with water it forms a lump which is impossible to pour, but when the water is fully incorporated it returns to its liquid form.
Shmiras Shabbos Kehilchaso (chapter 8:31) and Orechos Shabbos (chapter 6:8) write that preparing thick techina on Shabbos is forbidden. Preparing a liquid techina that can be poured from one receptacle to another is permitted, but with a change in preparation: instead of first placing the sesame paste and then adding water, one should first place the water, and then the sesame paste. When mixing, one should move the spoon in crisscross motions and not circular, or, instead, shake the container, but not as hard as he would during the week. Although initially there may be lumps in the mixture, one need not be concerned by them (Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, Igros Moshe: Orech Chayim volume IV, chapter 74:1). A similar example mentioned that is discussed by Rav Moshe is mixing coca with sugar and milk. Although lumps are created in the initial stage of mixing and only later does it become one unified liquid, it is permitted.
Adding the water slowly, though, is forbidden in techina preparation since it causes the initial stage of jelling, which is forbidden even with a change (Shmiras Shabbos Kehilchaso).
Adding thickening agents to the liquid techina such as ground eggplants, hummus, horseradish or sechug, is forbidden if done in a manner that will cause the liquid to become thick.
Baba Ghanoush (Eggplant Salad)
Orechos Shabbos (chapter 6:30) writes that one should not mix mashed fried or roasted eggplant with oil on Shabbos because the liquid serves as a binding agent. Adding mayonnaise, however, is permitted because the mayonnaise is itself of gelled consistency, and mixing the two merely combines them, with no liquid serving as a bind. According to the previously cited ruling of Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, though, a salad with mayonnaise may not be prepared on Shabbos.
Potatoes, Lettuce and Fruit Salad
Preparing salads that contain large chunks of foods is permitted, even with thick dressings such as honey or mayonnaise. The prohibition of lash is not causing the pieces to stick together but creation of one consolidated mass. As long as the pieces are large enough to stand alone, even if they form a single mass, the mixture retains the definition of pieces and not a single mass. (Mishna Brura 321:58; Shmiras Shabbos Kehilchaso 8:4, footnote 15).
Tuna, Egg, Liver, and Herring Salads
A finely chopped salad may not be mixed with dressing to create a single mass consistency. Therefore, these salads should be prepared before Shabbos. One who specifically wishes to prepare them on Shabbos should cut the pieces slightly larger than normally accepted for this salad, or mix them with oil in a way that will not cause the pieces to combine into one mass. The pieces should be able to fall apart when poured from one receptacle to another.
Dressing a Vegetable Salad
Dressing a vegetable salad is permitted even if the dressing is sticky. The Mishna Brura writes (321:58) that a finely cut radish should not be dressed with oil or vinegar because it causes the pieces to stick together. The Shulchan Aruch mentions placing flaxseed or sesame in water as an example of the prohibition of lash since the water causes the seeds to unify. Therefore, a coleslaw or grated carrot salad should not be dressed with ingredients that causes the pieces to unify and stick together.
Or Letzion (volume II, chapter 33:3) considers dressing a vegetable salad with mayonnaise mixing two unmixable items. Therefore, according to the Rambam and Shulchan Aruch it is permitted miikar hadin, but, according to the Shulchan Aruch one should preferably prepare the mixture in an unusual manner: by first placing the dressing and then the vegetables in the bowl, and by mixing with crisscross motions.
According to the Mishna Brura who rules that one should not mix even things that are unmixable, one should be stringent. According to the Chazon Ish, pouring the dressing over unmixable items is permitted, but not mixing it into the salad.
The Chazon Ish (Orech Chayim 58:9) writes that adding liquid for liquifying purposes is permitted. Therefore, Orechos Shabbos writes (6:7) that it is permitted to remix a salad whose dressing floated to the top. The same is true for natural peanut butter or cheese. This is because the layer under the oil or whey is harder, and by remixing the different components the mixture becomes thinner. With peanut butter, however, if the bottom layer has been completely dried out and crumbled into pieces, remixing it will cause the butter to become one unified mass, and is forbidden.
