Making Tea and Coffee on Shabbos

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

coffee timerby David Roth

One of the thirty-nine prohibited categories of forbidden activities on Shabbos is baking or cooking. [1]Mishna, Shabbos 73a, and Gemara 74b However, much to the relief of many coffee and tea drinkers, there may be a number of reasons that making coffee or tea is not included in the prohibition of cooking.

Cooking Something That Has Already Been Cooked

Instant coffee:

With dry items, the prohibition of cooking only applies to something that has not been sufficiently cooked, [2]Shulchan Aruch OC 318:4. “Sufficiently cooked” meaning nisbashel kol tzorko. Note that returning something already cooked to a fire could be Rabbinically prohibited (see Shulchan Aruch OC … Continue reading not to re-heating already sufficiently cooked food. Therefore, most halachic authorities [3]R. Ovadia Yosef in Yechave Daas 2:44; R. Tzvi Pesach Frank in Har Tzvi, Tal Harim, Bishul 8; R. Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg, as quoted in Chelkas Yaakov OC 131; Mishpetei Uziel YD 2:44:3; R. Baruch … Continue reading permit one to pour hot water on instant coffee that has been roasted in the manufacturing process.

However, some halachic authorities disagree. The Shulchan Aruch [4]OC 318:5 cites the concept that there is no prohibition of cooking once something has been sufficiently cooked the same way but not with two different forms of cooking, such as boiling and baking. These halachic authorities [5]Chasam Sofer OC 1:74 concedes that there is enough room to be lenient that it is permitted to ask a non-Jew to make instant coffee; R. Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer 8:35:8) writes that Ashkenazim should … Continue reading argue that the roasting (of beans) and the cooking with water entailed in making coffee represent different forms of cooking. Although the Shulchan Aruch seems to conclude that one can be lenient on this question, the Rama rules that Ashkenazim should act stringently.  The previously mentioned dissenting authorities argue that this ruling of the Rama poses a concern for Ashkenazim, unless the instant coffee has already been cooked in water or the roasting is somehow considered a similar enough cooking to the making of the coffee. [6]R. Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 4:74:16) and R. Ovadia Yosef (Yechave Daas 2:44:16) both say that the coffee is cooked already such that this should not be a concern. They seem to be assuming … Continue reading Additionally, R. Mordechai Eliyahu [7]Responsa Maamar Mordechai OC 2:11 argues that although instant coffee is roasted, adding hot water completes the cooking process. Prior to the addition of hot water, the coffee is not completely cooked, thereby rendering the addition a new act of cooking rather than just re-heating. According to this, one would never be able to make coffee on Shabbos, and one could only use coffee that was made before Shabbos. [8]Shulchan Shlomo, Shabbos 218:24 quotes R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach as ruling leniently on this issue.

Another potential issue of making coffee on Shabbos is that the Rama [9]OC 318:9 says that it is praiseworthy to be stringent (ha’machmir tavo alav beracha) not to add salt to even to a hot keli sheini (a secondary vessel, not the one which was on the fire). R. Yitzchak Weiss [10]Minchas Yitzchak 1:55 argues that adding instant coffee to hot water is equivalent to adding salt, which the Rama said is better not to do. [11]However, in the responsum he only addresses making coffee by pouring from a keli rishon (the original pot which had been on the fire) and does not address the question of a keli sheini at all. R. Yaakov Breish [12]Chelkas Yaakov OC 131 argues similarly, but concedes that in a keli sheini there is enough room to be lenient. However, R. Ovadia Yosef [13]Yechave Daas 2:44:6 distinguishes between instant coffee and salt because he believes the Rama only recommends against adding uncooked salt.  If the salt, or in this case the coffee, is already cooked, there should be no problem. The general practice appears to be lenient regarding making instant coffee on Shabbos.

Instant tea:

Some authorities permit using pre-cooked tea leaves. For example, it would be permitted to pour hot water onto the tea leaves before Shabbos and then to pour more hot water onto the same dry leaves to make tea on Shabbos. Some halachic authorities [14]Pri Megadim, Mishbetzos Zahav 318:15; R. Yosef Mashash, Mayim Chaim OC 118; R. Yaakov Ettlinger,  Binyan Tziyon, no. 17 (at the very end); first opinion and main ruling of MB 318:39. apply the rule that there is no prohibition of cooking something that has already been cooked completely. The Aruch Ha’Shulchan [15]OC 318:28 accepts this as well, but adds that when one pre-cooks the tea before Shabbos, he must leave the hot water on the tea for a while to make sure that it is fully cooked. However, some halachic authorities [16]R. Moshe Feinstein, Igros Moshe OC 2:85; R. Ovadia Yosef, Yechave Daas 2:44:3; Maharam Shik OC 132:2 forbid this practice because the tea leaves are used purely to extract their taste.  Therefore, as long as the tea leaves continue to emit taste, they are not considered already cooked.

