If one has a pile of mixed flatware, how can one set the table on Shabbat without violating the melacha of borer? By selecting knives, spoons and forks from the pile, one is "selecting".

  • 1
    Are you sure that's a prohibited kind of selecting? Sounds like you're taking the item you want with your hand for immediate use in setting the table
    – Double AA
    Jun 14, 2017 at 13:43
  • Why can't you just take something at random repeatedly?
    – Double AA
    Jun 14, 2017 at 19:50

1 Answer 1


Synopsis of ideas from Jewish Pathways:

If your flatware is already separated by type in a storage drawer / box (many people do this), then, there is no issue of borer.

There is no issue of borer if the table is set immediately prior to eating the meal.

Citing Shu"t Igrot Moshe Orach Chaim 4:74:11, if one wants to set the table ahead of time, he may lightly drop the mixed flatware on the table thus scattering the mix. By doing so, he has separated the pile, and then he may select what he needs.

A Teshuva from Rav Zalman Aurbach says that if one gains aesthetic pleasure by seeing a set table, this would be permissible use to set the table ahead of time, as well.

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