Lash (Part 7) Variations of Lisha

  • Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon


Shiur #25:


Lash, Part VII


XII) Variations on Lisha



Does lisha apply when the liquid is a fruit’s natural juice?  May one knead cooked tomatoes in their own natural juices?  May one mix the whipped-cream topping of a pudding cup with the chocolate below? 




As we have already seen, mashing cooked produce does not carry a prohibition of lash; if it is soft, one can grind it even with the tines of a fork (and if it is not soft enough, one should mash it right before to the meal).


If a fruit or vegetable has not been cooked, we have seen that one should not grind it normally, but one may mash it with a shinnui (alteration) — for example with the handle of a fork or spoon.  (Furthermore, if a banana or avocado has become very soft, one may be lenient and mash it even with the tines of a fork).


Once one has overcome the prohibition of tochen, grinding (for example, one has mashed it with a shinnui) and one has a pulped fruit — is it permissible to mix the fruit (or vegetable) with its own juice?


The Chazon Ish (58:8, s.v. Yesh) relates to this and writes:


It is possible that the act does not have the form of lisha unless one puts liquid into a dry substance; but when one crushes fruit, even though it coheres in its juices, there is no name of lash upon it.  This appears correct. 


According to this approach, there is no prohibition of lisha when one “kneads” a fruit in its own juice.  There are two reasons for this: first of all, the prohibition of lisha is applicable only when one mixes liquid with a dry substance, whereas here the liquid is not being added but is already present naturally.  Secondly, the prohibition of lash applies to an act in which the liquid gathers the parts of the dry substance and turns them into one; the lisha of a fruit, on the contrary, does not bind the parts together, but rather essentially degrades the form of the fruit, turning it into something softer.


Therefore, one may crush a fruit with a shinnui, and after that it is permissible to mix it in its natural juice (but not to add another liquid — Chazon Ish ibid. 9). 





A great innovation of Rav S.Z. Auerbach as regards the definition of lash produces many stringent ramifications.  According to him, the prohibition of lash includes the mixing of two solid masses.  For example, one would violate the prohibition of lash by taking honey and soft cheese and mixing them together.  Rav Neuwirth cites his view in Shemirat Shabbat Ke-hilkhata (8:13-16):


It is forbidden to mix white cheese with honey, even if one’s intent is to eat it immediately…  It is forbidden to add sugar or even runny jam to soft cheese and to mix it.


However, it should be noted that this approach is not self-evident.  Generally, the prohibition of lash applies to the mixing and binding of separate parts by liquid.  The liquid makes the discrete parts form one body.  However, when one mixes two solid masses, there is no one substance which binds the parts of the other substance; instead, there are two ingredients, each of which is already “kneaded” and cohesive.  The mixing of these two masses serves only to integrate two tastes and the like (and as we have seen above, it is permissible to add liquids to an existing mass).  Aside from this, we are talking about substances which are edible as is, so that the mixing is only mere tikkun okhel (food preparation) and not lisha, which is permissible, as we have seen previously in the words of the Bei’ur Halakha.


Indeed, Rav Moshe Feinstein (Iggerot Moshe, OC, Vol. IV, Ch. 74, Lash, 13) indicates that he is lenient about this:


Putting sour cream and the like into cottage cheese or cream cheese does not constitute lisha, and it is permissible.


Rav Karelitz (Orechot Shabbat, Ch. 6, n. 21) also writes that one is allowed to mix two solid masses.  Furthermore, it is not clear in what circumstances Rav S.Z. Auerbach forbids this.  His son, Rav Azriel Auerbach (cited by the Shalmei Yehonatan, 321:15 — 50, 6) believes that his father would forbid this only if the mixing creates an extremely high viscosity; however if the consistency remains unchanged, it would be permissible.


Practical Halakha


We must differentiate between kneading a belila ava (thick mixture), which is forbidden by Torah law, and kneading a belila rakka (thin mixture), which is rabbinically banned.  If it is a belila ava, one should forbid the mixing of two masses, and therefore it is good to be stringent and not to mix honey in soft cheese (i.e., that which cannot be poured), but if it is a belila rakka, it appears that one may be lenient about this.  Similarly, one may be lenient when there is no additional viscosity created, particularly when one does so proximate to the meal, as this may be considered tikkun okhel, not lisha.  All the more so, one may be lenient when the mixing is done in the midst of eating, and particularly when the resulting mixture is no more viscous than its constituent ingredients.  Therefore, one may mix the whipped-cream topping of a desert cup into the chocolate pudding on the bottom and the like.[1]


Similarly, one may be lenient and mix mayonnaise and ketchup in order to make salad dressing out of them, since we are talking about a belila rakka, particularly since the mixture is a more fluid belila, which can be used as a dressing.  Clearly it is also permitted to add water in order to dilute it; as we have seen previously, one may add water even to dough, since this action is the opposite of lisha — it does not aim to bind and connect, but rather to loosen and separate. 


