Weekly Q&A about Jewish law
Answered by Rabbi Agisthein
Zoreh/Winnowing The basic form of the Melocho of Zoreh is to use the wind to separate the chaff and waste from the grain kernel. Therefore on Shabbos, we are prohibited from using the wind as a tool to perform any kind of sorting or sifting. One may not blow upon a mixture of peanuts and their thin coverings to disperse the shells from the peanuts. Dispersing without separating: The Ram’a (או”ח שיט:יז’) writes that one who pours water into the wind on Shabbos and the wind disperses it, although no sorting was done since ultimately it was dispersed by the wind, one is liable for Zoreh. According to this opinion, it would be prohibited to shake out a tablecloth full of crumbs into the wind or to add water to a cold mist humidifier on Shabbos since you are using the wind to disperse something. The Mishna Berurah, however, brings many Poskim who disagree with the Ram”a and maintain that the Melocho of Zoreh is only applicable when one is using the wind to sort between two items, not merely disperse a single item. Therefore the accepted custom is to permit shaking out a tablecloth etc. When adding water to a humidifier on Shabbos, however, one must make sure it's not a warm air humidifier. Those humidifiers boil the water and therefore one is not allowed to add water to them on Shabbos. Additionally, even the cold mist ones can sometimes have an automatic shutoff system and one must make sure the humidifier is on when adding water.
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