Dash – Part 2

  • Rav Moshe Taragin



Jeffrey Paul Friedman

August 15, 1968 – July 29, 2012


יהודה פנחס בן הרב שרגא פייוועל

כ"ב אב תשכ"ח – י' אב תשע"ב



In a previous shiur, we questioned whether dash is defined as separating produce from material attached to it during its growth or if dash is defined as excavating produce from the natural sheath that protected it during growth. This shiur will address a broader question of whether dash is an isolated activity or is only prohibited if it caps a larger progress.

The gemara in Shabbat (95a) describes a potential dash violation for extracting blood from a mollusk for the purpose of dying clothing. Although R. Yehuda considers this activity “classic dash,” the Rabbanan disagree because a mollusk is not “gidulei karka;” it does not grow from the ground. Why should dash be limited only to items that grow from the ground?

Perhaps this limitation reflects the fact that dash is not simply a formal act of separating materials. If it were, it might be difficult to distinguish between materials that grow from the ground and other materials. Instead, perhaps dash is the final stage in preparing produce for human consumption. Produce naturally grows in a protective coat, and part of preparing it for human consumption entails removing that coat. As we previously suggested, dash constitutes removing something concealed by its protective coat. However, it is not a formal  or isolated act of excavation, but rather a stage in the processing of food for consumption. As such, it can only apply to items that grew from the ground in a protective coat that now must be removed to allow for utility.

Potentially, this view of dash may severely limit its scope only to consumable food. According to Rashi’s understanding, the gemara in Shabbat (73b) describes a situation of dash in the case of removing wastes of flax and wool. However, Rabbeinu Chananel interprets the gemara to refer to edible foodstuffs. Perhaps he views the prohibition of dash as the final stage in preparing food for consumption, and he therefore limits dash only to foodstuffs. To be eligible for dash, not only must the item be produced by the ground, but it must also be a food.

A more extreme application of this logic may be found in a comment of the Ba'al Ha-Ma'or on the gemara in Shabbat 128a, which permits dash-like processing for heaps of hay and ripe stalks. The Ba'al Ha-Ma'or explains that these items are not consumed by humans, but are rather ma'akhal beheima, animal food, and dash does not apply. This would be the most radical limitation of dash if this melakha is defined as the final stage in preparing produce for consumption by removing the protective coat within which it grew. Since animals ingest those husks and coats, animal food does not require this processing. Thus, dash is not violated when protective coats are removed from animal feed.

However, these positions are minority opinions. Most positions apply dash to any substance that grows from the ground, whether it is food for humans, food for animals, or perhaps not even food at all (as in the case of Rashi's literal application of dash to flax and cotton). However, the item must at least be produced by growing from the ground. In the instance of a mollusk, which does not grow from the ground, the skin cannot be viewed as a protective coat for the blood. Thus, drawing the blood does not constitute removing a shell and completing the process of harvesting agricultural produce.

Ironically, this gidulei karka requirement may be suspended in a scenario in which an item is drawn out of a specific protective coat. Ultimately there is no formal requirement that an item must grow from the ground. Rather, it is characteristic that items which do grow from the ground develop with some external protective shell, and dash constitutes excavating the item from within its shell. If a natural protective shell exists in items that are not gidulei karka, perhaps dash would still be violated if the inner material is extracted.

This helps explain the interesting situation of milking a cow, which Rashi (Shabbat 95a) classifies as dash. Tosafot (Shabbat 73b, s.v. Mefarek [2nd]) challenges Rashi based on the fact that extracting blood from a mollusk is not considered dash. If blood extraction is not considered dash (at least according to the Chakhamim), milking cow should similarly not be considered dash.

Perhaps the explanation of Rashi lies in the above description of dash. The excavation of a concealed material per se is insufficient to classify something as dash. This melakha is only violated if an item is removed from within a shell that is specifically designed to protect it. This protective shell is common to agricultural items, but it also defines the udder and milk. The udder has no role other than storing and protecting milk. Thus, it is functionally similar to a husk that surrounds agricultural produce. By contrast, the skin of a mollusk is not designed primarily to protect the blood. The epidemiological layer serves multiple functions and cannot be considered the container or protector of the blood. Therefore, dash does not apply.

Perhaps an additional consequence of defining dash as the final stage in the preparation of harvest for human utility would be the rule that dash is only violated if performed in the typical fashion. The gemara in Shabbat (144b) applies dash to the extraction of juice from fruit, provided that the fruits are typically designated for juice. Everyone agrees that extraction of wine and oil qualifies as dash. R. Yehuda and the Chakhamim dispute the halakha regarding berries and pomegranates, with the former permitting and the latter prohibiting. However, extracting juice from all other fruits is Biblically permitted according to all opinions. The Rishonim attribute this permissibility to the fact that these fruits are not typically designated for juice extraction. However, they do not explain why dash is only violated when the extraction follows typical patterns.

Perhaps this requirement stems from dash's definition as the final stage of harvest and preparation. If dash were merely a mechanical activity of separating two items, or even a mechanical activity of excavating a hidden material, it would matter little whether the process were standard of irregular. However, defining dash as the final stage of a preparatory process may limit this violation only to a typical process of produce preparation. Grapes are typically processed into wine and the extraction process is the final stage of wine production. Since (in Chazal's era) apples were not regularly processed for their juice, the extraction process cannot be cast as the final stage of food preparation.

In fact, many Rishonim (the Rif and the Rambam in Beitza 13b)) maintain that even grains can be manually separated from their husks and sheaths on Shabbat, since these are not typically processed by hand, but rather through animal trampling or other mechanical options. The gemara in Beitza, which permits these extractions, allows them on both Chag and Shabbat. The Rid (comments to Shabbat 144b) associates the permissibility of juice extraction with this paradigm. Just as extraction of non-standard juices is permitted, similarly extraction of grains through atypical means is permitted. If dash is cast as the final stage of preparing produce, it is only violated if the object being extracted is typically extracted and (possibly) if the manner of extraction is standard.

A final application of this principle may relate to situations in which the extraction does not confer a new status of food to the extracted item. Several Rishonim claim that in this instance, dash has not been violated, even though the mechanical process of extraction has occurred. The paradigm for this is the gemara in Shabbat 144b, which allows squeezing juice into solid food. Since the juice is absorbed by a solid food, it never achieves the status of “juice” (mashkeh); it was incorporated in a solid food before the act of extraction and now is absorbed by new food. Since it always retains the status of “okhel,” dash has not been violated.

Why should a status change into mashkeh be necessary to violate dash? Again, if dash is the final stage of food preparation, it may only be violated if it confers some status change to indicate the effects of this preparation.

A similar application applies to a situation in which the excavated material was attached to something that was also considered okhel. For example, as stated in an earlier shiur, the Maharil questioned the permissibility of extracting peas from their pod. One method of justifying this practice is to view the pod as edible. Since the peas are being extracted from okhel, dash is not violated. Similar logic is used to explain a Tosafot in Beitza (13b) that allows the removal of grains from a thin shell. The thin shell is edible, and the grain is thus being separated from okhel.

If the entire function of dash is to conclude the harvest process and render the item fit for human consumption, perhaps the process must endow a newly conferred state of okhel. If the food was attached to okhel, it already possessed that status; the extraction process does not confer any new status. In the absence of this change, dash has not been violated.