May I use a Spray can on Shabbos?
July 10, 2019
Beis Moshiach in #1173, Halacha 2 Go, Shabbos

A collection of frequently asked halachic questions regarding food preperation on Shabbos (excluding cooking), from & – Part 2

By Horav Yosef Yeshaya Braun, Mara D’asra and member of the Crown Heights Beis Din

Is a can opener Muktzah on Shabbos?*

The Schwartz family from Eretz Yisroel is visiting their friends, the Goldsteins. On Shabbos morning, Mrs. Schwartz is helping Mrs. Goldstein set the table for the Shabbos seudah (meal). “The cutlery?” Mrs. Schwartz asks. “Sure,” Mrs. Goldstein replies, opening her utensil drawer. She spends a hurried moment organizing the drawer that had been left messy in the Erev Shabbos rush. She drops a handful of colorful knives into a designated section, followed by a can opener… Mrs. Schwartz’s eyes widen at her friend’s action. “Here, let me do that!” she says, “My rav says it’s muttar (permissible) to open cans on Shabbos, but I remember that you don’t do that…isn’t the can opener muktzah for you?”

A hammer, which is used for building—a melachah (prohibited work on Shabbos)—is a keli shemelachto l’issur (a utensil designated for an activity that is forbidden) and is muktzah (forbidden to move) on Shabbos. It may be moved if it is used for other purposes, specifically l’tzorech mekomo (its place is needed) or l’tzorech gufo (it is needed for itself) to perform permissible work, such as cracking open a coconut.

What about a utensil whose use is a machlokes (a matter of dispute) among poskim—for example, a can opener? Creating a keli (vessel) is assur (forbidden) on Shabbos, and some authorities extend this prohibition to include creating a functional keli by removing the top of a can.* Is a can opener, therefore, a keli shemelachto l’issur for someone—Mrs. Goldstein, in our example—who doesn’t use it on Shabbos?

Poskim posit that only a melachah that Mrs. Goldstein considers completely assur creates a situation where the utensil becomes keli shemelachto l’issur; there are, in fact, authorities who permit opening cans on Shabbos—Mrs. Schwartz’s rav for one—and this negates their muktzah status. Mrs. Goldstein recognizes that Mrs. Schwartz is following a more lenient psak (halachic decision), only she (Mrs. G.) chose to be machmir (stricter). In accepting this chumrah (strict interpretation), she is not necessarily also undertaking to be machmir in terms of muktzah. On the other hand, were Mrs. Goldstein to consider opening a can on Shabbos assur min hadin (expressly forbidden by law), the can opener would likewise be muktzah for her.

(Some poskim maintain that whether a keli is considered melachto l’issur or not depends on the owner of the utensil—Mrs. Goldstein’s can opener is muktzah, but Mrs. Schwartz’s Israeli one is not. But this is not the halachic consensus.)

*How Mrs. Goldstein might open cans on Shabbos can be found in Halachah #191 (printed in issue #1170)

I cut an Orange on Shabbos. May I Drink the Juice that Oozed out?

Chazal decreed that we may not drink mashkin shezavu (liquid that flowed out of a fruit) on Shabbos, gezeirah shema yischot (as a precautionary rabbinical decree due to the concern that it may lead one to intentionally squeeze the fruit for its juice and commit the melachah of sechitah).

Although this decree only concerns olives and grapes, or other fruit normally used for juicing, it still applies even if we decide to eat that particular fruit. However, drinking the juice that oozed out of fruit which are typically omed la’achilah (intended for eating), is permitted on Shabbos.

In light of the above, since the majority of oranges today are used for producing orange juice, one would think that were an orange to be cut for eating, it would be forbidden to drink the juice that flowed out as a result. However, since the juice did not ooze out on its own, but rather as a result of cutting the orange in order to eat it, the juice is permissible regardless of what the fruit is typically used for. However, some are stringent in this case as well. ( #466*)

May I use a Spray can on Shabbos?*

Some kosher products, such as whipped cream, come in spray cans which bear a warning to consult a rav before using on Shabbos. One issue relevant to whipped cream may be creating a specialty shape on Shabbos, which violates the melachah of boneh (construction). 

Even if one doesn’t create a specific shape, there remains the question of whether using a spray can on Shabbos is permissible—or does it violate the melachah of zoreh (winnowing – employing the force of the wind)? According to the consensus of poskim, this isn’t an issue due to the mechanics of the cans, since the spray is expelled due to internal pressure and is therefore not comparable to the force of wind. 

On the other hand, a pump spray, such as a Windex bottle—which uses a venturi tube system— might be considered zoreh according to some opinions, because it’s akin to using the force of wind, which is not permissible on Shabbos.

While some authorities prohibit spraying whipped cream from a canister on Shabbos due to the issur of molid (creating a new substance), since the cream changes temporarily from a liquid to foam, there are many grounds for leniency. ( #484*


* References and marei mekomos are available for this Halacha on the websites: and

Please note that these halachos apply in general situations. In unique circumstances, a different halacha may apply. If you are unsure whether the halacha applies to your particular situation, please consult a Rov.

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