Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: When Cooking Isn't Cooking

It is a well known halacha of Shabbos that "kli sheini eino m'vashel" - a vessel into which water has been poured will not cook.  On the other hand, a kli rishon will cook as long as the temperature is above "yad soledes bo" (literally: your hand would recoil from it).  For argument sake we are going to say that temperature is 120 degrees F (a range of values are given by the poskim; that value is in the range).  So we now have the very strange situation that a kli sheini at 170 degrees will not cook, but a kli rishon at 120 degrees will cook.  That seems odd, no?  Worse, it runs counter our experience and it makes our discussions about shabbos rules with the not frum seem almost ludicrous; "Let me get his straight, 170 degree water in a styrofoam cup won't cook, but 130 degree water in a pan will?  Uh-huh."

So here is my take, based on Tosefos in Shabbos, 40b, d"h "sh'ma mina kli sheini eino m'vashel".  Tosafos starts by basically saying what I said in the first paragraph (very free translation, but what Tosefos means).  Before giving my understanding of Tosefos' answer, I want to point out that issurim on Shabbos are not so much at about results as process.  For example, suppose I want peanuts but I only have a bowl of peanuts and raisins.  I am permitted l'chatchila to pick out the peanuts from the raisins to eat during the ensuing meal.  However, if I were to pick out the raisins, or pick out the peanuts Friday night to eat at shalosh s'udos the next day, or use a special peanut/raisin separator I would be transgressing the melacha d'oraisa of borer.  Another example: I am allowed to cook anything directly in the heat of the sun (using a frying pan heated by the sun is forbidden by Chazal); again, l'chatchila.  That's just the way Shabbos malachos work.  They have very precise definitions, and those definitions include how and why you got to the end result.

Back to the problem at hand.  Tosofos answers that "since the walls of a kli rishon are hot and so hold the heat longer, whereas a kli sheini starts with cold walls so the heat is continually moving out, therefore they [Chazal, presumably] gave a measure to what is called transgressing the melacha of cooking on Shabbos; to whit: as long as the water in the kli rishon is hot enough to cause the hand to recoil."  So it is not at all that you can't cook in a kli sheini; just as it is not true that you can't cook in the sun.  Rather, it is simply that one has not transgressed the malacha of cooking on Shabbos if he used a kli sheini.

There; I feel better now.


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Sometimes a Food Loses Its Identity When It Loses Its Bracha; Sometimes It Doesn't

Let's start with a question: Why are We Allowed to Drink Coffee and Whiskey Made by Non-Jews?  Before you ask,"Why would I think that I shouldn't be able to drink whiskey and coffee made by non-Jews?", I'll tell you. Simple, we all know that Chazal made a decree -- known as בישול עכו''ם/bishul akim -- that particular foods cooked by non-Jews are forbidden.  There are basically two criteria that determines if a dish falls into this category:
Is not consumed raw.Fit for a royal banquet. Cooked carrots, therefore, are not a problem since they can be eaten raw (I actually prefer them that way).  Baked beans are find because the are not prestigious enough.  (For great synopsis of the laws, see the article on the Star-K site, FOOD FIT FOR A KING, by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlita.)  There are lots of cool questions and details (baked potatoes are prestigious, does that make even potato chips and issue?) which are for another time.  Clearly, though, both coffee an…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…