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 # 5
QUESTION: May hot water be added to the cholent on Shabbos?
DISCUSSION: Boiling water may be added to cholent under certain
circumstances: if the cholent is completely cooked and the source of heat is
covered with a blech or aluminum foil. Since there are several permissible
methods of adding boiling water to cholent, we will list them in order of
their halachic preference:
Where should the cholent be when the water is added?
Removed from the heat source and held in the air, not resting on any surface
Removed from the heat source and balanced partially on a surface(2);
Removed from the heat source and placed on a surface without releasing one's
grip on the pot(3);
Removed from the heat source and shifted over to an area of the blech that
is still hot(4);
On the heat source itself. This method should be used only as a last resort
when other options are not available(5). The water must be poured in slowly
How should the water be transferred from the urn to the pot?
Directly from the urn to the pot.
Insert a [parve] ladle into the urn [leave it in for several seconds(6)] and
then ladle the water into the pot(7). Either of these methods is preferred.
Pour the water into a cup and empty immediately into the pot(8). This should
be done only as a last resort when other options are not available, since
some poskim do not approve of this method(9).
General Notes Concerning Adding Water to the Cholent:
Water from a Shabbos urn often does not reach the boiling point. When added
to the boiling cholent, however, the water will then be boiled ? a possible
violation of the Biblical prohibition of cooking(10). One must be sure that
the temperature of the water in the urn reaches 212 degrees(11), or at the
very least 175 degrees(12), or else the water may not be added. [If,
however, the water had previously reached 212 or 175 degrees, it is
permissible to pour it into the cholent even though it has cooled off a
When pouring directly from an urn into the pot, one must be extremely
careful not to make the kettle or urn fleishig from the steam which rises
from the cholent. When uncovering the cholent pot, first allow the steam to
escape before bringing the urn close to the pot(14).
L'chatchilah, water should be added to the cholent before it has completely
dried out, since some poskim maintain that a dried out cholent is considered
to be roasted, tzli. If so, pouring water into the pot re-cooks this
"roast," which is prohibited(15). Other poskim, however, rule that one need
not be concerned about this issue(16).
After the water is poured in, the pot cover should be replaced before the
pot is returned to the fire, since some poskim(17) rule that one may not
place a cover on a pot while it is on the fire even if the item is
completely cooked. Many other poskim are not particular about this(18).
QUESTION: Are there any solutions for one who forgot to disconnect the light
bulb before Shabbos, and the main part of his Shabbos meal is in the
DISCUSSION: Most refrigerators have a light bulb that goes on when the door
is opened. The bulb must be loosened or removed before Shabbos.
Alternatively, one could stick a piece of strong adhesive tape over the
controlling knob, which will prevent the light from being switched on when
the door is opened.
If the switch or bulb was not disconnected before Shabbos, one may not open
the refrigerator on Shabbos even if all of his Shabbos food is stored
inside. Although one does not intend to turn on the light or to switch off
the fan, since these devices will necessarily be activated(19), it is
considered in Halacha as if he expressly intended to do so (pesik
reisheih)(20). Similarly, if the refrigerator was opened and it was
discovered that he had inadvertently turned the light on or the fan off, the
refrigerator door may not be closed, since closing the door will shut the
light or activate the fan.
If there is a non-Jew available, he may ask the non-Jew to open the
refrigerator for him(21). This is permitted because one may instruct a
non-Jew to do an action which is only prohibited to the Jew because it is
The non-Jew may also be instructed to close the refrigerator if leaving it
open would spoil any other food [for Shabbos] which is inside.
The non-Jew may not be instructed to remove the bulb from the refrigerator
or to shut off the switch which regulates the fan. One may, however,
imply(23) to the non-Jew that if the bulb or switch is left in its present
state, the Jew would not be able to open the refrigerator door for the rest
QUESTION: In an area where it is forbidden to carry on Shabbos, is it
permitted to wear a garment that has extra (reserve) buttons sewn onto it?
