Halacha for Wednesday 15 Elul 5777 September 6 2017

Sorting Silverware on Shabbat

By Popular Demand: After the silverware is washed and laying in a pile following the Shabbat meal, may one select the forks, knives, and spoons and place them in their designated compartments or does this constitute a prohibition of selecting?

Answer: In the previous Halachot, we have discussed the forbidden work of selecting on Shabbat. We have mentioned that one may only select on Shabbat when three conditions are met: One must select 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 to leave it for a later time).

Regarding our question, one may certainly not be lenient and sort the silverware just because one is selecting the “food” from the “waste”, i.e. selecting the specific silverware that one wants from the items that he does not want, for this cannot be considered selecting in order to eat “immediately”, as one intends to leave the utensils for use during the next meal.

Selecting Items that do not Grow from the Ground
We have mentioned in the past that according many Poskim, the prohibition of selecting only applies to things which grow from the ground, such as fruits, vegetables, and grain; however, cutlery utensils which do not grow from the ground are not included in this prohibition. Although we rule that halachically, one should not select even items that do not grow from the ground, nevertheless, this opinion may be included as a reason for leniency regarding sorting silverware on Shabbat.

Selecting Regarding Two Items that are Equal in One’s Eyes
Another important reasoning to be lenient which Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l quotes in his Responsa Yabia Omer is that since when one sorts silverware there is no “food” and “waste” present, for all the utensils are equal in one’s eyes, it seems that the prohibition of selecting does not apply to such utensils.

The Bottom Line
Maran zt”l concludes by writing that it seems that those who customarily sort forks, knives, and spoons that were mixed together and place them in their designated compartments following the Shabbat meal do not transgress the prohibition of selecting on Shabbat. It is preferable though that after washing these utensils, one should dry each utensil that comes to his hands separately and afterwards place it in its designated compartment, for in this way, the prohibition of selecting certainly does not apply.

Ask the Rabbi

8 Halachot Most Popular

A Prayer in Vain

The Mishnah in Masechet Berachot (54a) states: “If one prays for something that has already passed, this constitutes a prayer in vain.” This is because Hashem will not change something that has already occurred in the past. The Gemara there provides an example: “If one’s ......

Read Halacha

“Barechu Et Hashem Ha’Mevorach”

Question: If one is praying alone and thus cannot answer “Baruch Hashem Ha’Mevorach Le’Olam Va’ed,” may one recite “Barechu Et Hashem Ha’Mevorach” on his own or not? Answer: It is well-known that the recitation of “Barechu Et Hashem Ha’M......

Read Halacha

Praying for a Miracle

Question: May one request that Hashem perform a miracle for him in a supernatural way? Answer: The will of Hashem is that this world run according to the laws of nature, as the great Rishonim (including Rabbeinu Sa’adia Gaon in his book and the Ran in his discourses) write. Similarly, the G......

Read Halacha

“Derech Eretz” Precedes the Torah

The Mishnah in Pirkei Avot (3, 23) states: “Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya says: Without Torah there is not Derech Eretz (we shall define this term below); without Derech Eretz, there is no Torah.” The simple definition of the term “Derech Eretz” is conducting business, hence the te......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Cooking on Yom Tov

In the previous Halachot we have explained that although Shabbat and Yom Tov are equal in their prohibition to perform work on them and it is therefore a Torah prohibition to drive a car on Yom Tov, nevertheless, certain works associated with food preparation, such as cooking and frying, are permitt......

Read Halacha

Lighting Candles in Honor of Yom Tov-Seudah Shelishit this Coming Shabbat

Lighting Yom Tov Candles Just as there is a Mitzvah to light candles on Erev Shabbat in honor of Shabbat, there is likewise a Mitzvah to light candles in honor of Yom Tov since the Torah refers to all holidays as “Holy Proclamations.” Indeed, the Rambam writes (Chapter 6 of Hilchot Yom ......

Read Halacha

Grating Vegetables on Yom Tov

Question: I would like to prepare potato patties made from ground potatoes on the Shavuot holiday. Is this permissible? Answer: In the previous Halacha we have explained that all forbidden works that apply on Shabbat apply to Yom Tov as well besides for works pertaining to food preparation in hon......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Food Preparation on Yom Tov

The holiday of Shavuot will be celebrated, G-d willing, at the conclusion of the period of the counting of the Omer a week from today, Sunday (beginning from Motza’ei Shabbat), the 6th of Sivan (and outside of Israel on Monday, the 7th of Sivan as well). Let us, therefore, begin to discuss som......

Read Halacha