Shiur #23: The Basic Principles of Hatmana

  • Harav Baruch Gigi
The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash

The Laws of Shabbat
Yeshivat Har Etzion


Shiur #23: The Basic Principles of Hatmana

By HaRav Baruch Gigi

Translated by David Silverberg

 

            Hatmana means covering a pot with various materials in order for it to retain its heat.[1]  There are two kinds of materials used for hatmana: those that merely maintain the current temperature of the pot, but do not increase its heat (davar she-eino mosif hevel), and those that cause the current temperature of the pot to rise (davar ha-mosif hevel).  Chazal forbade certain kinds of hatmana on Shabbat, and in the first section of this shiur we will examine the reason behind this enactment.

 

Materials That Do Not Increase the Heat of the Pot

 

            The Mishna states at the end of the second chapter of Masekhet Shabbat (34a), "When it is questionable whether or not night has fallen… one may tithe demai, prepare an eruv and cover hot food."  Rashi comments, "He may place them [hot foods] in a pile of cloths for their heat to be retained in them.  But when night has certainly fallen, one may not cover [hot foods] in them."  The Gemara then records the following exchange:

 

Rava said: Why did they say, "One may not cover [food] with something that does not increase heat once night falls" – as a decree lest he boil it.  Abayei said to him: If so, then let us decree [this prohibition] even bein ha-shemashot [the period when it is uncertain whether or not night has fallen]!  He said to him: Pots are generally boiling.

 

Rashi explains, "As a decree lest one find that his pot had cooled when he wants to cover it, and he will first boil it, and he will thus have cooked on Shabbat."

 

            Some other Rishonim, however, explained that the concern here is not that one might cook on Shabbat; after all, ein bishul achar bishul – one does not violate bishul by cooking food that had already been cooked.  Rather, the prohibition of hatmana stems from the concern that one may stir the coals.[2]  According to this understanding, Chazal allowed hatmana during bein ha-shemashot with materials that do not increase the pot's heat because at this point pots are generally already boiling, and it is thus unlikely that one will find that his food had cooled.  The Shulchan Arukh rules accordingly (257:1): "One may not cover [food with material] on Shabbat, even with a material that does not increase its heat; but during the period when it is uncertain whether night has fallen, one may cover with it [a material that does not increase the pot's heat]."

 

            Many Rishonim had a different text of the Gemara, which states explicitly that Chazal forbade hatmana with materials that do not increase heat out of the concern that one may cover a pot with embers with a kindled coal, and he might then stir them.  See Rif, and Rambam (Hilkhot Shabbat 4:3).

 

            Both these approaches give rise to some difficulty.  The Ramban challenges Rashi's understanding by claiming that Chazal would not be concerned that one who finds that his pot has cooled will kindle a fire and boil it; Jews would not be suspected of negligence to such an extent.  The difficulty with the Rif's understanding is that it results in a prohibition against hatmana with even materials that do not increase the pot's heat, out of concern that one might do hatmana with embers – a material that does increase the pot's heat.  For this reason, many Rishonim accepted Rashi's text of the Gemara.[3]

 

Materials That Increase the Heat of the Pot

 

            According to Rashi's text of the Gemara, the prohibition in this case stems from the concern that one may cover a pot with embers that have coal, and one might then stir the coals, in violation of Shabbat.  According to this version of the text, the prohibition is clear and straightforward.  However, according to the text of the Rif and Rambam, the issue becomes more complex.  Their text of the Gemara reads as follows:

 

One may not cover with them [materials that increase heat] during the daytime [of Erev Shabbat] – a decree lest one boil [the pot].  Abayei said to him: If so, then during bein ha-shemashot, too, let us decree [this prohibition]!  He said to him: During bein ha-shemashot pots are generally boiling.

 

We will explain this version of the text in accordance with the Rambam's understanding, without delving into other possible interpretations of this text.[4]  The Rambam writes (Hilkhot Shabbat 4:2):

 

Strictly speaking, it would be permissible to cover [a pot] while still daytime [on Erev Shabbat] with something that increases [the pot's] heat and let the food remain covered on Shabbat, for one may leave [a pot of food even] on the fire on Shabbat.  But the Sages forbade covering [a pot of food] while still daytime with something that increases heat, as a decree lest the pot will boil on Shabbat and one will have to expose it until the boiling stops, and he will then cover it again on Shabbat; he will thus have covered [a pot of food] with something that increases heat on Shabbat, which is forbidden.  Therefore, it is permissible to cover [a pot of food] during bein ha-shemashot with something that increases heat, because most pots during bein ha-shemashot have already boiled and stopped bubbling, and once they stopped they will no longer boil.

