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.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

Taking Haircuts and Shaving During the Omer Period

Abstaining from Taking Haircuts During the Omer It has become customary among the Jewish nation to refrain from taking haircuts during the Omer counting period: According to the Ashkenazi custom, until the 33rd day of the Omer and according to the Sephardic custom, until the morning of the 34th day......

Read Halacha

Producing Sound and Whistling on Shabbat

The Gemara in Masechet Eruvin (104a) tells us that our Sages banned producing sound on Shabbat and Yom Tov, for instance, by playing a musical instrument, for they were concerned that while the tune is being played, the player will come to fix the instrument. This decree would certainly apply eve......

Read Halacha

Toys Which Produce Sound and those Which Operate Using a Spring or Coil

Question: Is it permissible for one to allow one’s young children to play with toys which produce sound, such as a doll which makes noise when shaken, on Shabbat? Answer: In the previous Halacha we have discussed the prohibition of producing sound on Shabbat, such as by banging on a board, ......

Read Halacha

Clapping and Drumming on a Table on Shabbat and Yom Tov

The Gemara in Masechet Beitzah (30a) states that one may not drum, clap, or dance on Shabbat lest one come to fix a musical instrument (ibid. 36b). This means that just as we have discussed in the previous Halachot that our Sages have decreed that one may not play musical instruments on Shabbat ......

Read Halacha


Praying in Pajamas

Question: Can one pray while wearing pajamas? Answer: Approximately one week ago, we have discussed that, before praying, one must prepare a fitting place, proper attire, and cleanse one’s body and thoughts, as the verse in the book of Amos states, “Prepare yourself before your G-d, I......

Read Halacha

Praying Barefoot

Question: May one pray while wearing sandals or while one is barefoot? Answer: When one prays, one must prepare one’s environment, clothing, body, and thoughts accordingly, for one will be standing before the King of all kings. Respectable Garments While Praying The Gemara (Shabbat 9b) ......

Read Halacha

Question: How many “Kezayit”s (olive’s volume) of Matzah must one consume during the Pesach Seder?

Answer: One is obligated to eat altogether three “Kezayit”s of Matzah during the Pesach Seder. Every Kezayit amounts to approx. 30 grams of Matzah. Nevertheless, there is room for stringency to eat four or even five “Kezayit”s of Matzah, as we shall now explain. The Order......

Read Halacha

Kissing One’s Parents’ Hands on Shabbat Night- The Students of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai

Question: Should one kiss the hands of one’s parents and receive a blessing from them on Shabbat night and does the same apply equally to one’s father and mother? Answer: The Gemara in Masechet Avodah Zarah (17a) tells us that when Ulah (a sage who lived during the Talmudic era) would......

Read Halacha