Keli Sheini and Keli Shelishi

As a general rule, a keli sheini (a secondary vessel, not the one which was on the fire) does not cook for Hilchos Shabbos purposes. [17]Shabbos 40b; Shulchan Aruch OC 318:9; Shulchan Aruch YD 105:2 Tosafos [18]Shabbos 40b d”h u’shema mina explain that since a keli sheini was never on the fire, its walls are cooler and it cannot cook.

However, if something is considered mi’kalei ha’bishul (easy to cook), it will cook even in a keli sheini. [19]Mishna, Shabbos 145b, Shulchan Aruch 318:4 The Ran, [20]Shabbos 20a of Dapei Ha’Rif d”h u’m’ha shaminan Magen Avraham, [21]OC 318:18 Mishna Berura, [22]318:42 and R. Moshe Feinstein [23]Igros Moshe 4:74:4 rule that we do not know what foods are mi’kalei ha’bishul, and therefore we need to be concerned that all foods fall into this category unless explicitly excluded in the Talmud. [24]The Rama (OC 318:5) is concerned about the possibility that bread can be cooked in a keli sheini, so one must either say that he agrees with this position or that bread is easier to cook than other … Continue reading According to this view, one is forbidden to put tea leaves even in a keli sheini, because they might be mi’kalei ha’bishul. The Aruch Ha’Shulchan [25]OC 318:28 is certain that tea is mi’kalei ha’bishul. However, the Chazon Ish [26]Chazon Ish OC, Moed, Hilchos Shabbos 52:19 argues that one need not be concerned that a given food is mi’kalei ha’bishul unless an explicit source says that it is. [27]The Aruch Ha’Shulchan (OC 318:44) says that onions are not mi’kalei ha’bishul. He seems to assume that food should be assumed not to be mi’kalei ha’bishul. However, as … Continue reading R. Hershel Schachter writes that R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik made tea in a keli sheini because he did not consider tea leaves to be mi’kalei ha’bishul, [28]Nefesh Ha’Rav, page 170 and R. Schachter himself rules this way as well. [29]Notes from Rav Hershel Schachter in R. Mordechai Willig, The Laws of Cooking and Warming Food on Shabbat, page 178.

A keli shelishi (a tertiary vessel, from which something was poured from a keli sheini) may provide a solution to those who are concerned that tea may cook in a keli sheini. Talmudic sources do not mention such a concept, nor do Rishonim (early authorities) distinguish between keli sheini and keli shelishi. To the best of my knowledge, the only Rishon who talks about a keli shelishi is R. Eliezer of Metz, [30]Sefer Yere’im, no. 274 (in old editions, no. 102) who explicitly says that a keli shelishi is the same as a keli sheini. Nevertheless, many Achronim (later authorities) [31]R. Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 4:74:15) rules that a keli shelishi never cooks, even for food that is mi’kalei ha’bishul; Peri Megadim, Eishel Avraham 318:35; MB 318:45 and 318:47 … Continue reading rule that a keli shelishi does not cook even food that is mi’kalei ha’bishul, or that one need not be concerned that something is mi’kalei ha’bishul when using a keli shelishi (but they hold that in a keli sheini one should be concerned). However, many halachic authorities [32]Bach OC 318:7 d”h u’ma she’kasav aval seifel; Responsa of Chasam Sofer YD 2:95. R. Binyamin Zilber (Az Nidberu 5:16) argues that there is theoretically no difference between a keli … Continue reading disagree. The Chazon Ish [33]OC, Moed, Hilchos Shabbos 52:19 argues that there is no basis to distinguish in theory between a keli sheini and a keli shelishi. However, he continues, there may be a practical distinction: the Chayei Adam [34]Volume 2-3, Kelal 20, Seif 4; See, however, Beis Yosef YD 110:2 d”h v’im hu cham who disagrees and says that a keli sheini does not cook even if it is boiling. rules that a keli sheini that is extremely hot (yad nichveis bo) will cook. Based on this, the Chazon Ish says that we use a keli shelishi because by the time the item has been transferred twice, it is probably no longer as hot, and therefore one does not need to be concerned for this opinion of the Chayei Adam. [35]R. Moshe Sternbuch (Teshuvos V’Hanhagos OC 1:207:5) writes similarly, and suggests that one should be stringent to only add tea essence to hot water in a keli shelishi. R. Binyamin Zilber (Az … Continue reading

