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 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

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

Chametz Which Becomes Inedible Before Pesach

The Prohibition to Eat and Benefit from Chametz on Pesach Just as one may not eat Chametz on Pesach, Hashem has likewise commanded us not to retain any Chametz in our possession on Pesach. It is similarly forbidden to benefit from Chametz on Pesach, as we have already explained. Actual Chametz W......

Read Halacha

Matanot La’Evyonim

In the previous Halacha we briefly discussed the Mitzvah of “Matanot La’Evyonim” on Purim day which is the distribution of two monetary gifts, one to each pauper. What Must One Give? In order to fulfill this Mitzvah, one need not give actual gifts; rather, it is permissible to ......

Read Halacha