Shiur #21: Hachazara ֠Returning Food to the Fire on Shabbat - Part 2

  • Harav Baruch Gigi
The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash

The Laws of Shabbat
Yeshivat Har Etzion


Shiur #21: Hachazara – Returning Food to the Fire on Shabbat

Part 2

 

By HaRav Baruch Gigi

Translated by David Silverberg

 

 

            In the previous shiur, we presented the debate among the Rishonim as to whether we demand two conditions to allow returning cooked food to the fire – that one had not placed it on the ground, and that he had in mind all along to return it to the fire – or if even one of these conditions suffices.  The Gemara cites two traditions on this matter, and the Rishonim disagree in arriving at a halakhic conclusion.

 

            A unique view among the Rishonim is that of the Rambam, who appears to follow neither of the two positions recorded in the Gemara.  He writes (Hilkhot Shabbat 3:10), "One may never return [cooked food to the fire], except to a stove that is cleared [of its coals] or covered…and only if he did not place the pot on the ground; but once he placed it on the ground, it may not be returned."  According to the Rambam, the possibility of hachazara depends solely on the factor of whether the pot had been placed on the ground in the interim; he makes no mention of the second factor, whether the individual had in mind all along to return the food to the fire.  The Ramakh (cited by the Kesef Mishneh) indeed asked:

 

Why did he [the Rambam] rule in accordance with the first version [cited in the Talmud, which requires that the pot had not been placed on the ground]?  And he did not even rule in accordance with the first version, for [according to the first version] it is forbidden even if he did not place it on the ground, if he did not have intention to return it!

 

The Kesef Mishneh explains that the requirement that one does not place it on the ground is accepted by most Amora'im, whereas the demand that he have the intention to return the food is mentioned only by Abayei, and the Rambam therefore did not require it.  This seems difficult to accept; far more likely is the approach taken by the Vilna Gaon, that the Rambam here follows the view of the Yerushalmi, in our chapter, which cites Rabbi Simon's comment, "If he placed it on the ground, it is forbidden to move it."  The Yerushalmi makes no mention of the second condition, that the individual have in mind to return the pot to the fire, and thus this is perhaps the source of the Rambam's view.

 

            The Gemara later raises several questions with regard to this halakha: "Rabbi Yirmiya asked: What if one hung them on a pole?  What if he placed them on a bed?  Rav Ashi asked: What if he moved them from one kettle to another?"  The Gemara leaves these questions unresolved.  The Yerushalmi, however, comments:

 

If it is hung on a peg or placed on a bench, we will say that if it is hot, it is permissible [to then return the food to the fire], otherwise, it is forbidden.  Rabbi Yochanan the son of Rabbi Marei said – only if he did not remove his hand from it; but if he removed his hand from it, it is forbidden.

 

Placing the pot on the ground constitutes the completion of the previous shehiya (period of time that the pot spent on the fire), since it is there where pots are placed after cooking.  The Gemara raises questions concerning the status of placing the pot on a bed or bench, or hanging it on a peg.  The fundamental question seems to be whether only complete detachment from the pot – by placing it on the floor – constitutes a disruption of the initial shehiya, or if releasing the pot from one's hand already signifies a disruption.  The Bavli leaves this as an open question, and the Rishonim disagree as to whether we should rule stringently (see Rosh, siman 2) or leniently (Riaz, Meiri and others).  The Rambam makes no mention of these situations, and he clearly held that hachazara is permitted in these cases, given that he forbade hachazara only if one had placed the pot on the ground.

 

            The Yerushalmi, by contrast, did not leave this as an open question, and concluded that so long as the food is still hot, and one has not released his hand from the pot, it may be returned to the fire.  Given that the Yerushalmi requires that one not let go of the pot to allow hachazara, it is difficult to understand the Vilna Gaon's claim that the Rambam rules entirely in accordance with the Yerushalmi.  It seems more likely that the Rambam followed the Yerushalmi in terms of the basic demand that the pot not be placed on the ground, but regarding the questionable situations addressed in the Gemara, he ruled leniently, on the basis of the rule of sefeika de-rabbanan (that we may rule leniently in situations of doubt concerning a rabbinic decree).  Still, the Rambam's view requires further clarification.

