Lash (Part 2)

  • Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon



By Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon



Shiur #20:

Lash, Part II



In our previous shiur, we saw the dispute between Rabbi and Rabbi Yosei bar Yehuda in terms of defining lisha.  This chart summarizes that dispute:




Up until this point we have dealt with substances which form an agglomerated mass when water is added to them: flour, sand, etc. Such a substance is called “bar gibbul”, kneadable.  However, there are those substances which will not form such a mass when water is added to them, even after they undergo the process of kneading.[1]  A substance such as this is defined as “not bar gibbul”, since it is not kneadable and does not become a truly agglomerated mass.  This is true, for example, of ashes, which are defined by the Gemara (18a) as not bar gibbul, since even after being kneaded with water, they do not form stable dough. 


The Gemara seems to indicate two opposite views of a non-bar gibbul when it comes to the prohibition of lash.  On the one hand, Abbayei raises the possibility (ibid.) that the law of a non-bar gibbul is even more serious than that of a bar gibbul: “Perhaps Rabbi Yosei only said this [requirement to mix in order to be liable] about flour, which is bar gibbul, but for ink, which is not bar gibbul, one should be liable!”


In other words, according to Rabbi Yosei bar Yehuda, one who mixes flour and water is not liable for lash until one actually kneads them, as we have seen above.  However, according to Abbayei, this is applicable only to that which is bar gibbul; since one could form them into a doughy compound, one is not liable for lash until such dough is formed.  However, when it comes to that which is not bar gibbul, since in its very nature it is impossible to make a doughy compound out of it, even Rabbi Yosei bar Yehuda would concede that one is liable for lash for the simple act of putting in water!


On the other hand, the words of the Gemara elsewhere indicate the opposite view.  The Gemara (155b) deals with adding water to bran (the wheat husk which is used as animal feed), which is not bar gibbul, and it raises a possibility in the view of Rabbi Yosei bar Yehuda that such as act is completely permissible, and indeed supports this suggestion with an explicit beraita: “One may not put water into bran, according to Rabbi.  Rabbi Yosei bar Yehuda says: ‘One may put water into bran.’”


A number of Rishonim (Ritva, ibid.; Maggid Mishneh 8:16) explain that because the bran is not bar gibbul, kneading it is not forbidden by the Torah, but only rabbinically; thus, according to Rabbi Yosei bar Yehuda, adding water to it is indeed permissible.  The Rabbis only forbid adding water to a substance which may not be kneaded by Torah law, because one may come to actually knead it.  However, the Rabbis do not forbid adding water to a substance where the kneading is only prohibited on a rabbinic level, for there is no concern of a Torah violation even for actual kneading.  According to this, the law of that which is not bar gibbul is less serious than the law of that which is bar gibbul.


In light of the conflicting evidence in the Gemara, the Rishonim dispute the matter.  The Rif (Beitza 18a) and the Rambam imply that according to Rabbi Yosei bar Yehuda, putting water into something which is not bar gibbul, such as ashes or bran, is permissible.  On the other hand, Tosafot (18a, s.v. Aval), the Raavad (8:16), the Rashba (18a), the Me’iri (18a) and others rule in accordance with the view of Abbayei, who holds that putting water into something which is not bar gibbul, such as ashes, is forbidden by the Torah, even according to Rabbi Yosei bar Yehuda.  According to them, the Gemara is lenient concerning bran only because, according to the conclusion of the Gemara, it is indeed considered to be bar gibbul.  (An analysis of the legal status of bran in this regard is beyond the scope of this discussion.)


As for the practical halakha, the Shulchan Arukh (324:3) rules that one may add water to bran, in accordance with the view of Rabbi Yosei bar Yehuda (and afterwards he cites the view of Rabbi, who forbids this, as we have seen in our previous shiur); however, he does not note what the law is for something which clearly is not bar gibbul (such as ashes).  The Mishna Berura (321:50) cites the two views regarding putting water into a substance which is not bar gibbul, and he does not decide among them explicitly.  However, from his comments in the Bei’ur Halakha (324:3, s.v. Ein) it seems that he is concerned about the stringent view.[2]


In any case, this debate relates only to the view of Rabbi Yosei bar Yehuda, but according to the view of Rabbi, there is a Torah-level prohibition to put water into a substance which is not bar gibbul.  This is what the Mishna Berura (324:10-11) writes: the Ashkenazic custom follows the stringent view of Rabbi, and according to this, one should not put water “in flour, in ashes or in anything.”  However, in cases of great need, the Mishna Berura (ibid.) allows this, according to the view of the Chayei Adam (19:1), who holds that one may have a non-Jew put water into bran (and after that one must knead in an altered way, as we shall see below).[3]



V) Belila Ava and Belila Rakka


How may one prepare porridge for a child on Shabbat?  May one mix juice with mashed fruit?  Is one allowed to mix tea-biscuit crumbs with cheese?  Is there a prohibition of lash in preparing coffee? 


