July 30, 2020

Shabbat 144

In yesterday’s daf, the Mishna (Shabbat 22:1, 143b) stated that ‘we may not squeeze (סוחטין) fruits [on Shabbat] to extract liquid from them’ because, as Rashi explains, סחיטה (squeezing) [certain] fruits on Shabbat falls under the forbidden Shabbat melacha of דש (threshing).
Today’s daf (Shabbat 144a-b) continues the discussion of סחיטה (squeezing), but with a particular emphasis on the transformations that occur to such liquids when squeezed with a particular intention.
For example, we are told that while the juice in a fruit has the status of ‘juice of a fruit’, when such fruit is squeezed and collected for the sake of drinking it as a beverage, it ‘adopts’ a new status of being a משקה – meaning ‘a beverage’ – with an independent status that is no longer directly connected to the fruit from which it came (nb. this is why the bracha recited on fruit juice is the more generic ‘Shehakol’ and not ‘HaEtz’ which is said when consuming fruit from a tree).
With this in mind, and while also bearing in mind that the prohibition of סחיטה (squeezing) only applies to drink and not food, the Gemara then states:
‘Rav Yehuda said in the name of Shmuel: “A person may squeeze a cluster of grapes into a pot [of food on Shabbat] but not into an [empty] bowl”’.
As Rashi explains, when the grape juice is mixed with foods, it ‘adopts’ the status of food and is therefore permitted, while if the grapes are squeezed into an empty bowl, then the juice retains its liquid status and such squeezing is therefore forbidden.
What we learn from here is that the juice of a fruit can change its status based on the intentionality of the person squeezing the fruit, and specifically, based on ‘what’ is done with the juice (e.g. drank as a beverage) and ‘where’ it is squeezed into (i.e. squeezed into a pot of food).
In a similar vein, while – as Rabbi Yisrael Salanter once put it – “It is easier to learn the entire Talmud than to change one character trait”, the possibility of changing and improving ourselves always exists, but this is generally only possible when we are prepared to reconsider ‘what’ we do (i.e. our actions), and ‘where’ we do it (i.e. the physical and spiritual atmosphere that surrounds us).
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