Halacha for Thursday 8 Shevat 5781 January 21 2021

Sitting on Food Items

Question: Is it correct that one may not sit on top of a box containing food or beverages?

Answer: The Gemara in Masechet Berachot (50b) states that it is forbidden to act in a degrading manner towards food. Thus, one may not, for instance, use a piece of cake to wipe up a drink that spilled on the floor, for this is degrading towards the cake; this is especially true since this will cause the cake to be ruined and no longer be edible.

The Reason for the Prohibition Against Acting Disparagingly Towards Food
The reason why it is prohibited to act in a degrading manner towards food is because food is an integral component of the abundance which Hashem showers upon us. If one treats it disrespectfully, he is in essence stomping on the goodness which Hashem bestowed upon him. There are additional reasons for this as well.

All of the laws regarding the prohibition of acting degradingly towards food are discussed explicitly in the Gemara Masechet Berachot and Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim, Chapter 171).

Sitting on Foods and Beverages
Regarding the above question about whether or not it is forbidden to sit on top of boxes of food and drink, the Tur and Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (ibid, Section 2) rule based on the Baraita in Masechet Sofrim, as follows: “One may not sit on top of a box containing figs and dates; however, one may sit on top of a cake of pressed figs or a box filled with legumes.”

This means that one may not sit on top of food items which can become ruined by sitting on them, such as a sack filled with figs, for figs are easily crushed and smashed. It is therefore forbidden to sit on them, for doing so causes them to be ruined. One who does so transgresses the prohibition of acting disrespectfully towards food.

However, it is permissible to sit on a solid box filled with figs since doing so will cause no damage to the figs. It is likewise permissible to sit on a sack filled with dried legumes (beans and the like), for doing so will not cause it to be ruined.

Based on this, it would seem that it should be permissible to sit on a case filled with beverages since doing so does not cause them any damage. However, sitting on top of foods which may become ruined by doing so, such as cakes or cookies, is strictly forbidden.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

Making Toast on a Hotplate on Shabbat

Question: May one place a pita or a slice of bread on a hotplate on Shabbat in order to turn it into hard and crunchy toast? Answer: There are two prohibitions we must discuss with regards to our question of making toast on Shabbat out of bread that was already baked before Shabbat. The first ......

Read Halacha

Sitting on Food Items

Question: Is it correct that one may not sit on top of a box containing food or beverages? Answer: The Gemara in Masechet Berachot (50b) states that it is forbidden to act in a degrading manner towards food. Thus, one may not, for instance, use a piece of cake to wipe up a drink that spilled on t......

Read Halacha

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......

Read Halacha

Washing Dishes on Shabbat Night and Pouring Water on Dirty Dishes

Question: Upon the conclusion of the Shabbat night meal, may one immediately wash the dishes for the Shabbat day meal or should this only be done during the day closer to the start of the meal? Also, is it permissible to pour water onto soiled dishes (which one no longer needs for Shabbat) so that i......

Read Halacha


The Law Regarding a Woman Who Forgets to Recite the Blessings of the Torah

We have explained in the previous Halacha that if one forgets to recites the Blessings of the Torah and only realizes this after one has concluded Shacharit prayers, one may no longer recite these blessings, for one has already fulfilled his obligation with the “Ahavat Olam” blessing rec......

Read Halacha

The Order for Lighting Shabbat and Chanukah Candles

There is a disagreement among the Rishonim as to the order of lighting Shabbat and Chanukah candles on Erev Shabbat Chanukah. The Ba’al Halachot Gedolot (commonly referred to as “Behag”) is of the opinion that Chanukah candles must be lit before Shabbat candles because women cu......

Read Halacha

Question: May one recite the Amida prayer in front of a curtain (covering the Aron Kodesh) which is adorned with various designs?

Answer: The Rambam writes in one of his responses (Freiman edition, Chapter 20): “It is incorrect to pray in front of garments with designs on them, even if the designs are not protruding. We usually close our eyes when it happens that we must pray in front of a wall or garment adorned with de......

Read Halacha

The Law Regarding One Who Forgets to Recite the Morning Blessings

The Morning Blessings (“Birkot Ha’Shachar”) are the blessings recited every morning beginning from the “Elohai Neshama” blessing until the end of the Blessings of the Torah. Both men and women must recite these blessings, as we have discussed in the laws of the Morning ......

Read Halacha