Making Tea Using Essence

Mishna Berura [36]318:39 states that the best way to make tea on Shabbos is to make essence, meaning a very strong tea, before Shabbos. When one wants to drink tea on Shabbos, he can put hot water in the cup, and then add the cold essence. This solution works according to all views because everyone agrees that water is not mi’kalei ha’bishul and therefore will not cook in a keli sheini.

Using a Timer

The Mishna [37]Shabbos 17b records an argument between Beis Shamai and Beis Hillel whether one can start a melacha (activity forbidden on Shabbos) before Shabbos that will continue by itself into Shabbos, such as soaking something in water to extract a dye. The halacha follows Beis Hillel to be lenient on this.

Based on this, we are used to assuming that it is permitted to set a timer to turn on or off an electric device on Shabbos. However, R. Moshe Feinstein [38]Igros Moshe OC 4:60 does not approve of this leniency and argues that it should be relied on only for electric lights. [39]R. Moshe is very concerned that the use of timers will detract from the atmosphere of Shabbos (zilusa d’shabbos) since one can do almost anything with them, and he says that if timers would … Continue reading R. Hershel Schachter is also very sympathetic to the position that timers should not be used on Shabbos. [40]I heard this from him.  See also the responsum of R. Avraham Litch-Rosenbaum (Ben Yehuda 1:151) who similarly forbids the use timers. Nevertheless, the opinion of most halachic authorities [41]Shoel U’Meishiv 2:1:5; Maharam Shick OC 157; Shu”t Riv”a OC, Mafteichos 6; Zekan Aharon OC 1:15; Yabia Omer OC 10:26:6; Minchas Shlomo 2:26. Elsewhere (Meorei Eish, ch. 4), R. … Continue reading as well as common practice is to allow the use of timers for all electric devices whose use does not detract from the spirit of Shabbos. The following discussion assumes that the use of timers in general is permitted.

There is another Mishna [42]Shabbos 47b which says that before Shabbos one may not put water into a vessel that is used to hold a lit candle because he may come to extinguish the fire. Tosefos [43]Shabbos 47b d”h m’penei she’mekareiv explain that the difference between this case and the previous case with the dye is that the soaking of a dye on Shabbos is a very serious prohibition, so people will be careful to avoid it. In contrast, adding water is not an active violation but rather just causing the candle to go out indirectly, about which people will be less careful. This reason is quoted in the Magen Avraham, [44]OC 265:7 Taz, [45]OC 265:2 and Shulchan Aruch Ha’Rav. [46]OC 265:8 Some suggest [47]Tzitz Eliezer 2:6:3; Oros Ha’Shabbos 45 that putting food to cook or coffee to brew on a timer is equivalent to adding water in the vessel below the candle: one might come to add the coffee mix on Shabbos, which would be problematic because he is doing an act on Shabbos that is causing the coffee to be cooked. [48]See Tzitz Eliezer 2:6:1 and Chavatzeles Hasharon 1:24 for a discussion about the prohibition one violates by doing this. Furthermore, others who see him cooking might not realize that it was set on a timer before Shabbos and might come to do it on Shabbos.

