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Shabbat Parashat Balak 5771

Ask the Rabbi: Using a Whipped Cream Dispenser on Shabbat

Rav Daniel Mann

Question: May one spray whipped cream from a canister on Shabbat?


Answer: First, let us understand what happens. When gas goes into a fatty substance (like whipping cream), the fat traps much of it, causing it to fluff up and coalesce. Whipped cream canisters contain pressurized nitrous oxide. Pressing their button does two things more or less at the same instant: forces gas into the fatty liquid; forces the contents out of the canister. There are several possible grounds, some stronger than others, upon which to base a prohibition. After a quick review, we will present a practical answer.

Arguably, combining two substances so that they form a mixture that is different in texture than each one separately is lisha (kneading) (see Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 11:(124)). However, trapping a gas (even if in unnoticeably small pockets) inside a liquid so that it turns into foam is different enough from classic lisha for it to be difficult to forbid without classical sources.

The Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata (11:31) prohibits hand-whipping cream for a few reasons. One is related to the scrambling of eggs, which is forbidden because it is usually a step in the cooking process. While one can argue whether or not this applies to whipping cream, the process is totally different when done by pressing the button on a canister.

Recent poskim discuss creating seltzer/soda on Shabbat, where a somewhat significant change occurs to a liquid by inserting a gas. While some poskim object to it for creating something new (see Maharsham I, 140), the most realistic problem is uvdin d’chol (weekday-like activities, in this case, of producing things). While this might apply to the process of inserting a gas canister and fastening a machine to make soda (or the similar device for cream), it is hard to apply it to using a pre-prepared canister, which the average user sees as simply dispensing.

The most serious issue is molid, creating a new reality by changing the phase of an object. The baraita (Shabbat 51b) forbids crushing ice and snow. Rashi explains that it is like a melacha, in that one creates something new, i.e., a liquid from a solid. Some say that, similarly, one may not turn a liquid into a solid, e.g., freeze water to make ice cubes (see Doveiv Meisharim I, 55). We dealt with this issue in Hemdat Yamim (Miketz 5767), and cited strong grounds for leniency. Orchot Shabbat (15:(45)) says that even those who forbid making ice cubes could permit spraying whipped cream from a canister because the only purpose of the cream in the canister is to be turned into whipped cream. On the other hand, here one actively and directly, with the press of the button, creates the foam, as opposed to putting water in a freezer, which only provides a cold setting for the slow process of freezing to begin (see Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 10:(14)). However, Rav Mordechai Willig told me another reason for leniency: the change, from a thick liquid to a foam, is not enough to be considered molid.

While one can make the argument that it is forbidden to spray whipped cream from its canister, common practice is to permit it. Since we have shown the halachic basis for the practice, we do not feel it is necessary to change it. (We have not dealt with the issue of using the cream to write words or make likenesses of specific objects.)

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This edition of
Hemdat Yamim

is dedicated
 to the memory of
R' Meir
 ben Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld



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Hemdat Yamim
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