Shabbat Parashat Lech Lecha | 5770
Ask the Rabbi: Reheating Cooked Liquids Right Before Shabbat
Question: I want to put cold but cooked soup on a hot plate right before Shabbat. I have heard that putting things up at that time is particularly stringent. Considering that it is forbidden to reheat cooked liquids on Shabbat, is it also forbidden right before Shabbat?
Answer: We will first introduce the stringency of “right before Shabbat” that you refer to and then apply it to your case.
There are two categories of cases regarding having foods on a flame (irrespective of the melacha of actually cooking): shehiya and hachazara.
Shehiya means leaving a pot/food on the flame, after putting it there to cook or to heat up before Shabbat. In certain cases (about which there is a major machloket for thousands of years), one must do something to the system to reduce the chance that he will “stoke the coals” or its equivalent. The bottom line is that blechs and non-adjustable hot plates fulfill the halachic requirement, when necessary.
Hachazara means returning a food/pot to a heat source after it had previously been removed. The classic case is when one does so on Shabbat. Hachzara is a more severe case than shehiya (for reasons beyond our present scope) and in order for it to be permitted in the classic case, five basic requirements must be met: 1) The food must be fully cooked before returning it. 2) The heat source must be covered. 3) The pot should remain in one’s hand since being removed. 4) The remover should have had in mind to return it. 5) The food should still be warm. Only condition #2 applies to shehiya.
The general assumption, that the difference between shehiya and hachzara is that the former is when the food is left from before Shabbat and the latter is on Shabbat, is challenged by the following gemara (Shabbat 38b). “According to the one who says people may do hachzara (as we pasken), he may do hachzara even on Shabbat.” This implies that there is a case of hachzara that is not on Shabbat (and is easier to permit). Tosafot (Shabbat 36b) say that this refers to putting the food back on the flame so close to Shabbat that if the food were cold, it would not have a chance to become hot before Shabbat. Although several Rishonim disagree with Tosafot, the Rama (Orach Chayim 253:2) says that it is good to follow Tosafot's opinion.
If putting food on the flame at that time is hachzara, does that mean that all of the aforementioned five conditions of hachzara are needed? Your question raises the possibility that the food needs to be warm at the time of this Erev Shabbat hachzara or at least that the food has to be fully cooked. (While the soup is fully cooked, reheating liquid is forbidden like cooking uncooked solid foods.)
This is actually not the case. The five conditions of classic hachzara can be broken up into a few categories of the problems they solve. One is that putting the food on the flame should not violate bishul. This applies to condition #1 and #5. However, one will not violate bishul when he puts food on before Shabbat, and we have no source to extend this rabbinically to Erev Shabbat. Within the remaining three conditions, the covered flame (#2) is a matter of standard concern, whereas keeping the food in the hand and having intention to return it are special stringincies regarding hachazara. The Rosh (Shabbat 3:2) says that the stringency of hachazara soon before Shabbat applies to #2 no matter what state the food is in, which is not the case regarding shehiya (see Shabbat 36b and Shulchan Aruch, OC 253:1)) However, the other requirements do not apply before Shabbat (Mishna Berura 253:72). Since a non-adjustable hot plate is no worse than a blech (which solves #2), you do not have a problem.
Let us point out that regarding non-adjustable hot plates, important poskim allow returning fully cooked food (dry, or, if liquid, when it is still warm) even on Shabbat. Also, exactly what time one has to put up the food in order to avoid Tosafot’s stringency is a topic that deserves discussion. However, in the case you described, you can ignore this stringency.
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This edition of Hemdat Yamim is dedicated to the memory of
ben Yehudah Mayer
a lover of the Jewish Nation Torah and Land
R' Meir ben Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld
and Louis and Lillian Klein, z”l.