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Introduction

In an article, Rabbi Gil Student writes that, on Shabbat:

The Mishnah Berurah (340:17) and other authorities ... permit eating cake with letters. However, they do not permit cutting letters on cake. Similarly, they forbid cutting through letters on a wrapper or piece of paper (e.g. Shemiras Shabbos Ke-Hilkhasah 9:12; R. Gersion Appel, Concise Code of Jewish Law, vol. 2, p. 199).

To peel a hard-boiled egg, I usually follow these steps:

  • Crack it.
  • Roll it on the table. (Some say that this helps to detach the membrane from the egg white. A column by the Life Hack Investigator says that the rolling technique is almost as good as the shake method. Both of the aforementioned techniques are more popular than the spoon method.)

  • Remove the peel.

Where I live, many eggs have the best-before date printed on the shell. After boiling, the date marking fades but doesn't fully disappear.

Cracking and rolling the egg might be likely to tear the letters.

I'd rather not peel the egg before Shabbat and store it in a plastic bag. I bet the egg might stay fresh for more days if I keep it in its shell.

My question

Is it okay to crack and roll a boiled egg on Shabbat, even if the rolling will tear the letters printed on the egg?

Why I think it might be okay

  • Maybe the final Halachic ruling is more lenient than we thought; please see Rabbi Student's full article.

  • Also, maybe cracking and rolling isn't guaranteed to tear the letters; so maybe this changes things. But I currently don't have any boiled eggs handy in order to experiment with and find out.

  • Finally, rolling an egg on a table isn't the usual way of erasing letters, so maybe the problem is reduced or eliminated.

Postscript

Instead of trusting the answers here, it's best to ask your own rabbi, for many reasons.

  • While I can't answer your question, I will say that I have many times peeled hardboiled eggs and left them in the fridge (I use a pyrex container with a lid, which seems to work better than a plastic bag) and they're completely fine a day later. Two days is also okay. I've also made egg salad which is best fresh but good the next day and edible but meh the day after that. – Cyn says make Monica whole Dec 26 '18 at 18:57
  • If I'm not mistaken ר׳ עובדיה יוסף is lenient (as in other cases of a פסיק רישא of a דרבנן). I'm not sure, though, so am not posting an answer. Perhaps someone can find out for sure and post one. – msh210 Dec 26 '18 at 19:01
  • A decent solution if you don't mind chopped eggs - Crack the end of the egg - whichever one has no stamp and scoop the egg out of the shell. They also make these silicon gadgets where you crack the egg into it and you boil the silicon encased eggs and you get hard boiled eggs without any concern of peeling them. – DanF Dec 27 '18 at 20:45
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In the English version of Shemirath Shabbath k'Hilchata (11:10), R' Yehoshua Neuwirth is strict and writes:

When removing the shell from an egg, one should be careful not to break through any letters or designs which may be stamped on it.

but he is most likely speaking of hand-removing the shell while your case is slightly different.

I believe that, in your case, when rolling the egg, you don't want to break the letters, and you have no use for the peel. This is therefore a case of "a certain outcome which one doesn't benefit from" (pesik reisha de-lo nicha le).

I asked your question to R Binyamin Tabady who agreed and gave the conclusion as follows: since the the tearing of the letters is an issur de-rabanan (as it is mocheik she lo al menat lichtov -- to erase but not in order to write), Sefaradim permit the action. Ashkenazim only permit it with a shinui (different way of performing the action than regular). For me who never peels eggs your way, rolling them might be enough of a shinui but for someone who regularly peels this way it would require something more, e.g., doing it with the opposite hand.

As always with Mi Yodeya, don't trust what you read here and ask your rabbi.

PS. Regarding what to do with the shell, see "Peeling a Hardboiled Egg on Shabbat".

  • You brought a good source. But I don't understand what no use for the shell and not wanting to break the letters would help. We are dealing with mochek shelo al minas lichtov and if it's assur it's assur. (Iirc even yisroel edition of mishna berurah (from Dayan Fischer) was lenient on yom tov about cigarettes with words on them as we don't find mochek that doesn't leave the item having gotten erased [maybe that's similar to your idea?], but he admitted he was arguing on the ramma) – user6591 Dec 26 '18 at 19:19
  • @user6591 thanks for your comment. It got me thinking, researching further and asking a posek. Appreciate the push ! – mbloch Dec 29 '18 at 16:53

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