Halacha for Wednesday 20 Av 5779 August 21 2019

Adding Water to a Pot of Food on Shabbat

Question: If one sees the Chulent pot drying out on Shabbat, may one add some boiling water to the pot?

Answer: Many households customarily leave a pot of Chulent cooking on the electric hotplate (or crockpot) from Friday afternoon until Shabbat morning. Many times, people mistakenly do not put enough water in the pot at which point the Chulent begins to dry out. Some individuals add boiling water to the pot to prevent the Chulent from burning.

The Opinion of Rabbeinu Yonah
The first one to address this issue is Rabbeinu Yonah in his Igeret Ha’Teshuva where he writes as follows: “Some people have the mistaken practice of preparing a pot of hot water before Shabbat in order to pour this water into a pot of food when in begins to burn. Even if the water is boiling, when the water is poured out of the teapot, the boiling subsides immediately wherein it is no longer capable of cooking and it then gets cooked (boiled) again in the pot. This is included in the prohibited work of cooking on Shabbat.”

This means that since the water in the teapot cools off somewhat when it is poured out and later becomes reboiled in the pot of food, this constitutes a forbidden form of cooking on Shabbat. (The Poskim offer explanations of this opinion at length.)

The Opinion of Rabbeinu Nissim
As opposed to Rabbeinu Yonah, the Ran (Rabbeinu Nissim, Shabbat 145b) writes that this is not prohibited, for this water has already been boiled before Shabbat and we have a great rule that “there is no cooking after cooking,” meaning that since this water has already been cooked, there is no longer a prohibition to cook this water again, even if it cools off somewhat as it is being poured into the pot.

The Halacha follows Rabbeinu Yonah’s View
Nevertheless, as we have discussed above, although we rule that “there is no cooking after cooking,” this only applies to dry foods, such as meat, fish, or bread. However, the prohibition of cooking does apply to liquid foods, such as soup or water, even if has already been cooked. (This applies especially to water, for according to some opinions, all opinions agree that the prohibition of cooking applies to them.)

Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 318) therefore rules: “One should protest against those who pour boiling water into a pot of food on Shabbat, for this constitutes a forbidden form of cooking.”

The Ashkenazi and Moroccan Customs
Some communities indeed act leniently in this regard, especially our Ashkenazi brethren, based on the ruling of the Rama (who rules leniently only regarding boiling water but not regarding cold water). However, the Sephardic custom is to be stringent and not pour boiling water into the Chulent pot on Shabbat.

Although several Moroccan cities customarily rules leniently in this regard and this custom was certainly instituted by great and pious Moroccan luminaries, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l deals with this matter lengthily (in his Chazon Ovadia-Shabbat, Volume 5, page 390) and concludes that since the custom in Israel is to act stringently in accordance with the ruling of Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch, thus, all must rule in accordance with the custom in Israel and act stringently.

Advice for Adding Water in a Permissible Fashion
There is indeed an idea by which one can avoid all doubt and that is by placing a cooking bag filled with water into the Chulent pot before Shabbat. If the Chulent is lacking water on Shabbat, one may puncture the bag and the water will thereby flow into the food and prevent it from burning.

Summary: One should not act leniently and pour boiling water into the Chulent pot on Shabbat. There is room for leniency, however, if one leaves a cooking bag filled with water in the pot before Shabbat and if one sees that the Chulent is burning, one may puncture the bag and the water will flow out into the Chulent on its own.

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

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

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

The Laws of Honoring and Revering One’s Parents

As was mentioned in the previous Halacha, the Mitzvah of honoring one’s parents includes two different aspects: honoring one’s parents and revering one’s parents. Indeed, the Torah states, “Honor your father and mother” and “Each man shall fear his mother and fath......

Read Halacha


Cognac, Brandy, and Champagne- The Jews of the Ship that was Swept Out to Sea

In the previous Halacha we have explained the law that our Sages imposed a prohibition on a non-Jew’s wine and usually, the wine is not only forbidden to consume, it is likewise forbidden to benefit from. Champagne Clearly, champagne is absolutely forbidden for consumption if it was not pr......

Read Halacha

May a Son Disagree with His Father?

In the previous Halacha we have mentioned that a son or daughter may not contradict the words of their parents, for the Gemara (Kiddushin 31b) explains that included in the Mitzvah to revere one’s parents is not contradicting their words by saying that their words are incorrect. Regarding t......

Read Halacha

Introduction to the Laws of Honoring One’s Parents

Several years ago, we have discussed the laws of honoring one’s parents here at “Halacha Yomit. We will, G-d-willing, spend the next few days revisiting these laws along with some additions to what we have published in the past. The Importance of the Obligation to Honor One’s Pa......

Read Halacha

The Laws of a Jew Who is Not Shabbat-Observant Regarding Wine

In the previous Halachot we have discussed the enactment of our Sages that all non-Jewish wine or wine touched by a non-Jew is forbidden for consumption. There are instances where the wine will be forbidden to benefit from as well as we have discussed. A Non-Observant Jew Our Sages taught that a......

Read Halacha