A discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the
week. For final rulings, consult your Rav.
SELECTED HALACHOS RELATING TO PARSHAS YISRO
COOKING ON SHABBOS
In order to simplify a very complicated -but very relevant -halachic issue,
we will list various situations which arise on Shabbos both at the table and
in the kitchen.(1) The reader should be aware that due to the complex nature
of the subject, even the slightest change from the exact case described
below can change the halachah. In several instances, there is only a
hair's-breadth difference between a permissible act and a Biblically
SOME GENERAL DEFINTIONS;
All temperatures are Fahrenheit.
Cold -below 60-70 degrees
Warm -between 70-80 to 110 degrees
Hot -over 110 degrees(2)
Scalding -about 140-150 degrees(3)
Boiling -212 degrees
Cooked -completely cooked, ready to eat.
Dry food item -any food item which contains virtually no liquid, e.g.,
bread, meat, pasta.
Liquid food item -e.g., water, soup, sauce, gravy.
SOME GENERAL BACKROUND INFORMATION:
No uncooked food items may be placed on or near a fire, or in a vessel that
was on the fire so long as that vessel remains hot.
Once a dry food item is fully cooked, it may be reheated [see more details
further]. A liquid item which was fully cooked may be reheated only if it is
still warm from the previous cooking.
Davar gush, which is a dry, bulky item, e.g., a piece of meat or a potato,
retains more heat than does a liquid. When a davar gush comes in contact
with another food, the heat it has retained can heat other uncooked foods
even after it has been removed from its heat source.
When we refer to items served on a plate, we are referring to items which
were placed on the plate by means of a ladle, spoon, etc.
In the cases described below, 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 procedures like
freeze-drying etc., which are not considered, halachically, as "cooking."
AT THE SHABBOS TABLE IT IS PERMITTED TO...
Pour ketchup, mustard or mayonnaise over any hot food served on a plate(4).
Pour cold gravy or cold soup on any hot food served on a plate(5). Some
poskim hold that unless the liquid is somewhat warm, it should not be poured
over a davar gush(6).
Pour lemon juice, which is generally cooked before processing(7), into a cup
of hot tea(8).
Add sugar or salt [or any other previously cooked spice] to any food served
on a plate or in a cup(9).
Add soup croutons to a bowl of hot soup(10).
Add cooked noodles to a pot of hot soup which has been removed from the
Put pasteurized butter or margarine on a hot potato(12). Some poskim advise
Place an ice cube or cold water into a cup of hot tea or a bowl of hot
soup(14). If the tea or soup is scalding, some poskim advise against
Eat hot cholent, whether it is soupy or lumpy, together with cold cuts or
other pieces of cooked, cold meat(16).
Dip challah into hot soup or hot cholent(17).
AT THE SHABBOS TABLE IT IS FORBIDDEN TO...
Dip a piece of cake or a cookie into hot tea or coffee(18).
Place a pickle, or any other uncooked food item, on top of or underneath a
hot davar gush.
Place a slice of lemon into a cup of hot tea(19).
Pour uncooked spices (cinnamon, pepper) on a davar gush(20).
IN THE KITCHEN IT IS PERMITTED TO...
Place dry, cold(21) meat, chicken or kugel on top of a soup or cholent pot
which is on the blech or in a crock-pot(22). If these items are wrapped in
aluminum foil, the foil should be partially unwrapped to avoid the
prohibition of hatmanah(23).
Place dry, cold meat, chicken or kugel on top of a radiator(24).
Place cold foods [dry or liquid, cooked or uncooked] 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(25).
Pour hot water from an urn on a baby's cold milk bottle(26);
Pour hot water from an urn into a vessel, then place the milk bottle into
it(27). The bottle should not be submerged entirely so as to avoid the
prohibition of hatmanah(28).
Lift off the lid of an urn and replace it, if the water inside was
Add hot water from the urn to the soup or cholent pot.(30)
IN THE KITCHEN IT IS PROHIBITED TO...(31)
Place cold food [dry or liquid, cooked or uncooked] directly on the fire or
on any area of the blech where the food could become hot(32).
Place cold liquid, such as soup or gravy, near enough to a heat source which
will cause it to become hot(33).
Place a cold, wet ladle [either from tap water or from previously ladled
soup which accumulated in the ladle] into a pot of hot soup, even if the pot
is presently not on the fire or blech(34).
Pour hot water from the urn directly into a cup containing a tea bag, cocoa
or chocolate milk(35).
Pour hot water from the urn directly into a cup containing instant tea,
coffee or cocoa(36).
Place a tea bag in a cup of hot water, or to pour hot water from a cup over
a tea bag(37).
Add sugar or salt to a pot of hot liquid which was on the fire or blech and
Stir hot food in a pot which is on the fire or blech, even if the food is
Stir hot food in a pot which has been removed from the fire or blech, if the
food is not completely cooked(40).
Dish out food from a pot which is directly on a flame(41), whether the food
is completely cooked or not(42). 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(43).
