Shiur #14: Continuation of Last Weekӳ Discussion of Stirring, and the Rules of Covering a Pot on the Fire

  • Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon

LAWS OF SHABBAT: COOKING

By Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon

 

 

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Dedicated in memory of 
Joseph Y. Nadler z”l, Yosef ben Yechezkel Tzvi
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Shiur #14: Continuation of Last Week’s Discussion of Stirring, and

the Rules of Covering a Pot on the Fire

 

 

HALAKHIC RULING

 

Uncooked Food

 

The Shulchan Arukh (OC 318:18) writes:

 

If a stewpot or a cauldron is removed seething from the fire, one may not remove from it with a spoon if it is not fully cooked, because one will stir (meigis), and there is an issue of bishul.  However, if it is fully cooked, it is permissible.

 

From his words, it arises that the stirring (hagasa) of a dish that is not fully cooked is forbidden by Torah law even if it is has been removed from the fire, and even removing the food from the pot with a spoon is forbidden.  From his language, it is implied that even the prohibition to remove the spoon in this case is from the Torah (“and there is an issue of bishul”); however, the Mishna Berura (Shaar Ha-tziyun, 137) explains that only stirring is biblically forbidden, while removing the spoon is forbidden only rabbinically, following the view of the Maggid Mishneh.[1]

 

Fully-Cooked Dish on the Fire

 

Concerning fully-cooked food, the Shulchan Arukh allows removing food with a spoon from a pot not on the fire, but he does not explain whether this is allowed while it is on the fire, and whether there is a distinction between removing food with the spoon and actual hagasa.  As we recall, the view of the Kol Bo is that hagasa of a pot is biblically forbidden, even if the food is fully cooked.  From the words of the Shulchan Arukh, as we have said, it is difficult to know whether he is concerned about the view of the Kol Bo; however, from his words as the Beit Yosef (end ch. 321, s.v. Ve-katav Ha-Rambam), it appears that he is concerned about this, and this is what other authorities write, that one should be stringent and avoid hagasa of a pot that is sitting on the fire, even if the food in it is fully cooked.[2]

 

However, the authorities argue whether one is allowed to remove a spoon from a cooked food sitting on the fire.  The Mishna Berura (318:113) writes at the beginning that it is allowed, following the Maggid Mishneh, but he adds that the Eliya Rabba concludes that one should be stringent about this, following the Kol Bo (see Shaar Ha-tziyun, 136).  The Chayei Adam (20:9) and Rav Moshe Feinstein (OC, Vol. IV, 74, bishul, 8-9) both wrote that one should not remove with a spoon from the dish on the fire, even if it is fully cooked, since we are concerned about the view of the Kol Bo, that hagasa of this food is biblically forbidden.  Thus, one should be stringent also about taking food out with the spoon, which involves hagasa.

 

However, there are many Acharonim who are lenient about this.  Thus, for example, the Eglei Tal (Ofeh 17) writes that we are not concerned about the view of the Kol Bo that hagasa of a cooked food is biblically forbidden, and we forbid hagasa of a dish such as this only rabbinically, due to the concern of mechzi ke-mevashel (the appearance of bishul), and therefore one need not be stringent about removal with a spoon.

 

In terms of practical halakha, the Chazon Ish writes (37:15):

 

Since the view of the Ramban… the Rashba, the Rosh, and the Ran is that after it is fully cooked, there is no issue of bishul and there is no issue of meigis, and the Maggid Mishneh explains the view of the Rambam in this way as well, one may be lenient about the matter.  However, in actual hagasa at the time that it is on the fire, it is appropriate to distinguish, since in the view of the Rambam it is a biblical labor, just as the Kol Bo explains.  In any case, to take it with a spoon is only rabbinical… so one may rely on the rest of the authorities to be lenient even when it is on the fire, just as the Raavad has written.

 

The Mishna Berura writes to be stringent about a spoon as long as it is on the fire even when it is fully cooked.  It appears that if one wants to leave the pot on a stove that is not swept, so that if he will take it off, he will not be allowed to put it back, and there is no solution but to take it with a spoon, one may be lenient.

