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Shabbat Parashat Beshalach| 5768

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Question: When I clear plates on Shabbat of leftover food and some of the food has kedushat shvi’it (sanctity of Shemitta, making it forbidden to dispose of it in a disgraceful manner), is it borer (selecting) to separate out that which needs to go into the pach (receptacle of) Shemitta?


Answer: The three main conditions one needs to fulfill to permit the selecting of one object from another are: 1) One must take the good (ochel) from the bad (p’solet), as taking p’solet from ochel is forbidden. 2) One must plan to use the ochel in the near future. 3) One may not use a special utensil to facilitate the selecting. #3 is not a problem, as there is no need to use a specific type of utensil. However, since you will not use the separated food soon thereafter, #2 seems to be missing.

To deal with that problem, we have to analyze #1. Is only p’solet from ochel forbidden and other things are permitted, or is only ochel from p’solet permitted? What happens if one takes ochel from ochel, i.e., if one separates two things that will both be used at the same time in the future, but not immediately? On this point, the Pri Megadim is lenient but the Biur Halacha (to 319:3) rejects his opinion and says that if that which is removed will not be used in the short term, it is forbidden. However, our case is one of separating p’solet from p’solet in a manner that neither will be used in the future, and the Biur Halacha agrees that it is permitted to do so. The reason this case is more lenient has to do with the definition of borer as a positive act. When one separates p’solet from ochel, the act is positive because it leaves an improved ochel behind. However, when both elements are thrown out, the fact that they are separated in the process is not significantly positive.

This is one of the bases for permitting pouring an undesired mixture of liquid and solid pieces into the sink even though the liquid goes down the drain and the solid pieces are held back by a sieve-like drain cover. Rav S.Z. Orbach (see Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 12:16 and ibid.:(47)) says that since both things are being discarded, the fact that they are separated in the process does not make it borer. One could claim that the same is true in our case, that one’s plan to put the two types of leftovers in two different garbage receptacles is not a problem.

Despite the reasonable logic and halachic basis for permitting separating the holy and non-holy unwanted leftovers (see Orchot  Shabbat 3:44), several contemporary poskim did not permit it practically (Rav N. Karelitz and Rav Vozner, cited ibid.; Rav Elyashiv, cited in Ayil Meshulash 9:24). The matter may depend on the logic behind a Shemitta receptacle. Is it that one can throw out kedushat shvi’it food but should do so respectfully (see Katif Shvi’it 63:7)? Or is it that one has no right to waste Shemitta food and so he puts it aside where he can potentially eat it later? If the latter is correct, then removing kedushat shvi’it from other food is like selecting ochel from p’solet for non-immediate use, which is forbidden (see Ayil Meshulash, ibid.). I heard in the name of Rav H. Schachter that the fact that the food requires a specific halachic process might (he did not render a ruling on the matter) make the selection halachically significant and therefore a problem.

In any case, one should consider the following. According to our mentor, Rav Yisraeli z.t.l., it is sufficient to put kedushat shvi’it food in a bag before throwing it in the garbage. Whether one does so or accepts the stringency of having a receptacle where the food is to rot first, one may put non-Shemitta garbage along with the Shemitta as long as the former is not already decomposing or otherwise disgracing the Shemitta food. Therefore, there is no halachic need to separate.

[Update on an unrolled mezuzah from Rav Elazar Muskin (LA): “Rav Hershel Schachter (Nefesh Harav, p. 240) states that Rav Soloveitchik z.l. felt that a mezuzah must be rolled.” Thank you!]



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