Another reason why it might not be permissible to make coffee on Shabbos with a timer is the Rabbinic prohibition of returning an even fully cooked food item to an uncovered fire. [49]Shulchan Aruch 523:2 This prohibition is either because of a concern that one may stoke the coals or because he appears to be cooking. [50]See Or Sameach, Shabbos 3:1 who discusses the practical differences between these reasons. The Rama [51]OC 318:5 says that it is even forbidden to ask a non-Jew to return the fully cooked item to the uncovered fire, even though one might have expected permission to ask a non-Jew to do this rabbinically forbidden action in order to fulfill a mitzvah (such as the enjoyment of Shabbos). The Chazon Ish [52]OC, Moed, Hilchos Shabbos 37:21; Minchas Yizchak 4:26:10-13 says similarly. See also Mishpetei Uziel, hashmatos 1:1:3. explains that the prohibition is to have the food returned to the uncovered fire, whether the Jew does the act himself or not. Thus, the fact that a non-Jew returns the food to the fire is irrelevant; the Jew violates the prohibition passively. Presumably, the same would apply to a timer: even though a Jew does not do any action and the timer turns on the fire which warms up the food, the Jew violates the prohibition of returning food to the fire by virtue of the fact that such a thing occurred in his house, even without an action. In other words, even if the Jew does nothing, there is still a concern that he might stoke the coals.  However, if the system is set up before Shabbos in such a way that the oven is sealed and cannot easily be opened on Shabbos, this would not be a concern. [53]Chazon Ish, OC, Moed, Hilchos Shabbos 38:2; R. Chaim Kanievsky in Shone Halachos 254:11.  The same would probably apply to a sealed coffee maker that cannot be easily opened or adjusted.

There is an additional reason why it might be prohibited to set up a system to cook on Shabbos using a timer, but it may not be applicable to a coffee machine. The Shulchan Aruch [54]OC 318:18 rules that if one takes a pot off the fire before it is fully cooked, one may not remove part of the dish with a spoon because he will end up stirring it. Regarding a different case, the Gemara [55]Shabbos 18b says that it is permitted to put wool in a boiling pot before Shabbos, and we are not concerned that he will stir the pot on Shabbos. The pot is covered and sealed, and by the time one breaks the seal, he will remember that it is Shabbos. R. Eliezer Silver [56]Quoted in Oros Ha’Shabbos 45 and R. Eliezer Waldenberg [57]Tzitz Eliezer 2:6:5-7 argue that if one puts food in an oven which is set on a timer to cook on Shabbos, there is a concern that he will come to stir the unsealed pot. However, I doubt this applies to a coffee machine because it is not normal to stir coffee while it is brewing.

R. Gedalia Felder [58]Yesodei Yeshurun, vol. 3, p. 43 states that the Chasam Sofer was lenient to allow one to set up a system to light a fire elsewhere before Shabbos, such that the fire will spread over the course of Shabbos and reach the food at the time when he wants his food to be warmed up. This seems like a precedent that would allow using a timer to cook. However, R. Felder argues that this is different from the case of a timer. In the Chasam Sofer‘s case, there was a fire before Shabbos while in the case of a timer the fire did not yet exist before Shabbos. Therefore, there is no proof that one can be lenient with a timer.

For all of these reasons, many halachic authorities [59]See also Zekan Aharon 1:15-16 who feels that putting something fully cooked and dry into such an oven before Shabbos should be theoretically permitted, but he cautions against doing so out of concern … Continue reading forbid using a timer to cook or brew coffee. However, some halachic authorities [60]R. Ben Zion Abba Shaul in Or L’Tzion 2:31:18; Yerushas Peleita 16. Melameid L’Ho’il, Even Ha’Ezer 3:58 permits it in principle, but warns that it should only be done to warm … Continue reading permit cooking with a timer in the case of monetary loss or illness, provided that the system is completely set up before Shabbos and the food is already in place before Shabbos, such that no adjustments will need to be made on Shabbos itself.

As always, you should ask your rabbi questions about appropriate practice.

 

