It is permitted to squeeze out lemon juice onto a fish in order to improve its taste. The following are some important points on this halacha:Landscape

  • It is not necessary for the lemon juice to be absorbed into the fish.
  • It is not a problem if some of the lemon juice rolls off the fish and onto a plate, as long as most of the juice will remain on the fish.
  • The juice which rolled off the fish may be consumed.


To recap last week’s issue: The Mishna in masechet Shabbos (ch. 22 Mishna 1) states, “We don’t squeeze fruits (on Shabbos) to extract the juice from them.” Rashi explains that the extraction of juice involves the prohibited action of mefarek (separating one entity from another), which is a tolda (lit. a derivative) of an av melacha (a principle action prohibited on Shabbos) of dosh.

The melacha of dosh in the construction of the Mishkan was one of the steps in the preparation of bread (for the Lechem HaPonim), whereby the wheat stalks were trampled on in order to extract the kernels from their shells. Principally, the removal of an edible part from an inedible part falls under the av melacha of dosh. Its tolda: mefarek extracting a liquid from a solid. Accordingly, squeezing a fruit to extract its juice involves the tolda of mefarek.

The Gemora (Shabbos 144b), however, makes the following statement: “One is allowed to squeeze a cluster of grapes into a pot (with food)”. The reason for this is that the juice does not have the status of “liquid” if it is being extracted (directly) into a solid food. As such, mefarek is not an issue in this case since there is no separation of liquid from solid.

Rash”i and  Riva”sh learn that the juice in this case is being extracted in order to improve the taste of the food (in which case it is not necessary for the juice to be absorbed by the food (see Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchosa – 5:3, note 15)). The Sema”g learns that the juice does not necessarily need to improve the food, but does have to be absorbed by it.

The halacha follows both opinions (O.C. 505:1): One is permitted to squeeze the juice out of a fruit if his intention is to improve the taste of the food, or alternatively he can squeeze out the juice if it will be absorbed by the food. The Mishna Berura (O.C. 505:5) rules based on the later poskim that it is only necessary for most of the juice that is being squeezed out to be used to improve the taste of the food or to be absorbed by the food, and the small portion of the juice that was not used for this purpose may be consumed.