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Soaking lettuce on Shabbat


I saw on your website your responsum where you permitted soaking Chasalat leaves on Shabbat in soapy water, and said that you don’t have to worry about killing insects. You didn’t relate to the prohibition of borer (like soaking vetch). Is borer an issue here?


Rabbi Yehuda HaLevy Amichai

I permit soaking vegetables grown in special insect-free environments (only from Chasalat-Alei Katif; not from other "Gush Katif" vegetables), especially since the point with soaking is not to separate one thing from another; soaking vegetables is not an act of separating but rather of removing. The prohibition in the Shulchan Aruch (§319) does not apply in this case. This is not a case where we are separating food from waste and then there are two entities: food and waste. Rather, the point of soaking vegetables in a cleanser is to clean them and remove pesticide traces. In regular growing conditions (open-field), borer is definitely an issue: insects are almost definitely present, and the soaking process generally kills insects (if they were alive).