Sugar or cocoa in yogurt or soft cheese: One may stir granular sugar or cocoa into yogurt, soft cheese and the like, because no solid mass is created here, nor is there any binding of parts.  One only imparts taste to the yogurt.  Even though Rav Neuwirth (Shemirat Shabbat Ke-hilkhata 8:16) forbids mixing sugar with soft cheese, this is a perplexing view.  The Orechot Shabbat (6:43) disputes this and allows the practice; see the analysis of the Shalmei Yehonatan (321:15 — 50, 6). 


Hummus and tahini: According to the lenient halakhic authorities, one may mix prepared hummus with prepared tahini, since this is the integration of two masses, each of which has already undergone lisha on its own.  However, according to Rav S.Z. Auerbach, it would apparently be forbidden to mix them, since the tahini is made thicker as a result of the mixing.  Nevertheless, according to his view, it would be permitted to put one on top of the other, since there is no mixture here, and the tahini does not permeate the hummus, so that there is no prohibition even according to the view of Rabbi.  If one does not attempt to stir them, or if one merely dips bread into them, there would not be a problem according to any view, even if the tahini and hummus become mixed in the process.




XIII) A Case Study: Preparing Egg Salad


Having exhaustively analyzed the principles of the melakha of lash, we now must confront a common case that is seemingly problematic: how may one prepare egg salad on Shabbat?  According to the basic rules we have learned for the melakha of lash, it would seem that preparing such a salad would be forbidden. 


Before addressing the issues of lash, let us address the issues of borer (selecting) and tochen.  In order to make egg salad, one must take hard-boiled eggs and break them down; to avoid problems of borer and tochen, one should peel the eggs close to mealtime, and one may then mash the eggs even with the tines of a fork.  Then, one cuts an onion into small pieces; once again, to avoid the prohibition of tochen, one should do so proximate to mealtime, and it is better to cut the onion into somewhat large pieces. 


After that, one adds oil or mayonnaise and mixes everything together.  This would seem to involve a violation of lisha since the egg is broken down into very small pieces, and the mayonnaise or the oil make the pieces cohere as one solid mass.


Despite this, egg salad is a staple of many Shabbat tables.  Rav S.Z. Auerbach (cited in Shemirat Shabbat Ke-Hilkhata, Ch. 8, n. 81) attempts to defend this custom:


One may say that since one only wants to mix, and one is careful not to make it into one mass, this is not considered by Torah law to be a belila ava


The Mishna Berura, 68, is stringent even when it comes to a mixture of radishes or cucumbers together with vinegar, even though there as well one is careful that they will not stick together.  Nevertheless, we must consider the fact that the egg is already cooked… and the onion and the oil are only a sort of garnish, as the Mishna Berura has written…


When it comes to grits, which are considered already baked and cooked, even if one puts in a liquid and kneads them, it is not considered like lash, only mere tikkun okhel, and the same is true here…


Other factors to consider are that this spoils [if prepared in advance] and that one generally prepares it only proximate to eating, so that it may be considered like al yad as a result… The reason that it is permitted is because it is derekh akhila (the way of eating) and not akin to lash. 


Therefore, it appears that one cannot challenge the customary practice of so many who excel in Torah and piety. 


Rav Auerbach thus enumerates a number of reasons to be lenient:

1.    There is no aim of creating one mass, but only to mix and impart flavor.

2.    The egg is already cooked, so that according to the Bei’ur Halakha there is no prohibition of lash upon it.  The onion and the oil, which have not been cooked, are only a garnish for the egg, and therefore it is considered tikkun okhel and not akin to lisha.

3.    This food spoils if it is prepared ahead of time, and it is always prepared proximate to the meal; this is another reason to see its preparation as tikkun okhel and not as lisha.


Rav Neuwirth adds (ibid.) that we may enlist those who believe that if the egg is not of the crumbly consistency of flour, there is no prohibition of lash in this (Eshel Avraham II, Ch. 321).


However since these explanations are not compellingly straightforward, it is best to prepare egg salad with a shinnui (this is the ruling of Rav Neuwirth, Shemirat Shabbat Ke-hilkhata ibid. 23).  In other words, one should put the oil in first and then the egg; if one is using mayonnaise, there is no problem, because it does not permeate.  Then, one should mix sheti ve-erev (crosswise), instead of using a circular motion.  (In fact, it makes sense that in this case one may be lenient and mix normally, just gently, as many are lenient when it comes to pulped vegetables; even though the egg is not a vegetable, it has been cooked, and there are many other reasons to be lenient). 


To summarize, many are lenient when it comes to preparing egg salad on Shabbat, and they have on whom to rely, but one should prepare it proximate to the meal (and one should preferably cut the onions into somewhat large pieces).  However, if possible, it is best to mix with a shinnui (sheti ve-erev or gently). 


Translated by Rav Yoseif Bloch

[1]     This mixing is done proximate to eating, and therefore one may enlist the view of Rav S.Z. Auerbach cited previously.  This is in addition to the view of the Bei’ur Halakha concerning mere tikkun okhel, and it may be added to the question of mixing two masses, particularly in light of the fact that no alteration of consistency is noticeable.