Separating vessels from waste and other things

Separating vessels from waste and from amongst other types of vessels[1]

Just like there is a prohibition of separating food [from waste] so too there is also [a prohibition in separating] other items from amongst their waste, or [in separating] one type of item which is mixed with another type of item.

Example: For example, if one had in front of him two types of vessels which are mixed together and one wants to select one type from amongst another type in order to use it, then this item [which he wishes to take now] is considered like food and the other item is considered like waste and one thus is required to remove the food from the waste and not vice versa, even in a case that one of the items is larger than the other and is [thus easily] recognizable on its own. As well one is required to separate it to use it right away as was explained regarding [separating from a mixture which contains] two types of food.

Washing dirt from vessels:[2] One may wash vessels for the need of that day, such as if there still remains a meal which one desires to eat with the use of these vessels, then one may wash it even immediately after the current meal.[3]

 

Summary: The Borer restrictions explained above apply equally to:

1) A mixture of a vessel or other item together with waste.[4]

2) A mixture of two different types of vessels/items[5] [even if one is large and the other small[6] such as a mixture of clothing or books and the like].

 

Q&A

May one separate paper with words of Torah from mundane papers in order to throw out the pile of mundane papers and place the Torah papers in genizah?[7]

Yes, so long as doing so is not for a weekday need.[8] One however may not do so in order to prevent disgrace to the Torah papers, such as in a case that the Torah papers are mixed with dirty objects, as in such a case the Borer restrictions apply.

 

May one separate recycling items on Shabbos?[9]

Yes, so long as doing so is not for the need of the weekday.

 

The laws of Borer which pertain to clothing: [10]

The definition of a mixture to which the Borer restrictions apply:[11]

A mixture of different articles of clothing: A mixture of different articles of clothing [i.e. clothing which serve different purposes], such as socks with undergarments is considered a mixture to which the Borer restrictions apply. Thus if one has a pile of laundry all the separating restrictions apply in separating the different articles of clothing. It is thus only permitted to remove an article of clothing which one desires to use right away.

A mixture of the same article of clothing, such as a mixture of shirts, does not have the Borer restrictions apply unless a) they are of different colors and one specifically desires to now remove a specific color from the mixture. In such a case all the Borer restrictions would apply. Or b) they are of different sizes and only a specific size fits.

Two articles of clothing of which one is sitting on top of the other is not considered a mixture and does not contain the Borer restrictions, as is always the rule that two items do not have the definition of a mixture. Thus one may remove the clothing that are sitting on top of a lower cloth in order to reach that lower clothing.[12] However this only applies if one does not also desire to use the upper clothing. However if one also desires to use the upper clothing then all the separating restrictions apply in removing it and it thus may only be removed to use right away.

Word of advice: In any situation that the mixture of clothing contains the separating restrictions one can have another person take the entire bundle of clothing and throw them up in the air thus having them separate from each other, nullifying their mixed status. One may then go and choose whichever clothing he desires. Initially one should refrain from throwing up the clothing himself and rather have someone else do it for him.

 

May one remove clothing from his closet or drawer in order to reach a specific clothing?

One is permitted to move the clothing aside having the clothing remain within the drawer/closet[13], so long as he plans to use the requested clothing right away. However to remove the clothing from the drawer for the purpose of searching for the requested clothing is dependent on how the clothing are mixed. If the clothing are simply sitting one on top of the other then if one is uninterested at all in the upper clothing, the separating restrictions do not apply. If one is also interested in the upper clothing then all the separating restrictions apply.

If the clothing are mixed up [not one on top of the other] then initially one may only remove those clothing that he is interested in using right away. However in a case that it is not possible to find the requested clothing without removing the other clothing then one may do so although taking care to replace the clothing back afterwards.

 

May one remove clothing from a mixture for later use if he will not have the ability to separate the clothing right away prior to the use? Such as may one separate his sweater from a mixture of clothing prior to leaving the house even though he does not plan on using it until later on at night when it becomes cold?[14]

If the clothing are defined as mixed [as explained above] then doing so is forbidden being one is taking the sweater for later use. Furthermore even if one plans to wear the clothing now in order to give it a right away use, it remains forbidden being that in truth he has no current need for the sweater. Thus the only remaining advice in such a case is for one to have someone else throw the mixture of clothing up in the air, having the clothing separate from each other and then take the sweater.

 

May one separate clothing from a mixture on Friday night to have it prepared to be worn the next day on Shabbos?[15]

If the clothing are defined as mixed [See above] then doing so is forbidden.

 

If clothing are sitting one on top of the other on a clothing hanger may one remove the upper clothing in order to reach the lower clothing?

