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Weekly Halacha

Selected Halachos Related to Parshas Eikev

By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt

A discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the week. For final rulings, consult your Rav.


Preparation of this dish, or similar ones, can involve many Shabbos Labors, among them: washing and peeling the eggs and the onions (choosing); mashing the eggs (grinding); dicing the onions (grinding); mixing the eggs and onions together (kneading); salting the onions(1); adding oil as a binding ingredient (kneading); removing egg shells from the mixture (choosing). In view of all these potential Shabbos violations, it is strongly recommended that the eggs and onions be prepared before Shabbos(2). When it is not possible or practical to do so, however, this is the permissible way to prepare it on Shabbos:

Both the eggs(3) and onions should be peeled immediately before the meal(4). This means that if the meal(5) is to start at 12:00 o'clock, for example, and it takes about 30 minutes to prepare for the meal, then the eggs and onions may be peeled at about 11:30, but not earlier(6). Even if the housewife would like to prepare her meal before going to shul or taking a walk, it is forbidden to do so(7).

The eggs and onions may be peeled by hand or with the aid of a knife only(8).

The eggs may be mashed with a fork(9) or sliced with an egg slicer(10). A grinder [or a masher(11)] may not be used(12). [If the eggs were peeled before Shabbos(13), they may be mashed earlier, and not necessarily immediately before the meal(14).]

It is strictly forbidden to cut up the onions into very small pieces (diced)(15). But in the event that it is difficult to eat bigger pieces of onion [or if the food is being prepared for a child], most poskim permit dicing the onions into small pieces, provided that they are diced immediately before the meal(16). [Another option is to cut the onions into little pieces in an unusual manner - with a spoon or with the handle of a knife or fork(17), but this is not practical.]

The eggs and onions may be mixed together(18).

The eggs and onions together may be salted, especially if the mixture is going to contain oil or mayonnaise(19). But the onions alone should not be left salted [or immersed in vinegar(20)] for any length of time(21) .

The proper method for the next step in making eggs and onions - adding oil to the mixture - was hotly debated among the poskim of the past generations, since adding oil may be a violation of the forbidden Shabbos Labor of "kneading." Apparently, it was a widely-held custom to add oil to the mixture in the normal manner, and many leading poskim approved of it(22). Indeed, several contemporary authorities agree that the custom is firmly grounded in Halachah and may be followed(23). The oil should be added immediately before the meal, and in small quantities only. Nonetheless, the poskim are of the opinion that it is halachically preferable to add and mix the oil in a way that is altogether different from the way it is done ordinarily: a) the oil must be poured into the bowl first, and then the eggs and onions added(24); b) the mixture may not be stirred vigorously; it may only be mixed in one of the following ways,- in order of halachic preference: with one's finger(25); by shaking the bowl(26); with a knife, fork, or spoon but only in a criss-cross pattern(27) (up and down and left to right), not around and around in the normal mixing motion(28); with a utensil not normally used for mixing(29); with the handle of a knife or a spoon(30). When mayonnaise is being used instead of oil, the same procedure outlined in numbers 7-8 is followed, except that there is no need to reverse the order and place the mayonnaise in the bowl before the eggs and the onions [as is required when using oil](31).

Pieces of cooked potato may be added and mixed into the egg-onion mixture(32). If, after the mixture is prepared, an eggshell is found in it, the shell may not be removed from the mixture. Rather, the proper procedure is to leave the eggshell and the food that is around it in the bowl, and lift all of the rest of the mixture out of the mixing bowl and into another dish. Some poskim are more lenient and permit removing the shell provided that some of the mixture is removed with it(33). Other poskim strictly prohibit removing the shell in this manner(34), and it is proper to be stringent(35).

When the mixture is ready, it is proper to leave it as is and not smooth it down, shape it(36), etc. It is permitted, however, to use a scoop for serving individual portions(37).


1 It may be prohibited because salting is part of the pickling process, which resembles cooking (Rambam), or because salting can alter the texture of the food and is similar to me'abed, tanning hide, since that too is accomplished by using chemicals to alter the texture of the hide (Rashi).

2 Indeed, in the home of the Chazon Ish and Harav Y.Y. Kanievsky, this food was always prepared before Shabbos, so as to not get involved in potential Shabbos Labors (Ayil Meshulash, pg. 157; Orchos Rabbeinu). Also, it is noteworthy that the custom in many homes is that the men, not the women, prepared this dish. Possibly this is due to the complexity of the issues involved. It is also reported that several Chasidic tzaddikim insisted on preparing this dish themselves, and it was done right at the table.

3 Eggs in a pot of water are not considered to be "mixed" with the water. It is permitted to discard the water from the pot and leave the eggs; Harav S.Y. Elyashiv, quoted in The Laws of Borer, pg. 30.

4 Rama O.C. 321:19.

5 Zemiros which are sung prior to the meal are considered as part of the meal (Harav S.Y. Elyashiv, quoted in The Laws of Borer, pg. 25 and Harav N. Karelitz, quoted in Ayil Meshulash, pg. 117).