Cover a pot which is on the fire, unless it is clear beyond a doubt that
the food inside is completely cooked(44).
Wipe wet hands with a towel, and then drape the towel over an urn or
1 To avoid confusion and for the sake of brevity, all explanations and
definitions of technical terms, which are required for a fuller
understanding of these halachos, appear only in the footnotes.
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 (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 Since these items are precooked; Igros Moshe O.C. 4:74-5. Harav S.Z.
Auerbach and Harav Y.S. Elyashiv (quoted in Me'or ha-Shabbos 1:267-8) permit
this for other reasons.
5 Based on Igros Moshe, ibid.
6 Since a solid food is treated as a kli rishon, and cold gravy and soup
are liquid items which have cooled off and are thus subject to the prohibition
of cooking; Harav S.Z. Auerbach, Harav Y.S. Elyashiv (Me'or ha-Shabbos
7 Even if the lemon juice was not cooked there is room for leniency, since
several poskim hold that no beverages become cooked in a teacup.
8 Harav S.Z. Auerbach (Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah 1, note 149); since it
is permitted to reheat cold liquids in a kli sheini.
10 Many croutons are deep-fried, which is halachically considered as cooked
and may be recooked. But this is permitted even for croutons which are
baked, since we view the soup bowl as a kli shelishi.
11 Since it is permitted to recook dry items even in a kli rishon.
12 Igros Moshe O.C. 4:74-6.
13 Harav S.Z. Auerbach (quoted in Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah 1:58).
14 Since water does not become cooked in a kli sheini; Shaar ha-Tziyun
15 Chayei Adam, quoted by Mishnah Berurah 318:48.
16 Since the meat is already cooked.
17 Mishnah Berurah 318:47; since it is permitted to cook a baked item in a
kli shelishi. Even if the challah is eaten with a davar gush it is
permitted, since the davar gush can only "bake" the challah, which is permitted.
18 Rama O.C. 318:5; since it is prohibited to cook a baked item in a kli
19 Consensus of many poskim (Igros Moshe O.C. 4:74-18; Harav S.Z. Auerbach,
quoted in Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah 1, note 150; Harav Y.S. Elyashiv,
quoted in Me'or ha-Shabbos 1:221) unlike the Chazon Ish (O.C. 52:19) who
tends to be lenient.
20 Since solid food is like a kli rishon.
21 This should not be done for frozen items which have ice crystals on them,
since cooking ice is prohibited; Minchas Yitzchak 9:31.
22 O.C. 253:5 and Beiur Halachah 253:3. See Chazon Ish 37:14 for an
explanation of why this does not constitute roasting after cooking.
23 The poskim disagree over whether 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 Y.S. Elyashiv and Harav Y.Y. Fisher (ibid. 84) are
lenient. [This also seems to be the view of the 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.
24 Igros Moshe O.C. 4:74-34. See preceding footnote concerning hatmanah.
25 O.C. 318:14.
26 Since only the bottle will become "cooked", not the milk inside; Harav M.
Feinstein (Sefer Hilchos Shabbos, pg. 289); Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah
27 Mishnah Berurah 318:23; since re-cooking a liquid item in a kli sheini is
permitted. Under extenuating circumstances, even a kli rishon which has been
removed from the fire may sometimes be used, see Shevet ha-Levi 5:31.
28 Mishnah Berurah 258:2; Minchas Yitzchak 8:17, unlike Shulchan Aruch Harav
318:23 and Chazon Ish 37:32, who are lenient.
29 Igros Moshe O.C. 4:74-14. It is also permitted to dish out water from an
30 See The weekly Halachah Discussion, pgs. 211-212 for the many details
31 This review does not discuss the opening and closing of thermostat
controlled ovens on Shabbos.
32 Igros Moshe O.C. 4:74-31,32.
33 O.C. 318:14-15.
34 Since cooking or reheating liquids in a kli rishon is prohibited.
35 This is strictly prohibited, since these are foods which were not cooked
36 Even though instant coffee and 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.
37 Since tea leaves can easily become cooked in a kli sheini, and even by
boiling water poured upon them from a kli sheini; Mishnah Berurah 318:39.
38 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 solid food, e.g., a
hot potato, since in that case the seasoning does not dissolve - see
Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah 1, note 173*.
39 Mishnah Berurah 318:118. See Igros Moshe O.C. 4:74-8 for an explanation
of why it is prohibited to stir food which is completely cooked.
40 O.C. 318:18.
41 But if the food is on the blech and not directly over the fire, many
poskim permit scooping out food from the pot; Igros Moshe O.C. 4:74-11.
42 Mishnah Berurah 318:113.
43 Igros Moshe O.C. 4:74-9. See Chazon Ish 37:15, who is somewhat more
44 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 given oral permission for
45 Mishnah Berurah 301:169.
MAZEL TO RABBI AND MRS YEHOSHUA BRESSLER ON THE BIRTH OF A SON, MAZEL TOV TO THE PROUD GRANDPARENTS RABBI AND MRS. DONIEL NEUSTADT