The following is a discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the week.
For final rulings, consult your Rav.
COMMON HILCHOS SHABBOS
QUESTIONS and ANSWERS #3
QUESTION: How does one make a cup of instant coffee [or instant tea] on
DISCUSSION: There is a well-known halachic principle that is cited when
discussing if and how food can be "cooked" or warmed up on Shabbos: Ain
bishul achar bishul, which means that once a food has been cooked before
Shabbos, it cannot - in halachic terms - be "cooked" again. In other words,
a food which has already been cooked cannot be subject to the prohibition of
cooking on Shabbos.
As regards making a cup of coffee on Shabbos, one could reason that since
coffee beans are first roasted and then cooked while being processed into
instant coffee, it is permissible to pour boiling water from an urn directly
onto the [already cooked] instant coffee powder(1). But there are two good
reasons why this is not so simple a matter:
1. While it is true that generally, coffee beans are cooked before they are
made into instant coffee, it is possible that a method other than cooking
was used in the manufacturing process(2). If, indeed, a process other than
cooking was used, then it would be strictly prohibited to pour water
directly from the urn over the coffee, since then the coffee would become
cooked for the first time.
2. Some authorities maintain that instant coffee is not considered a solid
food since it disintegrates completely and melts upon contact with hot
water(3). Thus it would be classified halachically as a liquid. The halachah
regarding liquids is that even if they were fully cooked, if they are no
longer warm(4) it is prohibited to recook them(5). If so, then water may not
be poured directly from the urn over the instant coffee, since cooled-off
liquids are subject to bishul.
Practically speaking, are these two issues a concern? While there are
dissenting opinions, the general consensus among contemporary poskim is that
it is proper to be stringent(6). The poskim advise, therefore, that one
first fill the coffee cup with water from the urn, and then put the instant
coffee into the cup; this way the coffee is being put into a keli sheini (a
"second vessel") which does not have the power to recook liquids which have
cooled off, rather than into a keli rishon (a "primary vessel" with maximum
cooking power)(7). Some poskim go even further and advise that one pour the
water from the cup into another cup, so that the instant coffee will be put
in into a keli shelishi (a "third vessel") which has even less cooking
These halachos regarding instant coffee [or tea] apply also to processed
sugar and artificial sweeteners.
QUESTION: May one place cold cooked chicken (in sauce or dry), or kugel, on
a blech on Shabbos morning?
DISCUSSION: Once again, it would appear that cooked chicken should not be
subject to the prohibition of bishul. This, however, is not the case. It is
prohibited to place chicken with or without sauce on a blech on Shabbos
morning, each for its own reason:
If the chicken is in sauce, there may be a question of bishul, cooking.
This is because sauce is a liquid, and as we mentioned earlier, a liquid -
even if it has already been cooked - may not be reheated if it is no longer
warm. One is not allowed to put chicken in sauce on a blech even if he is
planing to leave it there for just a few minutes to take the chill off it,
since one may easily become distracted and forget to remove the chicken
before it reaches yad soledes bo [approx. 110 degrees](9).
If the chicken is dry, then there is no issue of bishul since a solid food
cannot be cooked twice. But it is still prohibited to place cold chicken or
kugel on a blech since it is a violation of the prohibition against
chazarah, which forbids returning any food which has completely cooled off
to a heat source, even one which is covered by a blech(10).
There are three options to choose from if one wishes to heat cooked chicken
[which is not in sauce] on Shabbos morning:
Place the chicken on the edge of the blech, far enough away from the flame
so that the food will never reach the temperature of yad soledes bo(11).
This is permitted because returning cooked food to a section of the blech
which cannot reach yad soledes bo is not a violation of chazarah.
Place the chicken on top of a pot [e.g., the cholent pot] which is cooking
on the fire or on the lid of a crock-pot(12). [The chicken should be
partially unwrapped to avoid the prohibition of hatmanah.]
Place the chicken on top of a radiator(13).
QUESTION: While sitting at the Shabbos table, a woman realizes that she
forgot to separate challah from her challah loaves. What should she do?
DISCUSSION: It is prohibited to separate challah on Shabbos or Yom Tov(14)
unless the dough was made on Yom Tov(15). Accordingly, there is nothing that
can be done(16) and the challah loaves may not be eaten(17). [If she
realizes her oversight during bein hashmashos, and neither she nor the shul
where her husband is davening has recited kabbolas Shabbos, she may still
separate challah [even if she has already lit Shabbos candles], as long as
the family has no other challah loaves for Shabbos(18).]
If this oversight occurred outside of Eretz Yisrael, however, the challah
loaves could be eaten so long as the lady intends to separate challah after
Shabbos from whatever will remain of the challah loaves she had baked. She
must follow this procedure(19):
She must make sure that a small piece [e.g., one slice] remains from the
loaves the she baked;
Separate a designated piece from that remaining slice after Shabbos or Yom
Tov is over(20). That piece is then burned like any other separated challah.
No blessing is recited over this type of challah separation(21).
1 In addition to roasting and cooking the beans, they are also ground into
powder and then "freeze dried" at a temperature of up to 800 degrees F to
remove all of the moisture from the beans.
2 See Me'or ha-Shabbos 5:25 that possibly this is current technology in some
3 See Mishnah Berurah 318:71 concerning sugar. The halachah regarding
instant coffee may be even stricter, since it is used exclusively in a
4 "Warm" means that it is warm enough to be enjoyed as a "warm drink".
5 Rama O.C. 318:15. But it is only prohibited to recook cooled-off liquids
in a keli rishon; Mishnah Berurah 318:23.
6 Harav M. Feinstein (Igros Moshe O.C. 4:74, bishul 16) writes that though
the halachah permits pouring hot water directly over instant coffee, he
himself [for his personal use] is particular to put the coffee in a keli
11 According to Igros Moshe, even chicken in sauce can be put on the edge of
the blech. Other poskim are hesitant about this leniency; see Otzros
ha-Shabbos, pg. 405, written responsum from Harav Y.S. Elyashiv.
12 This option may be used even if the flame is not covered with a blech or
if the bottom of the crock-pot has not been lined with aluminum foil.
14 Mishnah Berurah 339:26. B'dieved, if she mistakenly separated challah on
Shabbos or Yom Tov, the food may be eaten. If, however, she was aware that
it is forbidden to do so and she did so anyway, the food is forbidden to be
eaten; Sha'ar ha-Tziyun 339:26.
15 If the dough was prepared on Yom Tov, challah is separated with a
blessing but the dough is not burned until after Yom Tov is over. Once the
piece is set aside, it may no longer be moved, since it is muktzeh; Mishnah
16 If this occurred on the first night of Pesach or Sukkos when it is a
Biblical obligation to eat a k'zayis of matzah or bread, a solution can be
found. A rav must be consulted.
17 A possible solution is to prepare on Yom Tov another batch of dough and
then separate challah from the new batch for both. See Rama O.C. 506:3 and
Mishnah Berurah for the details.
18 Mishnah Berurah 261:4 and 28. Outside of Eretz Yisrael, though, this
should not be done, since in the Diaspora it is permitted to separate
challah after Shabbos, as explained in the next paragraph.
19 Rama O.C. 506:3.
20 Rama Y.D. 323:1. If she forgot to separate challah from more than one
batch of dough, she must follow the same procedure with each batch.