Halacha for Thursday 14 Av 5779 August 15 2019

Insulation on Shabbat

Question: Is it permissible to cover a pot of food on an electric hotplate with a towel on Shabbat?

Answer: Long ago, it was customary to cover a pot of food with (or immerse it in) dirt or sand in order to retain the food’s heat.

Heat Increasers vs. Heat Retainers
Some would immerse the pot of food into a substance that would add to the heat of the food, such as the sediment of olives or sesame seeds. Others would cover the pot of food with clothing which is considered a covering which merely retains the food’s heat but does not add heat. Covering it with olive or sesame sediment, however, not only retains heat but adds heat as well.

The Prohibition to Insulate Using Heat Increasers
Our Sages enacted that one may not cover a pot of food with something which adds heat even before the onset of Shabbat lest one see that the food is not hot enough and this will cause him to cover the pot with embers containing live coals which would constitute transgressing a Torah prohibition. It is therefore forbidden to insulate a pot with olive sediment, salt, and any other substance which adds heat even before Shabbat. However, insulating a pot with clothing, pillows, blankets, or anything else which does not add heat is permissible before the onset of Shabbat.

Insulation Using Heat Retainers
Nevertheless, on Shabbat itself, one may not insulate the pot even with things that do not add any heat lest one find the food to be cold and this will cause one to heat it up in a forbidden manner. It is therefore forbidden to cover a pot containing hot food on Shabbat in order to retain its heat. It is certainly forbidden to cover a pot of food on the hotplate with clothing or towels on Shabbat in order to hasten its cooking and heating time.

All of the applies on Shabbat. Before the onset of Shabbat, however, it is permissible to insulate a pot of food with a substance that merely retains heat, such as clothing. It is therefore permissible to cover a pot of food on the hotplate with a towel before the onset of Shabbat since the towel does not add any heat. In the following Halachot, we shall, G-d-willing, summarize and explain these laws further.

8 Halachot Most Popular

The Laws of the Holiday of Sukkot

As per the request of many of our members and as a public service, we shall now list a synopsis of some laws which are essential for the upcoming Sukkot holiday: The Sukkah must be made of three walls and Sechach (the roof). The walls may be made of any material which can withstand a normal wi......

Read Halacha

Honoring One’s Father-in-Law and Mother-in-Law

The Yalkut Shimoni states: “David told Shaul, ‘My father, you shall surely see the corner of your coat in my hand’” (which means that David called Shaul his father). Our Sages derived from here that one is obligated to honor one’s father-in-law just as one is obligated ......

Read Halacha

Reciting Kaddish

When an individual departs from this world, his surviving children must make a concerted effort to pray with a Minyan three times a day in order to be able to recite Kaddish for their father or mother. Similarly, if one, G-d-forbid, loses a son, daughter, brother, or sister, one should recite Kaddis......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Honoring Parents After Their Passing

Just as one is obligated to honor one’s parents during their lifetime, one is likewise obligated to honor one’s parents after their passing. One may certainly not disrespect one’s parents after their death. The Baraita (Kiddushin 31b) states: “Whenever one mentions a Torah......

Read Halacha


The Laws of Rising Before One’s Father or Rabbi- Maran zt”l’s Response to his Grandson

All of the laws of honoring and revering one’s parents apply equally to both a son and daughter. When we sometimes focus on a father and son or a mother and daughter, this is meant as a mere example and illustration. When one sees one’s parents passing in front of him, one must rise b......

Read Halacha

Who Must Bear the Financial Burden of Caring for One’s Parents?

We have discussed previously that part of the Mitzvah of honoring one’s parents is serving one’s parents food and drink as they wish. Included in this is that when one’s parents are elderly and can no longer care for themselves, their sons and daughters must care for their physical......

Read Halacha

A Father Who Absolves His Son from Honoring and Revering Him

The following discussion is crucial to understanding important laws regarding honoring one’s parents. In the previous Halachot, we have discussed some laws pertaining to honoring and revering one’s parents. There are certain laws that relate to a child’s obligation to honor his ......

Read Halacha

Calling One’s Father or Mother by Name

Question: May one call one’s father by his first name? Also, may one call a friend with the same name as one’s father by his first name? Answer: A child may not call his father or mother by their first name. For instance, if one’s father’s name is “Shmuel,” the......

Read Halacha