Pouring the liquid out from a can of olives on Shabbos

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Pouring the liquid out from a can of olives on Shabbos

  1. Question:

I was helping preparing for the meal in the kitchen by my Shabbos host and she asked me to place a pre-opened can of olives onto a serving dish. I naturally poured out all the olive brine into the sink and then poured the remaining now dry olives onto the dish. The hostess upon seeing me doing so [but too late to stop me] informed me that she learned that it is forbidden to do this on Shabbos and that rather I need to take out the olives from the brine and not spill out the brine as I did. Is this correct?



Your hostess was correct that due to a possible Borer prohibition you should not have poured out the liquid from the can of olives and rather should have used a spoon to take out the olives from the liquid. Furthermore, even when removing the olives from the liquid, this may only be done right before the meal, due to the Borer prohibition.

Nonetheless, in the event that you did pour out the liquid as you claim that you did, then if you did so right before the meal, then it is not necessary for you to give the accustomed sum of money to charity as a Tikkun, as according to one approach in the understanding of the Alter Rebbe, what you did was even initially allowed. It goes without saying that it would be permitted to eat the olives on Shabbos even if the Borer prohibition was transgress.



There are three major conditions that need to be abided by in order to circumvent the biblical Borer prohibition whenever one selects an item from another item on Shabbos, and one of these conditions is that one must do so for right away use. Accordingly, it is clear that no matter how one removes the olives from the brine, it may only be done right before the meal.

Another major condition that also needs to be abided by is that one may only remove the good from the bad, which is defined as the item that one wants from the item that one doesn’t want. Now, when pouring liquid out of a vessel, and hence separating the liquid from the solid that remains in the vessel, the question is raised as to how to view this act of pouring regarding which item is being considered to be the one that is taken. Do we say that it is considered that one took the liquid out from the vessel, which would be forbidden if one’s intent is to discard the liquid and eat the solid, as this would be synonymous with removing the bad from the good which is forbidden. Or, do we view that the vessel with the food which remains in your hand is what you have taken from the liquid, and hence if you plan on eating the solid and discarding the liquid, then it is considered that you’ve taken the good from the bad. Practically, while most Poskim rule like the former approach, including the Alter Rebbe in his own Shulchan Aruch, other Poskim rule like the latter approach and so is understood by many Gedolei Poskei Chabad to be the ruling of the Alter Rebbe in his Siddur, hence contradicting and retracting from his ruling in his Shulchan Aruch. The practical ramification between these two approaches, would be in our case as well. According to the first approach and opinion, it is forbidden for one to spill out the liquid, which is the bad, from the can of olives which is the good, as they consider that upon spilling something one has taken the spilled item from the vessel. However, according to the latter approach and opinion it would be permitted to do so, being that it is considered that one has taken the can of olives from the liquid.

Practically, due to the severity of the prohibition of Borer, the Poskim conclude that one should be stringent like both opinions and approaches and not enter himself into a possible biblical transgression, especially when one can so easily can circumvent it the issue by simply using a spoon to remove the olives. Thus, one should never pour liquid out from a vessel which contains a solid, unless there are the reason for why the Borer restriction should not apply, such as if the solid is very large, or the solid has sunk to the bottom of the vessel and one is pouring out the liquid only until he reaches close to the level of the solid.

Nonetheless, since this matter is under debate, there is no need for one to do a Tikkun if he transgressed. Likewise the food remains permitted as is always the law regarding food that had Borer transgressed with it, and certainly here in this case in which what was done was permitted according to many opinions.

Sources: Opinions who hold that what is poured is what you took out: Admur 319:18-19; M”A 319:15; M”B 319:55; Kaf Hachaim 319:113; Ketzos Hashulchan in 125 footnote 25; Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 121 Opinions who hold that what remains is what you took out: Implication of Siddur Admur, as understood by: Divreiy Nechemia 21; Ketzos Hashulchan 125:9 and footnote 21; Iglei Tal Borer 5; Chayeh Adam 16:9, brought in Shaar Hatziyon 319:44; Or LeTziyon 2:31-10; Opinions who hold that one should suspect for both approaches: Ketzos Hashulchan in 125 footnote 25; Shabbos Kehalacha Vol 2 p. 12; See regarding the discrepancy between the Shulchan Aruch and the Siddur of Admur: Admur 319:18-19 and his Siddur; Divreiy Nechemia 21, Ketzos Hashulchan 125:8-11 and footnote 21; Shabbos Kehalacha Vol 2 pages 113-122; Or LeTziyon 2:31-10; See regarding that a small item is considered mixed with its liquid: Shevisas Hashabbos Borer 18; Ketzos Hashulchan 125 footnote 14 and 126 footnote 19; Az Nidbaru 4:21; Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 211; Piskeiy Teshuvos 319:17; Nishmas Adam 179; See regarding pouring out the liquid to only close to the level of the solid which has sunk to the bottom: Admur 319:18; Admur 319:20; Michaber 319:14; Kaf Hachaim 319:113 regarding tea and all mixtures; See regarding that we never prohibit the food even if the borer prohibition was transgressed with it: Biur Halacha 319:1 “Haborer” in name of Gr”a; Ketzos Hashulchan 129 footnote 5; Teshuvos Vehanhagos 2:185; Other opinions: P”M 319 brought in Biur Halacha ibid; See regarding permitting the food and if one needs Kapara in case of transgression that is udenr debate in Poskim: Admur 253:25; Admur 334:28; Rama 334:26; Terumas Hadeshen Pesakim 60; Piskeiy Teshuvos 334:9

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