Is it allowed on Shabbat to make shapes with food or liquids for dish decoration purposes?

For example: dipping a fork into a sauce and then placing the fork on the plate to make a fork shaped decoration, as if it was a stamp.



2 Answers 2


The Mishna Brura Orach Chaim 340,4 note 8 says that marking a "stamp" -with liquid- recognisable pictures that artisans draw is forbidden as a Tolda (sub category) of ksiva (writing):

הרושם רשמים וצורות בכותל בשטר וכיוצא בהן כדרך שהציירים רושמים ה"ז תולדת כותב וחייב משום כותב

It is forbidden Mideoita if it is marked on a permanent surface with permanent marker e.g ink on parchment see Mishna Brura ibid,18 and 19. But this case even though one marks a picture of a fork which people draw, since one will eat the liquid with the food on the plate it is forbidden miderabanan as it is not permanent.


Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchoso 11 (11-12) prohibits joining together or shaping food on Shabbos for decorative purposes; it comes under the general heading of “Building”.

One of the sources quoted is Kitzur Shulchan Oruch 80 (25) which says:

אִסּוּר בּוֹנֶה, שַׁיָּךְ גַּם בַּמַאֲכָל, כְּגוֹן הַמְגַבֵּן גְּבִינָה אוֹ שֶׁמְדַבֵּק פֵּרוֹת וּמַשְׁוֶה אוֹתָן שֶׁיִּהְיוּ יָפִין וְלָכֵן כְּשֶׁחוֹתְכִין בְּצָלִים עִם בֵּצִים אוֹ עִם חָלָב מִדָּג מָלוּחַ (הערינגְּ) יֵשׁ לִזָּהֵר שֶׁלֹּא לְהַשׁוְוֹתָן וּלְיַפּוֹתָן, אֶלָּא יַנִּיחֵם כְּמוֹ שֶׁהֵם. (עין מגן אברהם סימן שי"ט סעיף קטן י"ח, וסימן שי"ט סעיף קטן י"ח, וסימן ש"מ סעיף קטן י"ז).

The prohibition of "Building" applies also to foods, such as making hard cheese or arranging fruits in an orderly fashion. Therefore, when cutting onions for eggs or for creamed herring, you should be careful not to shape them and decorate them, rather put them on the plate as they are.

  • How do you make Challah then on Yom Tov when Boneh still applies?
    – Double AA
    Dec 21, 2018 at 10:54
  • 1
    While this deals with shaping foods, as I wrote above the question seems to actually be about writing with foods.
    – Double AA
    Dec 21, 2018 at 10:55
  • He asked about Shabbos. For Yom Tov see Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchoso 11 (13) and the footnote 43, where he says he heard from Rav Auerbach z"l how come it is allowed to make plaited challoh on Yom Tov. But I did not understand the answer. Dec 21, 2018 at 11:24
  • I'm not sure about this translation of "מְדַבֵּק פֵּרוֹת" as simply "arranging fruits." The problem appears to be molding the food into a decorative mass, not arranging discrete pieces in an orderly or attractive manner. judaism.stackexchange.com/a/31196
    – Fred
    Dec 23, 2018 at 2:36
  • Doesn't the act of braiding a challah on Yom Tov come under the definition of "ochel nefesh"? As does its baking.
    – Epicentre
    Dec 23, 2018 at 6:00

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