QUESTION: On Shabbos or Yom Tov, is it permitted to flush a toilet
contains a disinfectant tablet that colors the water?
DISCUSSION: There are a number of different types of toilet
and deodorizers on the market which color the water blue when the toilet
is flushed. L'chatchilah, none of them may be used on Shabbos or Yom Tov,
as flushing a toilet and thereby coloring the water in the toilet bowl may
be prohibited min ha-Torah as a violation of the Shabbos Labor of
Coloring. The blue color gives the water in the bowl a more "hygienic"
look, so the coloring of the water is beneficial and hence forbidden on
Shabbos.(1) It is important, therefore, that the disinfectant unit be
removed from the tank or bowl before the onset of Shabbos or Yom Tov.
What should one do if he forgot to remove it or if he is a guest in a home
where there is such a disinfectant tablet in the toilet? It depends on the
type of tablet that has been inserted in the toilet:
If the disinfectant unit is inserted near the top of the rim of the tank,
then he may flush the toilet. This is permitted because the direct act of
flushing will not color the water since the water will not turn blue until
it has risen to the top of the tank; the Coloring is merely an indirect
result of the flushing, a gerama, which is permitted under these
However, if the disinfectant unit is in the bottom of the tank or is
suspended from the rim of the bowl, then the toilet may not be flushed.
Flushing such a toilet will directly color the new water coming in and
gerama will not apply. One should make every effort to remove the
disinfectant tablet from inside the tank or the bowl, preferably
through "indirect movement."(3) If this is impossible or impractical, and
one will be embarrassed to leave the toilet unflushed (kavod ha-beriyos),
he may rely on the view of some poskim who argue(4) that flushing such
a toilet is not a violation of Coloring(5) and he should flush the toilet
in an unusual way, e.g. by using one's elbow or foot.
QUESTION: What may be done if one realizes on Shabbos or Yom Tov
car lights - either the headlights or the dome lights - were mistakenly
DISCUSSION: In order of halachic preference, the following may be
* If a non-Jew who sees the lights on offers to shut them off, it is
permitted to accept his offer. Although generally it is forbidden to
directly benefit from an action of a non-Jew on Shabbos even if he offers
to do a forbidden Labor on his own, shutting off lights is considered an
indirect benefit - a preventive action, which is permitted.(6)
* If there is no non-Jew who offers to shut off the lights, it is
permitted to hint to a non-Jew that the lights should be turned off, e.g.,
it is a pity that the battery is going to die.
* If the hint will not be understood, and if the battery will in all
probability die and cause a substantial loss to the owner of the vehicle,
it is permitted to ask the non-Jew directly to extinguish the lights. This
is permitted because most poskim hold that extinguishing a light on
Shabbos is merely a Rabbinical prohibition,(7) and the basic Halachah(8)
is that it is permitted to ask a non-Jew to perform a rabbinical
prohibition on one's behalf in order to prevent a substantial loss.(9)
QUESTION: Does one need to wait six hours after tasting - but not
swallowing - meat or chicken soup before eating dairy?
DISCUSSION: It depends on what, exactly, took place:
Tasting: Merely tasting - not swallowing or chewing - solid or liquid
meaty foods does not render one fleishig.(10) As long as one cleans and
rinses his mouth he may eat dairy food immediately.(11) "Cleaning" the
mouth is accomplished by eating a bulky parve food and chewing it
thoroughly. "Rinsing" the mouth means washing out the mouth with water or
taking a drink of water or any other beverage.(12)
Chewing: One who chewed meat or chicken but did not swallow any, should
clean and rinse his mouth and teeth, and wait at least one hour before
Swallowing: One who swallowed - even without chewing - any solid or liquid
meaty food, should wait six hours before eating dairy.(14)
QUESTION: Within the same meal, may one eat cheese or other dairy
then eat meat immediately thereafter?
DISCUSSION: According to the basic Halachah it is permitted to eat
chicken immediately after eating cheese or any other dairy food, even
during the same meal; there is no requirement to recite Birkas ha-Mazon or
a berachah acharonah between the dairy and the meat. The only separation
required is to clean and rinse the mouth and teeth, wash the hands and
clean the table [or change the tablecloth] to make sure that no dairy
residue or crumbs remain. While there are scrupulous individuals who wait
at least an hour(15) between eating dairy and meat in addition to reciting
Birkas ha-Mazon or a berachah acharonah between them - and their custom is
based on the Zohar and quoted by several poskim(16) - it is not required
by the Halachah.(17)
When "hard" cheese is eaten, however, the Halachah is different. Shulchan
Aruch quotes an opinion that requires one to wait a full six hours before
eating meat after eating hard cheese. This view maintains that the taste
and oily residue of hard cheese lingers in the mouth long after the cheese
has been consumed, just as the taste and residue of meat lingers long
after consumption.(18) In addition, other poskim hold that hard cheese can
get stuck between the teeth just as pieces of meat do.(19) While other
poskim do not consider either of these issues to be a problem with hard
cheese and permit eating meat immediately after eating hard cheese, Rama
and the later poskim(20) recommend that one be stringent and wait six
hours between consuming hard(21) cheese, and meat or poultry.
