Shiur #17: Shehiya
The Laws of Shabbat
Yeshivat Har Etzion
By HaRav Baruch Gigi
Translated by David Silverberg
In the coming shiurim we will address the prohibitions enacted by Chazal pertaining to warming food before and during Shabbat. We hope to discuss the following topics:
1. Shehiya leaving pots and foods over a fire before Shabbat in preparation for Shabbat.
2. Hachazara returning pots to the fire on Shabbat for additional use.
3. Taking cooked food from the refrigerator on Shabbat to warm them.
4. Hatmana covering pots with various kinds of coverings.
In discussing each topic, we will address the various situations that arise and reach halakhic conclusions relevant to the modern kitchen.
The Prohibition of Shehiya
The Tanna'im debate the basic definition of the prohibition of shehiya. The opening Mishna of the third chapter of Masekhet Shabbat (36b) states:
A stove that was kindled with straw and rakings one may place food on it; with peat or wood one may not place until he clears [the coals from the stove], or until he places ashes [over it for the coals to cool]. Beit Shammai say: [This applies] to hot water, but not food; Beit Hillel say: both hot water and food. Beit Shammai say: One may remove [the water from the stove], but he may not return it [to the fire afterward]; Beit Hillel say: One may even return it.
It thus emerges from the Mishna that one may place food before Shabbat on a stove lit with straw or rakings, which do not become coal and hence do not lend themselves to the concern that one may stir the coals to kindle them. But if the stove is fueled with materials such as peat and wood, which produce coal, the coals must be either removed or covered with ashes before one may place food on the stove.
The Gemara raises the question of what the Mishna means when it forbids "placing" food over a stove whose coals have been neither cleared nor covered. The first explanation suggested by the Gemara claims that the Mishna forbids only returning food to such a stove on Shabbat, but permits leaving food there before Shabbat. If so, then the Mishna would follow the view of Chananya, recorded in a Berayta, who allows leaving food on such a stove before Shabbat provided that the food has already reached the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai (either one-half or one-third cooked). According to Chananya, once a food has reached the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai, we are not concerned that the individual will stir the coals to hasten the cooking process. Thus, according to this explanation, the Mishna requires clearing or covering the coals only for the purpose of hachazara returning food to the stove on Shabbat. Alternatively, the Gemara comments, the Mishna perhaps follows the view of the Chakhamim, who are concerned that one may stir the coals even if the food has already reached the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai. They thus forbid leaving food over a stove before Shabbat unless the coals are removed or covered. According to this reading, the Mishna requires removing or covering the coals even for shehiya, when leaving food on the fire before Shabbat, not to mention for hachazara.
The Gemara resolves its question from the two disagreements between Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel recorded in the latter part of the Mishna: "Beit Shammai say: [This applies] to hot water, but not food; Beit Hillel say: both hot water and food. Beit Shammai say: One may remove [the water from the stove], but he may not return it [to the fire afterward]; Beit Hillel say: One may even return it." The fact that Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel argue separately with regard to the issue of hachazara indicates that their first disagreement, in interpreting what the Mishna allows leaving food on the stove, relates to shehiya. Thus, the Mishna here discusses shehiya, and not hachazara, in accordance with second explanation proposed by the Gemara.
Before attempting to explain the underlying basis of the debate between Chananya and the Chakhamim, it must first be emphasized that even Chananya does not allow leaving on an uncovered stove food that has not yet been cooked to the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai. The debate between Chananya and the Chakhamim pertains only to food that has already reached this stage of cooking, which Chananya allows one to place on an uncovered stove before Shabbat, while the Chakhamim forbid doing so.
The Rishonim debate the question of whether one may place food that has not reached ma'akhal Ben Derusai on a covered stove. Most Rishonim rule leniently, since if the stove is covered there is no concern that one may stir, and there is thus no reason to forbid leaving the food on the stove. Some Rishonim, however, felt that beyond the concern for stirring, a second concern is involved that one cannot overcome by covering or removing the coals, namely, meichazi ke-mevashel giving the appearance of cooking. According to these Rishonim, leaving raw food over fire on Erev Shabbat (meaning, before Shabbat begins) resembles cooking and should therefore be forbidden.
