Definition of “Immediate use”
We have learnt that sorting on Shabbos is only permitted when those 3 conditions are met: 1) Separating the good from the bad. 2) It must be done by hand. 3) It must be done only for immediate consumption.
The Shulchan Aruch 319:2 rules that separating food with the intent to eat it at a later time is a violation Deoraissa of the prohibition of Borer/Sorting, despite that the other 2 conditions were fulfilled. It is then critical to clearly define the definition of “Immediate use”.
- Separating before a meal for the time it takes to prepare the meal is considered separating for immediate use. For example, if it takes half an hour to prepare for the meal one may separate only within a half hour of the meal. One may not separate any earlier despite needing a few minutes break before the meal.
- Separating right before a meal is permissible even if one will only eat the food later in meal, which may be after several hours. However, separating to eat food after the meal or in another meal is forbidden and is a violation of Borer Deoraissa.
- There is no difference in the time limit between sorting “food from food” or “food from refuse”, as both instances are considered Borer.
- If one separated in order to eat immediately and then changed his mind and decided not to it eat at all, or not until later, The Pri Megadim rules that there’s no violation of Borer, as it was performed the permissible way. Thus, it is recommended to avoid this situation.
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