 

            The Bavli also addresses the case of hot water transferred from one kettle to another.  The Rishonim disagree in explaining the Gemara's question, each following his own approach to the basic law of hachazara.  Tosefot (38b s.v. pina) explained that since the second kettle is cooler than the first, one might stir the coals.  Other Rishonim, however, explained that since the second kettle had not been on the fire, the transfer of the water into it should perhaps constitute a new shehiya, and it thus gives the appearance of cooking.

 

            As for the final halakha, the Shulchan Arukh writes (253:2), "A stove that is cleared [of its coals] or covered, and one removed the pot from it, even on Shabbat – one may return it, so long as it is boiling and he did not place it on the ground."  The Shulchan Arukh thus follows the Rambam's view.  The Rama, however, adds that the pot must have remained all throughout in the individual's hand, and that he had in mind to return it.  He appears to advocate the stringent position, in accordance with the Rosh's ruling, requiring both conditions – that the pot is not placed on the ground, and that the individual had in mind to return it to the fire.  And it seems that also with regard to the questionable situations addressed by the Gemara he rules stringently, and for this reason required that the pot remain in one's hand, rather than placed on a bench or bed.[1]  The Mishna Berura rules that although one should optimally follow the stringent position of the Rama, be-di'avad one may be lenient so long as he satisfies even one of the conditions.  Namely, if he had in mind to return the pot even if he placed it on a bench[2], or if he kept it in his hand even if he did not have in mind to return it to the fire, he may nevertheless return it, provided that he did not place it on the ground, in which case both the Rambam and the Shulchan Arukh would forbid returning it.

 

"One May Return it Even on Shabbat"

 

            The Gemara (Shabbat 37a) records Rav Sheshet's comment, "According to the view that one may return [a pot to the fire], one may return it even on Shabbat."

            The Rishonim debate the intent of Rav Sheshet's remark.  Rashi explains that one may return the pot to the fire even if he had removed it from the fire on Shabbat day, and not only if he had removed it on Shabbat eve.  One who removes the fire at night returns it to the fire for the following day's meal, and for this reason, one might have assumed, the pot's return constitutes a continuation of the initial shehiya.  But one who removes the pot on Shabbat day would not normally return it to the fire, since there is no other meal for which he will need the food.  We might have therefore forbidden hachazara on Shabbat day, since the pot's return to the fire would be seen as a new shehiya, rather than a continuation of the previous shehiya.  Rav Sheshet therefore established that hachazara is permitted even on Shabbat day, since at times a person needs to return the pot to the fire even then, and it is thus considered a continuation of the previous shehiya.

 

            Tosefot and the Rosh explain that from Rav Sheshet's comment it emerges that the primary case of hachazara is when one returns the food to the fire before Shabbat, and Rav Sheshet extends this halakha to returning food to the fire on Shabbat.  This approach yields the stringent conclusion that when one returns cooked food to the fire before Shabbat he must comply with all the conditions of hachazara.

 

            Rabbenu Tam, in Sefer Ha-yashar (235), inferred this point from the Mishna's formulation, "he may not place [the pot on the stove] until he sweeps [the coals]," which suggests that it refers to placing the pot at a time when it is permitted to sweep the coals.[3]  The Ran, commenting on the Rif (15b in the Rif's pagination), agrees with this approach, but claims that this holds true only according to Beit Shammai, who require that a melakha must have gotten underway to some extent before Shabbat for it to be allowed to continue into Shabbat.  Since the pot will not have time to boil before the onset of Shabbat, Beit Shammai forbid returning the food before Shabbat.  Beit Hillel, however, disagree with the concept of shevitat keilim – that one may not allow melakha to occur with his property on Shabbat – and therefore they permit performing any action before sundown, even if the entire melakha will take place on Shabbat.  According to Tosefot, as mentioned, this prohibition applies even within Beit Hillel's position.

 

            We find a distinction between Rabbenu Tam's comments and those of the Rosh in explaining the basis of the prohibition of hachazara before Shabbat.  Rabbenu Tam writes:

 

That which we say in [the chapter] Kira, "he may not return until he sweeps" – this means even during the day [of Erev Shabbat], for since he places them upon it or inside it, he expresses his view that it requires warming, and there is thus the concern that he might stir [the coals].  Hence, he must make a reminder [for himself] by clearing or covering [the coals].