Endnotes

Endnotes
1Mishna, Shabbos 73a, and Gemara 74b
2Shulchan Aruch OC 318:4. “Sufficiently cooked” meaning nisbashel kol tzorko. Note that returning something already cooked to a fire could be Rabbinically prohibited (see Shulchan Aruch OC 253). Here our discussion is regarding using water which has already been removed from the fire.
3R. Ovadia Yosef in Yechave Daas 2:44; R. Tzvi Pesach Frank in Har Tzvi, Tal Harim, Bishul 8; R. Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg, as quoted in Chelkas Yaakov OC 131; Mishpetei Uziel YD 2:44:3; R. Baruch Avraham Toledano in Shaalu L’Baruch OC 38; The Ben Ish Chai in Rav Pealim OC 3:11 seems to assume that it is obvious that there is no problem of cooking on Shabbos by making coffee, as the only concern he addresses is regarding coloring the water. Although a number of halachic authorities mention this concern about coloring the water, most assume it is not an issue based on the ruling of the Shulchan Aruch (OC 320:19) that there is no prohibition of coloring food. However, the Ben Ish Chai argues that this is only for solids, but with liquids there is a prohibition of coloring.
4, 51OC 318:5
5Chasam Sofer OC 1:74 concedes that there is enough room to be lenient that it is permitted to ask a non-Jew to make instant coffee; R. Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer 8:35:8) writes that Ashkenazim should be stringent if the coffee is only roasted and not cooked, but he says that most instant coffee is indeed cooked; See also Kaf Ha’Chaim (318:63) who brings many opinions of achronim on both sides of this issue.
6R. Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 4:74:16) and R. Ovadia Yosef (Yechave Daas 2:44:16) both say that the coffee is cooked already such that this should not be a concern. They seem to be assuming something along the lines of this second approach.
7Responsa Maamar Mordechai OC 2:11
8Shulchan Shlomo, Shabbos 218:24 quotes R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach as ruling leniently on this issue.
9OC 318:9
10Minchas Yitzchak 1:55
11However, in the responsum he only addresses making coffee by pouring from a keli rishon (the original pot which had been on the fire) and does not address the question of a keli sheini at all.
12Chelkas Yaakov OC 131
13Yechave Daas 2:44:6
14Pri Megadim, Mishbetzos Zahav 318:15; R. Yosef Mashash, Mayim Chaim OC 118; R. Yaakov Ettlinger,  Binyan Tziyon, no. 17 (at the very end); first opinion and main ruling of MB 318:39.
15, 25OC 318:28
16R. Moshe Feinstein, Igros Moshe OC 2:85; R. Ovadia Yosef, Yechave Daas 2:44:3; Maharam Shik OC 132:2
17Shabbos 40b; Shulchan Aruch OC 318:9; Shulchan Aruch YD 105:2
18Shabbos 40b d”h u’shema mina
19Mishna, Shabbos 145b, Shulchan Aruch 318:4
20Shabbos 20a of Dapei Ha’Rif d”h u’m’ha shaminan
21, 54OC 318:18
22318:42
23Igros Moshe 4:74:4
24The Rama (OC 318:5) is concerned about the possibility that bread can be cooked in a keli sheini, so one must either say that he agrees with this position or that bread is easier to cook than other items because it is already baked.
26Chazon Ish OC, Moed, Hilchos Shabbos 52:19
27The Aruch Ha’Shulchan (OC 318:44) says that onions are not mi’kalei ha’bishul. He seems to assume that food should be assumed not to be mi’kalei ha’bishul. However, as we said above, he assumes that tea is in fact mi’kalei ha’bishul because we see that it cooks so easily.
28Nefesh Ha’Rav, page 170
29Notes from Rav Hershel Schachter in R. Mordechai Willig, The Laws of Cooking and Warming Food on Shabbat, page 178.
30Sefer Yere’im, no. 274 (in old editions, no. 102)
31R. Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 4:74:15) rules that a keli shelishi never cooks, even for food that is mi’kalei ha’bishul; Peri Megadim, Eishel Avraham 318:35; MB 318:45 and 318:47 rules that a keli shelishi does not cook regarding putting bread in soup, but in 318:42, where it comes to making tea, recommends using essence. R. Mordechai Willig (Am Mordechai, Shabbos, p. 70) explains that making tea in a keli shelishi should be a problem according to everyone because it is normal to make tea that way even during the week. Shemiras Shabbos K’Hilchasa (second edition 1:57, third edition 1:62) says that that the general custom is to be lenient in a keli shelishi, but says that one should be stringent on tea leaves because they are mi’kalei ha’bishul. R. Yaakov Posen, a student of R. Yitzchak Weiss, says in Kitzur Hilchos Shabbos, p. 48, that tea should be considered mi’kalei ha’bishul.
