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Making egg salad on Shabbat


Rabbi David Sperling

Shevat 22, 5772
It has been our practice to make egg salad on Shabbat, by grinding hard-boiled eggs and mixing them with salt and mayonnaise. It has recently been brought to my attention, however, that this is assur, because it’s considered like mixing flour with water, which is a melacha which is assur on Shabbos. When I mentioned this to others, they were surprised, and thought I was mistaken. What’s the story - assur or mutar, or is there more than one opinion?
Shalom, The question of making egg salad on Shabbat is a very good one. You are correct that the question of kneading ("lash") comes into play in such a situation. At first glance one would say that mixing the egg and onion with the mayonnaise contravenes the law of kneading a mixture. However the common practice amongst many very holy Jews is indeed to make the egg salad on Shabbat itself. This being so, many great Torah scholars have written to justify the practice. For example, the work Shmirat Shabbat KeHilchatah (8:23) writes that one may prepare such a dish with the following conditions:- If the eggs are peeled on Shabbat, they must be peeled immediately before the salad is to be eaten. The eggs may be mashed with a fork. The onions should be peeled and cut up immediately before the meal (if they were not prepared before Shabbat). The onion should not be cut into very small pieces. The egg and onion may then be mixed together. "It is an accepted practice to add oil and mix it into the egg and onions, without bothering to make any variations in the way of mixing. Nonetheless, it is preferable to make the variations and to change both order of putting in the ingredients and the manner of stirring." That is to add the eggs to the mayonnaise (which is the opposite of the normal way of doing it). And to stir the mixture with alternate strokes back and forth and side to side, and not around the bowl as one usually does. Thus he rules that it is better to employ the changes mentioned - but still writes that accepted practice is to do as you do - to make the salad as normal. So, in fact all those who have been informing you of the strictures in egg salad making, and those who were surprised at the stringencies, are both correct. As to what you should do - if it is no undue stress or trouble one should employ the strictures we mentioned. But if this is not possible, or others are lenient in this matter, they have opinions on whom to rely. If you are interested in learning more about this matter, you could see the lessons on this subject from Rav Zvi Rimon, which is an excellent summary of this subject - at Blessings, D. Sperling.
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