One may do so[16] although it is best to return the unwanted clothing back onto the hook after removing the clothing which one desires.[17]

 

May one remove dirt/crumbs and the like from ones shtreimal or Sheitel?[18]

If the crumb is simply sitting on top of the shtreimal/Sheitel and is not stuck inside it then one may remove it in any way he desires.[19] If however the crumb is stuck within the hair of the shtreimal/Sheitel then it is best to shake the dirt/crumb out of the shtreimal/Sheitel immediately prior to using it[20] rather than remove it with one’s hands. Nevertheless if needed one may remove it with ones hands[21] although taking caution not to remove any of the hairs in the process.

 

May one shake dust and the like off a hat, Sheitel?[22]

It is best to do so in close proximity to their use.


The laws of Borer which pertain to eating utensils:

May one remove the eating utensils from their drawer in order to set up the table much time prior to the meal?[23]

If this is being done in order to currently have a nice table setting, it is allowed in all cases, even if the utensils are mixed with each other.[24]

If however this is not the intent and one simply desires to currently set the table so he does not have to do so later on, then if the utensils are mixed, such as forks with knives and the like, it is forbidden to separate them from each other, and one thus must delay the setting of the table until immediately prior to the meal. However if the utensils are each in their set area, such as the forks with the forks etc, then since the utensils are not considered mixed one may set the table whatever time he wishes. Nevertheless care must be taken not to place the different utensils in his hand at the same time, thus mixing them in his hand in the process, as if they become mixed in his hand all the separating restrictions would now apply and one would not be allowed to set the table unless it is right before the start of the meal. Thus one should set up each utensil individually.

 

If the utensils are mixed may one only remove the exact amount of utensils prior to the meal? [25]

Yes. If one knows the exact amount of utensils that he will need then he may not separate extra utensils, as doing so is equivalent to separating for no use which is forbidden.

 

May one remove a utensil from the mixture for the purpose of using it to save his spot on the table, or as a separation between a man and his wife? [26]

Yes.      

 

May one separate the Milk utensils from the meat utensils and the like? [27]

If the mixture is of the same utensils, such as dairy spoons which are mixed with meat spoons then one may separate them without restriction, as previously explained in Halacha 6. [28]

 

May one remove the dirty utensils from the table in order to clean the table? [29]

If the dirty utensils are mixed together with clean utensils [as mixed was defined in the Introduction of this chapter-see there] doing so is forbidden being that one is removing the bad from the good. Rather one is to remove the clean utensils from the table and may then remove the dirty utensils.

 

May one remove the dirty fish plate from on top of the meat plate if one will not be eating meat right away?

Yes as they are not defined as mixed.

 

After the meal may one remove the utensils from amongst the waste that is on the table? [30]

If the vessels are mixed with the food wastes in a way that is defined as mixed [as explained in the introduction to this chapter] then it is forbidden to remove the utensils from the waste unless one plans to use it right away. Included in this is if one desires to wash the utensils clean at this time so he can use them or to prevent the food from drying on it or to prevent insects from gathering.

If one has no need for the utensils then one should shake the utensils away from the waste so they no longer be defined as mixed, and then remove them.

 

May one remove a fork/spoon/knife that fell into a liquid?[31]

Yes one may do so without restriction being that it is not defined as mixed as explained in the Introduction in the Q&A there.

 

If a vessel fell into the garbage may one remove it from the garbage without restriction? [32]

One may only remove it if he plans to use it right away such as if he plans to wash it.

 

May one sort out the utensils, each one with its kind, to place them in the dish washer so they are ready for after Shabbos? [33]

No. This is forbidden because of the separating prohibition.

 

May one sort out the utensils in order to wash them separately? [34]

No unless a) one has a need to wash them now, such as he plans to use them now or he desires to wash them to prevent flies from coming and the like. And b) It is easier for him to wash each type of utensil separately. 

 

May one sort out the utensils in order to dry them separately or place them away each one in their set spot?[35]

If it is easier to dry each type of utensil separate from the other type then this is allowed. If not then one may either a) as he washes or dries each individual utensil he places down each type of utensil separate from the other. Or b) One may have another person spread out the mixture of utensils in a way that they are no longer defined as mixed.

 

The laws of Borer which pertain to keys:[36]

Are keys in a key chain defined as mixed and thereby retain the separating restrictions?

If there are three or more keys in a keychain then all the middle keys, which are defined as all the keys besides for the outer most key of both sides, are defined as mixed and thus retain the separating restrictions. Thus one may only remove or take hold of any of the middle keys for a right away use.

If there are only two keys on the key chain then no separating restrictions apply.

