Halacha for Monday 11 Av 5779 August 12 2019

The Forbidden Work of Cooking on Shabbat

The Forbidden Work of Cooking
The Mishnah in Masechet Shabbat (73a) states that one of the works forbidden on Shabbat is that of baking. We have previously explained that all types of work forbidden on Shabbat were works performed in the Mishkan (Tabernacle). The Gemara explains that the primary way that baking manifested itself in the Mishkan was through cooking the ingredients for the Ketoret (incense). The reason why the Mishnah calls this the forbidden work of “baking” and not “cooking” is because baking is included in cooking, as are roasting and frying which are equally forbidden on Shabbat just like cooking; the Tanna nevertheless chose the term “baking” because the forbidden works preceding this one in the Mishnah had dealt with the preparation of bread, such as, gathering, threshing, winnowing, grinding, selecting, sifting, and kneading. Thus, the Mishnah continues by listing another forbidden work associated with the preparation of bread although the main aspect of this forbidden work is indeed cooking.

Cooking a Food which was not Fully-Cooked Before Shabbat
Included in this prohibition is taking a food which was not fully-cooked before Shabbat, for instance, if it was only half-cooked, and placing it on the fire or on an electric hotplate on Shabbat; this constitutes a transgression of the Torah prohibition of cooking on Shabbat (even if the food was fully-cooked before Shabbat, it is not always permissible to place it on the hotplate on Shabbat as we shall discuss, G-d-willing).

The Prohibition to Cook on an Electric Hotplate
The forbidden work of cooking on Shabbat has absolutely nothing to do with the forbidden work of kindling a fire on Shabbat, for kindling is a completely separate forbidden work. Thus, one is liable for cooking on Shabbat even if one cooks on a flame that existed before the onset of Shabbat. It is likewise forbidden to cook on an electric hotplate which was turned on before Shabbat. This must be publicly emphasized, for unfortunately there are individuals who believe that it is permissible to cook on an electric hotplate on Shabbat and by doing so they desecrate the Shabbat as a result of simply not being aware of the correct Halacha.

The Temperature at which “One’s Hand Recoils”
The prohibition of cooking on Shabbat applies when one heats a food to the temperature that “one’s hand recoils” when coming in contact with such a hot substance. Several luminaries of our generation estimated this temperature to be approximately 45˚ Celsius or 113˚ Fahrenheit. Hagaon Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l rules likewise and supports his view with sources.

Nevertheless, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes in his Chazon Ovadia-Shabbat (Part 4, page 371) writes that practically speaking, an “infant’s stomach” can be burned at a temperature of 40˚ Celsius or 104˚ Fahrenheit and this temperature is halachically considered the temperature at which “one’s hand recoils.” Hagaon Harav Ben Zion Abba Shaul zt”l and others rule likewise.

One may not place a food on a fire on Shabbat although one intends to remove it before it becomes very hot, for as long as if the food were to stay on the fire all day it would reach the temperature that “one’s hand would recoil,” placing such on the food on the fire on Shabbat constitutes the forbidden work of cooking. However, placing water opposite a fire in a way that it is not close to it and cannot reach such a temperature is permissible on Shabbat, for this is not considered cooking.

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

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

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

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