There are companies which sell peeled hard-boiled eggs and deviled eggs. The following examines the general issue of certification of hard-boiled eggs and similar items.
There is a disagreement between the Poskim regarding the Gemara, Niddah 17a which states that one may not eat peeled eggs, onions or garlic which were left overnight:
- Yad Meir 1 and Shevet HaLevi 2 hold that we can ignore this Gemara nowadays because Tosfos 3 states that certain ruach ra’ah do not descend in “these countries”.4 We can infer from Tosfos that we do not have to be concerned for any ruach ra’ah unless we have a mesorah that that specific form is still prevalent.5 Yad Meir and Shevet HaLevi cite Hagahos Mordechai 6 as a source for adopting such an approach regarding leaving eggs, onions and garlic overnight.7 They are supported by the fact that Shulchan Aruch 8 cites certain dangerous activities listed in the Gemara but not these. Minchas Yitzchok 9 discusses this issue and concludes that there is basis for those who are lenient.
- The overwhelming majority of Poskim hold that the Gemara continues to be relevant nowadays.10 They address, but do not resolve, the fact that Shulchan Aruch doesn’t discuss this danger. They also argue that:
- One must have absolute proof that a form of ruach ra’ah no longer exists before discarding a clear directive of the Gemara.11
- We do have a mesorah that this form of ruach ra’ah still exists because Tosfos 12 and Rosh 13 both mention it and the minhag has always been to be careful.14
- Even the Mordechai only says that maybe one can be lenient because this ruach ra’ah no longer exists and does not seem sure that it is true.
Rav Belsky said that we should follow this second (stricter) opinion. Rav Schachter said that in the United States it is generally accepted to follow the first (lenient) opinion. Nonetheless, we should not allow certified caterers or restaurants to leave peeled eggs etc. overnight since undoubtedly there will be customers who are machmir and we must service them as well.
Within this second opinion, it is generally agreed that:
a. If the egg etc. is mixed with other ingredients before they are left overnight there is no concern.15 Divrei Yatziv (the Klausenberger Rebbe zt”l 16) suggests that there must be enough of the other ingredient to be nosein ta’am in the egg, but the other Poskim do not cite this requirement. Divrei Yatziv 17 rules that one may not use eggs, onion or garlic as the “other ingredient”.
Rav Belsky agreed in principle with Divrei Yatziv that there must be some threshold at which point the “other ingredient” is insignificant and does not protect the peeled egg, but disagreed with the suggestion that the criteria is nisenas ta’am. Rather, as long as the other ingredient had some effect on the egg it would be significant enough to not be “batel”. Thus, it would be sufficient if the other ingredient acted as a preservative or balanced the pH in the egg. Rav Belsky also agreed that eggs, onion or garlic could not serve as the “other ingredient”.
However, there is disagreement regarding the following:
b. The Gemara, Niddah states that if one leaves part of the shell or “hair” on the egg etc. then it is protected from ruach ra’ah. Divrei Yatziv 18 takes this literally and rules that the food is only protected if there is at least one piece of hair or shell which was never removed from the food but it is useless to add pieces of peel or hair to a fully peeled egg etc. However, SMa”K understands that the shell or hair can protect even if they were completely removed and later added back.
Rav Belsky held that the first (stricter) approach was correct.
c. Beis Shlomo and Kaf HaChaim (504:1) hold that only raw eggs are dangerous while Hago’os Mordechai implies that there is danger on cooked eggs (and doesn’t discuss raw eggs). Darchei Teshuvah 19 cites Yad Meir and Degel Ephraim who hold that only cooked eggs are dangerous. Divrei Yatziv 20 suggests that Hagahos Mordechai and Beis Shlomo actually agree but Hagahos Mordechai is discussing eggs which were peeled after cooking (and are therefore susceptible to ruach ra’ah) while Beis Shlomo is discussing eggs which were cooked before being peeled/cracked (and are therefore protected from ruach ra’ah). Maharsham, Yabea Omer, Chelkas Yaakov 21 and Shevet HaLevi leave the issue unresolved. Yabea Omer suggests that according to Beis Shlomo dried onion would be permitted since they are dried with heat which provides a minimal cooking as well. Chelkas Yaakov and Shevet HaLevi raise the point that the Gemara discusses “peeled” eggs which implies that the eggs are cooked.
