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Weekly Halacha

Selected Halachos relating to Parshas Shoftim

By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt


The following is a discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the week. For final rulings, consult your Rav.

You shall roast it and eat it in the place that Hashem, your G-d, will choose (16:7)


SOME GENERAL DEFINTIONS. All temperatures are Fahrenheit:

Hot - over 110 degrees(2)

Warm - between 70-80 to 110 degrees

Cold - below 60-70 degrees

Scalding - about 140-150 degrees(3)

Boiling - 212 degrees

Cooked - completely cooked, ready to eat.

Dry food item - any food item which contains very little liquid, e.g., bread, meat, pasta.

Liquid food item - e.g., water, soup, sauce, gravy.


Place dry, cold(4) meat, chicken or kugel on top of a soup or cholent pot which is on the blech or in a crock-pot(5). If these items are wrapped in aluminum foil, the foil should be partially unwrapped to avoid the prohibition of hatmanah(6).

Place dry, cold meat, chicken or kugel on top of a radiator(7).

Place cold foods [dry or liquid] near a fire so that they can be warmed, provided that the foods are placed far enough away from the fire so that they could never become hot(8).

Pour hot water from an urn on a baby's cold milk bottle(9);

Pour hot water from an urn into a vessel, then place the milk bottle into it(10). The bottle should not be submerged entirely so as to avoid the prohibition of hatmanah(11).

To lift off the lid of an urn and replace it, if the water inside was previously boiled(12).


Place cold food [dry or liquid] directly on the fire or on any area of the blech where the food could become hot(14).

Place cold liquid, such as soup or gravy, near enough to a heat source which will cause it to become hot(15).

Place a cold, wet ladle [either from tap water or from previously ladled soup] into a pot of hot soup, even if the pot is presently not on the fire or blech(16).

Pour hot water from the urn directly into a cup containing a tea bag, cocoa or chocolate milk(17).

Pour hot water from the urn directly into a cup containing instant tea, coffee or cocoa(18).

Place a tea bag in a cup of hot water, or to pour hot water from a cup over a tea bag(19).

Add anything to a pot which is presently on the fire or on the blech(20).

Add sugar or salt to a pot of hot liquid which was on the fire or blech and then removed(21).

Stir hot food in a pot which is on the fire or blech, even if the food is completely cooked(22).

Stir hot food in a pot which has been removed from the fire or blech, if the food is not completely cooked(23).

Dish out food from a pot which is directly on a flame(24), whether the food is completely cooked or not(25). Even if the pot is too heavy to pick up and remove from the fire, it is still prohibited to dish out food from a pot which is directly on a flame(26).

Cover a pot which is on the fire, unless it is beyond doubt clear that the food inside is completely cooked(27).

Wipe wet hands with a towel, and then drape the towel over an urn or oven(28).

Note: In the cases described above, we often refer to certain processed foods, such as instant coffee or salt, as "cooked". Note, though, that companies may change their manufacturing process and switch to a procedures like freeze-drying etc., which is not considered halachically as "cooking."


1. Last week's column discussed reheating foods at the Shabbos table.

2. Contemporary poskim debate the exact intensity of heat for yad soledes bo. It is generally accepted, though, that 110 degrees is the minimum temperature which must be considered yad soledes bo. When yad soledes bo is used for a leniency, however, (i.e., when an item is to be considered cooked before Shabbos so that it may be reheated on Shabbos), 160 degrees is required - Igros Moshe O.C. 4:74-3.

3. This is referred to as yad nichveis bo, which, according to some poskim, is hot enough to cook food items even in a kli sheini or shelishi. Many poskim, however, do not agree with this stringency.

4. This should not be done for frozen items which have ice crystals on them, since cooking ice is prohibited - Minchas Yitzchak 9:31.

5. O.C. 253:5 and Beiur Halachah 253:3. See Chazon Ish 37:14 for an explanation why this does not constitute roasting after cooking.