 

According to Rabbenu Tam, the Sages were concerned that one might stir the coals after the onset of Shabbat in order to warm the food.  It thus stands to reason that he would apply this prohibition only to a cold pot that will not boil before the onset of Shabbat, as he writes later (237) in explaining the provision of kedeira chayeta (allowing one to place a pot of raw food on the fire just prior to Shabbat): "because it is impossible for it to be eaten at night as a result of its stirring during twilight."  This corresponds to Tosefot's comments (36b s.v. u-veit Hillel):

 

Should you ask: What duration [of time] does he give for the prohibition on Erev Shabbat?  For when he removed it early in the morning, clearly it is permissible to return [it to the fire later]!  The Ri says that from the moment that it can no longer be brought to a boil by the end of the day it is forbidden to return [it to the fire].

 

Tosefot here make no mention of the concern that one may stir the coals, and it therefore occurred to me that they perhaps understood this prohibition differently.  When a pot is placed on the fire, the food begins to actually cook only after the water boils.  Hence, one might argue that when a pot is placed on the fire on Erev Shabbat and the water will boil only after the onset of Shabbat, we consider the pot as having been placed on Shabbat, which is forbidden for the reason of meichazi ke-mevashel (it gives the appearance of cooking).  If so, then we can understand as well why Tosefot there extend this prohibition to a boiling pot placed on the fire at a point where had it been cold it could not have begun to boil before the onset of Shabbat.[4]

 

            The Rosh understood the prohibition of hachazara on Erev Shabbat much differently.  He writes (3:2):

 

It appears to me that the prohibition against returning [food to the fire] during the day according to Beit Shammai even [if the stove is] cleared or covered – it means that during the day is the same as after dark: just as after dark, meaning, once it was cooked, one places it on a stove to leave it there, similarly, during the day it is forbidden to return it – meaning, after it has completed cooking and one leaves it standing on the stove until the evening to retain its heat.  If one then removes it from the stove, it is forbidden to return it, as a safeguard [against returning to the fire] on Shabbat.  And this is all a single decree, for since it will not cook any further on the stove, it is similar to the beginning of shehiya, and if we permit returning it during the day, one may also return it after dark.  But so long as it has not fully cooked, one can remove and return it all day long.

 

According to the Rosh, the prohibition against returning a pot of cooked food to the fire on Erev Shabbat stems from the similarity of a pot at that moment to a pot sitting on the fire on Shabbat.  Concerned that one might mistakenly permit hachazara on Shabbat itself, Chazal forbade hachazara before Shabbat.

 

            According to this view, that the hachazara prohibition begins already on Erev Shabbat, the question arises as to whether we require all the conditions for allowing hachazara, or if it suffices to clear or cover the stove.  Instinctively, we might hinge this issue on the debate between the Rosh and Rabbenu Tam.  According to Rabbenu Tam, who explained that hachazara is forbidden before Shabbat out of concern that one might stir the coals on Shabbat, it stands to reason that clearing away or covering the coals should suffice.  The Rosh, however, explained the prohibition as a safeguard against violations of hachazara on Shabbat, and therefore he would presumably require meeting all the conditions that apply to hachazara on Shabbat, even when returning a pot before Shabbat.

 

            In truth, however, neither conclusion – regarding Rabbenu Tam's view or the Rosh's view – is simple.  Tosefot write (48a s.v. de-zeitim):

 

The practice to remove the pot from the stove and place it on the ground while the stove is being cleared [of its coals] – we perhaps follow the version [recorded] in the beginning of [the chapter] Kira (Shabbat 38b) that Chizkiya, in the name of Abayei, permitted placing [cooked food] on the ground [and then returning it to the fire] if he has in mind [all throughout] to return it [to the fire afterward].

 

Tosefot thus clearly held that in principle, all the conditions required to allow hachazara on Shabbat apply to hachazara before Shabbat, as well.  The Rosh similarly writes (4:2):

 

But this is somewhat of a problem for their practice to clear [the coals from the stove] and remove the pot without paying attention to where they place it.  And according to one version of Rav Chizkiya in the name of Abayei, we infer from it [his statement] – above, in the chapter Kira (38b) – that if one places [the pot] on the ground, it is forbidden [to then return it to the fire] even if he had in mind [all throughout] to return it.  And even on Erev Shabbat it is forbidden to return, as I explained above.  Perhaps they follow the other version, which allows placing [the pot] on the ground if one had in mind to return it.

