Separating to eat right away

What is the definition of separating to eat “right away”? [1]

The definition of “Right away” is [that the separation is done] very close to the meal, however if one does not plan to eat for a while, it is forbidden [to separate it at that time].

Waiting until after Shul to begin to separate the foods for the meal:[2]  One must be careful to not separate foods until after [the congregation] leaves Shul[3] in order so [it be separated] truly close to the meal, in which case it is then allowed to separate as much as one needs to eat for that meal.

Separating for a meal which will last a long time: So long as [one wishes to do the separation] close to the meal it is permitted for him to separate for the need of that entire meal even if [the meal itself] will be prolonged for some time.

Separating for the need of others: [Furthermore] even if other people are dining with him he is allowed to separate for the need of everyone. [See Q&A]

If there are left-over’s after the meal: If there are remains after the meal from what had been separated [nevertheless] this does not pose any problem being that when it was separated it was done permissively. [See Q&A]

Intentionally separating more than needed prior to the meal: However one may not conspire regarding this [and intentionally separate more food than needed prior to the meal so he have what to eat later on].


May one remove the food and place it in a basket and the like for the purpose of eating right away?[4]

One whose fruits have [fallen and] into pebbles and dust, may gather them one at a time [in order to eat right away]. However he may not place them into a basket or box.  [See Q&A regarding if this ruling applies to other cases other than fruits]

The reason for this is so he does not do a mundane act [which resembles Borer[5]].


Q&A On The Definition of Right Away

If one requires a lot of time in advance to prepare for the meal and do the required separations, how long in advance may he begin preparing for the meal?[6]

One may begin the meal preparations as much time prior to the meal as is needed in order to start the meal at the required time. Thus if one desires to begin the meal at 1:00 and it takes about 1 hour to separate and thus prepare all the meal preparations, then one may begin the preparations starting from 12:00, irrelevant to if Shul ends later than 12:00, and may thus separate all that requires separation within this hour. [See Q&A]

This ruling applies likewise to Shalosh Seudos even if one plans to continue the meal past the night.

One may never begin the separations within more time prior to the meal then is actually needed for one to do all the preparations [i.e. in the example prior to 12:00].


May one be lenient to separate within one hour before the meal even if he does not require a full hour to do the separations?[7]

Although there are Poskim which are lenient to allow Boer to be done within one hour prior to the meal, nevertheless one is not to rely on this opinion.


May one begin separating for the meal more time than is needed prior to the meal if he will not be able for whatever reason to separate right before the meal? [8]

For example if a guest is eating over someone’s house and desires to bring with him a salad for the meal, then if the meal will not begin immediately upon the guest entering the house, it is forbidden to do forms of separation while making the salad being that it is not considered done directly prior to the meal. However if the meal will begin right away upon one’s arrival then it is permitted to separate for that meal even though his walking to the meal is an interval between the separation and the meal. Although when doing so one may not make any other diversions in his walk.

Other examples of the above scenario: The meal will begin at 1:00 and the mother needs to visit someone at 12:30, she may not begin the preparations prior to leaving so the meal can begin when she returns. Similarly a maid may not separate for the need of the meal more time prior to the meal then is needed even if she wants to rid herself already of the job.


When doing many preparations for the meal are the separating preparations to be pushed off to the very end so it be as close to the meal as possible, or may one do so even in the beginning of the required preparations?[9]

For example if one needs to make a salad, may he only peel and add in the onions after cutting all the other vegetables, or may he do so even to begin with.

One may do so even to begin with.


May one separate a food in more time prior to the meal than needed if the food will be better tasting if separated at this time?[10]

  • Such as to peel garlic hours before the meal and soak it in Techina so the Techina absorbs the taste.

This is allowed to be done as it is included in “the way of eating”. However there are opinions which are stringent and forbid to do separations in such a way just so the food taste better if it were possible to do so from before Shabbos without having the food spoil.

Thus according to all it would be allowed to remove frozen pastries or cold drinks [from the fridge[11]] from amongst other foods/bottles much time prior to the meal so they defrost on time, as if one were to remove them from before Shabbos they would become stale/warm.

As well in the opposite case, if one desires to separate a food from amongst other foods and enter it into the fridge so it be cold for the meal, this may be done.   


Should one estimate prior to the meal how much food will be eaten and thus how much separation needs to be done or may he separate without limit so long as he intends on doing so for this meal? [12]

One should only separate as much as he estimates will need to be eaten by the meal.


May one intentionally not eat some of the separated food during the meal in order to save it for another meal?[13]

According to all it is forbidden to separate before the meal with this intention. The question however arises in a case that before the meal one intended on eating all the food during the meal and now wants to change his mind.

This matter is disputed amongst Poskim. According to some Poskim[14] one may not do so. Thus according to them it is only permitted to leave leftovers if one does not feel like eating any more food and not solely in order to save it for another meal. However other Poskim[15] are lenient to allow one to intentionally leave it over for the next meal.

