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  1. The melacha is defined as the constructive reduction of a large singular entity into small parts whereby it serves a new purpose.[1] Examples include chopping wood into small chips for a fire, shaving down a metal rod to form small strips or dicing vegetables to cook them.[2]
  2. There is a biblical violation of grinding when grinding wheat, barley, spices, and the like. Similarly, it’s biblically forbidden to saw wood for the sawdust. [3]
  3. The prohibition of Tochen (grinding) includes chopping, grating, crushing, mashing, shredding, or breaking something into small pieces. [4]
  4. Tochen also applies to non-foods. For example it's forbidden to crush a clod of dirt, shave splinters off a piece of wood, sawing wood with intent for the dust. [5]

How Small is Small?

  1. It is forbidden to cut vegetables into small pieces.[6]
  2. It is permitted to cut vegetables into pieces that are somewhat large immediately before the meal.[7] What is considered somewhat large? As long as the pieces are larger than one does during the week it is permitted to cut it right before the meal.[8]
  3. It is permitted to cut vegetables into large pieces even far in advance of a meal.[9] What is considered large pieces?
    1. Some say that pieces that are larger than one usually cuts them is considered large. Inversely, some say that anything a cook or housewife would consider 'very small' is considered small.
    2. Some say that pieces that one still needs to chew and can't swallow whole is considered large.[10]

In the Mishkan

  1. Tochen (grinding) was performed in the mishkan in the process of crushing herbs to make dyes.[11]

Utensils designed for grinding

  1. Any tool which is designated for crushing or the like such as a mortar or a knife used only for dicing may not be used in any manner even if it doesn't involve any prohibition of Tochen. [12]
  2. One should not use an onion slicer (a machine which is made of a set of knifes that surrounds the onion and dices it). [13]
  3. A vegetable chopper (with blades fitted with springs on an axis) is forbidden since it chops vegetables thinly. [14]
  4. An egg slicer (with equally spaced wires that slice the egg when pressed) is permitted. [15]
  5. A special cheese knife isn’t a utensil designated to be used for chopping finely. [16]
  6. One may cut bread in a machine (manual, non-electric) which cuts slices of bread. [17]
  7. It’s forbidden to grind coffee beans it a grinder meant for it. [18]
  8. It’s permissible to cut vegetables on a cutting board even if it makes lines in the board. [19]
  9. It’s permissible to use a peeler to peel vegetables on Shabbat.[20]
  10. A cucumber or tomato slicer may not be used on Shabbat.[21]

For immediate consumption

  1. Since there are some who hold that it is permitted to cut up raw vegetables or fruit for "immediate" consumption, and there are others who forbid, many poskim write that one should only cut up the vegetables or fruit with a knife into somewhat large pieces for "immediate" consumption. [22] Sephardim hold that for immediate consumption it is permitted to cut up a vegetable even into small pieces. However, it is praiseworthy to be strict to only cut it into big pieces. [23] The above leniency is only if one uses a regular knife but not a special grinding utensil. [24]
  2. It is also considered "immediate" if one makes the salad right before beginning the meal in which it will be eaten. [25]
  3. The above leniency applies whether one is preparing for one's own immediate consumption or another person's immediate consumption.[26]
  4. If one made a salad for one meal and there was left over one is allowed to eat it in another meal. [27]
  5. For a child or someone who can't eat large pieces there is what to rely on to cut it up into small pieces as long as one does so right before the meal. [28]
  6. It's forbidden to crush a banana or avocado unless it's already so soft that when one pulls a part of the fruit, that part separates from the rest of the fruit. [29]
  7. There is a debate amongst the Poskim if the prohibition of Tochen applies to fruit or vegetables such as bananas and avocados which when mashed do not separate into individual pieces but rather just change shape and remain one large mass. Therefore, it is better to do so with a shinui.[30]
  8. Some say it is permitted to ask a non-Jew to cut up vegetables Friday night after the meal or Shabbat morning for lunch even though it isn't for immediate consumption.[31]