DISCUSSION: Most poskim allow one to wear garments with extra (reserve)
buttons sewn onto them(25). There are several reasons given for this
leniency: 1) The buttons have no importance in and of themselves and are,
therefore, secondary to the garment; 2) Garments are normally manufactured
with extra buttons sewn onto them; 3) Since the buttons are sewn onto the
garment they are considered an extension of the garment(26).
1 This is the preferred halachic method but not always practical,
particularly when only one person is available for the job.
2 Ruling of Harav S.Y. Elyashiv (quoted in Shevus Yitzchak, pg. 161) and
Debreciner Rav (Am ha-Torah vol. 2, no. 1, pg. 13) that a pot held in this
manner is not considered as having been "put down" and returning it to the
fire is permissible.
3 Igros Moshe O.C. 4:74-33 rules that even when the pot is held this manner
it is not considered as if it was "put down". Other poskim disagree ? see
Meleches Shabbos, pg. 128.
4 Igros Moshe O.C. 4:74-12 (see also 4:61); Harav S.Z. Auerbach (Shemiras
Shabbos K'hilchasah 1 note 111); Harav S.Y. Elyashiv (Shevus Yitzchak, pg.
78; Otzros ha-Shabbos, pg. 405). In order to satisfy all views, it is best
to place the pot on a place on the blech which is 160 degrees or more. If
this is difficult, the pot may be placed on any hot area of the blech.
5 Although several poskim do not recommend this method (Harav S.Z. Auerbach
at first permitted this but later hesitated ??see Tikunim u'Miluim, pg. 1,
and Me'or ha-Shabbos, vol. 1, pg. 455; Igros Moshe O.C. 4:74-13 also seems
to prohibit this), Harav S.Y. Elyashiv rules that when no other possibility
exists one can rely on this method, so long as the water is poured in slowly
and gently (Shevus Yitzchak, pg. 198). See also Ketzos ha-Shulchan (Badei
ha-Shulchan 243:10) who is lenient.
12 Igros Moshe O.C. 4:74-1. The shiur of 175 degrees is based on Igros Moshe
13 Igros Moshe O.C. 4:74:1,13; Harav S.Z. Auerbach (Shemiras Shabbos
K'hilchasah, pg. 13); Shevet ha-Levi 7:42-3. "Cooled off a bit" means that
it is hot enough that one who wants a hot drink would consider it hot.
14 See Y.D. 92:8 and Badei ha-Shulchan; Minchas Yitzchak 5:81; 6:20;
Meleches Shabbos, pg. 98.
19 There are conflicting views among the poskim if one may open a
refrigerator in a case where he is in doubt whether he disconnected the
switch or the bulb [this is called safek pesik reisheih] ??see Shemiras
Shabbos K'hilchasah 10:15.
20 This is not considered pesik reisheh d'lo nicha lei, since had it not
been Shabbos, one would definitely want the light bulb to go on ? Minchas
21 See Igros Moshe O.C. 2:68; Harav S.Z. Auerbach in Shemiras Shabbos
22 Based on Mishnah Berurah 253:99; 259:21; 277:15; 337:10. It must be noted
that there are opinions that are more stringent on this issue ??see Sha'ar
ha-Tziyon 353:104. See also Mishnah Berurah 253:51.
23 Using the "hint" format-not a direct command.
24 See Igros Moshe O.C. 2:68 and Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah 31:1.
25 Harav M. Feinstein (quoted in Rivevos Efrayim 4:87 and in l'Torah
v'Hora'ah 1:8); Harav S. Z. Auerbach (quoted in Shemiras Shabbos
K'hilchasah, pg. 215); Harav S. Y. Elyashiv (quoted in Machazeh Eliyahu, pg.
126); Az Nidberu 2:40.
26 The various reasons for leniency are presented in Machazeh Eliyahu 43.
For a dissenting, more stringent opinion, see Be'er Moshe 3:67.