 

However, this ruling of the Rosh appears to contradict his own comments, in the third chapter of Masekhet Shabbat (siman 2):

 

Rabbi Chelbo said in the name of Rav Chama Bar Guriya, in the name of Rav: This applies only on it [the stove]; but inside it, it is forbidden to return [a pot].  Rav Zerika said in the name of Rabbi Ami, in the name of Rabbi Tadai: This applies only if they are still in his hand; but if he placed them on the ground, it is forbidden.  Chizkiya said in the name of Abayei: That which he said, "If there are still in his hand, it is permissible" – this applies only if he had in mind to return [the pot]; but if he did not have in mind to return [the pot], it is forbidden."  This refers to Rav Sheshet, who spoke of returning [a pot to the fire] even on Shabbat; but during the day, one may return [a pot to the fire] in any manner.

 

Here he claims that the entire discussion concerning a pot that had been placed on the ground, or that one did not have in mind to return to the fire, relates only to returning a pot on Shabbat itself.  On Friday, however, hachazara is permitted, in direct opposition to the Rosh's own ruling in the fourth chapter.  The Korban Netanel there advances a far-fetched reading of the Rosh's comments to reconcile the conflicting the passages.  He explains that when the Rosh allowed hachazara during the day even without meeting the normal conditions of hachazara, he refers only to the period where hachazara is permitted, meaning, before the point at which the pot could not reach a boil by the onset of Shabbat.

 

            The Vilna Gaon held that the Rosh requires only that the stove be covered or cleared of its coals to allow hachazara before Shabbat.  In chapter 4, the Rosh works within the position of Tosefot, which he does not follow.  Besides the obvious difficulty in this speculation, it results in Tosefot requiring all the normal conditions for hachazara even on Erev Shabbat, with the Rosh requiring only covering the stove – in direct contrast to the straightforward rationale we advanced earlier.  Perhaps the Rosh held that although the hachazara prohibition before Shabbat serves to safeguard against violations of hachazara on Shabbat, the laws of hachazara before and after Shabbat need not necessarily correspond to one another.  Clearing or covering the stove provides enough of a discernible indication to prevent against possible confusion, and therefore the other conditions of hachazara are not necessary.[5]

 

            As for Tosefot, they perhaps held – as we explained their view earlier – that the need to clear or cover the stove to permit hachazara stems from the concern of meichazi ke-mevashel, to avoid giving the appearance of cooking on Shabbat.  They therefore require meeting all the conditions of hachazara even before Shabbat.  According to Rabbenu Tam, however, it stands to reason that clearing or covering the stove would suffice.

 

            As for the final halakha, the Shulchan Arukh follows the view of the majority of Rishonim, in opposition to Tosefot, that the prohibition of hachazara does not apply at all before Shabbat.  But the Rama rules:

 

Some say that just before dark, or just before "Borchu" which for us amounts to the acceptance of Shabbat – if it is so close [to Shabbat] that if the pot had cooled it would be impossible to bring it to a boil by the end of the day, it has the same status as Shabbat itself [with respect to hachazara].  Some are lenient in this regard.  The practice is to be lenient, but it is proper to be stringent where there is no great need [to act stringently].

 

The Mishna Berura follows the view of the Vilna Gaon, that even the stringent position requires only that the stove be covered to allow hachazara before Shabbat, and does not demand that one meet all the conditions of hachazara.

 

Removing a Pot During the Day and Returning it at Night

 

            The Yerushalmi states in the third chapter of Masekhet Shabbat:

 

If one removed it during the day [of Erev Shabbat], he may return it during the day; if he removed it after dark, he may return it after dark; if he removed it during the day and Shabbat set in – Rabbi Simon… said in the name of Rabbi Hoshaya, if he placed it on the ground, it may not be moved.

