Halacha for Tuesday 22 Sivan 5778 June 5 2018

Adding Spices to a Dish on Shabbat

Question: Is one permitted to add a spice, such as black pepper, to a dish on Shabbat in order to improve its taste? Additionally, may one add turmeric to a dish on Shabbat in order to color it yellow or does this constitute the prohibition of coloring or cooking on Shabbat?

Answer: In a past Halacha we have explained the general points of the prohibition of coloring/dyeing on Shabbat and that this is one of the thirty-nine works forbidden by Torah law on Shabbat.

Coloring Foods
The Sefer Shiboleh Ha’Leket (authored by Rabbeinu Tzidkiyah ben Rabbi Avraham Ha’Rofeh, who lived approximately eight-hundred years ago in Rome, Italy) writes that it is questionable whether one may place turmeric into a dish on Shabbat as this may constitute the prohibition of coloring; however, according to the words of the Sefer Yere’im who rules that the prohibition of coloring does not apply to food, it is indeed permissible to do so.

We see from these words that according to the Sefer Yere’im that there is no prohibition to color foods on Shabbat, for this is not the usual method of coloring which the Torah prohibited. The Torah only prohibits actual coloring or dyeing, such as dyeing fabric and the like; however, regarding food which is eaten after being colored, this is not included in the Torah prohibition of coloring. According to this, it will indeed be permissible to add turmeric to a dish on Shabbat in order to color it yellow. Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 320) indeed rules that coloring on Shabbat does not apply to food items.

The Rama rules likewise based on his ruling that one may mix white wine and red wine on Shabbat and there is no concern of coloring. The Rama proceeds to support this based on the fact that one may mix eggs and mustard on Shabbat and although this is only done in order to enhance the egg’s appearance, it is nevertheless permissible and there is no concern of coloring on Shabbat. We can certainly infer that the Rama agrees that the prohibition of coloring on Shabbat does not apply to food items.

Cooking Spices in a “Keli Rishon
Nevertheless, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l points out that one may only add turmeric and other spices to dishes in a “Keli Sheni,” meaning that one may only add spices after the food has been transferred from the pot or vessel it was cooked in to another vessel. However, one may absolutely not add spices into a “Keli Rishon,” i.e. the pot where the dish was cooked, for this constitutes the prohibition of cooking the spices on Shabbat and as a result of the boiling temperatures of the dish, the spices are cooked along with it. (Chazon Ovadia-Shabbat, Volume 5, page 32)

Summary: The prohibition of coloring on Shabbat does not apply to food items and it is thus permissible to add turmeric to a dish on Shabbat in order to color it yellow, as long as it is ready to be eaten immediately thereafter. (However, one may only add spices to a “Keli Sheni” and not into the pot where the food was cooked, as we have explained.)

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

Pausing Silently in the Middle of the Amida Prayer

The Amida prayer must be recited with continuity. One may not interrupt one’s Amida prayer for any reason. In the previous Halacha, we have written that if one begins reciting the Amida prayer and senses a foul odor emanating from a baby and the like, one must stop praying immediately, for......

Read Halacha

If One Must Rise Before a Rabbi Every Time He Enters the Room

Question: The custom in our community is to rise every time the rabbi of the synagogue enters the sanctuary. Even if the rabbi enters the synagogue several times, we rise for him every time. Recently though, one of the members of the synagogue raised issue with this and said that the more observant ......

Read Halacha

Question: What should one do if one senses a foul odor, such as from a baby and the like, while one is standing and reciting the Amida prayer?

Answer: The Torah states, “And your camp shall be holy.” We derive from this verse that one may not pray, recite a blessing, or any other words of holiness when there is something repulsive, such as excrement or a foul odor in the area. Thus, one may not pray when a child is running a......

Read Halacha

Cooking by Non-Jews in Restaurants or Hotels

Question: We have written in the past regarding a restaurant where a Jew ignites the flame in the morning that although a non-Jewish cook places the foods on the fire, it is nevertheless permissible to eat in such restaurants and this does not constitute a prohibition of foods cooked by a non-Jew. R......

Read Halacha


Prayer Texts

The various texts of the prayer found among the various communities of the Jewish nation all have strong and holy roots. Therefore, one should not deviate from the prayer text that one’s forefathers were accustomed to. Hence, a Sephardic individual should not adopt the prayer text of Ashkenazi......

Read Halacha

The Obligation to Stand While Kaddish and Barechu are Recited

Question: When the Chazzan or an individual receiving an Aliya to the Torah recites “Barechu Et Hashem Ha’Mevorach” and the congregation replies “Baruch Hashem Ha’Mevorach Le’Olam Va’ed,” must the congregation rise completely or partially or is there n......

Read Halacha

Praying in Pajamas

Question: Can one pray while wearing pajamas? Answer: In the previous Halacha we have established that before praying, one must prepare a fitting place, proper attire, and cleanse one’s body and thoughts, as the verse in the book of Amos states, “Prepare yourself before your G-d, Isra......

Read Halacha

Praying Barefoot

Question: May one pray while wearing sandals or while one is barefoot? Answer: When one prays, one must prepare one’s environment, clothing, body, and thoughts accordingly, for one will be standing before the King of all kings. Respectable Garments While Praying The Gemara (Shabbat 9b)......

Read Halacha