6 Igros Moshe O.C. 4:74-13; Harav S.Y. Elyashiv and Harav N. Karelitz (quoted in Ayil Meshulash, pg. 118). There is a minority view which holds that it is permitted to begin the preparation half an hour before the meal even if the actual preparation does not take that long (Harav S. Wosner, mi-Beis Levi 6, Borer 2).

7 Mishnah Berurah 321:45.

8 Beiur Halachah 321:19; Igros Moshe O.C. 1:124.

9 Mishnah Berurah 321:31 and 36; since it is only prohibited to mash foods that grow from the ground. Mashing eggs may be permitted even according to the Chazon Ish (O.C. 57) who generally rules that mashing applies even to items that do not grow from the ground. See Otzros ha-Shabbos, pg. 344 for a detailed explanation.

10 Igros Moshe O.C. 4:74-4; Harav S.Z. Auerbach (Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah 6:3); Harav S. Wosner (Otzros ha-Shabbos, pg. 157).

11 Harav S.Z. Auerbach (Me'or ha-Shabbos 1:457).

12 O.C. 321:10; since that is considered a week-day activity.

13 See earlier discussion concerning the danger of leaving shelled eggs over night.

14 Mishnah Berurah 321:31.

15 O.C. 321:12.

16 Mishnah Berurah 321:45. While Chazon Ish (O.C. 57) disagres with this leniency, Igros Moshe (O.C. 4:74-2) rules that when the need arises, even a ba'al nefesh need not be stringent. This is also the ruling of Harav S.Z. Auerbach (Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah and Tikunim u'Miluim 6:6)

17 O.C. 321:7 and Mishnah Berurah 25.

18 Since no liquid is being added, there is no problem of kneading.

19 Mishnah Berurah 321:14; since the oil [or the bit of vinegar which is poured over the salt and washes it away] weakens the potency of the salt. Even if no oil or mayonnaise will be mixed in, it is still permitted, since it is permitted to salt eggs (Mishnah Berurah 321:18 and 21) and it is permissible to salt the onions once they are mixed with the eggs.

20 See Mishnah Berurah 321:15 concerning cucumbers in vinegar.

21 O.C. 321:3 and Mishnah Berurah 13, 14, 15.

22 Several poskim of previous generations attest to the prevalence of this practice; see R' S. Kluger (ha-Elef Lecha Shelomo 139), Eglei Tal (Tochen 123:7); Tehilah le-David 321:22,25; Eishel Avraham Tanina 321; Minchas Shabbos 80:38; She'arim Metzuyanim b'Halachah 80:23.

23 Harav S.Z. Auerbach (Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah 8, note 81); Tzitz Eliezer 11:36; Be'er Moshe 6:46.

24 Since normally the eggs and onions are put in first and then the oil is poured on them.

25 Rama 321:16. Wearing a glove is prohibited; Chazon Ish 58:8.

26 Mishnah Berurah 321:63.

27 Between each change of direction the utensil should be lifted out of the mixture; Chazon Ish 58:6; Igros Moshe O.C. 4:74-5.

28 O.C. 324:3.

29 Minchas Yitzchak 1:74.

30 These last two options are halachically the least desirable since they are not mentioned by any early authority, and some contemporary poskim specifically disallow the practice in a thick mixture such as eggs and onions. See, however, Igros Moshe O.C. 4:74-6 who seems to allow it in all cases. See also Tzitz Eliezer 11:36, who quotes a similar ruling.

31 Since no binding takes place until the actual stirring and mixing begins. 32 Since the forbidden Shabbos Labor of kneading involves only small particles, not large pieces.

33 Based on Mishnah Berurah 319:61 concerning a fly that fell into a drink. See also Mishnah Berurah 504:20 concerning matzah crumbs.

34 Chazon Ish 54:3.

35 Harav S.Z. Auerbach (Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah 5, note 21), since an eggshell in a salad is considered more "mixed in" than a fly in a drink, and possibly all poskim would prohibit this.

36 Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 80:25. See also Chayei Adam 39:1-10. Other poskim, however, are not concerned with this; see Da'as Torah 31:19 and Cheishev ha-Eifod 2:77. See also Binyan Shabbos, Boneh, Miluim 8.

37 Since the purpose is to aid in the serving process, not to shape the food; see Be'er Moshe 6:43 and 8:134.

Weekly-Halacha, Copyright © 2002 by Rabbi Neustadt, Dr. Jeffrey Gross and Project Genesis, Inc.

Rabbi Neustadt is the principal of Yavne Teachers' College in Cleveland, Ohio. He is also the Magid Shiur of a daily Mishna Berurah class at Congregation Shomre Shabbos.

The Weekly-Halacha Series is distributed L'zchus Hayeled Doniel Meir ben Hinda. Weekly sponsorships are available--please send email to the moderator, Dr. Jeffrey Gross

The series is distributed by the Harbotzas Torah Division of Congregation Shomre Shabbos, 1801 South Taylor Road, Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118--HaRav Yisroel Grumer, Marah D'Asra



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