 

May one separate one of the middle keys not for a right away use if he is simply holding on to it without removing it from the key chain?

The separating restrictions apply even if one does not actually remove any of the middle keys from the key chain but simply takes hold of it, and thus separates it from the other keys, while it still remains attached to the key chain.

 

What is one to do if he needs to remove a middle key from the key chain to take with him when he leaves the house so he be able to open the door when he returns, but does not need to lock the door now upon him leaving, such as if people are still awake in the home?

The only choice he has is to have another person scatter all the keys from each other so they no longer are defined as mixed and then take the key that he needs.

 

The laws of Borer which pertain to books:[37]

What is defined as a mixture of two different types of books?

As explained many times above the separating restrictions only apply by a) two different items which are b) defined as mixed. The following is the definition of the above two conditions as they relate to books.

Two different types: Regarding books any two books which are of different topic, even if they share the same name, or are of the same topic but have different features, such as different Nuschaos of Sidurim or different types of Chumashim containing different commentaries, then they are defined as two different types.

Books of the same exact topic but are simply of different prints and fonts are disputed whether they are considered like two different types of books. Practically one may be lenient so long as one type of font is not meant to be used only by children and the like.

Books of the same exact topic or even print but some are new while others are worn out are only considered two different types of books if the old print is so worn out that it is only useable in pressing situations.

The definition of a mixture: Books are only defined as mixed if they are sitting one on top of the other. Books which are sitting next to each other on a book shelf, one next to the other, are not defined as mixed and one may thus remove any book from the shelf even not for right away use.[38] Books which are lying next to each other on a table, as is common in Shuls are not defined as mixed and one may thus remove whichever book he desires from the table even not for right away use.

Word of Advice: Whenever books are defined as mixed and one desires to separate them not for a right away use one may have another person [if not practical then even the same person may do so] separate all the books throughout the table in a way that they are no longer sitting on top of each other and then gather whichever book he desires. However it only helps to separate the books by tilting the pile in a way that they all fall on a different spot of the table, however to remove each book from the pile and place it down separately does not help as this action itself is considered separating.

 

May one gather all the Chumashim or Siddurim from the tables of the Shul in order to place them in their set place on the shelves?

Any book which does not have another type of book lying on top of it may be removed from the table without restriction. Those books which have other types of books piled on top of them are forbidden to be removed from amongst the mixture. Thus the only way to go about it is to have another person [or oneself if another person is not available] separate all the books throughout the table through tilting the pile in a way that they are no longer sitting on top of each other and then gather whichever book he desires.

Regarding if one may remove one book at a time from the pile, see the next question.

 

If one has a pile of different books may he remove one book at a time and place it in its set place on the shelf?

If one would in any event take one book at a time due to weight purposes or the like, then once the book is in his hands he may place it in its correct area on the shelf. However to specifically take one book at a time in order to place each one in its set place is forbidden.

 

If one has a pile of different books and desires to organize them on the shelf does it help if one looks into each book after separating it in order to be considered a right away use?

Regarding doing so for one or two books perhaps this would be allowed. However for many books doing so is questionable being that it appears to all that one is not really interested in reading the book and is simply doing so for separating which thus makes it forbidden.

 

If a pile of papers from a folder got mixed up may one separate them from each other in order to organize them?

Only if one plans to now read these papers.

 

The laws of Borer that pertain to a mixture of toys/cards/games/etc.[39]

  • Chess: The separation of the black pieces from the white pieces, or one type of piece from another, such as a king from a pawn, retains all the separating restrictions and thus may only be done for right away use.
  • Cards:[40]One may separate the same types of cards for a right away purpose. One may not do so for the purpose of putting the cards away in an orderly fashion.
  • Puzzles: Do not contain a separating prohibition in the separation of the pieces in order to make the puzzle. Nevertheless one should never make a puzzle on Shabbos as doing so involves putting together words or pictures which is forbidden due to the writing prohibition. Nevertheless children which play with puzzles on Shabbos do not need to be protested against.
  • Games which the separating is their goal of play: Such as games which the purpose is to have all the pieces together in their set seemingly is forbidden to play, as when the separation of the piece is also the purpose of the separation it is not considered a right away use.

 

Summary

The cases which contain the separating prohibition:

  1. A mixture of food and waste, such as pits and shells with seeds and food.[41]
  2. A mixture containing two different species of food[42], such as two different types of fish[43], even if one is large and the other small[44].
  3. A mixture of a vessel or other item together with waste.[45]
  4. A mixture of two different types of vessels/items[46] [even if one is large and the other small[47] such as a mixture of clothing or books and the like].
  5. A mixture which contains the same species of foods but some of the mixture is only edible in pressing times, such as the withered leaves of lettuce. Such a mixture Rabbinically contains all the separating restrictions mentioned below. [48]
  6. Peeling off peels and shells of fruits/nuts.[49]

 

The separating restrictions that apply to all the above mentioned cases:[50]

It is Biblically forbidden to separate in the above cases in any of the following ways:

  1. One separates the bad, which is defined as the food/item that one does not want right now, from the good which is defined as what one want right now.