Let us explain this point further. Generally speaking, we follow Beit Hillel's position, that one may perform actions on Erev Shabbat that then continue automatically, without human involvement, on Shabbat itself, since the Shabbat laws does not require shevitat keilim that one's property desist from melakha. This is in opposition to Beit Shammai's position, as discussed in the Mishnayot towards the end of the first chapter of Masekhet Shabbat. According to the view mentioned above, however, the melakha of bishul differs in this respect from other categories of forbidden activity. Cooking is generally performed by placing a pot over the fire and allowing the cooking process to proceed independently, and the end result is then attributed to the individual who placed the pot over the fire. Therefore, these Rishonim claim, if a food has not reached the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai, one may not place it on the fire before Shabbat, because since it will become cooked only on Shabbat, and we will attribute this result to the individual's actions, it would then appear as if he cooked on Shabbat itself. According to this view, even if the coals have been removed or covered, one may not leave uncooked food on it before Shabbat if the food has not reached the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai.
The Rashba writes in our sugya:
The food of which our Mishna speaks in my opinion, according to the view that the Mishna refers to leaving [food on the fire before Shabbat, as opposed to returning food to the stove during Shabbat], if one kindled it [the stove] with straw or rakings and even if it is not cleared [of its coals], or with peat and wood and it is cleared or covered, one may leave on it [food before Shabbat] even if it has not reached ma'akhal Ben Derusai. For the reason [for the prohibition] is the concern that one might stir, and in a case of straw or rakings, or of peat and wood when one removed or covered [it], there is no [concern] for stirring in [such a] stove, all the more so if it is ma'akhal Ben Derusai and all the more so if continued cooking is beneficial for it [the food]. But according to the view that the Mishna speaks of returning [food to the fire], but leaving [on the fire before Shabbat] is permitted even if [the stove] is not cleared or covered, the food mentioned in the Mishna refers only to [food] that has reached ma'akhal Ben Derusai, as Chananya explicitly stated, "Anything that has reached ma'akhal Ben Derusai may be left on a stove that is neither cleared nor covered." But a food that is only partially cooked, that has not reached in its cooking the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai no.
The majority of the poskim appear to concur with the Rashba's lenient position. This must be the view of any posek who applies the Torah prohibition of bishul so long as the food has not been fully cooked, even after it reaches the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai: once we allow leaving food at the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai over a covered stove, we must also permit leaving food that has not reached that point. Since in any event we deal within the range of Torah-proscribed cooking, it should make no difference whether or not the food has reached the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai.
We do, however, find two Rishonim who disagree, and hold that one may not leave food even over a covered stove if it has yet to reach the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai:
1) Rabbenu Yona (cited by the Rosh, Shabbat 3:1):
Rabbenu Yona z"l wrote that there is no difficulty here whatsoever, for this explanation is necessary even according to the Rabbis [the Chakhamim], and even according to Rav, who forbade [leaving on the fire food] for which continued cooking is beneficial. It informs us that since it was roasted during the day [before Shabbat] to the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai, one may leave it on a cleared or covered [stove]. But certainly one may not roast it unless it will be roasted during the day, even according to the view that one clears or covers the coals [and may then leave food on the stove].
2) The Chiddushim Ha-meyuchasim La-Ran (38a s.v. ibaya): "But if it is only partially cooked and has not reached ma'akhal Ben Derusai, both shehiya and hachazara are forbidden, even though [the stove] is cleared, because it resembles cooking on Shabbat."
