Halacha for Wednesday 22 Cheshvan 5779 October 31 2018

Grains of Salt or Sugar Which Have Clumped Together

Question: May one crumble a clump of sugar or salt which has crystallized as a result of moisture on Shabbat?

Answer: In the previous Halacha we have established that one of the forbidden works on Shabbat is grinding. It is therefore forbidden to grind spices on Shabbat. We have also written that if one requires spices, such as black pepper, for one of the Shabbat meals, one may grind on Shabbat as long as two conditions are met: One must grind with the handle of a knife (and not with the edge of the knife that cuts) and this must be done within a bowl. However, to do so using a mortar and pestle (utensils designated for grinding) is forbidden even when this is being done for the Shabbat meals.

Let us now discuss the law regarding clumps of sugar or salt which sometimes crystallize as a result of moisture. May one crumble them on Shabbat or not?

Crumbling Salt or Sugar By Hand
It will certainly be permissible to crumble them by hand or using the handle of a knife and in a bowl, for we have written that it even permissible to grind black pepper using the handle of a knife and a bowl. Indeed, the Agur (Chapter 488 quoted by Maran Ha’Bet Yosef in Chapter 321, Section 1) writes that those who rule leniently regarding pepper rule leniently with regards to salt as well.

If Two Variations Are Necessary
Nevertheless, the Acharonim disagree whether two variations are necessary when one grinds salt or if one is sufficient. This means that it is certainly forbidden to grind salt in a grinder, however, there is room for discussion regarding whether it is similar to pepper in that it must be ground using the handle of a knife and a bowl or if it is permissible to grind salt using a regular knife (the cutting edge) and a bowl. The Zivchei Tzedek proves from the words of the Rashba (in his commentary on Shabbat 141a) that there is room for leniency and one variation is sufficient regarding salt. The Rashba (ibid.) explains the distinction between salt and other spices (see Chazon Ovadia-Shabbat, Volume 4, page 251).

Salt Nowadays Which Has Already Been Ground
On the other hand, all this applies to salt which was originally one block; however, our salt which was already fine and then clumped together once again as a result of moisture may be crushed on Shabbat without any variation whatsoever since “there is no grinding after grinding,” meaning that there is no prohibition to re-grind something which has already been ground using a knife just as it is permissible to cut very bread into very thin slices on Shabbat (since the flour has already been ground). Only when one uses a utensil designated specifically for grinding is this forbidden, for it will appear to others that one is grinding on Shabbat.

Summary: One may crumble a clump of sugar or salt which has crystallized on Shabbat for use during Shabbat. However, one may only do so using one’s hand, a knife, or a spoon and not with a utensil designated for grinding (Chazon Ovadia-Shabbat, Volume 4, page 251).

Ask the Rabbi

8 Halachot Most Popular

Searching for and Renouncing Chametz

The Laws of Searching for Chametz On the eve of the Fourteenth of Nissan, which will fall out this year (5779) tonight, Thursday night, one must search for Chametz by candlelight. The candle must be made of wax (or congealed paraffin oil, common nowadays) as per the enactment of our Sages. If one ......

Read Halacha

Question: How many “Kezayit”s (olive’s volume) of Matzah must one consume during the Pesach Seder?

Answer: One is obligated to eat altogether three “Kezayit”s of Matzah during the Pesach Seder. Every Kezayit amounts to approx. 30 grams of Matzah. Nevertheless, there is room for stringency to eat four or even five “Kezayit”s of Matzah, as we shall now explain. The Order......

Read Halacha

Elimination and Sale of Chametz

Elimination of Chametz On the morning of the 14th of Nissan, meaning this year (5779) which falls out on this coming Friday morning, one must eliminate Chametz before the last time to do so arrives. (In Jerusalem, the latest time for burning and renouncing Chametz is at approximately 11:20 AM and t......

Read Halacha

The Pesach Seder-Kadesh

The famous order of the Seder of the eve of Pesach, Kadesh, Urchatz, Karpas, Yachatz, Magid, Rochtza, Motzi, Matzah, Maror, Korech, Shulchan Orech, Tzafun, Barech, Hallel, Nirtzah, was established by the leader of the entire Jewish nation, Rashi. The entire Jewish nation customarily follows this ord......

Read Halacha

Mentioning “Morid Ha’Tal” and “Barechenu”

The Amida Prayer during the Summer Months The first day of Pesach marks the end of the rainy season and as such, beginning from the Mussaf prayer of this day, “Mashiv Ha’Ruach U’Morid Ha’Geshem” is no longer mentioned in the Amida prayer. Instead, we say: “Ata Gi......

Read Halacha

The Prohibition to Eat Matzah or a Meal on Erev Pesach and the Laws of Matzah

On the day of Erev Pesach (which is the 14th of Nissan), one may not eat Matzah so that one will be able to eat Matzah that night at the Seder with appetite. One may, however, eat Matzah on the night of the 14th of Nissan (meaning the night before the Seder night, this year on Thursday night). &......

Read Halacha

“And You Shall Tell Your Son”

Question: Does one fulfill the Mitzvah of “And you shall tell your son” on the Seder night by recounting the miracles of the Exodus from Egypt to his daughters or does only one who tells this over to one’s sons fulfill this Mitzvah? Answer: The Torah states regarding the Mitzvah......

Read Halacha

The Laws of the Blessing of the Trees

The Proper Time for the Blessing of the Trees Our Sages, who have established the Blessing of the Tress, write that the proper time for this blessing is during the month of Nissan, for it is then that trees begin to blossom and buds come forth. It would seem from the words of our Sages though that ......

Read Halacha