    Or

  2. Separates even the good but using a vessel designated for separation such as a sieve or sifter.[51]

    Or

  3. Separates the good from bad with his hands but with intent to eat later on.[52]

 

It is Rabbinically forbidden to separate:

Good from bad to use right away using a vessel that is not professionally used for sifting.[53]

 

It is permitted to separate with the fulfillment of all the following three conditions:

  1. One does so with intent to eat right away, which is defined as right before the start of the meal [after the conclusion of services in Shul[54]]. One may only separate enough to eat for the people participating in the meal, and not for leftovers for after the meal[55].

    And

  2. One separates the food, which is defined as the item that one wishes to eat, from the waste which is defined as the item that one does not wish to eat.[56]

    And

  3. One does so using his hands, and not a vessel.[57]

 


[1] 319/8

[2] 323/6

[3] Q. Why does this not contain a prohibition of Borer as does washing off dirt from lettuce and the like?

[4] 319/8

[5] 319/8

[6] 319/6 However if one of the species is large while the other is small then it is only questionable as to whether the separating prohibitions apply, although nevertheless one must be stringent. 

[7] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 138-139

[8] As since he is not interested in using any of the papers at all it is similar to separating two foods of which one is not interested in eating either one at any future time which is allowed.

[9] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 138, see previous footnote for the reason

[10] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 206-211

[11] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 206-211

[12] Based on M”B. See in length Shabbos Kehalacha chapter 12 footnote 188

[13] As doing so is similar to moving the fly in ones cup towards the side of the cup which is allowed. [Ketzos Hashulchan 125, last footnote]

[14] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 209

[15] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 208

[16] So rules the M”B 15

[17] So rules the Ketzos Hashulchan 125

[18] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 123, and 211

[19] As in such a case the crumb is not considered mixed with the Sheitel/shtreimal.

[20] Thus keeping to all the separating restrictions, removing the good from the bad for right away use.

[21] As there are opinions which hold that the separating restrictions do not at all apply in such a case as a) it is merely considered cleaning a cloth which does not contain the separating restrictions [Rav SZ”A] and b) If the hair is made of real hair then it is considered like an attached item to which the separating restrictions do not apply.

[22] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 123

[23] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 P. 212

[24] Rav SZ”A

[25] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 P. 212

[26] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 P. 212

[27] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 P. 212

[28] To note however that the SSH”K rules that this is forbidden being that according to them if one item is forbidden and one is permitted they are considered like two different species despite the fact that they are all from the same species. This however does not follow the ruling of Admur and others as explained above in Halacha 6 that a prohibited part is not considered another species in the case of removal of forbidden fats. This is also the opinion of the Magen Avraham and Mishneh Berurah. Vetzaruch Iyun on the Ketzos Hashulchan which seems to imply that two Lulavim of two different people on Sukkos would be considered Borer on the first day of Sukkos when one cannot fulfill his obligation with another person’s Lulav. See Shabbos Kihalacha Vol. 2 p. 102.

[29] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 P. 213

[30] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 P. 213

[31] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 363

[32] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 P. 214

[33] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 P. 214

[34] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 P. 214

[35] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 P. 214

[36] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 216-217

[37] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 219-223

[38] The reason for this is, as explained Rav SZ”A, because each individual book placed on a shelf is considered of importance and is not defined in people’s eyes as a mixture.

[39] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 p. 223-226

[40] To note that the playing of poker cards and the like is greatly spoken against by Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchiv being that they contain much impurity. One should thus guard himself from ever playing with them even during the week.

[41] 319/1

[42] 319/5

[43] 319/6

[44] 319/6 However if one of the species is large while the other is small then it is only questionable as to whether the separating prohibitions apply, although nevertheless one must be stringent. 

[45] 319/8

[46] 319/8

[47] 319/6 However if one of the species is large while the other is small then it is only questionable as to whether the separating prohibitions apply, although nevertheless one must be stringent. 

[48] 319/4

[49] Based on Rama in end of chapter 321, and alluded to in Admur here in Halacha 9. [see Shabbos Kihalacha Vol 2 page 290]

[50] 319/1

[51] 319/1

[52] 319/2

[53] 319/1

[54] 319/4

[55] 319/2-3

[56] 319/1

[57] 319/1

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