 

According to this view, the concern is that the pot may reach a boil on Shabbat, such that one will have to uncover it to let the boiling subside.  Then, when he comes to cover it once again, he will be covering a pot on Shabbat with something that increases heat.

 

            The Rambam does not clarify the reason for the prohibition against covering a pot on Shabbat with a davar ha-mosif hevel (material that increases the heat).  The Ramban raised this question and explained that when one covers a pot with a davar ha-mosif, then even though he simply replaces the covering that had been there before Shabbat, it nevertheless resembles an initial hatmana, regarding which there is concern that one might stir the coals, since he has expressed interest in additional heat.  However, the Rambam himself, in his Peirush Ha-Mishnayot (Shabbat, chapter 4), gives a different explanation.  In his view, one may not cover a pot on Shabbat with a davar ha-mosif hevel because onlookers will mistakenly conclude that it is likewise permissible to heat food with fire and its derivatives.  They will not realize the distinction drawn by Halakha between fire and its derivatives, with which one may not heat food on Shabbat, and heat that results from chemical reactions.

 

            The Rambam wrote that although covering a pot of food with a davar ha-mosif is forbidden both before and during Shabbat, it is permitted during bein ha-shemashot, because at that point most pots have already boiled and their bubbling has subsided.  The logical difficulty in permitting this hatmana during bein ha-shemashot while forbidding it during the day of Erev Shabbat led the Ra'avad and others to reject this ruling.  In their view, even during bein ha-shemashot one may not cover a pot with a davar ha-mosif hevel.  The Ra'avad writes:

 

Never have such upside-down things been seen or heard: during the day it is forbidden, whereas during bein ha-shemashot it is permissible… This is the explanation according to this version of the text: They decreed [a prohibition of hatmana] with something that increases heat, even during the day [of Erev Shabbat], as a decree lest he bring it to a boil.  Meaning, since he covered [the pot] with something that increases [its heat], he expresses his desire that it be boiling at night.  And sometimes its boil will cease because of the long duration of time, and he will boil it after nightfall.  [Abayei then asked,] if so, then during bein ha-shemashot also let us forbid [hatmana] with something that does not increase heat.  For since he delayed covering [the pot until this point], it appears that he wants it to be boiling at night.  He [Rava] said to him [Abayei]: Most pots covered during bein ha-shemashot boil at night and their boil will not cease.

 

According to this explanation, the Gemara sought to forbid hatmana during the period of bein ha-shemashot even with materials that do not increase the pot's heat.  The Gemara concludes that since most pots are already boiling at this point, there is no longer any concern.  But covering with a davar ha-mosif hevel is certainly forbidden during bein ha-shemashot – for this is forbidden even during the day of Erev Shabbat.

 

The Scope of the Hatmana Prohibition

 

            Tosefot write in the beginning of the fourth chapter of Masekhet Shabbat (47b s.v. ba-meh tomnin):

 

Rabbi Yosef explained in the name of Rabbenu Shemuel that it [the Mishna] refers to [food] that been cooked but not fully cooked.  But a pot of raw food, and completely cooked food – we allow [even leaving it on the fire before Shabbat] in the first chapter (18b).  But this does not appear correct to Rabbenu Tam, for we should have then explained our Mishna as referring to regular pots, which are already cooked at bein ha-shamashot.  Furthermore, the Mishna presumably refers to the same case as the Mishna [in the third chapter,] Kira, which deals with food cooked [only] to the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai.  It seems to Rabbenu Tam that we should distinguish between leaving food on the fire and hatmana.  For leaving on the fire is certainly permissible if it is [already at the point of] ma'akhal Ben Derusai, because a little stirring will have no effect on it, since it is exposed and the air takes hold of it.  But hatmana, which is done for the following day, and it [the food] is covered – there is concern that one might stir, since a little stirring will have an effect on it given that its heat is trapped.  And they decreed against covering with anything that increases heat, as a decree lest one cover with embers and then stir [them].

 

The Tosafists are in disagreement as to whether the laws of hatmana correspond to the laws of the shehiya.  Rabbenu Yosef, citing Rabbenu Shemuel, held that just as one may leave over an open flame[5] before Shabbat a pot of raw food or food that has already reached ma'akhal Ben Derusai, the same applies to hatmana.  According to this view, hatmana is forbidden only with a food that has begun cooking but has not reached the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai.