 

Halakha

 

In other words, by the letter of the law, we should be lenient and allow removal with a spoon from a cooked dish on the fire, since most Rishonim allow even actual hagasa;[3] since removal with a spoon is only rabbinical, one should be lenient.  However, practically, since the Mishna Berura rules to forbid, one should not be lenient except in a case of need.  What defines “a case of need?”

 

a)             When the stove is not swept, so that if one removes the pot from the fire, he may not put it back (we will discuss this more in a future shiur), the Chazon Ish allows removing food with a spoon without taking the pot off the fire.

b)             The Responsa Az Nidaberu (Vol. V, ch. 13) writes that the same applies when the pot is heavy: one may remove food with a spoon without taking the pot off the fire. 

 

Similarly, the Responsa Rav Pe’alim (Vol. III, OC, ch. 44) rules that preferably one should avoid removing food with a spoon from a pot on the fire, and only for the sake of a mitzva, one should be lenient.  However, some of the Sefardic authorities are lenient about this ab initio, since the Beit Yosef cites the lenient view of the Maggid Mishneh, and he does not cite a dissenting view.  This is how Rav Ovadya Yosef (Kol Sinai, 5731, p. 265) and Tefilla Le-Moshe (Vol. I, ch. 37) rule.

 

Fully-Cooked Dish off the Fire

 

The dispute of the Acharonim relates to a dish on the fire.  Once it has been removed, the Shulchan Arukh explicitly allows removing food from it with a spoon, and the Acharonim write, according to his view, that even actual hagasa is allowed (Mishna Berura 318:115).  However the Rema (318:18) follows in the footsteps of the Mahari Weil, that ab initio one should be stringent even as regards removing food with a spoon:

 

Preferably, one should be careful about a pot in any case.

 

According to this, hagasa — even by removing food with a spoon — is forbidden even if a dish if fully cooked and off the fire.  The implication is that one may not stick a spoon in a pot; rather, one must pour the food into another bowl, and only from there would one be allowed to remove the food with a spoon (or stir it).  This is an astoundingly stringent requirement.  The Mishna Berura (117) writes:

 

See the Acharonim: our custom is not to be stringent about this, for in truth the essence is as we have written initially, that once it is fully cooked, even hagasa is allowed.  One who wishes to be stringent should do so only concerning actual hagasa, but one should not be stringent about removing food with a spoon if it is fully cooked and off the fire.

 

According to him, even the punctilious should refrain from actual hagasa and should not extend the stringency to removing food with a spoon.

 

If so, ab initio one may remove food with a spoon from a fully-cooked dish off of the fire.  By the letter of the law, stirring is also permissible; however, one who wants to be stringent may opt not to stir (but only as regards stirring and not when it comes to removing food with a spoon).

 

Conclusion

 

To summarize, one should not stir or serve from a dish that is not fully cooked.  Similarly, one should not stir a dish on the fire, even if it is fully cooked.  As for removing food from a cooked dish, Sefardim may be lenient and remove food from the pot, even if it is on the fire. (This is the view of Rav Ovadya, though some are stringent.)  On the other hand, Ashkenazim cannot remove food with a spoon when the pot is on the fire; they must take it off and then take the food out (by the letter of the law, they may even stir the dish then).  Indeed, when there is a need, e.g., when the pot is heavy, the Ashkenazim can also remove food with a spoon from a pot on the fire, on the condition that it is fully cooked (according to the Chazon Ish).

 

Dry Pieces

 

We should note that the prohibition of stirring exists only when the dish is a mixture (like a soup), but there is no prohibition to remove pieces of schnitzel or kugel from a pan on the fire, because this does not “stir” the remaining food (Rav S.Z. Auerbach, Rav Y.S. Elyashiv, cited in Maor Ha-Shabbat, Vol. II, p. 340).  