The mass formed by an act of lisha may be of two consistencies: belila ava (a thick mixture) or belila rakka (literally, a soft mixture, i.e., a thin one).  Naturally, there is also a third possibility when mixing two substances: that no true mixture is created at all.  Respectively, these three types yield three different halakhic statuses:


1.    By Torah law, it is forbidden to create a belila ava.

2.    By rabbinic law, it is prohibited to create a belila rakka.

3.    It is permissible to create a fully liquid or runny belila, as this is not considered a true belila at all.  As the Chazon Ish points out (58:9): “Powders which dissolve in water may be mixed with water on Shabbat, and there is no problem of lisha in this.” [4]  


This distinction emerges from the Gemara (155b-156a).  The Gemara indicates that Rabbi and Rabbi Yosei bar Yehuda argue whether one may prepare dough from flour made of parched grains with an alteration, but they agree that one may prepare the dough known as shatit[5] with an alteration.  The Gemara attempts to resolve this apparent discrepancy as follows:


Yet they agree that shatit may be stirred on Shabbat…  But you said that one may not mix?  There is no difficulty: one case is ava, and the other is rakka.

Still, that is only if one does it in an unusual manner.  How does one do it in an unusual manner? 

Rav Yosef said: “During the week the vinegar is [first] poured in and then the shatit, whereas on Shabbat, the shatit is [first] poured in and then the vinegar.” 


In other words, dough made from parched-grain flour is a belila ava, and that is why Rabbi Yosei bar Yehuda and Rabbi dispute whether one may knead it with an alteration, shinnui (which we will deal with later).  On the other hand, shatit dough is a belila rakka, and therefore, according to all views, it is permissible to knead it with a shinnui, e.g., stirring in the ingredients in the opposite order of the standard recipe.


Why is such a shinnui effective only for a belila rakka and not for a belila ava?  Apparently, the prohibition of lisha of a belila ava is from the Torah, while the prohibition of lisha of a belila rakka is of rabbinic origin.  This also seems to be the implication of the explanation in the Chiddushim Ha-meyuchasim La-Ran (156a), as well as the view of the Terumat Ha-deshen (Ch. 53): making a belila rakka is not considered lisha.  (The Shevitat Ha-shabbat writes the same, in his Introduction to the Melakha of Lash, 7).  The Chazon Ish writes something similar (58:2) as well:


And it appears that the shinnui of putting the shatit in first and then putting in the vinegar is not considered a true shinnui, and therefore they only allow it for rakka, because it is not in the category of lash by Torah law; but with ava, such a shinnui would not help [because thick dough may not be kneaded by Torah law].


Defining Belila Ava and Belila Rakka


What definition can be given to determine whether a mixture is considered to be a belila rakka or a belila ava?


The Chazon Ish writes (58:9, s.v. 156) writes:


It appears that rakka can be poured and emptied, but it is still a mass and not a liquid.  But if there is so much water that it merely looks like cloudy water, it is not at all in the category of lash.


In other words, a belila rakka is a belila which can be poured.  Even when there is a mass, if it can be poured and decanted from one vessel to another, this is a belila rakka, provided that the pouring is not in clumps, but rather “poured and emptied” — i.e., poured without interruption.  If the mixture is a true liquid, the mixture is not a belila at all, but rather a suspension, solution or combination of two liquids, as we noted above.  This approach is also taken by the Shevitat Ha-shabbat, Lash, Be’er Rechovot, Ch. 36.