 

            Rabbenu Tam, by contrast, forbade hatmana for all foods, because even a small amount of stirring has a significant effect on covered food.  Therefore, there is reason for concern that one might stir even in situations where this concern does not arise regarding shehiya.  And although in Rabbenu Tam's comments cited by Tosefot he speaks of this concern regarding foods that have reached the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai, which might suggest that there is no concern once the food is fully cooked, it seems more likely that he forbids hatmana even with fully-cooked foods.   He writes this explicitly in Sefer Ha-yashar (235): "Regarding hatmana, Chananya concedes that one may not cover [a pot of food] with something that increases heat, even if one covers a pot that has fully cooked – a decree lest he cover [a pot] with embers…"[6]

 

            The Beit Yosef writes (siman 257) that Tosefot mentions the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai only for the purpose of disputing Rabbenu Shemuel's position, permitting hatmana if the food has reached that point, but in truth Rabbenu Tam refers even to fully-cooked food.  However, it appears from the Beit Yosef that he allows hatmana when dealing with fully-cooked food for which ongoing cooking would be detrimental, since in such a case we have no reason for concern that the individual will stir the coals.  One might claim, however, that hatmana should be forbidden even in such a case, in light of a fundamental distinction between shehiya and hatmana.  Regarding shehiya, the concern is that one might stir the coals in this very instance, whereas in situations of hatmana, the concern is for the possibility of stirring one some future occasion.  Chazal feared that if they would allow hatmana with materials that increase heat, people might cover pots with embers and then stir the coals.  If so, then we should perhaps forbid hatmana in all cases with materials that increase heat, to safeguard against the possibility that one will cover with embers and stir the coals.  This approach indeed emerges from Tosefot's comments elsewhere (39b s.v. mi-ma'aseh):

 

Should you ask: Why must we derive [the prohibition of hatmana with a davar ha-mosif hevel] from the incident of the people of Tiberias?  The Mishna in the chapter Ba-meh Tomnin [already] states that one may not cover [a pot of food] with something that increases heat… Rabbi Shemuel of Vardin explains "From the incident of the people of Tiberias, [the permissibility of] hatmana is eliminated" to mean that it is "eliminated" even with regard to a pot of raw food.  And this is why it says, "eliminated," which implies completely, with anything.

 

Tosefot thus clearly held that hatmana with materials that increase heat is altogether forbidden.  This appears explicitly also in the Rashba's comments towards the beginning of the fourth chapter:

 

They should have distinguished here just as they distinguished there between a fully-cooked food for which continued cooking is detrimental, and a food that has not been fully cooked and for which continued cooking is beneficial, but regarding hatmana there are no distinctions whatsoever.

 

Thus, even if ongoing cooking would be detrimental, hatmana is forbidden.

 

            As for the final halakha, the Shulchan Arukh writes (257:7), "Whenever we forbid hatmana, we forbid even for a pot [of food that is] fully cooked, and even if ongoing cooking would be detrimental."  The Rama concurs with this ruling, and comments, "Ve-khein ikar" ("This is the correct ruling").  However, the Rama then proceeds to cite a different view:

 

Some are lenient, claiming that hatmana is permissible for anything that is completely raw or fully cooked, just like leaving [on the fire before Shabbat], as explained above, in siman 253.  One should not object to people in places accustomed to acting leniently on the basis of this view, but one should not follow this practice in other places.

 

The Rama refers here to the position of Rabbenu Shemuel, as cited by Tosefot.  One might ask, however, why the Rama cites this position as permitting hatmana only if the food is fully cooked.  Rabbenu Shemuel equates hatmana with shehiya, and regarding shehiya the Rama rules (253:1) in accordance with Chananya's view, allowing leaving on an open fire even foods that have only reached the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai.  Indeed, the Magen Avraham (257:17) added that according to those who follow Chananya's view, hatmana is permissible even for foods that have only reached ma'akhal Ben Derusai.  Others, however, argued with the Magen Avraham[7] and held that the Rama did not want to allow a "double leniency," that is, the equation between shehiya and hatmana, and the lenient view regarding shehiya.  He therefore ruled that even those who allow hatmana should do so only for fully-cooked food.  This is the approach taken by the Bei'ur Halakha:

 

In the end even he concludes that the Rama intentionally spoke [only] of fully-cooked [food], to indicate to us that [regarding food cooked to a point] less than this, even in places where people are accustomed to act leniently one should object, since even with regard to shehiya different opinions exist on the matter.

 

In summary, the Shulchan Arukh rules that we do not allow hatmana with materials that increase heat, under any circumstances.  The Rama likewise forbids hatmana under any circumstances, but adds that one need not object to those who allow hatmana for fully-cooked foods; one should object, however, to those who allow hatmana for foods that have not been fully cooked, even if they had reached ma'akhal Ben Derusai.

