Selected Halachos relating to Parshas Vaeschanan
By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt
The following is a discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the week.
For final rulings, consult your Rav.
"But you should greatly beware for your souls" (4:15)
PEELED EGG, ONION OR GARLIC LEFT OVERNIGHT
Several Biblical injunctions are derived from the warning to
"beware for your souls", including the Biblical prohibition of
placing oneself in any type of life-threatening situation(1),
e.g., walking dangerously near the edge of a roof, exposing
oneself to a disease, etc. In addition to such obviously
dangerous acts, our Sages warned against other dangers which are
not understood today, such as the well-known injunction against
eating meat and fish together. Although we cannot define the
resultant danger in term of medical science, we accept and
adhere faithfully to our sages' warning that eating fish and
meat together is a danger(2).
Another practice involving food which our Sages considered
dangerous is eating a peeled egg, onion or garlic(3)that was
left overnight. Although this practice is less widespread than
the universally accepted restriction against eating meat and
fish together, the Talmud(4) maintains that a ruach ra'ah, a
"spirit of impurity," rests upon these three foods when peeled
and left overnight, similar to the "spirit of impurity" that
rests on one's hands during nighttime sleep. One who eats these
foods after they were left overnight, states the Talmud,
endangers his life. Moreover, he will be judged by the Heavenly
Court as a person who took his own life(5). In view of the
severity of both the offense and the punishment, it is difficult
to understand why certain communities do not comply with this
restriction. How can they ignore such frightening consequences?
There is a basic difference, however, between the two
prohibitions mentioned above. The prohibition against eating
meat and fish together is quoted by the Shulchan Aruch as
practical Halachah(6). All Jews - without exception - are
obligated to follow the rulings of the Shulchan Aruch, whether
scientifically understood or not. The prohibition against eating
certain peeled foods, however, is omitted by many of the
Rishonim(7) and the Shulchan Aruch, probably because they held
that this particular "spirit of impurity" was no longer
prevalent in their times(8). Thus, in many communities this
practice is not followed, and, indeed, many people have never
heard of it.
But in many other communities this prohibition is in force to
one degree or another. While omitted by the Shulchan Aruch, this
warning is cited by some Rishonim(9), and recorded as practical
Halachah by several of the later authorities, among them the Pri
Chodosh, Shulchan Aruch Harav(10), Aruch ha-Shulchan(11) and Ben
Ish Chai. The following discussion, therefore, applies only to
those whose custom is to observe this practice, or to those who
would like to adopt it.
QUESTION: MUST EVERYONE OBSERVE THIS PROHIBITION?
Whoever comes from a family that adheres strictly to this
custom, should definitely continue to do so, since it has a
Talmudic source and is surely not less valid than any other
The poskim differ as to whether or not one who never followed
this practice is required to adopt it. Some rule that the
practice is mandatory(12), others recommend adopting it(13),
while others do not require following it at all(14).
The prohibition applies even when the peeled food items were
wrapped, sealed and stored in a closed pot or container, or were
placed in a refrigerator(15); The prohibition applies only
when... The entire egg, onion or garlic was peeled. If even a
minuscule part of it was left unpeeled, or even if the root
hairs on top of the onion or garlic remain, the food is not
considered to be "peeled" and the prohibition does not
apply(16); The peeled egg, onion or garlic was kept separate
from any other food. If, however, it was mixed together with
other ingredients, e.g., with vegetables, tuna fish or
mayonnaise, it is permitted(17). The egg, onion or garlic was
peeled with the intent of using it immediately and it was then
left over night, or if it was peeled in order to be used the
next day. If, however, it was peeled with the express intent of
being frozen and used at a later date (as many large companies
or bakeries do), it is permitted(18). Dried egg powder does not
fall into the category of "peeled eggs" and is permitted(19).
The egg, onion or garlic is peeled and left in its raw state.
When cooked, roasted or fried, several poskim hold that it may
be left overnight(20). The egg, onion or garlic is peeled and
left the entire night. If it is peeled and left for only part of
the night, it is permitted(21). B'dieved, if these items were
peeled and left overnight, what can be done? Some poskim hold
that b'dieved, one does not have to be stringent and the peeled
foods should not be thrown away(22). Most other poksim, however,
hold that even b'dieved these items should not be eaten(23).
Some poskim hold that cooking or soaking the peeled items in
vinegar removes the "spirit of impurity" from them and they may
then be eaten(24). Other poskim do not mention this leniency.
Washing the peeled foods does not alter their status - they
still may not be eaten(25).
1. Berachos 32b; Rambam Hilchos Rotzeiach 11:4; C.M. 427:5.
2. Pesachim 76b.
3. Some people are strict with radishes also, but it is without
an apparent source.
