Halacha for Sunday 4 Shevat 5781 January 17 2021

Salting Cucumbers on Shabbat

Question: Is it correct that one may not put salt on cucumbers on Shabbat?

Answer: The root of this question lies in the fact that with regards to many Torah laws, we rule that “pickling is tantamount to cooking” meaning that a pickled food is considered like a cooked food. Thus, just as it is forbidden to cook on Shabbat, it is likewise forbidden to pickle foods on Shabbat either.

Although all of the works forbidden on Shabbat were works that took place in the Mishkan (Tabernacle) and there was no pickling done in the Mishkan whatsoever, our Sages (Shabbat 108b) nevertheless forbade pickling food items on Shabbat since “pickling is tantamount to cooking”.

Our Sages likewise prohibited doing anything which appears like pickling on Shabbat. For this reason, the Poskim, among them Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 321, Section 3), rule that it forbidden to salt radishes on Shabbat since pickling radish was common in those times and by salting radish, one appears to be pickling it.

It is therefore forbidden to salt any vegetables which are usually pickled on Shabbat, including cucumbers, and to leave them in this state until they begin to “perspire” (ooze their natural juices). This therefore the basis for the above question and it would seem that it is forbidden to salt cucumbers on Shabbat and leave them like this for several minutes.

Although several modern-day Poskim rule accordingly, nevertheless, the prevalent custom is to act leniently in this regard and many people slice cucumbers and place salt on them, relying on the fact that cucumbers are generally salted only when they are whole. There is therefore no prohibition to do so when the cucumbers are sliced (see Shevut Yaakov, Volume 2, Chapter 12). Furthermore, when this is being done for the purpose of a meal, it is noticeable that one does not intend to actually pickle vegetables. There are several proofs to this lenient approach among the works of the Poskim (see Sefer Ma’aseh Ha’Shabbat, page 217). Thus, those who act leniently have on whom to rely.

Regarding a cut up vegetable salad commonly served at meals nowadays, however, there is certainly no concern in salting it since one’s actions show that one does not intend to salt the vegetables in order to pickle them (Halichot Olam, Volume 4, page 65). This is especially true since most of the vegetables in the salad, including the lettuce and tomatoes, are not commonly pickled at all.

Summary: It is permissible to put salt into a vegetable salad on Shabbat. This is especially true when oil is being placed onto the vegetables as well. If one wishes to salt cucumbers before one of the Shabbat meals, although there are those who rule stringently on this matter, those who act leniently and do so have on whom to rely.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

The Mitzvah of Counting the Omer

The Torah states (Vayikra 21, 15): “And you shall count for yourselves, from the day following the Shabbat, from the day the waved Omer offering is brought, seven complete weeks shall they be.” Our Sages (Menachot 65b) have a tradition that the “day following the Shabbat” ref......

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

The Laws of Tying and Untying on Shabbat

The Mishnah in Masechet Shabbat (73a) lists the thirty-nine forms of forbidden work on Shabbat. The Mishnah includes “tying and untying” among them. One who ties or unties a knot on Shabbat is tantamount to having kindled a fire or planted wheat on Shabbat. There are several detailed ......

Read Halacha

What Constitutes a “Permanent” or “Professional” Knot

In previous Halachot we have explained that is forbidden to tie a “permanent” knot on Shabbat, i.e. a knot which is not meant to be untied in the near future. It is likewise forbidden to tie a “professional” knot on Shabbat, i.e. a knot which requires some skill to tie. Howev......

Read Halacha


Chol Ha’Mo’ed

The days between the first and seventh days (outside of Israel between the second and eighth days) of the Pesach holiday and the days between the first day of Sukkot and the holiday of Shemini Atzeret (outside of Israel between the second day of Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret) are called “Chol Ha&......

Read Halacha

Knots Forbidden To Be Tied on Shabbat by Rabbinic Enactment and Those Permitted to be Tied

In the previous Halacha we have explained that two of the forbidden works on Shabbat are tying and untying a knot. We have likewise discussed some forms of knots which are forbidden to be tied on Shabbat by Torah law. We shall now discuss several forms of knots which are forbidden to be tied as a re......

Read Halacha

Everything is Foreseen and Permission is Granted

Israeli Independence Day is celebrated today. Since we have discussed this topic several times in the past, we will not delve into this matter lengthily at this point. Let us just note that according to Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l, although one must show thanks to Hashem for removing the ......

Read Halacha

Separating the Tzitzit Strands

Question: My younger son wears a “Tallit Katan” (Tzitzit garment). When I see that the Tzitzit strands become entangled, may I untangle them on Shabbat? Answer: Before reciting a blessing on a Tallit or a Tallit Katan (Tzitzit garment), one must separate the Tzitzit strands from one a......

Read Halacha