6. The poskim disagree if hatmanah is a problem in this case: Igros Moshe O.C. 4:74-3 and Harav S.Z. Auerbach (Me'or ha-Shabbos 1:86) are stringent, while Harav S.Y. Elyashiv and Harav Y.Y. Fischer (ibid. 84) are lenient. This also seems to be the view of Chazon Ish 37:32. If the purpose of the aluminum foil, however, is to serve as a plate [and not to retain heat], all poskim agree that it is permitted. If more than one piece of aluminum foil is wrapped around the food item, all poskim agree that it is prohibited - see Machazeh Eliyahu 32.

7. Igros Moshe O.C. 4:74-34. See preceding footnote concerning hatmanah.

8. O.C. 318:14.

9. Since only the bottle will become "cooked", not the milk inside - Harav M. Feinstein (Sefer Hilchos Shabbos, pg. 289); Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah 1:50.

10. Mishnah Berurah 318:23 - since re-cooking a liquid item in a kli sheini is permitted. Under extenuating circumstances, even a kli rishon which is off the fire may sometimes be used, see Shevet ha-Levi 5:31.

11. Mishnah Berurah 258:2; Minchas Yitzchak 8:17 - unlike Shulchan Aruch Harav 318:23 and Chazon Ish 37:32 who are lenient.

12. Igros Moshe O.C. 4:74-14. It is also permitted to dish out water from an urn.

13. This review does not discuss the opening and closing of thermostat controlled ovens on Shabbos.

14. Igros Moshe O.C. 4:74-31,32.

15. O.C. 318:14-15.

16. Since cooking or reheating liquids in a kli rishon is prohibited.

17. This is strictly prohibited, since these are foods which were not cooked before Shabbos.

18. Even though instant coffee or tea are generally processed (cooked foods), several poskim hold that one should not pour hot water directly from a kli rishon over them for several reasons, see Sefer Hilchos Shabbos, pg. 298.

19. Since tea leaves can easily become cooked in a kli sheini, and even by water poured upon them from a kli sheini, see Mishnah Berurah 318:39.

20. Mishnah Berurah 318:64.

21. Mishnah Berurah 318:71 - since, in the opinion of some poskim, soluble foods dissolved in liquids are in themselves considered liquid and are subject to the prohibition of cooking cold liquids. It is permitted, however, to add precooked seasoning [sugar or salt] to a pot of solid food which is off the fire, since in that case the seasoning does not dissolve - see Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah 1 note 173*.

22. Mishnah Berurah 318:118. See Igros Moshe O.C. 4:74-8 for an explanation why it is prohibited to stir food which is completely cooked.

23. O.C. 318:18.

24. But if the food is on the blech and not directly over the fire, many poskim permit scooping food from the pot - Igros Moshe O.C. 4:74-11.

25. Mishnah Berurah 318:113.

26. Igros Moshe O.C. 4:74-9. See Chazon Ish 37:15 who is somewhat more lenient.

27. O.C. 254:4; 257:4. See Igros Moshe O.C. 4:74:10 who may hold that it is forbidden to cover a pot which is on the fire even if the food is completely cooked, but other poskim clearly permit this, and Harav Feinstein himself is quoted (The Shabbos Kitchen, pg. 9) as having permitted this orally.

28. Mishnah Berurah 301:169.

Weekly-Halacha, Copyright © 1997 by Rabbi Neustadt, Dr. Jeffrey Gross and Project Genesis, Inc. Rabbi Neustadt is the principal of Yavne Teachers' College in Cleveland, Ohio. He is also the Magid Shiur of a daily Mishna Berurah class at Congregation Shomre Shabbos.

The Weekly-Halacha Series is distributed L'zchus Hayeled Doniel Meir ben Hinda. Weekly sponsorships are available--please send email to the moderator, Dr. Jeffrey Gross

The series is distributed by the Harbotzas Torah Division of Congregation Shomre Shabbos, 1801 South Taylor Road, Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118--HaRav Yisroel Grumer, Marah D'Asra



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