 

Covering Foods in Preparation for Shabbat Day

 

            The Mordekhai writes (beginning of the third chapter):

 

The same applies to raw eggs and water [which one may wish to cover] so that they will be warm for the following day – it is permissible to cover them for the following day.  But for the needs of the nighttime [meal] it seems that this is forbidden, lest one stir the coals to accelerate their cooking.

 

This view flows directly from our previous discussion, concerning the possibility of equating hatmana with shehiya.  The Mordekhai holds that one may leave food on the fire before Shabbat to be eaten on Shabbat day, since we are not concerned that he will stir the coals[8], given that he gives the food no thought until the following the day, at which point it will be ready for consumption without the need for stirring.  This view therefore allows any shehiya or hatmana done specifically for the purposes of the following day, and these prohibitions were issued only regarding food intended for the nighttime meal, since the individual needs the food soon and might therefore stir the coals.

 

            The Beit Yosef, however, dismisses this view, and writes (254): "This is not the implication of the commentaries that I discussed in the beginning of this siman[9]; rather, since it is suitable for consumption at nighttime, one might come to stir, even if he roasts it only for the following day."  According to the Beit Yosef, any food suitable for consumption at night is subject to the prohibition of hatmana, even if the individual needs it only for Shabbat day.  However, his definitive attitude in this siman is softened somewhat towards the end of the previous siman, where he seeks to explain the widespread practice to leave food before Shabbat on an uncovered stove:

 

Alternatively, [people allow this] because the Gemara perhaps refers only to leaving [food on the stove] for the purposes of the nighttime, whereas leaving [food on the stove] for the following day is permissible, even over a stove that is neither cleared [of its coals] nor covered, or in an oven, because since it is for the next day, one does not have his mind on it and he will not come to stir.  Nevertheless, to avoid all uncertainty, it is proper to instruct [people] to place a peace of raw meat in the pot just before dark, for in this manner according to all views it is permissible without any question.

             

It appears that the Beit Yosef was prepared to rely on this view as a possible justification for those who act leniently, while suggesting a solution that would satisfy all views (at least with regard to shehiya).

 

            As for the final halakha, the Shulchan Arukh does not distinguish between food intended for the night and food intended for Shabbat day, and forbids hatmana in all cases.  The Rama, however, comments:

 

Some say that all this is forbidden only when one does [this] for the purposes of the nighttime; but when one covers [a pot of food] for the purposes of the following day, it is permissible to cover [it] during the daytime [of Erev Shabbat] with something that increases the heat.  One may rely on this [position] after the fact, provided that one does not accustom himself to doing so.

 

The Mishna Berura adds (254:12), "This implies that if one is accustomed [to relying on this view], then even after the fact [the food] is forbidden, the reason being that strictly speaking this view is not accepted, as the Vilna Gaon and other authorities wrote."  The reason for the stringent view is that one might change his mind and decide to eat the food with the nighttime meal, in which case he might come to stir the coals.  Moreover, it emerges from the Mishna Berura and Vilna Gaon that this view, which equates the laws of hatmana with those of shehiya, is not an accepted view, as Halakha follows the position forbidding hatmana in all cases, as we have seen.

 

            In this context, we will mention another attempt that was made to limit the hatmana prohibition, which the Rama brings (257:8) in the name of the Or Zarua: "The hatmana done in these regions, whereby one conceals [the pot] inside an oven and smears the opening of the oven with clay, is permissible according to all views."  The Mishna Berura (257:47), however, comments, "Nevertheless, some say that one must ensure not to embed the pot in the oven inside the coals, [surrounded by coals] on all sides, for this is considered hatmana with something that increases heat because of the coals themselves."  The Mishna Berura refers to the view of the Maharshal, in his responsa (60), where he writes:

 

One should not say that once it [the oven] is sealed, in which case the concern for stirring does not apply, it is permissible.  This is incorrect, for is this any better than peat, regarding which stirring is entirely inapplicable, and yet they forbade covering [a pot of food] with it because of the decree?  …Nevertheless, it would seem that we permit in such a case only with respect to a stove and the like, in which case we say when one moves the coals far away that we do not issue a decree out of concern that he might stir.  But, with regard to hatmana in an oven which is closed and sealed from the outside, the oven and everything inside is therefore like a single entity and thus one is indeed covering [the food] with something that increases heat.