Exactly how to define "hard" cheese is another controversial subject. All
poskim agree that cheese which has been cured for at least six month
before being packaged and refrigerated is considered hard cheese.(22)
While many of the hard cheeses sold in the U.S. [or used in the making of
pizza] are not aged for six months, there are several brands of cheese
that advertise that they have been cured for 10 months or longer and those
are surely considered hard cheeses. Parmesan cheese, for instance, is aged
for at least a year, if not longer. The poskim are also in agreement that
cheeses which are not aged six months but are cured long enough to becomes
wormy,(23) are considered as hard cheese.(24)
There are, however, some poskim who maintain that all hard cheeses,
including all kinds of American (yellow) cheese, etc., are considered hard
cheese and one who eats them should wait six hours before eating meat.(25)
While some individuals follow this opinion, the widespread custom follows
the more lenient view.(26) It is appropriate, though, to wait at least one
hour between eating any hard cheese and meat.
1 Shulchan Shelomo 320:31-3.
2 For two reasons: 1. Because of kavod ha-beriyos; 2. Because at this
point, the person flushing the toilet certainly has no intention of
coloring the water. While it is still inevitable that it will happen
(pesik reisha), when gerama is combined with pesik reisha it is permitted
according to many poskim; see Eglei Tal Zorea 21; Har Tzvi O.C. 188;
Halachos of Shabbos, Zorea, pg. 59, quoting Harav M. Feinstein.
3 "Indirect movement" is explained in The Monthly Halachah Discussion, pg.
4 1. The main purpose of the tablet is to disinfect the toilet; the color
of the water is merely incidental and unintentional; 2. Coloring water is
permitted as Coloring does not apply to foods or beverages.
5 See Tzitz Eliezer 14:47; Be'er Moshe 2:28; Az Nidberu 12:13.
6 Based on O.C. 307:2 and Mishnah Berurah 11 and O.C. 334:25 and Mishnah
Berurah 61. See The Weekly Halachah Discussion, pgs. 124-128 for an in-
depth explanation of this issue.
7 See Mishnah Berurah 278:3.
8 See Mishnah Berurah 307:22 and Sha'ar ha-Tziyun 334:57.
9 Melachim Omnayich 4:8 and 6, note 4. See Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah
30, note 14.
10 Darkei Teshuvah 89:22, quoting Rav Shelomo Kluger.
11 Badei ha-Shulchan 89:16.
12 Y.D. 89:2. Brushing the teeth well is is the equivalent of both
rinsing and cleaning; Debreciner Rav, Pischei Halachah, pg. 112.
13 Rav Akiva Eiger Y.D. 89:1; Yad Yehudah 89:1; Darkei Teshuvah 89:22;
Badei ha-Shulchan 89:38. Other poskim are more stringent and require a six
hour wait in this case; see Pischei Teshuvah Y.D. 89:1 quoting Peri
Megadim MZ 89:1.
14 Badei ha-Shulchan 89:17, based on Igros Moshe Y.D. 2:26.
15 Some wait an half an hour; see Peri Hadar on Peri Megadim Y.D. 89:16.
16 See Minchas Yaakov 76:5 and Beiur ha-Gra Y.D. 89:2. See Darkei Teshuvah
89:14 who rules like these poskim.
17 Mishnah Berurah 494:16; Aruch ha-Shulchan Y.D. 89:9.
18 Taz Y.D. 89:4.
19 Peri Chadash Y.D. 89:2.
20 Chochmas Adam 40:13; Aruch ha-Shulchan Y.D. 89: and Mishnah Berurah
494:16 and Sha'ar ha-Tziyun 15. Sefaradim, however, do not follow this
stringency; see Yabia Omer Y.D. 6:7.
21 If the hard cheese is softened through boiling or cooking, it is no
longer considered hard cheese; Darkei Teshuvah 89:43. But if it is merely
fried or baked [as in pizza], it is still considered hard cheese; Harav
Y.S. Elyashiv (Sefer ha-Kashrus, pg. 280; Meor ha-Shabbos, vol. 3, pg.
22 Shach Y.D. 89:
23 These "worms" are kosher and are permitted to be eaten as long as they
remain within the cheese; see Rama Y.D. 84:16.
24 Taz Y.D. 89:4; Chochmas Adam 40:13.
25 Harav Y.Y. Weiss, quoted in Teshvos V'hanhagos Y.D. 1:388; Harav S.Z.
Auerbach, quoted in Meor ha-Shabbos, vol. 3, pg. 427; Harav Y.S. Elyashiv,
quoted in Sefer ha-Kashrus, pg. 280; Shevet ha-Levi 2:35.
26 See Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (Feiffer), pg. 138, quoting Harav A. Kotler;
Deberciner Rav in Pischei Halachah, pg. 108; Mibeis Levi 6
Weekly-Halacha, Text Copyright © 2005 by Rabbi Neustadt, Dr. Jeffrey Gross and
Torah.org. Weekly sponsorships are available--please send email to the moderator, Dr. Jeffrey Gross email@example.com.
Rabbi Neustadt is Rav of Young Israel in Cleveland Heights. He may be reached at 216-321-4635 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.