Rabbenu Yona does not explain the reason for this prohibition, but the Chiddushim Ha-meyuchasim la-Ran explains that this gives the appearance of cooking, as we discussed above. One might question this view in light of a sugya towards the end of the first chapter of Masekhet Shabbat (18b):
Now that it has been said that this is a decree lest one stir the coals, it is permissible to place a pot of raw food in an oven just before dark on Erev Shabbat. Why? Since it is not suitable for the nighttime, one does not have his mind on it and he will not come to stir the coals.
It is thus permissible to place a pot of raw food in an oven or on a stove that has been neither cleared nor covered. This halakha becomes difficult to understand in light of the position of the Chiddushim Ha-meyuchasim La-Ran, since the food certainly cooks on Shabbat. And although there is no concern that one might stir the coals in such a case, we should still forbid placing the food before Shabbat because it gives the appearance of cooking, just as we forbid placing over even a covered fire food that has begun cooking but has yet to reach ma'akhal Ben Derusai.
For this reason, perhaps, the Rashba understood Rabbenu Yona's position as based upon the concern that one might stir:
One might disagree and claim that anything that has not reached ma'akhal Ben Derusai may not be left [on the stove before Shabbat], even on a cleared or covered [stove] and [even] if one lit it with straw and rakings, because since it has cooked somewhat and not yet reached ma'akhal Ben Derusai, one has his mind upon it and might stir. This is similar to what was said regarding pounded wheat and lupines, that since they require an extended period of cooking, one's mind is on it and he might stir; even with straw and rakings [the concern of] stirring is applicable in such a case.
Logically, however, it is difficult to understand how the concern of stirring applies even if the stove is cleared of its coals. Indeed, the Rashba himself rejects this notion: "However, the first [explanation] seems correct, because at least in a cleared [stove] there is no reason for concern and for any decree."
In any event, it behooves us to explain the view of the Chiddushim Ha-meyuchasim La-Ran, which applied to this case the concern that leaving the pot on a stove gives the appearance of cooking. The explanation seems to be as follows. If a pot had begun cooking and the individual anticipates the completion of its cooking within a relatively short period, he accompanies the process and gives the appearance of taking part in its execution. Chazal were therefore concerned that he will give the appearance of cooking on Shabbat, even though he placed the food on the fire before Shabbat, since he accompanies the process on Shabbat. But in a case of raw food, which a person places on the fire and then pays no attention to it, he does not accompany the cooking process and thus does not give the impression of cooking on Shabbat. Neither is there any concern of stirring, and Chazal therefore allowed placing a pot of raw food on even an uncovered stove before Shabbat.
The Shulchan Arukh rules that one may leave a food before Shabbat on a covered stove even if the food has not reached the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai, in accordance with the majority view among the Rishonim. The Bei'ur Halakha, however, writes, "See the chiddushim of Rabbi Akiva Eiger, who wrote that this law is not clear, for some poskim maintain that even a cleared or covered [stove] does not suffice for this." He appears to require le-khatechila following the stringent position.
Returning to the Gemara's discussion, in light of what we have seen we may offer two explanations for the debate among the Tanna'im:
1) Chananya and the Chakhamim perhaps agree that fundamentally, shehiya should be forbidden out of concern that one might stir the coals, but they disagree with regard to the limits of this concern. According to Chananya, we have no reason for concern once the food has reached the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai, whereas the Chakhamim felt that even once the food has reached this stage we must still be concerned that the individual will stir the coals.
2) Alternatively, Chananya and the Chakhamim perhaps argue on the fundamental question of whether we have reason to be concerned about the possibility of stirring at all. Chazal forbade placing on the fire food that has yet to reach ma'akhal Ben Derusai for an entirely different reason, namely, that it gives the impression of cooking. This explanation of Chananya's position becomes clearer if we accept the view that forbids shehiya even on a covered stove if the food has yet to reach ma'akhal Ben Derusai. Nevertheless, it could accommodate even the view that permits shehiya on a covered stove, as one might claim that the covering overcomes even the concern of the appearance of cooking. After the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai, however, this concern does not arise according to Chananya, and he therefore permits shehiya.