Rav Belsky said that Beis Shlomo’s proof was not strong enough to prove the idea which he was suggesting and we should assume that the Gemara applies to both cooked and raw eggs.
d. Darchei Teshuvah cites Degel Ephraim who declares that ruach ra’ah does not descend on dried eggs, garlic or onions. Yabea Omer agrees with this and says that Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank permitted powdered eggs for this reason. He also notes that Chelkas Yaakov 22 discusses powdered eggs and does not mention this leniency.
Rav Belsky held that the only basis for such a difference would be Iggeros Moshe cited below who states that the danger only applies to eggs prepared in the typical manner.
e. Iggeros Moshe suggests that since we do not understand how ruach ra’ah operates we cannot extend the Gemara’s warning to any cases other than those mentioned specifically. Thus, we can assume that the Gemara is discussing a typical case of a housewife who peeled an egg and accidentally left it overnight or who peeled an egg today with the intention of eating it tomorrow. However, the Gemara is not discussing a company which cracks eggs which will not be used for many weeks or months. Therefore, we do not have to be concerned for ruach ra’ah in such cases. In a similar vein, Rav Belsky noted that although the Gemara rules that placing the peeled egg in a sealed container does not protect it from ruach ra’ah, this may not apply to eggs which are placed in a hermetically sealed container. Beis Shlomo, Chelkas Yaakov and Divrei Yatziv understand that we can extend the Gemara’s chumra to include industrially produced eggs .
Rav Belsky and Rav Schachter were both of the opinion that we could rely on Iggeros Moshe. This would provide a basis for the certification of all commercial egg, garlic and onion products but would not permit a caterer to crack eggs for the next day’s breakfast or to cut onions and garlic for the next day’s salad.
1 Cited in Darchei Teshuvah 116:74.
2 Shevet HaLevi VI:111:5.
3 Tosfos, Yoma 77b s.v. mishum & Chullin 107b s.v. hasam.
4 See also Yam Shel Shlomo, Chullin 8:12 and Magen Avraham 173:1.
5 E.g. Shulchan Aruch O.C. 4:5, 4:9 & 181:2. See also Machatzis HaShekel O.C. 4:1.
6 Hagahos Mordechai, Shabbos, Perek HaMotzi Yayin.
7 See also Kaf HaChaim Y.D. 116:92.
8 Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 116 & C.M. 427:9.
9 Minchas Yitzchok II:68:13.
10 See Pri Chadash Y.D. 116:9, Responsa Maharsham IV:148, Responsa Beis Shlomo Y.D. I:189, Gra”z (C.M., Hil. Shemiras HaGuf V’Hanefesh #7), Aruch HaShulchan Y.D. 116:22, Likutei Halachos (Chofetz Chaim-Niddah 7a, Ein Mishpat #7), Yabea Omer II Y.D. 7, Chelkas Yaakov IV:12 (see also I:111), Divrei Yatziv (the Klausenberger Rebbe ZT”L) Y.D. I:31 and Iggeros Moshe Y.D. III:20.
11 See also Gemara Avodah Zara 30a that we do not ignore danger based on a theory/question.
12 Tosfos, Shabbos 141a s.v. hani & Beitzah 14a s.v. ikah.
13 Rosh, Beitzah 1:21
14 It is noteworthy that Beis Yosef O.C. 504 page 239a cites Tosfos and Rosh but leaves out the section on ruach ra’ah in spite of the fact that it is relevant to Beis Yosef’s discussion.
15 SMa”K 168, Responsa Beis Shlomo ibid., Kaf HaChaim O.C. 504:1 & Y.D. 116:92, and Yabeah Omer ibid..
16 Divrei Yatziv 31:14.
17 Divrei Yatziv 33:3.
18 Divrei Yatziv 31:14.
19 Darchei Teshuvah 116:74.
20 Divrei Yatziv 31:8.
21 Chelkas Yaakov I:111:4.
22 Chelkas Yaakov I:111.