Cooked Fruits and Vegetables

  1. Fruits or vegetables which were cooked to the point that it is very easy to mash may be crushed on Shabbat. It can be mashed on Shabbat even with the prongs of a fork but not a strainer.[32] Some say that it isn't permitted to mash unless its shape partially was crushed or fell apart because of the cooking.[33]
  2. Potatoes or vegetables which were cooked may not be put through a strainer in order to puree it (as the strainer is designated for that purpose) but one is permitted to crush it with a fork (even the prongs) as long as it was cooked to the point that it's easy to crush. [34]
  3. One shouldn’t use a strainer to puree or cream a cooked fruit or vegetable since the strainer has a designated purpose of being used to mash.[35]

Pre-crushed food

  1. Food which was made from crushed particles may be crushed on Shabbat (not using a utensil designated for crushed but rather a regular knife) if one is going to eat it on Shabbat. For example, one may crush matza, bread, crackers, chocolate, and sugar. [36]
  2. Salt granules which solidified because of a moisture may be crushed on Shabbat, however, one may not crush salt crystals (looking like blocks) or any other spice which has never yet been crushed unless one does two Shinui's (changes) by using the handle of the knife or fork on a plate or the table. [37]
  3. Food which was crushed very well before Shabbat or on Shabbat in a permissible may may be further cut on Shabbat even in the normal fashion. [38]
  4. If someone made farina or rice porridge before Shabbat and now on Shabbat it is dry, one may pour hot water even from a Kli Rishon onto the farina or rice porridge to dilute it and mix it up. One may even crush the clumps with a spoon.[39] To make farina as a thin mixture that pours from scratch on Shabbat one should make a change in how the ingredients are put in. If the farina is usually put in first and the water, on Shabbat one should first put in the water first and then the farina and vice versa.[40]

Foods which don't grow from the ground

  1. Even though there is an issue of tochen on non-food items as well as food items, foods that do not grow from the ground such as meat, eggs, and cheese are not subject to the prohibition as long as one plans on eating them that Shabbat.[41]
  2. One may not crush or grind up raw meat on Shabbat since otherwise it isn't edible.[42] If it is for immediate consumption it is permitted.[43]

Grinding for a small child

  1. One can be lenient to cut a food very small for a small child to eat so long as it’s immediately prior to the meal. [44]
  2. It’s forbidden to mash or squash a fruit or vegetable such as a banana or tomato. If one has to mash a banana for a small child one should do it with a variation such as using the handle of a fork or a spoon. [45]


  1. There is a machloket amongst the poskim if the prohibition applies only if the food is being cut very small in all dimensions or if it even applies if one is slicing in one direction such as an egg or tomato.[46]


  1. Cutting up vegetables into small pieces in order to cook them and shaving down a metal rod are examples of toldot of Tochen.[47]