Mixing a Cooked Dish
The Gemara (Shabbos 144b) writes that adding liquid to a dish is permitted and the Rambam rules accordingly (Beis Yosef 321). The Achronim understand that although adding liquid to the dish causes it to unify more and become clumpier, it is permitted. The Mishna Brura explains (Biur Halacha 321) that since the prohibition of lash is combining ingredients to make them edible, if Chazal determined that a food item is already edible, adding liquid is only an addition and a way of eating, but not a part of food preparation. The actual motions during mealtime are not forbidden by the Torah. Therefore, there is no prohibition involved in adding liquid to a cooked food. If it is too similar to lash, some rule that only a change in the method will suffice. The Chazon Ish (58:8) disputes this ruling and maintains that cooking makes the melacha of lash inapplicable.
Serve on a Bed of Rice
Many dishes call for serving over cooked rice. According to the Mishna Brura, pouring sauce over non-sticky rice is permitted, even if the grains begin to stick together as one mass. According to the Chazon Ish, only if cooking it left the food (rice) slightly damp is one permitted to add liquid and mix the food further. Therefore, pouring sauce over dry, cooked rice which will cause it to combine, is forbidden.
All agree, though, that if the rice is slightly clumpy due to slight dampness, pouring sauce over it is permitted.
Dry crumbs of matzo-meal or breadcrumbs are different. Even if they were cooked in the past all poskim agree that they cannot be mixed with liquid.
Rabbi Moshe Feinstein Feinstein (Igros Moshe Orech Chayim volume IV chapter 74:2) rules that mashing a fruit or vegetable into itself (in the permitted way) such as mashing a banana for a baby, is permitted since there is no addition of an external binding agent. Utilizing naturally secreted liquid does not consist of the prohibition of lash. Therefore, one can also mash up challah or cake into one mass and eat them.
Preparing baby cereal by mixing quick-oats, breadcrumbs, matzo meal or cereal flakes with milk or water, although creating a pourable liquid mixture, is prohibited by the Taz (321:11). This is because we do not know what the normal way of preparing the mixture – adding the liquid to the solid, or vice versa. The Mishna Brura, though, rules that when in doubt, one should follow the direction mentioned in the Gemara and add the liquid to the solid in a large enough volume to create a liquid mixture. The Mishna Brura adds that it is preferable not to mix by hand, but to shake up the receptacle until the mixture is combined.
The Chazon Ish (58:5) follows the Taz’s ruling, forbidding preparation of this kind of mixture. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe, Orech Chayim: volume IV, 74:3) rules that for a great need such as when preparing food for the elderly or a baby who cannot eat anything else, one can rely upon the opinions that dispute the Taz’s ruling. However, for no pressing need, one should follow the Taz’s stringency and refrain from preparing a mixture for which the normal preparation method is unknown. (Looking at the preparation instructions printed on the package can be helpful here – just do the opposite of the instructions indicated on the packaging.)
This is all true when preparing a thin, pourable mixture. However, if a thick mixture which falls from one receptacle to another as one lump results, preparing it is a Torah prohibition and no change in preparation can permit it. This kind of mixture should not be prepared even for a great need.
(If it is necessary to prepare thickened drinks for people with difficulty swallowing please consult with a rabbi for direction.)
Peanut Butter & Jelly
Shmiras Shabbos Kehilchaso (chapter 8:22) writes that when preparing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, one should spread a layer of peanut butter and another layer of jelly on top (or vice versa), but not mix the two together. Mixing the two would give raise to issues of lash, of which, according to Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, are forbidden. If one of the ingredients is a liquid (B&D peanut butter) and the other a solid, mixing the two is certainly forbidden. However, spreading one layer after the other is permitted, even though the layers may accidentally mix.
When preparing sushi on Shabbos one should spoon the rice over the sheet of seaweed without evening it out (the prohibition of memareach). Since smoothing out dough is mentioned in the Gemara Yerushalmi in the context of lash, extra caution must be taken not to do so on Shabbos (although it will affect the quality of the end product). Once the rice is spooned over the seaweed, one can add the pieces of fish, cream cheese, and vegetables. Rolling them tightly together, despite the components becoming slightly stuck together, does not fall under the prohibition of lash since every component stands alone.
Instant Mashed Potatoes, Instant Pudding
Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe, Orech Chayim, volume IV chapter 74:12) forbids preparing mashed potatoes from instant mashed potatoes flakes. However, preparing pudding from instant pudding mix may be permitted if the end product is a thin, pourable consistency. This is permissible provided changes are implemented in the preparation process – pouring the liquid onto the powder, and mixing only in straight lines.