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

Havdala on Motza’ei Shabbat Which Coincides with Tisha Be’av and the Laws of an Ill Individual Who Must Eat on Tisha Be’av

On years during which Tisha Be’av falls out on Motza’ei Shabbat, such as this year, 5779, there are three opinions among the Rishonim regarding how Havdala should be recited on a cup of wine on Motza’ei Shabbat. The first opinion is that of the Geonim who write that one should r......

Read Halacha

Laws Pertaining to Tisha Be’av

There are five categories of abstinence which must be observed on Tisha Be’av: Eating and drinking, washing one’s self, rubbing one’s body with oils or lotions, wearing leather shoes, and marital relations. Our Sages also prohibited learning Torah on Tisha Be’av, for the word......

Read Halacha

Eating Meat Following Rosh Chodesh Av

The Mishnah in Masechet Ta’anit (26b) tells us that on Erev Tisha Be’av during the last meal one eats before the fast, one may not eat meat, drink wine, or eat two cooked foods, such as rice and an egg. Although the letter of the law dictates that the prohibition to eat meat only applies......

Read Halacha

Those Who are Obligated and Exempt from the Fast of Tisha Be’av and their Status When Tisha Be’av Falls Out on Motza’ei Shabbat

Someone Ill with a Non-Life-Threatening Illness, An Elderly Person, and a Woman who has Recently Given Birth One who is ill (meaning when one is actually bedridden and the like, even if the illness is not life-threatening) is exempt from fasting on Tisha Be’av. When in doubt about one’s......

Read Halacha


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 th......

Read Halacha

The Laws of the Beginning of the Fast when Tisha Be’av Falls Coincides With Motza’ei Shabbat

The Baraita in Masechet Ta’anit (30a) states that our Sages prohibited five things on Tisha Be’av: Eating and drinking, washing one’s self, rubbing one’s self with oils or lotions, wearing leather shoes, and marital relations. Our Sages said (Ta’anit 30b): “One......

Read Halacha

Motza’ei Tisha Be’av and the Tenth of Av this Year (5779)

This year (5779), Tisha Be’av falls out on Shabbat. Thus, the fast is postponed until today, Sunday, the Tenth of Av. On other years when the fast is observed on the Ninth of Av, there are likewise some mourning customs observed on the Tenth of Av as well. We must therefore discuss the law ......

Read Halacha

The Laws of the Last Meal Before the Fast of Tisha Be’av This Year (5779)

On Erev Tisha Be’av, our Sages prohibited eating meat and drinking wine during the last meal before the onset of the fast of Tisha Be’av held after halachic midday. They likewise forbade eating two cooked foods during this meal. Nevertheless, this year, 5779, since the fast of Tisha Be&r......

Read Halacha