 

The Ramban comments on this passage:

 

This proves that the meaning of "even on Shabbat" is as follows: Even if one removed [the pot from the fire] on Erev Shabbat and Shabbat set in, he is allowed to return [the pot], for it will then turn out that only the returning occurred on Shabbat.  For the Mishna refers to removing and returning on Shabbat, and they therefore forbade [returning if] one placed it on the ground because it resembles an initial placing and cooking, since he had removed it on Erev Shabbat.  It would seem according to this Yerushalmi that if one removed [a pot from the fire] on Shabbat he is allowed to return it, even if he had placed it on the ground.

 

The Ran, in his comments to the Rif, likewise explains the Yerushalmi in this manner.  They appear to have understood that the Yerushalmi imposes the condition that the pot had not been placed on the ground only if one removed the pot before Shabbat and wishes to return it to the fire on Shabbat.  But if one removes the pot from the fire after Shabbat had begun, he may return it to the fire on Shabbat even if he had placed it on the ground in the interim.  The reason is that when one removes the pot from the fire on Shabbat, he does not then begin a new shehiya on Shabbat, whereas if he removed the pot before Shabbat, he must ensure continuity between the shehiya before Shabbat and the new shehiya, and he must therefore not let go of the pot in the interim.

 

            The Beit Yosef (253) cites and dismisses this position:

 

It is clear that this is not the view of Tosefot (36b s.v. u-veit Hillel), the Rosh (3:2) and those in their group, for they forbid returning [a pot to the fire] even during the day shortly before dark, and certainly [they would forbid returning] if one removed it after dark.  The Rambam, too, writes explicitly the opposite of this Yerushalmi, for he writes in chapter 3 (halakha 10), "Anything that may be left on the fire, when it is removed on Shabbat one may not return it to its place…unless he did not place the pot on the ground."

 

The Shulchan Arukh makes no mention of this position, but the Rama writes:

 

Some say that all this is forbidden only when one removed it from the stove during the day [of Erev Shabbat] and did not return it until dark; but if he took it from there after dark, even if he [then] placed it on the ground it is permissible [to return it to the fire afterward].  And indeed the practice is to be lenient regarding our ovens which have the status of a kira [stove in Talmudic times], and they rely on the lenient position; but it is preferable to be stringent.

 

It must be noted that the poskim disagree concerning the scope of this halakha.  Some authorities held that this provision absolves one only from the conditions that he have in mind to return the pot to the fire and that he had not put it down; but we still require that the stove be garuf ve-katum and that one places the pot over the stove, and not inside it.  The Beit Yosef writes:

 

As for the practice in some locations to return a food inside an oven on Shabbat, on the basis of the Yerushalmi, as the Ran wrote, "This implies that the Talmud forbade [hachazara] only when one removed it during the day [of Erev Shabbat] and wishes to return it after dark; but when one removes it on Shabbat, he may return it, even if he had placed it on the ground," even though this refers only to returning to a stove that is cleared or covered, as the Mishna explicitly states, but to a stove that is neither cleared nor covered…there is no disagreement that one may not return, for this is stated in the Mishna – it is possible to say that our ovens resemble a kira, as Rabbenu Chananel commented.  And since at the time one returns [the pot] to them its coals have dimmed, it is considered garuf ve-katum, as stated in the Gemara.  Nevertheless, it appears that this is forbidden, for the Gemara (37a) permits returning only on a stove, but not inside it… Furthermore, we do not follow this Yerushalmi according to the poskim, as I wrote earlier.

 

The Rama, however, claimed that those who practice this leniency do so on the basis of the Yerushalmi; in his view, then, this halakha allows even returning a pot to the inside of a stove.  He writes (253:5), "Some allow placing [a pot] inside an oven in which they had baked during the day [of Erev Shabbat], for since they did not enclose anything in it, and merely baked in it during the day, only a small amount of heat remains and there is concern for cooking."  The Mishna Berura, however, qualifies this ruling of the Rama:

 

For although we maintain that it is forbidden to return [a pot] to the inside of an oven and stove even if it is garuf ve-katum, for it is permissible only on it [but not inside], here, since no hot food has been enclosed within the oven for Shabbat, and one merely baked in it during the day, it retains only a small amount of heat for the following day, and in this manner it does not give the appearance of cooking.  This implies that if hot food had been enclosed within the oven from the evening, in which case the oven's heat is considerable, it would be forbidden to place previously-cooked food in it in the morning to be warmed.

