Shelled Egg, Peeled Onion, or Peeled Garlic Clove 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, 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 danger.
Another practice involving food which our Sages considered dangerous is
eating a shelled egg, peeled onion, or peeled garlic clove that was left
overnight. Although this practice is less widespread than the universally
accepted restriction against eating meat and fish together, the Talmud
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. 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. 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 and the
Shulchan Aruch, probably because they held that the particular “spirit of
impurity” in question was no longer prevalent in their times. 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, and recorded as
practical Halachah by several of the later authorities, among them the Peri
Chadash, Shulchan Aruch ha-Rav, Aruch ha-Shulchan and Ben Ish Chai.
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,
others recommend adopting it, 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
refrigerator. It also makes no difference whether or not the peeled
items were whole, cut up into large or small pieces, crushed or diced.
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.
- The egg, onion, or garlic clove was kept separate from any other food.
It is permitted, however, to mix them together with other ingredients such
as vegetables, tuna fish, vinegar, oil or mayonnaise, and leave them
overnight. Even adding a large amount of salt or sugar to the peeled
food items is sufficient to permit them to be left overnight.
- 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.
- Dried egg, onion or garlic powder does not fall into the category of
"shelled" and is permitted.
- The egg, onion, or garlic clove is uncooked. When it is cooked,
roasted, or fried, several poskim hold that it may be left overnight.
- The egg, onion or garlic is left the entire night. If it is left for
only part of the night, it is permitted.
B'diavad, if these items were shelled or peeled and left overnight, what
can be done?
- Some poskim hold that b'diavad, one does not have to be stringent
and the peeled foods should not be thrown away. Many other poskim,
however, hold that even b'diavad these items should not be eaten.
- 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.
Other poskim do not mention this leniency.
- Washing the peeled foods does not alter their status—they still may not
1. Berachos 32b; Rambam, Hilchos Rotzei'ach, 11:4; C.M. 427:5.
2. Pesachim 76b. See The Daily Halachah Discussion, pgs. 124-130.
3. Some people are stringent with radishes also, but this stringency has
no 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 Peri ha-Sadeh 3:61-2 and others, based
on Yam Shel Shelomo (Chullin, Kol ha-Basar 31) and Tosafos, Yoma 77b, who
state that ruach ra’ah is no longer prevalent in our midst. See also Hagoas
Mordechai (Shabbos, ha-Motzi Yayin) quoting Maharam mi-Rottenburg.
9. See Tosafos, Shabbos 141a, Tosafos, Beitzah 14a, Rosh, Beitzah 1:21,
Semak 171, Leket Yosher, Y.D. pg. 6, who all record this prohibition.
10. Hilchos Shemiras ha-Guf 7.
11. Y.D. 116:22.
12. Teshuvos Beis Shelomo, Y.D. 189, quoted in Darchei Teshuvah 116:74;
Maharsham 4:148 (see also Da’as Torah, O.C. 513:6); Divrei Yatziv, Y.D. 31,
in addition to all the authorities mentioned above who quote this warning as
practical Halachah. See also Kaf ha-Chayim, O.C. 513:13 quoting Misgeres
13. Chafetz Chayim (Likutei Halachos, Niddah 17a, Ein Mishpat 7); Igros
Moshe, Y.D. 3:20; Rav Y.Y. Kanievsky (quoted in Shemiras ha-Guf v'ha-Nefesh
3:1); Yabia Omer, Y.D. 2:7.
14. Teshuvos Yad Meir 19, quoted in Darchei 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 ha-Rav (Shemiras ha-Guf 7).
16. Based on Tosafos, Shabbos 141a.
17. Niddah 17a (see Ya’avetz and Aruch l'Ner); Shulchan Aruch ha-Rav, ibid.
18. Semak 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 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.
19. Minchas Yitzchak 6:75; Divrei Yatziv, Y.D. 31; Doleh u’Mashkeh, pg.
364. [But mixing peeled eggs and peeled onions or garlic together is not
permitted; Divrei Yatziv, Y.D. 33.]
20. Igros Moshe, Y.D. 3:20. Other poskim, however, do not mention this
21. Darchei 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. Rav Y.S. Elyashiv is quoted (Yashiv
Moshe, pg. 159) as permitting onion powder when mixed with other
ingredients. See also Doleh u’Mashkeh, pg. 364.
22. Darchei Teshuvah 116:74 quoting Beis Shelomo, Y.D. 189; Aderes
(Kuntres Over Orach 4); Chazon Ish (quoted in Orchos Rabbeinu 1:209); Shevet
ha-Levi 3:169. [A minority opinion holds that the prohibition applies to
cooked, roasted and fried peeled items as well; see Minchas Yitzchak 4:108
and Yabia Omer 2:7 quoting several poskim, and some people are stringent
23. Divrei Yatziv, Y.D. 31 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.
24. 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.
25. Birkei Yosef, Y.D. 116:10; Shem Aryeh, Y.D. 56; Chelkas Yaakov 4:12;
Divrei Yatziv, Y.D. 31 (who warns about severe stomach ailments that could
result from being lax with this prohibition) and all the poskim mentioned
above who quote this practice and do not differentiate between l'chatchilah
26. Kaf ha-Chayim 116:93.
27. Artzos ha-Chayim, O.C. 4:32; Divrei Yatziv, Y.D. 31.
Weekly-Halacha, Text Copyright © 2011 by Rabbi Neustadt, Dr. Jeffrey Gross and Torah.org.
Rabbi Neustadt is the Yoshev Rosh of the Vaad Harabbonim of Detroit and the Av Beis Din of the Beis Din Tzedek of Detroit. He could be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org