Seemingly in a case of need one may rely on the lenient opinion.


Does the regulation of “Right away” apply also when separating food that one desires to eat from food which he does not desire to eat?

See Halacha 6


May one separate many foods for later use if he will take a bite of each individual food right away?[16]



May one separate fruits from amongst rotten fruits to prevent them from spoiling faster?[17]

One may only separate the fruits if he plans to eat or use them right away.


If one has a mixture of different spices may he separate from it a specific spice for immediate use?[18]

Although there are opinions which are stringent against allowing this to be done[19] one may be lenient to do so


May one separate clothing or a Sefer to take with him upon leaving the house even though he does not plan to wear it or read it until later on?[20]

No, as its use is not being done right away.


May one separate prior to going to sleep medicines [which may be taken on Shabbos] in order so he can take them as soon as he awakes in middle of the night?



Q&A on Separating for others

May one separate the good with his hands solely for others to eat right away, not having himself partake in the food?[21]

This is permitted[22]. Although there are opinions[23] which have written that it is proper for one to be stringent to partake in some of the food that he has separated for others.


May one separate good with his hands for the sake of animals to eat right away?[24]



May ones separation for the meal include also people which will only be arriving for the meal much later than its initial time?[25]

This is only allowed if the people will arrive before the end of the meal. However if they will be arriving after the meals conclusion then it is not allowed for the one doing the separation to separate extra food for them.


May one separate more food than needed for the sake of having a large portion on the table and thus have his guests feel at ease in taking however much they want? [26]



May one separate foods for the honor of his guests even if he knows that they will not be eating those foods?[28]



May one separate foods on behalf of giving a snack for guests to take on their way out even though they may not eat it until later on?

Yes. [30]


May one separate foods for kids despite the lack of knowledge of how much they will eat of the food if not at all? [31]

This may be done, although one who is stringent to make sure that they finish all that was prepared for them has upon what to be stringent for.


May one separate food for the need of lending to a neighbor even though the neighbor does not plan to eat it right away?[32]

If the neighbor will be leaving ones house immediately after receiving the separated item then one may do so even if the neighbor will not be using it right away.[33] If the borrower will be staying for some time in ones house then one is to give it to him only before he leaves.


Does this restriction against placing the selected food into a basket apply to other foods as well or only to fruits that have fallen into earth?[34]

From the letter of the law it does not apply to any situation other than the one listed above, and thus so long as one plans to eat the selected item right away he may place it any where he wishes.[35]

However there are opinions[36] which are stringent in this with regards to all cases to restrict one from placing the selected food in ones pocket or designated basket even if he plans to eat it right away. Nevertheless even according to them it is allowed to place the food on the eating table or ones plate and he does not have to literally place it his mouth directly following the separation.

[1] 319/3

[2] 319/4

[3] See Q&A 1 that this only applies if one will be able to finish all the preparations by the time the husband returns from Shul and is ready to eat. Otherwise one may obviously begin the preparations as much time as needed prior to the meal.

[4] 335/5

[5] Ketzos Hashulchan 146 p. 98 number 2

[6] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 158

[7] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 152-153

[8] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 159

[9] See Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 161-163

[10] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 163-164

[11] Regarding frozen drinks-See “The laws of Melting snow ice and other materials”

[12] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 164

[13] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 164

[14] So rules Shut Rav Poalim [1/12] in the opinion of Admur. This follows a compromise with the opinion of the Beis Yosef which holds that one may never leave leftovers.

[15] Peri Megadim

[16] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 170

[17] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 168

[18] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 143

[19] So rules the Igleiy Tal. His reasoning is that since one is merely using the spices to place in another food and not to eat them immediately, the allowance of separating “within the eating process” does not apply.

[20] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 169

[21] Shabbos Kihalacha Vol. 2 p. 96

[22] So rules M”B 319/6, and so rules Rav Farkash.

[23] The conclusion of the Kaf Hachayim 319/12

[24] Shabbos Kihalacha Vol. 2 p. 96

[25] Shabbos Kihalacha Vol. 2 p. 156

[26] Shabbos Kihalacha Vol. 2 p. 156

[27] So rules Ketzos Hashulchan 125 footnote 40

[28] Shabbos Kihalacha Vol. 2 p. 156

[29] As the honor which he gives them in having the food prepared for them is in it of itself a useful purpose which is met during the meal.

[30] As the honor which he gives them in having the food prepared for them is in it of itself a useful purpose which is met as soon as he gives them the food.

[31] Shabbos Kihalacha Vol. 2 p. 167

[32] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 168

[33] As the purpose, which is the lending, is achieved for the person separating it as soon as the borrower leaves the house.

[34] Shabbos Kehalacha 12/45

[35] So rules the Beis Yosef and Tosefas Rid, and so rules Rav Farkash proving that this too is the opinion of Admur.

[36] So rules the Igleiy Tal, brought in Ketzos Hashulchan 125 footnote 8

Was this article helpful?

Related Articles

Leave A Comment?