A discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the
week. For final rulings, consult your Rav.
SELECTED HALACHOS RELATING TO PARSHAS VAESCHANAN
SHELLED EGG, PEELED ONION, or PEELED
GARLIC CLOVE LEFT OVERNIGHT
Several Biblical injunctions are derived from the warning in this week's
parashah 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 terms of medical science, we accept and adhere
faithfully to our Sages' warning that eating fish and meat together is a
Another practice involving food which our Sages considered dangerous is
eating a shelled egg, peeled onion, or peeled garlic clove(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, literally a bad spirit or 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 the
three peeled foods, however, is omitted by many of the Rishonim(7) and the
Shulchan Aruch, probably because they held that the particular "spirit of
impurity" in question 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, the practice is in force, to one degree or
another. While omitted by the Shulchan Aruch, the warning against eating
these three peeled foods is cited by some Rishonim(9), and recorded as
practical Halachah by several of the later authorities, among them the Pri
Chadash, Shulchan Aruch Harav10, Aruch ha-Shulchan11 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.
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 well-founded custom.
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
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
THE PROHIBITION APPLIES ONLY WHEN...
The entire egg, onion, or garlic clove 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 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 clove was peeled with the intent of using it
immediately and it was then left overnight, or if it was peeled in order to
be used the next day. If, however, it was shelled or 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 "shelled eggs" and is
The egg, onion, or garlic clove is uncooked. When it is cooked, roasted, or
fried, several poskim hold that it may be left overnight(20).
The egg, onion or garlic is left the entire night. If it is left for only
part of the night, it is permitted(21).
B'DIEVED, IF THESE ITEMS WERE SHELLED OR PEELED AND LEFT OVERNIGHT, WHAT CAN
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
3 Some people are stringent with radishes also, but this stringency has no
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, Kal ha-Basar 31) and Tosfos Yoma 77b, who state
that ruach ra'ah is no longer prevalent in our midst.
9 See Tosfos Shabbos 141a, Tosfos Beitzah 14a, Rosh Beitzah 1:21, Smak 171,
Leket Yosher Y.D. pg. 6, who all record this prohibition as being
applicable. See also Mordechai (Shabbos, ha-Motzi Yayin) who quotes the
Maharam of Rottenburg as doubting if this prohibition is presently
10 Hilchos Shemiras ha-Guf 7.
11 Y.D. 116:22.
12 Teshuvos Beis Shelomo Y.D. 189, quoted in Darkei Teshuvah 116:74;
Teshuvos M'harsham 4:148 (see also Da'as Torah O.C. 513:6), Klausenberger
Rebbe (quoted in Shemiras ha-Guf v'ha-Nefesh chapter 3) in addition to all
the authorities mentioned above who quote this warning as practical
Halachah. See also the episode with Harav Y. L. Diskin, quoted in Misgeres
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
ha-Guf v'ha-Nefesh 3:1); Yabia Omer Y.D. 2:7.
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
warning, 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 Harav, ibid.
17 Smak 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 Orchos Rabbeinu 1:209);
Yabia Omer Y.D. 2:7; mi-Beis Levi 3:46. [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
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 6:111. 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; Aderes (Kuntres
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
21 Klausenberger Rebbe, ibid. 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 Orchos 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 9:28.
23 Birkei Yosef Y.D. 116:10; Shem Aryeh Y.D. 56; Chelkas Yaakov 4:12;
Klausenberger Rebbe, ibid. (who opines that various severe stomach ailments
are a result of being negligent about this prohibition) and all the poskim
mentioned above who quote this practice and do not differentiate between
l'chatchilah and b'dieved.