 

Stirring Boiling Water

 

Is there a prohibition of hagasa of boiling water?  The Avnei Nezer (OC, ch. 59) cites the Gaon of Kutno (Rav Yisrael Yehoshua Trunk, author of Yeshuot Malko), who rules that there is no prohibition of hagasa of boiling water, and this is the ruling of Rav Feinstein (Iggerot Moshe, OC, Vol. IV, Bishul 14).  The reason for this is that the water is agitated by the very boiling, so that hagasa is neither beneficial nor efficacious, and therefore there is no prohibition of hagasa.  Indeed, the Ketzot Ha-shulchan (ch. 124; Baddei Ha-shulchan, 10) disputes this and believes that there is a prohibition of stirring boiling water.  In fact, it appears that one may be lenient and remove water with a ladle even when the pot is on the fire (because many allow this even for any another food), but it is worth being stringent and one should avoid actually stirring it.[4]


 


 

COVERING A POT — ACCELERATING BISHUL

 

May one cover a pot containing food that is not fully cooked?

 

Biblical Prohibition

 

As we have seen, it may be that the reason stirring is forbidden is not because it accelerates the cooking, but because it adds a new facet.  However, we should stress that according to all views, there is a prohibition to perform actions that accelerate the cooking process.  For example, the Shulchan Arukh (254:4) rules that one should be careful not to put a cover back on a pot that has raw produce, “for this hastens the completion of their cooking on Shabbat.”  Furthermore, he rules (257:4) that it is forbidden to add a cover to a dish that is not fully cooked, “for this addition causes it to be cooked.”

 

This indicates that one must avoid actions of accelerating cooking.  This is what the Me’iri writes (73a, s.v. Ha-zoreia), noting that these acts are biblically prohibited:

 

Whatever hastens baking or cooking, such as mixing and stirring in a pot or putting the lid on the pot, makes one liable for cooking.

 

This is what the Mishna Berura writes concerning hagasa (318:114).

 

Adding Heat

 

As we have said, for the same reason, there is a prohibition to cover an uncooked dish.  In a similar way, it is also forbidden to remove water from an urn containing water that has not yet reached its boiling point, as this act accelerates the boiling of the rest of the water.  Similarly, it is forbidden to move a pot to a warmer place on the hot plate if the food in it is not fully cooked.

 

Rav Auerbach

 

In light of this, Rav S.Z. Auerbach forbids (Minchat Shelomo, Vol. I, ch. 6) covering a pot containing uncooked bones:

 

What about the neck, wings and legs of young poultry and the soft bones of chickens?  Normally, during the week, only the meat is eaten and the bones are thrown away.  However, when it is on the fire a long while, as for the cholent on Shabbat, even the bones themselves become soft; indeed, for the daytime meal, many eat it together with the meat on them, and they have a good, superior taste…

 

Thus, it appears, in my humble opinion, obvious that it is certainly forbidden to replace the pot on Friday night or early the next morning, if it contains bones such as these…

 

Now, it is presented in the book Shemirat Shabbat with the language “One should be strict,” but this is because this appears like an innovation, and most people are not careful about this…

 

In any case, I conceded to him that this was a mistake only to write “One should be strict;” on the contrary, specifically because many stumble in this, it is worthwhile to stress the prohibition here.

 

Rav Feinstein

 

On the other hand, Rav Moshe Feinstein (OC, Vol. IV, ch. 76-77) is lenient about this:

 

When the pot has something that is not food [like bones] and the cooking is for eating, it does not make sense that it will be considered cooking for the minority who eat bones…

 

This is not comparable to skin that has been thoroughly cooked, because even if it is not ready to be eaten, in any case one is certainly liable for the cooking, since at the end of the cooking process, everyone eats it…

 

However, concerning soft bones such as a neck and the like, which the majority do not eat even after they have been thoroughly cooked, certainly one may say that the [minority] view is nullified, and we will not consider it food because of this, for then it makes sense that there is no liability for the mere enhancement of cooking.

 

Therefore, I have written that if these bones are softened and actually ready for eating, this is certainly forbidden.  However, it does not exist in reality; what does exist in reality, namely the cartilage and small bones at the edge of the wings, needs no further cooking.  Those for which excessive cooking is required, such as the vertebrae of the neck, are only eaten by a small minority of people, so those items are not considered food. 

 

In his view, the uncooked part of the bones is not considered food by most people, and therefore if there is a small minority that does eat it, this view is nullified by the other, majority view, and there is no prohibition of bishul for this.

