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Weekly Halacha

Selected Halachos Related to Parshas Tetzaveh

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.


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 at all(1);
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 and gently.

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 bit(13).]

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 refrigerator?

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 pesik reisheih(22).

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 of Shabbos(24).

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.

6 Based on Mishnah Berurah 318:87.

7 Harav S.Z. Auerbach (Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah pg. 6).

8 Harav S.Z. Auerbach (Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah, pg. 6 and Tikunim u'Miluim); Harav Shemuel Auerbach quotes Harav Y.Y. Kanievsky as permitting this (see haskamah to Masas Binyamin).

9 Minchas Yitzchak 6:20;10:18; Shevet ha-Levi 3:93-2; Harav S.Y. Elyashiv (Shevus Yitzchak pg. 204-206); Zachor v'Shamor (section 11, pg. 46).

10 In the view of many poskim, it is Biblically forbidden to boil water even if the water is already at the temperature of yad soledes bo ??see Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah 1: note 15 and note 96.

11 Minchas Yitzchak 10:28; Harav S.Y. Elyashiv (Shevus Yitzchak, pg. 142); Shevet ha-Levi 7:42-3.

12 Igros Moshe O.C. 4:74-1. The shiur of 175 degrees is based on Igros Moshe Y.D. 2:52.

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.

15 Kinyan Torah 2:106; Teshuvos v'Hanhagos 2:173.

16 Harav S.Z. Auerbach (Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah, pg. 5); Meleches Shabbos, pg. 99.

17 Shevisas ha-Shabbos (Mevashel 26:81); Igros Moshe O.C. 4:74-10; Meleches Shabbos, pg. 101.

18 Ketzos ha-Shulchan (Badei ha-Shulchan 124:10); Harav S.Z. Auerbach (Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah, pg. 5); Harav S. Wosner (Mi-beis Levi 6); Tzitz Eliezer 7:15-4; Eimek ha-Teshuvah 42; Be'er Moshe 6:115.

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 Shelomo 91.

21 See Igros Moshe O.C. 2:68; Harav S.Z. Auerbach in Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah 31:1.

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.

Weekly-Halacha, Copyright © 1999 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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