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Borer: Removing Bones from Fish on Shabbat

Many people follow the tradition to eat fish on Shabbat. Fish with bones presents an issue of Borer. The bones are P’solet (waste), and generally P’solet may not be removed from the Ochel (food); only the Ochel may be removed from the P’solet. How does this affect the way fish is eaten on Shabbat?

The Be’ur Halacha (Rav Yisrael Kagan of Radin, 1839-1933, in Siman 319:4, has a lengthy discussion and attempts to justify two practices. First, it is permitted to remove the bones from the fish during the act of eating, since that constitutes “Derech Achila”-the normal way to eat. One is not expected to put the bones in his mouth! He even finds a basis for those who allow themselves to debone the fish before the meal. Hacham Ovadia does not allow deboning before the meal, but does allow removing the bones while eating. If one wants to give a child a piece of fish, the Menuhat Ahaba (Rabbi Moshe Halevi, Israel 1961-2001) allows deboning the fish before the meal to prevent danger to the child.


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