Question: May one take out a frozen Challah from the freezer on Shabbat afternoon for it to be ready to eat for the Melaveh Malka meal after the conclusion of Shabbat?
Answer: The root of this question is based on the fact that it is forbidden to prepare for a weekday on Shabbat. For instance, it is forbidden to set the table on Shabbat for it to be ready for use on Motza’ei Shabbat. Similarly, one should not wash the soiled dishes from the Shabbat afternoon meal until after Shabbat. It seems, therefore, that it should be forbidden to take out a frozen Challah on Shabbat to thaw for Motza’ei Shabbat.
Indeed, Hagaon Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l rules (in his Sefer Shulchan Shlomo, Chapter 290) that no action may be taken on Shabbat when it is meant to prepare something for Motza’ei Shabbat. Thus, it is forbidden to take a Challah out of the freezer to thaw when one’s intention is to eat it only once Shabbat has concluded.
Nevertheless, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes in his Sefer Chazon Ovadia (Shabbat, Volume 2, page 447) in the name of the Chayei Adam that as long as there is a Mitzvah involved, this does not constitute the prohibition of preparing on Shabbat for a weekday, unless this action is easily performed or readily available on Motza’ei Shabbat. However, if this thing cannot be prepared on Motza’ei Shabbat, this is not forbidden. Similarly, Hagaon Harav Shimon Greenfeld zt”l writes in his Responsa Maharshag that the only prohibition to prepare on Shabbat for a weekday is when this is being done to save one’s self time on Motza’ei Shabbat. However, if something cannot be done after Shabbat in any event, one may do so on Shabbat.
Based on the above opinion, Maran zt”l rules that it is permissible to take out a frozen Challah from the freezer on Shabbat to defrost for Motza’ei Shabbat since this is being done for the purpose of a Mitzvah, i.e. to be eaten during the Melaveh Malka meal, in addition to the fact that this action cannot be done on Motza’ei Shabbat (at which point the Challah will not defrost in time) which makes this a situation of a preparation made on Shabbat for Motza’ei Shabbat which is not forbidden.
Thus, halachically speaking, it is permissible to take a frozen Challah out of the freezer on Shabbat so that it will defrost and be ready for consumption on Motza’ei Shabbat.