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Shabbat Parashat Miketz | 5763

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Question:   If extracting juice from fruit is considered threshing, does this mean that squeezing a lemon for its juice in tea or on fish is prohibited?
 
Answer: The Torah prohibits extracting juice from olives and grapes, for this is mefarek (extraction), which is a component of dash (threshing). Just as in threshing, the grain is removed from the chaff, so too by extraction, the juice is removed from the fruit (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 320:1 and Mishna Berurah, ad loc.:1). Regarding other fruits, if in some parts of the world it is customary to squeeze them in order to drink the juice, there is a rabbinical problem with extracting juice from them. According to the Ramma (ibid), it is forbidden only in the place where it is customary to squeeze. According to the Magen Avraham (ad loc.:1), it depends if the practice of squeezing would be quite widespread if the fruit were plentiful in more places. Many fruit, including grapefruits, oranges, strawberries, pomegranates, pears, tangerines, guavas, and many others have the rabbinic prohibition. Fruit that are not regularly squeezed for their juice anywhere in the world may be squeezed (Biur Halacha, ad loc.). This last category is not very common today (so ruled Harav Ovadia Yosef in Livyat Chen 320:57).
Regarding lemons, the Shulchan Aruch rules (ibid.: 6) that they may be squeezed. The Mishna Berurah (ibid.:22), however, writes that since today it is very common to make lemon juice, it is prohibited to squeeze lemons for drinking. Indeed, the Shut Harosh, who is the Shulchan Aruch’s source, explains the leniency of lemons by noting that they are used for squeezing on food. There is a well-established leniency which allows squeezing fruit (even grapes and olives) onto a solid food (Shulchan Aruch, ibid.:4). This is based on the understanding that when juice is squeezed from a fruit directly onto a solid food, the juice is categorized as a food, not a liquid, and that squeezing is considered extraction only when a liquid is being removed from the fruit. Removing food from food is more similar to cutting the fruit into pieces than to extracting. Most of the juice must be absorbed into the food for this leniency to apply (Shmirat Shabbat K’hilchata 5:3).
To apply the rules we have learned, most poskim prohibit squeezing.. lemon into tea (apparently, even when the lemon is submerged, and the juice is never a separate entity- ibid. 5:(9)), but it is permitted to squeeze it onto fish. Most authorities permit to squeeze the lemon onto sugar (so that it ts absorbed), and then add the sugar to the water or tea (Mishna Berurah ibid.:22; Ben Ish Chai, Year II, Yitro, 5). One may also put a lemon slice into a drink or into tea which is not too hot (less than 113° F or in a kli shlishi) and allow some flavor to ooze out without squeezing (Shmirat Shabbat K’hilchata 5:2, in a note). If the peel appears infested, it should be removed before putting the slice in the drink. (The Mishna Berurah (ibid. 22) reports a minhag to squeeze lemons, which are drunk only with other things, directly into a drink. While not agreeing with the practice, he does not dismiss it entirely).
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