Halacha for Tuesday 21 Cheshvan 5779 October 30 2018

Grinding Various Kinds of Spices on Shabbat-The Laws of Grinding Continued

In the previous Halacha we have discussed that one of the works prohibited on Shabbat by Torah law is grinding. It is therefore a Torah prohibition to grind spices, wheat, or barley on Shabbat.

Nevertheless, there is a very important point that we must point out, for many laws regarding the prohibition of grinding on Shabbat are contingent on it.

When we discussed the detailed laws of selecting on Shabbat, we explained that there are permissible methods of selecting on Shabbat when it is being done it the usual manner of eating not forbidden by Torah law. The same applies to the forbidden work of grinding on Shabbat in that there are several permissible methods of grinding on Shabbat, as we shall discuss.

The Permissible Method to Grind Pepper on Shabbat
The Gemara (Chullin 141a) states that Rava said that one who requires pepper (the same would apply to any spice including black pepper, allspice, paprika, and the like) on Shabbat may grind it on Shabbat as long as this is being done “with the handle of a knife and in a bowl.” This means that usually, when one grinds spices, one uses a pestle (a vessel used to hit and crush the spices) and a mortar (a hard bowl in which the spices are ground).

Rava therefore says that although may not grind spices on Shabbat using a mortar and pestle, one may grind spices on Shabbat using the handle of a knife and a bowl not designated for grinding. This is obviously only permitted when one does so for one of the Shabbat meals.

The Rambam (Chapter 21 of Hilchot Shabbat, Halacha 20) rules that grinding is forbidden on Shabbat unless two conditions are met: That one use the handle of a knife to grind (and not using a pestle or the cutting edge of the knife) and only in a bowl. This means that there must be two variations from the usual method of grinding and one variation does not suffice. Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 321) rules likewise. Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l rules accordingly in his Chazon Ovadia-Shabbat, Volume 4, page 250.

Summary: Although grinding is forbidden on Shabbat, nevertheless, one may grind spices on Shabbat for the Shabbat meal when this is being done using the handle of a knife and within a regular bowl (and not one meant for grinding).

Ask the Rabbi

8 Halachot Most Popular

One Who Eats Less than a Kezayit of Bread With other Foods- The Halachic Pitfall Present in Some Halls

In the previous Halacha we have explained that one does not recite a blessing on foods eaten during a bread meal, for the “Hamotzi Lechem Min Ha’aretz” blessing recited on the bread exempts them. We have also quoted the words of the Ritba who explains that this is not because of......

Read Halacha

Tu Bishvat Customs

Tonight, Sunday night, marks Tu Bishvat. There are unique customs observed on the night of Tu Bishvat, as we shall explain. The Prohibition of Fasting and the Customary Reading of the Zohar It is forbidden to fast on the day of Tu Bishvat. Some customarily hold an order of learning on the eve of......

Read Halacha

Mentioning Hashem’s Name in Invitations and Letters

Question: Is one permitted to write “ב"ה” (acronym for “Be’ezrat Hashem”) at the top of letters, adorn wedding invitations with verses, and the like or should one not do so out of concern that they may be thrown out into the waste basket, causing disgrace to Hashem......

Read Halacha

Eye Ailments on Shabbat

Our Sages teach us in the Gemara in Masechet Avodah Zarah (28b): “A man’s eyes are connected to his heart.” Thus, if we see that one’s eye is in danger, it is tantamount to revealing an ailment in the person’s heart and we must certainly rush to desecrate Shabbat in ord......

Read Halacha

Some Detailed Laws Regarding a Person Suffering from a Life-Threatening Condition on Shabbat

In the previous Halachot we have discussed that there is a Mitzvah to desecrate Shabbat for one whose life is in danger such as to transport him to the hospital, turn on a light in order to afford him proper treatment, and the like. We shall now discuss some details about this matter, based on what ......

Read Halacha

One Whose Life is in Danger on Shabbat

If one experiences a life-threatening situation or illness, there is a Torah obligation to desecrate the Shabbat on his behalf, for instance, by rushing him to the hospital by car; indeed, there is a Mitzvah to perform any other forbidden work on Shabbat that is necessary to save the individual&rsqu......

Read Halacha

The Blessing on Puffed Wheat and Farina

Question: We would like to partake of all of the Seven Species on Tu Bishvat. We wished to use puffed wheat as one of the species. What is the correct blessing on puffed wheat? Answer: Anything made out of the five types of grain (wheat, barley, oat, spelt, and rye) such as, cakes, cookies, and o......

Read Halacha

Rice Cakes and Puffed Rice Cereal

In the previous Halacha we have discussed that any grain, such as wheat, which is eaten raw requires the “Boreh Peri Ha’adama” blessing. For this reason, the blessing for puffed wheat is “Boreh Peri Ha’adama.” Only if the grains were cooked together until they sti......

Read Halacha