Latest update: May 27th, 2013
A Shabbos Treat
‘Snow Is Neither Food Nor Drink’
Our sugya, dealing with the laws of impurity, states that snow, ice, hail, and frost are not considered food or drink. The Gemara (in Shabbos 51b) declares that one may not crush snow or hail on Shabbos. Why? Some Rishonim (the Ramban and the Ran) cite the Baal Haterumah and explain that crushing snow or hail on Shabbos would violate the prohibition of nolad (creating a new entity).
If snow itself were considered “food,” crushing it until it became water would not violate the prohibition of nolad since it would never become a new entity. It would go from being a food – to being a food! And yet, crushing snow is prohibited. Obviously, then, snow is not considered a food (see Orchos Shabbos, p. 205).
Freezing Water On Shabbos?
Question: May one use ice, snow, or congealed fat that melted by itself on Shabbos? According to the Baal Haterumah, one may not because this liquid was effectively created on Shabbos itself (and is therefore muktzeh). According to other commentators on Shabbos 51b, however, one may in fact use the liquid. The Mechaber (Orach Chayim 318:16) rules accordingly. The Rema (ibid.) writes that the custom is to be strict, and only in time of need should one rely on the lenient opinion.
The Gaon of Tchebin, zt”l, claims that halachic authorities only disagree concerning melted snow or ice. Everyone, however, agrees that freezing water on Shabbos is forbidden. He explains: The reason some people permit using melted snow (or ice) on Shabbos is due to its constant status as a liquid. In other words, even before the snow melts, the owner of the snow considers it a liquid (because that it is what it will ultimately be). Hence, it never becomes “a new entity.” The same cannot be said about water that one freezes. Freezing means taking a liquid and consciously converting it into a solid. It becomes a new entity. (See Dovev Meisharim 1:55; see also Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasah, 1:10, remark 14, for Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach’s reasons permitting such a nolad.)
What About Ice Cream?
Ice may or may not be a liquid, but everyone agrees that that frozen milk is considered a liquid, argues Rabbi Auerbach. He explains that milk is an important drink and even when it is frozen, one ultimately means to melt and drink it. Hence, it never loses its status as a liquid, and one may therefore freeze milk on Shabbos. Ice is different because it sometimes is only meant to serve as ice, not as a liquid (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasah 10:5 and in remark 15). In any event, we are permitted to enjoy ice cream, of all flavors, on Shabbos.
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About the Author: RABBI YAAKOV KLASS, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. RABBI GERSHON TANNENBAUM, rav of Congregation Bnai Israel of Linden Heights, Boro Park, Brooklyn, is the Director of Igud HaRabbanim – The Rabbinical Alliance of America.
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