The Ketzot Ha-shulchan (Ch. 130; Baddei Ha-shulchan, 3) provides a different distinction.  According to him, a belila rakka is one which is thinner than its usual consistency:


It appears that the measure of the belila is not the same for all things; rather, for each substance, the way of its lisha makes one liable, and if one alters and makes it a bit thinner, it becomes a belila rakka 


The logic of this is that just as a shinnui in the order of putting in the ingredients is considered a shinnui, so too the making of a belila which is thinner than is customary is considered a shinnui. Thus, since it is defined as a shinnui, creating a belila rakka is only prohibited rabbinically, and where there is another shinnui (or two) its creation is permissible by the rules of shinnui.[6]


The underlying dispute between the Chazon Ish and the Ketzot Ha-shulchan is that according to the Ketzot Ha-shulchan, the allowance for belila rakka is based on the law of shinnui, and therefore one must check the ordinary consistency of each mixture, and from there one can extrapolate what is considered a shinnui.  According to the Chazon Ish, on the other hand, the allowance is not based on the law of shinnui but on the very definition of the melakha of lash: the Torah prohibition of lisha is limited to creating a thick mass such as dough.  However, mixing the ingredients for a belila rakka is considered stirring, not kneading (as the Gemara notes that “shatit may be stirred”).  Therefore, there is no significance to the question of what the normal way is; the measure of the liquidity of the mixture is the only meaningful issue.


Practical Halakha


In practice, the halakhic authorities follow the definition of the Chazon Ish, particularly since the definition of the Ketzot Ha-shulchan varies from food to food, and it is difficult to apply it pragmatically. 


Therefore, a mixture which cannot be poured from one vessel to another is a belila ava, which may not be made by Torah law.  This category includes pudding, instant mashed potatoes or thick porridge.


If it can be poured continuously from one vessel to another, it is a belila rakka, the making of which is only banned rabbinically.  This category includes thin porridge. 


If it is not a true mass, but a very liquid substance, this is not in the category of belila at all, and it is permissible to make it.  This category includes coffee or any other liquid prepared with a powder or finely ground material. 


The principles which we have seen here in terms of the different types of belila are very important in terms of the practical halakha, but first we must examine a final element, which we have already alluded to: belila with a shinnui.  This will be addressed in our next shiur.

 Translated by Rav Yoseif Bloch





[1]     See the Rambam’s Commentary to the Mishna (Ohalot 2:2): “Its parts remain separate and discrete, and kneading will have no effect and will not make it into one body.”

[2] In practice, there are not many ramifications of this law, because there is virtually no substance of which we can definitively say that it is not bar gibbul.  However, it may be that, for example, a mixture of honey and cheese is not considered bar gibbul.  Unlike flour, which consists of particles which adhere to each other and agglomerate when water is added, the bits of cheese do not stick to each other; they just stick to the honey (See Shevitat Ha-shabbat, Introduction to the Melakha of Lash, 4).  If so, it may be that this case is dependent on a dispute among the Rishonim concerning a substance which is not bar gibbul, and according to those who are more lenient, it would be permissible to put honey into cheese and after that to mix it with a shinnui, as we shall see later on.  See the Gemara (140a) and the Rambam (22:12) who discuss mixing honey with mustard and the like.  This is what arises from the ruling of the Shulchan Arukh (321:15). However the Rema ibid. (16) rules stringently, according to the Sefer Ha-teruma’s understanding of Rabbi’s view. We should note that it may be that a mixture of cheese and honey is not considered dough at all, since there is not a mixture of small particles with a liquid, but rather the mixture of two semisolid substances, and the Acharonim argue about this, as we shall see below. 

[3]     In fact, the Chazon Ish is lenient about this act even if performed by a Jew, as we shall see later on.

[4]     This can be seen in the Shulchan Arukh’s ruling (321:17) that one may prepare yinomlin, a drink made of old wine, honey and pepper.

[5]     The Rishonim dispute the nature of shatit; it will be addressed in a later shiur.

[6]     One may suggest a third understanding, more stringent than the two we have mentioned. The Gemara in Berakhot (38a) says that on thick shatit, one makes the blessing of Borei Minei Mezonot (the standard for grain products other than bread), but on thin shatit, one makes the blessing of Shehakol (the standard for drinks other than wine).  The Rambam (Berakhot 3:3) writes “if it is thick, so that it is appropriate to eat it and chew it, one makes the blessing of Borei Minei Mezonot before it… but if it is so thin that one may drink it, one makes the blessing of Shehakol before it.”  This implies that thin shatit is something which can be drunk (this would be a tremendous stringency, to insist that only something which can be drunk may be considered a belila rakka).  However, this innovative idea is not suggested in the halakhic literature and thus it appears that the halakhic authorities are concerned about it.  (See the abovementioned words of the Shevitat Ha-shabbat and Ketzot Ha-shulchan; further elaboration on this matter is beyond the scope of this discussion).