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: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Thanking HaShem Each and Every Day for Solid Land Near Water

Each and every morning, a Jew is supposed to view himself as a new/renewed creation, ready for a new day of building his eternal self through Torah and mitzvos.  We begin the day with 16 brachos to praise/thank/acknowledge HaShem for giving us all the tools we need to succeed.  We have a body, soul, and intellect.  We have vision, mobility, and protection from the elements.  Among those brachos, we have one that perhaps seems a bit out of place: רוקע הארץ על המים/Who spreads out the land on/over the water.  After all, it's nice to have a dry place to walk, but does that compare to the gratitude I have for a working body and vision?  As it turns out, I should; as explained by the R' Rajchenbach, rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu (aka, Peterson Park Kollel).  Your best bet is to listen to the shiur; very distant second is to continue, which I hope will whet your appetite for the real thing.

First... since we have dry land, I don't have to slog to work through even a foot…