Definition of a mixture to which the regulations of Borer apply

1. How close to each other must the pieces be, and are the most outer pieces considered mixed?

A. If a mixture has scattered do the Borer restrictions still apply? [1]

A mixture of foods which became scattered to the point that people would not consider them to be actually mixed together do not have the Borer restrictions apply to them being that they are not considered mixed. Thus if one placed a spoon of vegetable salad on his plate and the pieces of vegetables scattered from each other to the point that one would not define them as being mixed, one would be allowed to remove even the species that he does not want from his plate. However see next question regarding if one may purposely cause the mixture to disperse in order to then be allowed to separate the unwanted pieces.


B. May one purposely cause a mixture to become scattered in order so it lose its mixture definition and then be allowed to separate from it the unwanted parts?[2]

This is allowed to be done even initially. However it is initially proper for one to have another person do the separating rather than the person who caused the mixture to become scattered. In a time of need one may rely on the lenient opinions and allow the person who scattered it to then subsequently do the separating.


C. If two pieces are sitting side by side are they considered mixed?[3]

No, a piece is only considered mixed if the piece which one desires to remove is sitting between, and close by, to two other pieces.[4] As well if the piece is sitting between other pieces but at a distance to the point that one would not consider this a mixture then the Borer regulations do not apply, as explained above. Thus if one has one pear sitting near one orange Borer does not apply.


D. Are the outer pieces of a side by side mixture subject to the Borer restrictions? [5]

The most outer pieces which are not surrounded at all on their outer side by any other part of the mixture are not subject to the Borer restrictions.[6] However with regards to a mixture where the items sit one on top of another, see below.


E. If one has a basket of fruits and on the bottom lies a rotten fruit which he wants to separate does the Borer restriction apply? [7]

One may remove without restriction all the fruits which are not in direct contact with the rotten fruit. However the fruits that are in contact with it, and certainly the rotten fruit itself is subject to the Borer restrictions.


F. May one remove empty bottles from a table which contains full bottles? [8]

One may do so without restriction even if the empty bottles are touching the full bottles.[9]


G. Do the Borer restrictions apply to removing bottles from a box which contains various bottles of juice or empty bottles?[10]



2. Are two pieces of food which are lying on top of each other considered mixed?[12]

A.  The Rule:

If they are a) not stuck to each other and b) are each individually recognizable to the point that they are not considered mixed in people’s eyes: they are not defined as mixed and do not contain the separating restrictions.

  • For example: One may remove a carrot from on top of Gefilte fish, or a cherry from on top of a cake or ice cream.
  • As well if one has a basket of different fruits then the most upper fruits which have no other fruit on top of them are not subject to the Borer restrictions.

If the pieces are stuck to each other, such as the cream that lies on top of cake, then the Borer restrictions apply and one thus may not remove the cream from on the cake unless he plans to eat the cream right away.

If the pieces are not stuck to each other but are not individually recognizable and are thus considered mixed in people’s eyes then if one desires to reach the lower item and he has no interest to use the upper item at all, then he may remove the upper item even if he plans to use the lower item at a later time. However if one is interested also in the upper item, such as to use it later on that day or the next day, then all the separating restrictions apply and one may thus only remove that item which he wants, with his hands, in order to use right away.[13]

  • For example: A box of index cards in which one needs to find one card, one may search through the cards in order to use the needed card right away.


B. Removing insects from on top of fruits:[14]

Based on the above, if an insect is stuck onto a fruit removing it retains all the separating restrictions, and thus is only allowed to remove it in close proximity to the meal. If it is not stuck to the fruit, then one may remove it without restriction being that it is not considered mixed.[15] Regarding washing the bugs off, see Halacha 1D Q&A there. For further elaboration on this topic, see next chapter under the section of peeling fruits.


3. Mixtures of a solid within a liquid

A. Do the Borer restrictions apply to solids which are within liquids, such as a Matzah ball within a soup[16]?

Large solids: Solid pieces which are large and thus individually recognizable from amongst the liquid are not considered mixed and the Borer restrictions do not apply.[17] However this only applies if the piece that one wants to remove is not mixed with other pieces of a different food, as in such a case it would be considered a mixture of solids and carry with it the Borer restrictions.

  • For example: If in these cases the solids are not mixed within other solids of a different food[18] then: One may remove a Matzah ball, large piece of potato or large piece of meat from soup.
  • One may remove a hardboiled egg from within water.
  • One may remove a rice bag from amongst the chulent [although according to some Poskim one is to do so in a way that the gravy from within the bag not drip into the chulent in the process of removing it, such as through removing it with a spoon.]

Small solids: Retain all the Borer restrictions with regards to removing them from liquid or vice versa. Thus separating pieces of onion, chicken, vegetables from soup contains the Borer restrictions.


B. May one pour out the oil from a sardine can?[19]

So long as the sardines are whole one may do so as this is not considered a mixture. However if the sardines are cut to pieces this would not be allowed. Thus by tuna cans all the Borer restrictions apply being that the oil/water and tuna are considered mixed.

[1] Shabbos Kihalacha Vol. 2 P. 108

[2] Igros Moshe 4/74-11; Shabbos Kihalacha Vol. 2 P. 108

[3] Shabbos Kihalacha Vol. 2 P. 108

[4] Ketzos Hashulchan 125 footnote 14

[5] Shabbos Kihalacha Vol. 2 P. 110

[6] As explained in the previous answer that Borer only applies when the piece which one wants to remove is sitting between two other pieces.

[7] Shabbos Kihalacha Vol. 2 P. 110

[8] Shabbos Kihalacha Vol. 2 P. 110

[9] Being that they are all individually recognizable they are not considered to be mixed, as well as that one is removing the empty bottles in order to make room on the table and not in order to separate. [However regarding full bottles, such as taking certain flavors out from ones freezer, the laws of Borer do apply, as explained in Halacha 5-Q&A there!]

[10] Shabbos Kihalacha Vol. 2 P. 110

[11] As in this case the removing of the empty bottles benefit the box.

[12] Shabbos Kihalacha Vol. 2 p. 110, and 201-206

[13] So rules the M”B in 319 Biur Halacha “Lechol Miyad”

[14] Shabbos Kihalacha Vol. 2 p. 198

[15] As well removing it does not pose a problem of Muktzah being that a) It is insignificant, and b) it is a Graf Shel Reiy

[16] Shabbos Kihalacha Vol. 2 p. 211

[17] Ketzos Hashulchan 125 footnote 14

[18] Meaning that they are the only solids in the liquid. Such as soup which contains only Matzah balls, or only potatoes, and cases of the like.

[19] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 212

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