Halacha for Tuesday 12 Av 5779 August 13 2019

The Laws of Leaving a Food on a Gas Stovetop or Electric Hotplate Before Shabbat

The Enactment of “Lest One Stoke”
In the times of our Sages, it was common for people to cook on top of small stoves containing burning coals.

Our Sages forbade leaving a pot of food from before the onset of Shabbat on the stovetops which existed then lest one stoke the coals on Shabbat itself in order to hasten the foods cooking. They only allowed one to leave a pot of food on the fire from before Shabbat if one had either removed the coals from the stove before Shabbat in which case there is no concern for stoking the coals or if one had covered the coals with a layer of ash before Shabbat as a sign/reminder to beware not to stoke the coals on Shabbat, in which case there would no longer be concern for stoking.

A Gas or Electric Stovetop
Nowadays, when our stovetops are gas-powered and there is no longer concern for stoking coals, some say that one is permitted to leave a food which is not fully-cooked on the stovetop from before Shabbat in order for it to continue to cook on Shabbat, for there is no longer concern for stoking. Others, however, posit that it is still forbidden to do so, for there is concern that one may raise the intensity of the flame by turning the knob which controls the amount of gas flow; this also constitutes a Torah prohibition, for this hastens the cooking time of the food as well as making the flame larger. They therefore prohibit leaving a pot of Chulent on the gas range from before Shabbat in order to cook on Shabbat.

Halachically speaking, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l rules that since the issue of raising the intensity of the flame by turning a knob was not an issue at the time that our Sages enacted this decree, this is therefore not included in the enactment of our Sages. He quotes other reasons for leniency as well. Thus, according to the letter of the law, one may leave a pot of non-fully-cooked food on the gas stovetop from before Shabbat in order for it to continue cooking on Shabbat. It is nevertheless preferable to act stringently and place an aluminum sheet (“Blech”) and the like on top of the stovetop in order to separate between the flame and the pot and in this way it will be considered as if the “coals were covered with a layer of ash” in which case there is much more room for leniency to leave the pot of food there from before Shabbat.

Rav Messas’s Visit
In the year 5736 (1976), after the passing of the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, Hagaon Harav Eliyahu Pardes zt”l, talks began regarding appointing a new Chief Rabbi for the holy city of Jerusalem. It was clear that a great and authoritative Torah scholar would need to be appointed to the post.

Originally, Maran zt”l wished to appoint his dear friend Hagaon Harav Ben Zion Abba Shaul zt”l to this post, for he was well-known by all the great scholars of Jerusalem and beloved by all. His erudition in Torah, especially halachic judicial law, was something to behold. Nevertheless, when the latter declined to accept any official rabbinic position, other names began to surface. Maran zt”l looked into this matter deeply and finally decided to fully support the appointment of Hagaon Harav Shalom Messas zt”l, then the Chief Rabbi of Morocco, whose greatness in Torah was well-known in Israel as well.

During this time, Hagaon Harav Messas arrived in Israel to discuss the possibility of accepting the appointment of Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem and officially announce his candidacy. Maran zt”l invited Harav Messas to spend Shabbat in his home which the latter graciously accepted. On Friday, Maran zt”l told his wife that although she generally left the pot of Chulent on an open gas flame, nevertheless, since it is possible that Hagaon Harav Messas ruled stringently on this matter, he did not wish to act leniently this Shabbat as the food was meant to be served to Rav Messas. Thus, that Shabbat, they placed a metal sheet between the flame and the pot. (See Halacha Berura, Chapter 253)

8 Halachot Most Popular

The Pesach Seder-“Maror”, “Shulchan Orech”, and “Tzafun”

Maror Everyone is obligated to eat a Kezayit (olive’s volume, approx. 27 grams) of Maror on the night of Pesach. There are several kinds of vegetables that one may use for Maror, however, the predominant custom today, especially among Sephardic Jewry, is to use the leaves and stalks (spines) ......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Koshering Vessels for Pesach

One may not use Chametz vessels on Pesach since vessels which have been used to cook in or have had hot Chametz placed in them have Chametz flavor absorbed in them. Thus, just as we separate between meat and dairy utensils all year long, we must likewise separate between the utensils we use all year......

Read Halacha

Arriving Late to or Skipping Some Portions of the Megillah Reading

Every member of the Jewish nation is obligated to read the Megillah on the day of Purim. One must read it during the night and once again the next day, as the verse states, “My G-d, I call out to you during the day and you do not answer; during the night I have no rest.” This verse is wr......

Read Halacha

Some Detailed Laws Regarding Kitniyot (Legumes) on Pesach

In the previous Halacha we have briefly discussed the primary laws of Chametz and Kitniyot (legumes) on Pesach. We have explained that according to all communities, legumes such as rice and chick peas are not actual Chametz, for only grain products can be considered Chametz. However, Ashkenazim cust......

Read Halacha


Koshering Sinks and Kitchen Countertops

We have previously discussed that just as one should designate vessels for milk and meat respectively, likewise, regarding the holiday of Pesach, one should not use one’s regular Chametz vessels that were used all year round; rather, one should designate special kosher for Pesach vessels. N......

Read Halacha

Caution Regarding Chametz Issues

The Prohibition to Eat and Benefit From Chametz The Torah (Shemot 13) states regarding the holiday of Pesach: “Matzot shall be eaten for seven days; neither leaven nor sourdough shall be seen in your borders.” Our Sages taught in Masechet Pesachim (21b among other places) through exp......

Read Halacha

Leaning During the Seder - Coronavirus

Regarding the current quarantine/shutdown that we currently find ourselves in as a result of the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak, many people ask, why did Hashem do this to us? For which sin did this virus come to the world? We can all see that the clearest repercussion of this virus is that everyo......

Read Halacha

Koshering an Oven for Pesach

Question: Can a household oven be koshered for Pesach? Answer: Maran zt”l discusses this issue in several of his works (among them Yabia Omer, Volume 5, Yoreh De’ah, Chapter 7) and this issue is a halachically complex one for the flowing reasons: When foods are being baked or cooke......

Read Halacha