The Chakhamim might hold that until the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai, there is both the issue of meichazei ke-mevashel (giving the appearance of cooking) and the concern of stirring, but maintain that after the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai, the problem of meichazei ke-mevashel no longer obtains, and we are concerned only for the possibility of stirring. Alternatively, they perhaps acknowledge only the concern that one might stir the coals, and this factor underlies the shehiya prohibition at all stages of the cooking process.
Explaining Chananya's Position
The Gemara in Masekhet Shabbat (37b) records a debate among the Amora'im concerning a fully-cooked food that is mitztameik ve-yafeh lo (literally, "it dries and this is beneficial for it) meaning, continued cooking is beneficial for its taste. Rav Shemuel Bar Yehuda cites Rabbi Yochanan as allowing leaving food of this kind on an uncovered stove, whereas Rav and Shemuel forbid doing so. The simplest explanation of this debate is that it works within the position of the Chakhamim, for according to Chananya, once the food reaches the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai, one may already leave it on an uncovered stove; this should apply all the more so to a fully-cooked food.
The Ba'al Ha-ma'or, however, who rules in accordance with Chananya and proceeds to address the Gemara's discussion concerning mitztamek ve-yafeh lo, presents the following approach:
Our opinion leans towards the view of Rabbenu Hai [Gaon], that we do not distinguish between different cases of shehiya Rather, they are all permissible with any food that is at the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai. But this applies only if continued cooking is detrimental; but if continued cooking is beneficial, then according to the scholars of the east, who were close to Rav and Shemuel, one may not leave it on a stove that is not cleared or covered, even though it has been fully cooked.
According to the Ba'al Ha-ma'or, the discussion regarding mitztameik ve-yafeh lo is relevant even according to Chananya.
The Ramban, in the Milchamot, responds:
Behold, the Ba'al Ha-ma'or z"l added for us another surprise in his comments, as he asserted that anything at the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai may not be left on a stove that is not cleared or covered if continued cooking is beneficial, according to all views. The rule according to his view is that anything that is mitztameik ve-yafeh lo is forbidden if it was fully cooked, whereas if continued cooking is detrimental [shehiya] is permissible once it has been cooked to the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai. These are words of nonsense, for any food at ma'akhal Ben Derusai cooks and continued cooking is beneficial for it until it is fully cooked to the point where general people would eat it, and it requires stirring of the coals until it is cooked
It would appear that this debate between the Ba'al Ha-ma'or and the Ramban in explaining Chananya's position hinges on how one explains the halakha allowing shehiya after ma'akhal Ben Derusai. The Ramban understood that the moment the food reaches the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai, there is no longer, in Chananya's view, any concern of stirring. For since the food is edible albeit barely so one will not stir the coals to hasten the cooking process. Indeed, the Mishna Berura (253:37) writes, "For since it has been cooked to the point where it is edible under dire circumstances, there is no longer any concern that one might stir, for since it is edible, why would he stir for no reason?" Clearly, then, no concern arises in a situation of mitztameik ve-yafeh lo, and all the more so, since the food has already become suitable for normal consumption.
The Ba'al Ha-ma'or, however, held that Chananya perceived the concern of stirring from a dual perspective, as a combination of two parameters: the motivation to stir, and, in contrast, the chances and risks that stirring entails. So long as the food has yet to reach the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai, the motivation for stirring is high, while the risk of burning the food is low. But once the food reaches ma'akhal Ben Derusai, the motivation decreases, and the individual will therefore more likely take into account the risks. Hence, if ongoing cooking is detrimental to the food, we can permit shehiya once the food has reached the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai, given the risk of burning as a result of stirring and the fact that the food will likely fully cook even without stirring. But if continued cooking is beneficial for the food's taste, then we should forbid shehiya despite the fact that the food has been fully cooked, because there is no risk of burning while there is a good chance of beneficial cooking as the process is advanced. The Amora'im indeed debate this point, because despite this high likelihood, the motivation for stirring is still quite low.
