From the Rav’s Desk: Lifting a fork from a pile of garbage on Shabbos

  1. Question: [Thursday, 20th Iyar, 5783]

I would like to know what to do when sweeping the floor on Friday night or Shabbos day and I find that there is an eating utensil in the pile of swept up garbage. On the one hand, I think that it is forbidden to be removed from the pile due to the Borer restriction. On the other hand, what else my supposed to do as I don’t want to throw it in the garbage and don’t want to leave the pile of garbage there for all of Shabbos.


You may remove the food utensil from the garbage pile if you intend to use it right away, such as to wash it and then use it to eat something. If you do not plan on washing it at the moment and are rather going to just throw it into the sink, then it may not be removed from the garbage pile as you rightfully stated due to the Borer prohibition. In such a case, you may only collect the garbage that surrounds the utensil and when it is no longer mixed with any garbage, you may then lift the utensil and put it in the sink. Unfortunately, many may be unaware of this issue and casually remove the utensil from the pile of garbage without thinking of the borer restrictions on Shabbos.


Due to the borer restrictions, it is forbidden on Shabbos for one to remove the bad from the good, or remove the good from the bad if it is not right away use. The Borer restrictions apply whether to food items that are mixed with each other or to nonfood items. Accordingly, the above case example would be bound to all of the Borer restrictions and it would hence be prohibited for one to remove the utensil from the pile unless he gives it a right away use. Now, while a true use would mean that one washes the utensil and uses it to eat something, some suggest that even the simple washing of the utensil may be considered a use. Vetzaruch Iyun.

Sources: See Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 P. 213-214 footnote 210; See regarding the general borer restrictions which prohibits one from taking even the good from the bad if it is not right away use: Admur 319:2; Michaber 319:2; See regarding that the borer restrictions apply even to nonfood items or to a mixture of food and nonfood items: Admur 319:8; Taz 319:12 based on Rashi 74b; Tosefes Shabbos 319:14; Chayeh Adam 16:5; M”B 319:15; Tehila Ledavid 320:17

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