 

Halakha

 

Since the Acharonim argue, if one wants to cover the pot, one should be concerned that the bones may become cooked.  However, when one believes that the bones are cooked but is not sure about it, it appears that one may be lenient and place the lid on the pot, since it is possible to enlist for this purpose the view of Rav Feinstein, who allows covering in any case.[5]


Translated by Rav Yoseif Bloch

 



[1]      Ex post facto, if one stirs a dish that is not fully cooked, according to the Peri Megadim (Eshel Avraham 253:32) the food is forbidden, just like any food that is cooked in violation of Shabbat.  While the Bei’ur Halakha (318:18, s.v. She-nimtza meigis) writes that if the food was cooked to the level of ma’akhal ben Derusai, one should allow it, since ex post facto one may rely on Rishonim who believe in the rule of ein bishul achar bishul as long as something has been cooked to the level of ma’akhal ben Derusai, and even if we will say that according to them there is a rabbinical prohibition inherent in this, according to the Gra (318:1, s.v. O she-asa)  one should be lenient about the product of a violation of a rabbinical ban on Shabbat, done inadvertently.

[2]      This is what the Mishna Berura (318:113) indicates, discussing removing food with a spoon, not actual hagasa (see Mishna Berura 321:79), and this is what the Chazon Ish (37:15) writes: one should be concerned about the view of the Kol Bo.  Other Acharonim (Chayei Adam, Iggerot Moshe, Rav Pe’alim, et al.) are stringent about removing food with a spoon, and certainly about actual hagasa.  Even the Acharonim who are inclined to be lenient about removing food with a spoon (Eglei Tal, Rav Ovadya) do not allow actual hagasa. However, the Tefilla Le-Moshe writes (Vol. I, ch. 37) that even according to the Kol Bo, hagasa of a cooked dish on the fire is not forbidden biblically, but only rabbinically, because it “has the appearance of cooking” (following the view of Eglei Tal cited below), and therefore when the pot is not on the fire but on the hot plate, a place where we are not accustomed to cook, it may be that his intent is to be lenient about hagasa.

[3]      In addition, the Rishonim (Ramban, Rashba, et al. 18b) are lenient that after one has mixed the food even one time, it is permissible to add and to mix even a dish that is not fully cooked, because there is no hagasa achar hagasa, and generally people mix food at least once before Shabbat.

[4]      We should analyze whether one can allow removing with a spoon from a soup composed of broth and vegetables, in which the mixing has more effect. Regardless, in a case of need, one may be lenient about this, as we are lenient about every food fully cooked.

[5]      As for covering a cooked dish on the fire, the Shevitat Ha-Shabbat (Mevashel 26; Be’er Rechovot, 81) writes that one should forbid covering the pot sitting on the fire even when the food in it is cooked, because the Gemara in Chullin (108b) indicates that the covering of the pot causes the food to be blended and the taste to be spread throughout it, just as hagasa does (see Rashi ad loc., s.v. Nier).  Since we are stringent about hagasa, following the view of the Kol Bo, one should not stir the food on the fire even if it is fully cooked, and one should be stringent about covering it as well. Rav Neuwirth (Shemirat Shabbat Ke-hilkhata, ch. 1, n. 94) writes that it is good to be stringent about this.

However, it appears that one may be lenient by the letter of the law, because even hagasa of a food that is fully cooked on the fire is permissible according to the view of most Rishonim; even though we are stringent about this, following the view of Kol Bo, it is difficult to extend this stringency to the cover as well. This is the view of thee Ketzot Ha-shulchan (ch. 124; Baddei Ha-shulchan, n. 10), Rav S.Z. Auerbach, and Rav Y.S. Elyashiv (cited in Maor Ha-Shabbat, Vol. II, p. 312).  Similarly, generally the person who covers the pot is interested in maintaining the temperature, not stirring it, so that any consequent blending would be considered an unintentional act, and even if we say that this is a pesik reisha that it will inevitably cause some blending, it appears that this blending is so meaningless that one should not forbid it if the person does not intend it, even if we are talking about a pesik reisha.  (This idea, that one should not be liable for pesik reisha when the matter is not significant for most people, is cited in another context by Kehillot Yaakov, ch. 2; see Maor Ha-Shabbat, Vol. II, p. 261.)