It says in SA OC Siman 321 Sif 19 in the Rema that normally it's ossur to peel garlic or onions however that's only to leave them to eat at a later time. However if it's being done to eat right away then it's muter. The reason it's ossur if not eaten immediately because of the malacha of "borer". The Biur Halacha explains however that if peeling is a problem of borer then even to eat immediately should be ossur. He explains that since it's impossible to eat any other way that this because the "derech achilah" (way of eating) and is not considered to be like taking the "poseles m'toch ochel". See there for more.

My question is, what about if a person is peeling an onion by the night of Shabbos to use it in a dish that he will only eat Shabbos day. He wants the onions to be there together with the other food from now in order to absorb the taste more (for example he's mixing together herring with onions, oil, salt and perhaps some other ingredients.) Granted he's only eating it tomorrow but the eating will only start after the dish has been prepared properly. And not that he is "preparing" now in a way that it could be eaten right away, on the contrary he can't or doesn't want to eat it now but is only able to do the action of peeling now.

Is this muter to do and would be included in the definition of "derech achilah"?

  • I don't believe you're actually allowed to make such a mixture on shabbos anyway (although I know it's just an example, not your real question).
    – Ariel
    Mar 15, 2013 at 2:08
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    This seems to be exactly the example of peeling it for a later time. Why would this be included in the definition of derech achila?
    – Daniel
    May 17, 2013 at 14:23
  • @Daniel Here, the food needs time to soak in the flavors. It's not just doing it now and taking a break. This is as close as it could possibly be done to eating. The OP outlines this explicitly.
    – Double AA
    Jan 13, 2017 at 1:25
  • I could be very wrong about this, but I think onions are a bit different from other foods with respect to several Shabbos prohibitions including borer
    – SAH
    Dec 14, 2017 at 21:22

5 Answers 5


I had a similar question. My case was about doing borer to take out frozen challa from the freezer (in a case where that could be borer) long enough before the se'uda so that it could defrost. (This would seem to be even more meikel than your case, as it is ochel mi'psoless).

I heard from a local Rav that this is mutar. However, if it takes 4 hours to defrost, you couldn't remove it the night before out of convenience.

  • I know my Rav contradicts the Rav quoted by user6591. I assume its a machlokes.
    – LN6595
    Jan 20, 2016 at 17:34

Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach in תיקונים ומלאוים to the Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa (הערה ר ד״ה לפני עכ״ד) permits “marinating” the food even the night before if, by doing that, it would enhance the taste of the food. It would be permitted as it is called דרך אכילה - the normal way of eating.

The idea here is that there it is muttar to prepare the food סמוך לסעודה - prior to the meal (which is an extension of the heter of דרך אכילה, which is literally defined as the immediate act of eating - also known as מיד). The poskim disagree as to what exactly defines ״prior to the meal״. The Chazon Ish was of the strict opinion that it is 30 minutes prior to the meal. While Rav Moshe Feinstein believed that any time that is feasibly needed to prepare the meal is called prior to the meal, as long as it is prior to the meal (ie. No break in between, eg. going to Shul after the preparation [Magen Avraham])

Rav Shlomo Zalman is mattir because since this food “needs” the time overnight to marinate or take on the taste of the fish or the onion, this is also included in the heter of סמוך לסעודה - prior to the meal.

However the שו״ת רב פועלים) ח״א ס׳יב) disagrees.

Therefore, the peeling of the onions in order to sit and marinate with the other foods is meant to enhance the taste in a significant way, thus it would be permitted.

According to the above, it would also be permitted to do borer when taking out a frozen challah for it to thaw out later. Though it depends on ones intention. If you are separating this item to thaw it and you would specifically not do it any earlier then it is mutar. If you just forgot or out of convenience decided to thaw it now then it is not considered samuch l’seudah. Based on this rationale it follows that you can remove a food from a mixture in order to heat it up for an upcoming meal since this is an entirely normal part of the preparation process just prior to the meal.


I had a similar question, which I asked a well-known posek and mechaber sfarim after he gave a shiur on borer.

My case was about doing borer to take out frozen challa from the freezer long enough before the se'uda so that it could defrost. (This would seem to be even more meikel than your case, as it is ochel mi'psoless).

The rabbi said it is assur. I asked him why, and if it would ever be possible to defrost a challa to eat on shabbos. He said he didn't want to tell me at that time.

  • 1
    If the individual providing this answer was actually asking a sha'alah, as it appears, it can be assumed that the Rav poskined for their individual case. You cannot conclude a general halacha from the Rav's answer. It cannot be determined what the specific details of the case were that determined his decision. The Rav not wanting to provide his reasoning is not relevant to the correctness or accuracy of his decision. Jan 20, 2016 at 14:27
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    @Yaacov you have just obviated every single shaala utshuva seffer ever written. Your words contradict the idea in the gemara called maaseh rav.
    – user6591
    Jan 20, 2016 at 14:31
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    In most Responsa literature, the reasoning for how a decision is presented is contained within the response. The validity of using a particular 'teshuvah' as a basis for understanding the halacha and how it is applied is based upon the reasoning provided. In a p'sak where no reasoning is given, like in this example, there is no way to determine how and where it applies. It was an answer meant only for that individual alone. 'Ma'aseh Rav' applies to actual shimmush and is not applicable to this answer. Jan 20, 2016 at 14:46
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    @user6591 That your case is the same is your assumption. But by your own statement, the Rav refused to give you his reasoning. You don't know what he based his decision upon. It might be similar. It might not. Without the details, you cannot draw a general conclusion. Jan 20, 2016 at 15:05
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    @Yaacov this conversation has gotten ridiculous.
    – user6591
    Jan 20, 2016 at 19:03

In the Shulchan Aruch Harav (319:3) it says: ואינו קרוי לאלתר אלא סמוך לסעודה ממשיט אבל אם לא יאכל עד לאחר שעה אסור אך כל שהוא סמוך לסעודה מותר לברור לצורך כל אותה סעודה it seems from here that the main thing is not having it prepared a long time before the meal... but if the only way to have it prepared is by preparing it the night before, then you should be able to.

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    How do you know your last sentence is true? "but if the only way to have it prepared is by preparing it the night before, then you should be able to"
    – Double AA
    Oct 26, 2014 at 21:29
  • @Double AA since it says "אבל אם לא יאכל עד לאחר שעה אסור" you see the problem is with eating it a while after its ready!
    – EHS
    Oct 26, 2014 at 22:06
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    No, I definitely don't see that. You see that. Until you show me someone who says it, it's just your assertion.
    – Double AA
    Oct 26, 2014 at 22:55

In Rambam Hilchos Shabbos 8:14 he writes that if one selects food from waste for a later period of time in the same day - for example morning to afternoon - he is Chayov (In other words it is forbidden).

  • Not sure if that's relevant here. If the food preparation requires it, it is probably still considered le'alter.
    – Michoel
    Mar 18, 2013 at 4:16
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    @Michoel The OP also isn't sure; isn't that the whole question? I don't know why you say probably one way. It's certainly possible, but it is the less simple read and would require a source to back it up.
    – Double AA
    Apr 17, 2013 at 4:57

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