I believe that Tosefot accepted the Ba'al Ha-ma'or's understanding of Chananya's position. In seeking to prove that Rav disagreed with Chananya, they write (37a s.v. i omrat bi-shlama):
Rav does not follow Chananya, for Chananya allows [shehiya in a case of] mitztameik ve-yafeh lo, for the Mishna's comment, "One may not roast meat or an egg unless they can be roasted during the day [before the onset of Shabbat]" follows Chananya's position, and we say later that for an egg continued cooking is beneficial, and Rav later forbids [shehiya in a case of] mitztameik ve-yafeh lo.
Tosefot prove that Chananya allows shehiya in case where ongoing cooking is beneficial for the food's taste from the fact that he allows leaving an egg to roast on Erev Shabbat if it reaches the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai before Shabbat, even though continued cooking is beneficial for eggs. Apparently, the fact that Chananya allowed shehiya for a food that has reached ma'akhal Ben Derusai does not suffice as evidence that he would permit shehiya in a case of mitztameik ve-yafeh lo, as the Ramban contended. Tosefot appear to work off the assumption of the Ba'al Ha-ma'or, that allowing shehiya for food at ma'akhal Ben Derusai does not necessarily result in allowing shehiya in a case of mitztameik ve-yafeh lo.
Rav Hai Gaon, as cited in the Rashba in our sugya, advances a similar approach to that of the Ba'al Ha-ma'or:
Halakha follows the view that the Mishna speaks of returning [food to the stove, rather than shehiya], which was supported by the explanation stated by Rav Sheshet in the name of Rabbi Yochanan, "A stove that was kindled with peat and wood one may leave on it hot water that has not been fully heated, and food that has not been fully cooked... "And Rava further drew support for it from the two clauses in the Mishna, etc. And also Rav Shemuel Ben Rav Yehuda said like this in the name of Rabbi Yochanan regarding hot water that had been fully heated and food that had been fully cooked, even if continued cooking is beneficial It turns out that it is permissible in two cases: if it was warmed but never cooked at all, and if it was cooked to ma'akhal Ben Derusai, even if it was fully cooked.
The Rashba comments:
From the fact that he said "even if it was fully cooked" it appears that he z"l held that Rav Shemuel Ben Rav Yehuda, in the name of Rabbi Yochanan, introduces the novel concept that even if it was fully cooked and ongoing cooking is beneficial, [shehiya] is permissible, even though there is reason to decree [against shehiya in such a case], in that since only a little stirring suffices to have it dry further, one might have his mind on it and stir it We see that a fully-cooked [food] that needs to dry further, and this is beneficial, is more likely to be forbidden than [a food] that is not fully cooked, regardless of whether continued cooking is beneficial or detrimental.
According to this view, Chananya allows shehiya with any food that has been cooked to the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai. However, once it is fully cooked, we must distinguish between foods for which continued cooking is detrimental, in which case shehiya is certainly permitted, and mitztameik ve-yafeh lo, where there is reason to forbid shehiya, for since it is fully cooked and just a slight stirring is beneficial for the food, one might stir it. On the other hand, when dealing with fully-cooked food, one has little motivation to stir the coals, and therefore the Amora'im in the sugya on 37b debate the status of such food with regard to shehiya. According to this explanation, this debate surrounds the question of whether the focal point of the concern relates to the chances for enhancing the food by stirring, or to the urgency of the stirring.
The Ramban was aware of this explanation and rejected it out of hand. In his view, Chananya allows shehiya in all cases after the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai, and the entire discussion concerning mitztameik ve-yafeh lo works only within the view of the Chakhamim. The Ramban writes (chiddushim, Shabbat 37a s.v. mahu li-smokh):
If someone says to you: Perhaps it is permissible to leave [on the fire food at] ma'akhal Ben Derusai because he does not have in mind to eat it until the following day, and the following day it is already cooked and dried, but when it is fully cooked and it requires only further drying which is beneficial for it, it is forbidden, because he eats it at night and will come to stir these are words of nonsense, for at ma'akhal Ben Derusai one wants it for the night and he does not take his mind off it at all. And Chananya stated a general principle that anything that is ma'akhal Ben Derusai or further, whether it dries or cooks, [may be left on the fire before Shabbat].