Related Pages

  1. Taking Medicine on Shabbat (which is a rabbinic decree because of grinding) [48]


  1. The Shabbos Kitchen: Slicing and Dicing (Tochen) by Rabbi Shalom Rosner# Back to the Grind on Jewish Pathways


  1. Rambam Peirush HaMishnayot 7:2
  2. Rambam Shabbos 8:15
  3. Yalkut Yosef (Shabbat, vol 3, pg 377)
  4. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 6:1
  5. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 6:1 in the note, Yalkut Yosef (Shabbat, vol 3, pg 377)
  6. Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 6:6
  7. Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 6:6
  8. 39 Melachos v. 2 p. 460, Dor Hamelaktim v. 5 p. 2914 citing Chazon Ish 57 s.v. vheneh, Brit Olam (Tochen 20), Az Nidbaru 11:8, 12:22, Shabbos Kitchen ch. 9 fnt. 19, Rivevot Efraim 5:260:3, Hilchos Shabbos (Rav Eider fnt. 91)
  9. Dor Hamelaktim v. 5 p. 2913
  10. Dor Hamelaktim v. 5 p. 2913-5 cites 3 main approaches:
    • Rav Belsky (OU Documents S-34) as holding that the size for tochen is cutting it smaller than one usually cuts. They also quote Rav Elyashiv (Am Mekadshei Sheviyi 1:6:4) and Hilchos Shabbos (Rav Eider fnt. 39) who concur.
    • Yashiv Moshe (Nishmat Shabbat 315:2) and the Shabbos Kitchen (p. 130) write that cutting it to whatever is considered by people to be very small is a problem of tochen.
    • Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata ch. 6 fnt. 6, Minchat Shlomo 1:91:13, Shulchan Shlomo 321:13:2) holds that as long as one needs to chew on it to eat it it is considered a small piece. Minchat Ish 3:4:4 s.v. vheneh explains that he doesn't mean that if it is big enough that would one need to chew it then it is considered big and it is permitted to cut it to that size, rather he is just coming to say that if it is a little small then it has made the chewing process easier and is considered tochen. 39 Melachos v. 2 p. 458 seems to apply Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach's opinion to permit cutting any salad since it will still need to be chewed, however, he concludes that we do not follow that opinion.
    • Lastly, they cite Zachor Vshamor (Tochen 2) who says that if the pieces are larger than .5 cm^3 it is certainly not considered very small.
  11. Rashi Shabbos 73a s.v. HaOfeh. See 39 Melochos (Rabbi Ribiat vol. 2, Zoreiah footnote 7)
  12. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 6:2, Sh”t Rivash 184
  13. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 6:3 [I'm not entirely clear about what an onion slicer is.]
  14. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 6:3
  15. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 6:3
  16. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 6:11. See Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa (6 no. 9) citing R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach where he discusses that with a cheese grater there is an issur of uvdin d’chol even if one will eat the grated cheese immediately based on the Rivash 184. However, one can use a knife and even perhaps a special chopping knife if one will eat the food subsequently in the meal since cutting is not exactly like regular tochein, which is closer to grating or mashing.
  17. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 6:11 (note)
  18. Yalkut Yosef (Shabbat, vol 3, pg 377)
  19. Yalkut Yosef (Shabbat, vol 3, pg 389)
  20. Yalkut Yosef (Shabbat, vol 3, pg 391)
  21. Dor Hamelaktim v. 5 p. 2891 quotes Rav Elyashiv (Zachor Vshamor ch. 1 fnt. 30) that a tomato slicer is a problem of tochen and Dor Hamelaktim compares it to a cucumber slicer.
  22. *The Rashba (Responsa 4:75) writes that it is permitted to do Tochen immediately before consumption just like it is permitted to do Borer immediately before consumption. The opinion of the Rashba is codified as halacha in the Rama 321:12. The Magen Avraham 321:15, however, quotes the Shiltei Giborim who questions this leniency. Similarly, the Chazon Ish OC 57 seems to prohibit chopping into small pieces even for immediate use in opposition to the Rashba.
