Halacha for Sunday 12 Elul 5777 September 3 2017

Draining the Water out of Canned Foods on Shabbat

Question: May one drain the water or brine out of cans of pickled cucumbers, olives, or tuna so that only the food item stays in the can or does this constitute the forbidden work of selecting on Shabbat?

Answer: In the previous Halachot, we have discussed the forbidden work of selecting on Shabbat. We have mentioned that it is only permissible to select on Shabbat when three conditions are met: One must do so by hand and not with the use of a utensil (such as a strainer), one must select the food from the waste and not the opposite, and one must do so in order to eat the food immediately (and not leave it for a later time). Now, let us deal with the question at hand.

The Reasoning to Prohibit This
In our situation, it would seem that it should be forbidden to drain the water from the canned food by tilting the can gently, for this seems like “selecting waste from food,” as the water (or brine), which one does not want, is considered the waste, and the cucumbers, olives, or tuna is considered food.

Draining the Water is Considered Selecting Food from Waste
Nevertheless, the great Poskim write that selecting in this manner is not considered selecting “waste from food”; on the contrary, since the food is what remains in the hand of the individual perform the selecting, he is actually selecting the food from the waste which is being spilled out.

Similarly, the Mishnah Berura writes (in his introduction to Chapter 319) that when the Torah prohibits selecting using a sieve or a strainer, this means that the prohibition exists only when the food falls through the holes of the strainer and the waste remains within it. However, if the opposite occurs, i.e. if the food is large and bulky and the waste is thin and it is what falls through the holes of the strainer, this is indeed considered selecting food from waste (it is nevertheless prohibited to do so on Shabbat for this constitutes selecting with the use of a utensil). Several great Poskim, among them Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l, write likewise.

May One Act Leniently and Drain the Water Even if this is Being Done for Non-Immediate Use
Based on this, the same would apply to our situation in that tilting the canned food so that only the water spills out would be considered selecting food from waste. Nevertheless, even when one selects food from waste, we have already established that doing so is only permissible when this is done in order to eat the food immediately; however, if one has in mind to partake of the can’s contents in a half-hour or more, one may not act leniently regarding this matter.

In any case, there is another reasoning that would allow complete leniency in our situation which is that the olives or cucumbers are quite discernible in that the stand separately from the brine they are in. Therefore, according to many Poskim, the prohibition of selecting on Shabbat does not apply here at all; even if one only plans to partake of them after a half-hour’s time, the letter of the law indeed permits one to act leniently and pour out only the water.

Maran zt”l rules likewise that one may act leniently and drain the water out of pickled olive and cucumber cans on Shabbat and this does not constitute the forbidden work of selecting.

Ask the Rabbi

8 Halachot Most Popular

The Laws of Precedence Regarding Blessings (Continued)

In the previous Halacha we have explained that there are instances that priority is given to recite a blessing upon a certain food over another because of the innate significance of the given food, for instance, because it is a fruit that belongs to the Seven Species of fruits that the Land of Israe......

Read Halacha

The Month of Shevat and the Law that Food Must be in Front of the Individual While Reciting a Blessing

Next Wednesday (actually, beginning from next Tuesday night) will mark the Fifteenth of Shevat or Tu Bishvat. We will therefore begin a segment on the laws of Blessings of Enjoyment. In following Halachot we shall discuss some more laws pertaining to reciting blessings which we have discussed in the......

Read Halacha

Precedence Regarding the Order of Blessings (Continued)

Summary of the Laws Explained Thus Far In the previous Halachot we have explained that there is an order of priority regarding blessings, sometimes because of the innate importance of the food and sometimes due to the importance of the blessing. Priority of “Boreh Peri Ha’etz”......

Read Halacha

The Laws of the Blessing on Fruits

In the previous Halachot we have explained that there is an order of priority regarding blessings. Thus, if one wishes to partake of apples and dates, one must recite the blessing on the dates, for they are one of the Seven Species. Precedence Regarding Blessing-Only Preferable Maran Ha’Be......

Read Halacha

Question: Is one permitted to act stringently in any situation one pleases?

Answer: In the previous Halacha we have discussed that one must wait six hours between eating meat and cheese in accordance with the ruling of Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch. This law is based on a Gemara in Masechet Chullin (105a). For the purpose of our discussion, we shall quote the words of the G......

Read Halacha

Eating Meat Dishes after Dairy Foods

In the previous Halachot, we have discussed the laws of eating dairy foods after meat. We have explained that one must wait six hours between eating the respective foods. We shall now discuss the laws of eating meat dishes after dairy foods. The Opinion of the Gemara which Permits Eating Meat aft......

Read Halacha

Some Detailed Laws Regarding Eating Cheese after Meat

In the previous Halachot we have mentioned that after eating meat, one must wait six hours before eating dairy products. A Woman who has Given Birth or is Nursing A woman who is within thirty days of having given birth may eat dairy products after eating meat and she need not wait six hours. It ......

Read Halacha

Eating Dairy Items after Eating Poultry

In the previous Halacha we have discussed in general the law that one must wait six hours after eating meat before eating dairy foods either because the nature of meat is to get stuck between one’s teeth or because meat gives off a taste in one’s mouth for a prolonged amount of time. ......

Read Halacha