4. Niddah 17a.
5. Rashi ibid., as explained by Aruch l'Ner.
6. O.C. 173 and Y.D. 116:2.
7. Such as the Rif, Rambam and Tur.
8. Explanation offered by Teshuvos Pri ha-Sadeh 3:61-2 and others
based on Yam Shel Shelomo (Chulin, Kol Habasar 31) and Tosfos
Yoma 77b who state that ruach ra'ah is not longer prevalent in
9. See Tosfos Shabbos 141a, Tosfos Beitza 14a, Rosh Beitza 1:21,
Sma"k 171, Leket Yosher Y.D. pg. 6, who all record this
prohibition as being applicable. See also Mordechai (Shabbos,
Hamotzi Yayin) who quotes the M'haram of Rottenburg as doubting
if this prohibition is presently applicable.
10. Hilchos Shemiras Haguf 7.
11. Y.D. 116:23.
12. Teshuvos Beis Shlomo Y.D. 189, quoted in Darkei Teshuvah
116:74; Teshuvos M'harsham 4:148 (see also Da'as Torah O.C.
513:6), Divrei Yatziv 2:16 (Kloizenburger Rebbe) in addition to
all the authorities mentioned above who quote this advisory as
practical Halachah. See also episode with Harav Y. L. Diskin,
quoted in Misgeres Zahav 99:1.
13. Chafetz Chayim (Likutei Halachos, Niddah 17a, Ein Mishpat 7);
Igros Moshe Y.D. 3:20; Harav Y.Y. Kanievsky (quoted by Harav C.
Kanievsky in Shemiras Haguf v'ha-Nefesh 3:1); Yabia Omer Y.D.
14. Teshuvos Yad Meir 19, quoted in Darkei Teshuvah 116:74, based
on the previously mentioned argument that nowadays, this ruach
ra'ah is no longer prevalent. In addition, all the other poskim
who do not mention this advisory, including later authorities
such as the Chochmas Adam, Pischei Teshuvah and Kitzur Shulchan
Aruch, must be included in this category.
15. Niddah 17a; Shulchan Aruch Harav, ibid.
16. Niddah 17a (see Yaavetz and Aruch l'Ner); Shulchan Aruch
17. Sma"k 171; Zivchei Tzedek 61, quoted in Kaf ha-Chayim O.C.
504:1 and Y.D. 116:92; Ben Ish Chai (Pinchas 2:14); Chazon Ish
(quoted by Harav C. Kanievsky in Shemiras Haguf v'ha-Nefesh 3:5
and in Archos Rabbeinu 1:209); Yabia Omer Y.D. 2:7. [Some
mention that even if the item was salted, it is also sufficient
(Ta'amei ha-Minhagim (Likutim 16). One may rely on this when a
large amount of salt [or sugar] is involved - Minchas Yitzchak
18. Igros Moshe Y.D. 3:20.
19. Darkei Teshuvah 116:74 quoting Degel Efrayim 28; Yabia Omer
Y.D. 2:7; Shevet ha-Levi 61:111. According to the previously
mentioned Igros Moshe, this would also be permitted. See,
however, Har Tzvi Y.D. 74 who does not cite this leniency. Harav
S.Y. Elyashiv is quoted (Yashiv Moshe, pg. 159) as permitting
onion powder when mixed with other ingredients.
20. Darkei Teshuvah 116:74 quoting Beis Shelomo Y.D. 189; Aderet
(Kunters Over Orach 4); Shevet ha-Levi 3:169. There are others
(see Darkei Teshuvah and Minchas Yitzchak 4:108), however, who
hold exactly the opposite - the prohibition applies to cooked
items only while raw items may be peeled and left overnight.
21. Divrei Yatziv 2:16-9 is unsure of this halachah but he states
that it is not customary to be stringent when these items were
peeled and left for only part of the night.
22. Chazon Ish (quoted in Archos Rabbeinu 1:210). Yaskil Avdi
8:14-4 allows these items to be used for a Shabbos meal. See
also Sdei Chemed (Lamed 41:31) and Minchas Yitzchak 2:68 and
23. Birkei Yosef Y.D. 116:10, Shem Aryeh Y.D. 56, Chelkas Yaakov
4:12, Divrei Yatziv 2:16 (who opines that various severe stomach
illnesses are a result of being negligent in this prohibition)
and all the poskim mentioned above who quote this practice and
do not differentiate between l'chatchilah and b'dieved.
24. Kaf ha-Chayim 116:93.
25. Artzos ha-Chayim O.C. 4:32; Divrei Yatziv 2:33
Weekly-Halacha, Copyright © 1997 by Rabbi Neustadt, Dr. Jeffrey Gross and
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