    • In discussing the Rashba, the Beit Yosef 321 writes that in order to satisfy all opinions one should cut the item into somewhat big pieces and then eat it immediately. The Chaye Adam (Klal 17:2) rules that for immediate consumption one may cut vegetables into somewhat large pieces in accordance with the Beit Yosef. Rav Moshe Feinstein (Iggerot Moshe OC 4:74, Tochen 2) writes that the view of the Chazon Ish 57 that prohibits chopping into small pieces even for immediate use is a lone view and against the common practice. Chacham Ben-Zion Abba Shaul (Ohr Litzion 1:28) is also lenient. The Mishna Brurah 321:45 first writes that since some Rishonim disagree with the Rashba one should follow the compromise of the Beit Yosef to cut it up into somewhat large pieces. Nonetheless, he concludes, that one who cuts it up into very small pieces for immediate consumption has what to rely on. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 6:6 agrees.
    • It is noteworthy that the Mishna Brurah 321:44 and Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 6:6 clarify that this is a case where is using a regular knife (and not a dicing utensil).
  23. Yalkut Yosef (Shabbat, vol 3, pg 382)
  24. Mishna Brurah 321:44 and Shemirat Shabbos KeHilchata 6:6
  25. Mishna Brurah 321:45, Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 6:6, Yalkut Yosef (Shabbat, vol 3, pg 382)
  26. Bet Yosef 321 based on the Tosfot (Shabbat 74a s.v. Borer UMayni'ach) writes that it is permitted to do Tochen for another person's immediate consumption just like it is permitted to do Tochen for one's own immediate consumption. Mishna Brurah 321:43 agrees.
  27. Yalkut Yosef (Shabbat, vol 3, pg 389)
  28. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 6:6
  29. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 6:7
  30. The Tosefta (Beitza 1:19) says that "Pressed or dried figs cannot be crushed before the elderly." The Chazon Ish (57, “nimtzeinu”) writes that when pressed or dried figs are crushed, they remain one mass, and therefore even in such a case tochen is applicable. In light of this, the Chazon Ish writes that it is forbidden to mash a banana even though it remains one mass, even for immediate eating (lishitaso with above about immediate eating). Therefore, he says one must do so with a shinui. However, Rav Moshe Feinstein (Iggerot Moshe OC 4:74:Tochen 2) rules that they are not subject to the prohibition of Tochen and may be mashed in the regular manner. He says even if we accept that the prohibition applies even for immediate eating, it is only applicable when one takes one body and turns it into smaller components. However, taking a substance and mashing it while it remains one mass isn’t a problem. He nevertheless concludes that if possible, one should do it with a shinui to be machmir for the Chazon Ish. Rabbi Ribiat (“The 39 Melochos” pg. 461) sides with Rav Moshe. Chacham Ovadia Yosef (Yechave Daat 5:27), though he agrees that mashing is included in tochen, permits one to mash a banana with a fork to feed immediately to a child. Rabbi Moshe Halevi (Menuchat Ahava 2: pg. 278), writes that he should preferably do so in an unusual manner, such as by using the handle of the fork. Shemirat Shabbos Kehilchita 6:7-8 forbids mashing a banana or avocado unless one uses a shinui.
  31. Rav Yitzchak Yosef (Motzei Shabbat Lech Lecha 5781, min 41-52) explains that it is permitted to ask a non-Jew to chop up vegetables for a salad for lunch far in advance since there are some opinions in the rishonim who would permit it since the vegetables were edible raw.
  32. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 6:9
  33. Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata (English Version p. 73) clearly translates that vegetables cooked before Shabbat need to be already crushed in that they have changed their shape or fallen apart. This is certainly the ruling of Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (ch. 6 fnt. 22). However, Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 6:9 implies that essentially if it is very soft then it is permissible to mash on Shabbat even if it didn't lose its shape. See also 6:10. Orchot Shabbat 5:9 similarly sounds like it is permitted with the same conditions and doesn't require that the shape change or fall apart. The Dor Hamelaktim v. 5 p. 2923 cites the Nishmat Shabbat 321:317:4 who is lenient and the Hilchot Shabbat BShabbat (ch. 11 fnt. 41) who is strict.
  34. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 6:10
  35. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 6:10
  36. The Rama 321:12 rules that it is permitted to crush up bread because the flour was already ground up when it was made. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 6:11 extends this to breaking up matza, crackers, chocolate, and sugar.