It is unclear whether Chananya allows leaving a food that has not even reached the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai on a covered stove; this question arises also within the view of the Chakhamim.
Regarding food that has reached the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai, the question arises within Chananya's view whether he allows shehiya in all cases once the food has reached this point, as the Ramban contends, or if he would forbid shehiya if continued cooking is beneficial for the food. Yet a third possibility is that from the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai Chananya permits shehiya in all cases, unless the food has already been fully cooked, in which he would forbid shehiya if ongoing cooking enhances the food.
We will continue this topic in next week's shiur.
1. In this shiur we will not discuss Rashi's unique approach to the prohibition of shehiya and its relationship to hatmana, which the other Rishonim dealt with at length and raised numerous questions against. We addressed Rashi's view within the broader framework of the general topic of warming foods before and during Shabbat in an article in the yeshiva's journal Alon Shevut, vol. 146, entitled, "Be-gidrei Shehiya Ve-hatmana Be-shitat Rashi."
2. In a later shiur on the topic of hachazara we will explain the reason why clearing the coals would be required to allow returning the food to the stove.
3. We will take this opportunity to clarify a point that, while obvious, many people tend to misunderstand: in Halakha, the term Erev Shabbat refers to Friday until the onset of Shabbat, and leil Shabbat ("Shabbat eve") denotes the period from the moment Shabbat begins until Shabbat morning.
4. Meaning, if the stove is not cleared or covered; otherwise, even the Chakahmim allow leaving food on the stove.
5. Later in our discussion we will explain the details of this halakha.
6. He refers here to his first approach, permitting placing any food on a stove that has been cleared of it coals.
7. One might have suggested a different explanation, that the halakha allowing placing raw food in the oven was said only within the position of the Chakhamim, who held that the prohibition of shehiya stems solely from the concern of stirring. But according to the view that the prohibition involves the outward appearance of cooking, then even raw food may not be placed on the fire just prior to Shabbat. One might infer this approach from the Gemara's formulation, "Now that it has been said that this is a decree lest one stir the coals " However, we cannot attribute this approach to the Chiddushim Ha-meyuchasim La-Ran, which on the one hand allows placing a pot of raw food in the oven before Shabbat, while also forbidding leaving a food that has not reached ma'akhal Ben Derusai on a covered stove.
8. In a later shiur on the subject of hachazara, we will discuss the views among the Rishonim who explain the need to cover the stove before returning food as intended to overcome the concern of meichazi ke-mevashel.
9. This approach, that views the prohibition of shehiya before the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai as based on the concern of meichazi ke-mevashel, is particularly compelling according to the view among the Rishonim that bishul applies only until the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai. This assumption quite possibly underlies Chananya's position. This also emerges from the straightforward reading of the sugya, which mentions the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai both with regard to shehiya and concerning the prohibition bishul akum (eating foods prepared by gentiles). We should also note Rashi's formulation: "This food, which is at the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai we are not concerned if it continues cooking on Shabbat." This seems to imply that until ma'akhal Ben Derusai the problem involves the continuation of the cooking process on Shabbat, rather than the concern that one may stir the coals.
10. It seems to me that this is Rashi's view; we will discuss this point later.
11. I believe the Ramban means to say that in a case of mitztameik ve-yafeh lo, it is forbidden to leave the food on a fire even if it is fully cooked.
12. See Tosefot, Shabbat 36b end of s.v. chamin: "For [even] without stirring they will be fully heated."
13. See Mishna, 19b and Gemara, 20a.