 

It emerges from the Maharshal's comments that only regarding shehiya do we permit leaving food in an oven that is sealed from the outside (thereby blocking access to the pot).  When it comes to hatmana, however, the concern does not pertain to the current situation, but rather to the possibility that one might stir in a different instance, and it is therefore forbidden even in such a case.

 

            The Mishna Berura concludes, "Some are lenient even in this regard, since it is sealed with clay and he will not come to stir; this is likewise the implication of the Or Zarua.  It is proper to be stringent le-khatechila."  He adds, however, in the Sha'ar Ha-tziyun, "This appears explicitly in the Or Zarua; I find it likely that had those who are stringent seen the comments of the Or Zarua, they would not have ruled stringently."

 

            I believe, however, that the basis of all these discussions concerning the scope of the hatmana prohibition involves a single, fundamental question that splits into two points: whether we should compare the prohibitions of shehiya and hatmana, given the efficacy of the stirring in shehiya as opposed to hatmana, and that the concern regarding hatmana is for the possibility of stirring on some other occasion.  The Or Zarua perhaps fundamentally subscribed to the view that equates hatmana with shehiya, in which case one may certainly dispute his ruling, as we already saw earlier regarding the issues of ma'akhal Ben Derusai and hatmana for the purposes of the daytime meal.

 

            On the other hand, one might distinguish between the question of the efficacy of stirring and the concern that one may stir, regarding which hatmana cannot be equated with shehiya, and the case of hatmana in a sealed oven.  This issue perhaps hinges on the question of to what extent we are concerned for mistakes on future occasions.  The Or Zarua perhaps held that although Chazal forbade hatmana out of concern that one may do hatmana in a forbidden manner on a different occasion, nevertheless, in the unique circumstances of the sealed oven, we are not concerned that somebody will mistakenly follow this example in a different instance.  And since it is unlikely that hatmana in this case will lead to a mistake, we may allow it, just as we do with regard to shehiya.  This may be what the Sha'ar Ha-tziyun meant when he wrote that had the authorities seen the Or Zarua's comments they would have ruled leniently.

 

Notes:

 

1.         The next shiur will deal with the precise definition of the term hatmana and some practical laws relevant to this topic.

2.         See Rosh, chapter 2, end of siman 30.

3.         See Rashba, Meiri, Ran and others.

4.         See Ramban, Milchamot, end of chapter 2, and in his Chiddushim.

5.         Tosefot here follow their own position that Halakha accepts the view of Chananya; see our shiurim on the subject of shehiya.

6.         Compare these comments of Rabbenu Tam with those of the Ramban (38b s.v. u-le-inyan hatmana): "With regard to hatmana, there is no doubt that it is forbidden to cover even [a food that has reached] ma'akhal Ben Derusai, and it is possibly forbidden even when dealing with a cleared or covered [stove]."  It seems to me that the Ramban, too, forbids hatmana even if the food has been fully cooked, and he mentions the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai only for the purpose of disputing those who permit hatmana in such a case.  Furthermore, the Ramban draws no distinction with regard to shehiya between fully-cooked food and food that has reached ma'akhal Ben Derusai; he maintains that the lenient position allows shehiya even from the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai, and the stringent view forbids shehiya even for fully-cooked foods.

7.         The Tosefet Shabbat claims that even the Magen Avraham did not intend to argue with the Rama, and meant simply that Rabbenu Shemuel permitted hatmana with foods cooked to the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai, but we rely on this position in a limited fashion.

8.         This is how the Acharonim understood this position.  The Mishna Berura writes:

 

The reason is that they forbade covering [a pot of food] with something that increases hot primarily because one may come to cover with embers and will stir the coals; therefore, since [in this case] he covers for the purposes of the following day, this opinion holds that this decree does not apply.  For even if the food will not reach ma'akhal Ben Derusai [before Shabbat], it will cook on its own all night, and one will not come to stir.  This opinion will likewise hold that one may cover [a pot of food] if it was fully cooked, since [here] too one will not come to stir; in this case, therefore, it is permissible even if one covers for the purposes of the nighttime.  This follows the view of those who are lenient, cited in the glosses [of the Rama] later, in s'eif 7.

 

He refers here to the view of Rabbenu Shemuel that we discussed in the previous section.

9.         At the beginning of this siman the Beit Yosef wrote, "Tosefot, the Rosh and the Ran write in the name of the Behag (Hilkhot Shabbat, 17) that it refers to roasted food, as implied by the Gemara; therefore, meat of a large ram in an oven that is not sealed shut is forbidden, even if it is raw, because since we deal with roasted meat, which cooks rapidly, it is suitable for consumption at night and one might come to stir."