  37. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 6:11
  38. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 6:12
  39. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 6:13
  40. Divarecha Yair 3:14 writes that farina or cream of wheat is usually made as a thin batter food and so it only needs a shinuy in the order of putting in the ingredients.
  41. Gemara Shabbos 74b writes that one who grinds firewood into small pieces is chayav for tochen. Rambam Shabbos 7:5 includes metal as a tolada of tochen. The Minchat Chinuch (Musach Hashabbos Tochen 4) concludes based on the Rambam’s example that tochen applies to items which are not gidulei karka, and he adds that this is also the view of the Rashi (74b “Sheva”), who writes that there is a prohibition of tochen for clods of earth. However, the Pri Megadim (Mishbetzot Zahav 321:10) write that both dirt and metal may be considered gidulei karka. Shulchan Aruch O.C. 321:9 based on Terumat Hadeshen 56 writes that one may cut cooked meat into very small pieces. Mishna Brura 321:31 explains that this is because it isn’t gidulei karka and therefore the prohibition doesn’t apply. Shemirat Shabbos KeHilchata 6:14 and Yalkut Yosef (Shabbos, vol 3, pg 391) extend this to eggs and cheese. Shoneh Halachot 321:24 quotes the Chazon Ish that one may not be lenient with things that do not grow in the ground unless the intention is to eat them immediately.
  42. Rama 321:9, Kaf Hachaim 324:29
  43. Mishna Brurah 321:33, Tiferet 321:47 citing Chazon Ovadia Shabbat v. 4 p. 270
  44. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 6:6, Iggeros Moshe OC 4:74, Tochen 2.
  45. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 6:8
  46. Rav Moshe Feinstein (Iggerot Moshe OC 4:74:Tochen 3) writes that slicing foods in one direction isn’t considered tochen because otherwise there would be no limit. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Sh”t Minchat Shlomo 91:13) also rules this way. On the other hand, Ketzot HaShulchan Siman 129 Badei HaShulchan 2 quotes that the Tzemach Tzedek was stringent. Additionally, Orchot Shabbos page 217 chapter 5:footnote 12 writes that Rav Elyashiv was stringent as well.
  47. Rambam Shabbos 7:5, 8:15, 21:18
  48. Gemara 53b and Rashi s.v. Gezeira
Category Topic
Mitzvot of Shabbat
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Allowing Carrying Using an Eruv Chatzerot - Animals on Shabbat - Asking a Jew to work on Shabbat - Asking a non-Jew to work on Shabbat (Amirah LeNochri) - Benefiting from a Violation of Shabbat (Maaseh Shabbat) - Books, notebooks, and papers - Brushing Teeth on Shabbat - Building a structure on Shabbat (Boneh) - Carrying on Shabbat - Cleaning the dishes - Cleaning and Folding Garments on Shabbat - Clearing the table - Cooking (Ofeh and Bishul) - Cosmetics on Shabbat - Dancing and clapping on Shabbat - Electricity on Shabbat - Eruv Chatzerot - Eruvin - Games on Shabbat - Getting dressed on Shabbat - Giving birth on Shabbat - Grinding (Tochen) - Handling objects on Shabbat (Muktzeh) - Infants on Shabbat - Introduction to the Modern Eruv - Kneading (Lash) - Mail on Shabbat - Medicine on Shabbat (Refuah on Shabbat) - Melacha That Begins Before Shabbat - Opening bottles and containers (Boneh) - Plants on Shabbat (Zoreah) - Preparing for after Shabbat (Hachana) - Reading on Shabbat (Daber Davar) - Recreation on Shabbat - Sechirut Reshut - Separating mixtures (Borer) - Squeezing fruits (Sechita) - Speaking on Shabbat (Daber Davar) - Taking a cruise over Shabbat - Taking measurements on Shabbat - Techum - Transactions on Shabbat - Transportation on Shabbat - Going to and Staying in the Hospital on Shabbat - Wages on Shabbat (Sachar Shabbat) - Washing one’s body on Shabbat
Introduction to Melechet Machshevet - Marbeh Bshiurim - Plowing - Planting - Harvesting - Gathering - Threshing - Winnowing - Separating - Grinding - Sifting - Kneading - Baking and Cooking - Shearing - Laundering - Combing - Dyeing - Spinning - Mounting warp threads - Making two loops - Weaving - Unraveling fabric - Tying - Untying - Gluing, taping, or stapling - Ripping - Trapping - Slaughtering - Skinning - Tanning - Smoothing - Scoring - Cutting precisely - Writing - Erasing - Building - Demolishing - Completing a vessel - Extinguishing a flame - Kindling a fire - Carrying