 

He then adds, "But from the Darkhei Moshe, and also from the Rama above, in his note to se'if 2, it is clear that people had the practice to allow returning to the inside of the oven under all circumstances, though he concludes there that one should preferably be stringent."

 

            We find yet a third view on this subject, foregoing even on the requirement of garuf ve-katum if one wishes to return a pot that he had removed only after Shabbat had set in.  The Tashbetz (responsa, 2:130) writes, "But according to the Yerushalmi… Accordingly, if one removed it after dark, it is permissible under any circumstance to return it, and some are lenient on the basis of the Yerushalmi even if it is neither cleared nor covered."

 

            Some poskim justified the practice followed in certain communities to be lenient in this regard.  Nevertheless, as far as the final halakha is concerned, Sefaradim should not rely on this view at all, and even Ashkenazim should rely on this leniency only with respect to placing the pot on the ground in the interim; they should still ensure to place the food only over the stove, and that the stove is covered.

 

            It should also be noted that the reading of the Yerushalmi advanced by these Rishonim is far from simple.  In my humble opinion, the Yerushalmi's intent is precisely to the contrary, that the conditions required for hachazara suffice only if one removed the pot on Shabbat, whereas if one removed the pot before Shabbat, we do not allow hachazara at all, since returning the pot would constitute a new shehiya.  Before we present this reading of the Yerushalmi, let us emphasize that several Rishonim explicitly state this position.  Rabbenu Tam, in Sefer Ha-yashar (237), and the Tosefot Rid, in our sugya, write:

 

However, even though we allow hachazara on Shabbat, this is only if one removed it on Shabbat and it had been placed [on the fire] since the daytime [of Erev Shabbat], such that the returning is associated with the removal on Shabbat.  But if one had not placed it [on the fire] during the day [of Erev Shabbat], and he wishes to place it during bein ha-shemashot [after sundown], this is not called returning, but rather the beginning of a [new] action, and this is certainly forbidden.  For only shehiya was allowed; initiating the placement [of a pot over a fire] on Shabbat was not allowed.

 

It seems that we should explain the Yerushalmi's comments as follows:

 

"If one removed it during the day [of Erev Shabbat], he may return it during the day.

If he removed it after dark, he may return it after dark.

If he removed it during the day and Shabbat set in?"

 

This question remains unanswered, as occurs very often in the Yerushalmi.  In fact, we find an identical discussion in the Yerushalmi concerning hatmana, and there it is perfectly clear that the Yerushalmi leaves unresolved the question of whether one may perform hatmana on food after Shabbat if he had removed it from its hatmana before Shabbat.  In that instance, the poskim concur that one should not perform a new hatmana, as we will discuss when we come to that topic.

 

            The subsequent passage in the Yerushalmi, which discusses the condition that the pot had not been placed on the ground, refers to the aforementioned halakha allowing hachazara if one removed the pot from the fire after dark, and qualifies that ruling.  This is, I believe, the correct interpretation of the Yerushalmi.

 

            Nevertheless, those who follow the Rama's ruling and rely on the Ramban and Ran's reading of the Yerushalmi may continue their practice, given the considerable weight carried by an established minhag.

 

Notes:

 

1.         This is the straightforward reading of the Rama.  There is room to discuss, however, whether he perhaps had in mind the Yerushalmi's ruling, allowing hachazara if one placed the pot on a bench so long as he did not release his hand.

2.         The Chazon Ish was lenient even in a case where one placed the pot on a bench, even if he did not have in mind to return it to the fire.

3.         Others explain the Mishna to mean that one may not return a pot on Shabbat unless he had swept away the coals before Shabbat.

4.         This approach bears resemblance to the Ran's explanation of Beit Shammai's view.  We advance this theory within the view of Beit Hillel.  It emerges from this approach that Beit Hillel understand this prohibition on the basis of meichazi ke-mevashel, whereas Beit Shammai attribute it to the requirement of shevitat keilim (to ensure that one's possessions do not perform melakha on Shabbat).

5.         The reason, perhaps, is that when dealing with an uncovered stove, one runs the risk of a Torah violation, whereas the other conditions are necessary to avoid the problem of meichazi ke-mevashel, and therefore they do not obtain before Shabbat.  Still, this would require further analysis.