32Bach OC 318:7 d”h u’ma she’kasav aval seifel; Responsa of Chasam Sofer YD 2:95. R. Binyamin Zilber (Az Nidberu 5:16) argues that there is theoretically no difference between a keli sheini and a keli shelishi, but when it comes to issues of something which appears to be but is not really cooking (mechazi k’mevashel), there is more room to be lenient on a keli shelishi.
33OC, Moed, Hilchos Shabbos 52:19
34Volume 2-3, Kelal 20, Seif 4; See, however, Beis Yosef YD 110:2 d”h v’im hu cham who disagrees and says that a keli sheini does not cook even if it is boiling.
35R. Moshe Sternbuch (Teshuvos V’Hanhagos OC 1:207:5) writes similarly, and suggests that one should be stringent to only add tea essence to hot water in a keli shelishi. R. Binyamin Zilber (Az Nidbaru 1:35), however, is concerned about yad nichveis bo even in a keli shelishi.
36318:39
37Shabbos 17b
38Igros Moshe OC 4:60
39R. Moshe is very concerned that the use of timers will detract from the atmosphere of Shabbos (zilusa d’shabbos) since one can do almost anything with them, and he says that if timers would have been around in the times of the Gemara, they would have made a decree against using them, and then he continues to say that maybe it is included in the prohibition of amira l’nochri (asking a non-Jew to do melacha for a Jew). He permits the use of timers for electric lights because the custom in many places in Europe was to permit amira l’nochri to light candles anyway.
40I heard this from him.  See also the responsum of R. Avraham Litch-Rosenbaum (Ben Yehuda 1:151) who similarly forbids the use timers.
41Shoel U’Meishiv 2:1:5; Maharam Shick OC 157; Shu”t Riv”a OC, Mafteichos 6; Zekan Aharon OC 1:15; Yabia Omer OC 10:26:6; Minchas Shlomo 2:26. Elsewhere (Meorei Eish, ch. 4), R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach permits the use of timers explicitly but raises a concern that one might violate the prohibition of shevisas keilim (work done by one’s utensils on Shabbos) according to the opinion of the Bach.  He therefore recommends that one declare the timer ownerless (hefker) in order to avoid this issue.
42Shabbos 47b
43Shabbos 47b d”h m’penei she’mekareiv
44OC 265:7
45OC 265:2
46OC 265:8
47Tzitz Eliezer 2:6:3; Oros Ha’Shabbos 45
48See Tzitz Eliezer 2:6:1 and Chavatzeles Hasharon 1:24 for a discussion about the prohibition one violates by doing this.
49Shulchan Aruch 523:2
50See Or Sameach, Shabbos 3:1 who discusses the practical differences between these reasons.
52OC, Moed, Hilchos Shabbos 37:21; Minchas Yizchak 4:26:10-13 says similarly. See also Mishpetei Uziel, hashmatos 1:1:3.
53Chazon Ish, OC, Moed, Hilchos Shabbos 38:2; R. Chaim Kanievsky in Shone Halachos 254:11.
55Shabbos 18b
56Quoted in Oros Ha’Shabbos 45
57Tzitz Eliezer 2:6:5-7
58Yesodei Yeshurun, vol. 3, p. 43
59See also Zekan Aharon 1:15-16 who feels that putting something fully cooked and dry into such an oven before Shabbos should be theoretically permitted, but he cautions against doing so out of concern that people will take the leniencies too far and come to do things which are actually prohibited.  He also argues that it is not in the spirit of Shabbos (zilusa d’shabbos).
60R. Ben Zion Abba Shaul in Or L’Tzion 2:31:18; Yerushas Peleita 16. Melameid L’Ho’il, Even Ha’Ezer 3:58 permits it in principle, but warns that it should only be done to warm up something that is fully cooked because otherwise he might come to set it up on Shabbos itself. R. Yosef Eliyahu Henkin is quoted in Luach Ha’Yovel of Ezras Torah (p. 82) as permitting warming up already cooked food in this manner, but not to cook raw food. R. Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer OC 10:27) says that one may use an electric plata on a timer even without a great need (in accordance with R. Ovadia’s opinion in Yechave Daas 2:45 that there is no problem of placing a fully cooked item on such a plata).  R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Meorei Eish, ch. 4) also permits such an arrangement, although he recommends that one declare the timer ownerless, as explained above (n. 41).

About David Roth

David Roth is a semicha student at RIETS and a summer intern at Torah Musings.

15 comments

  1. For what it’s worth, tea importers insist that the leaves aren’t cooked at all. (Green tea should be made with water that isn’t boiling as the leaf can cook if the water is too hot, and the resulting tea is astringent and unpleasant to drink.) The product of sun tea, tea left out in the sun — or even your fridge — for hours without heat enough to cook, is identical to tea made with boiling water.

    Rav Moshe toys with the idea that tea is a spice, and therefore there would be no bishul. But since he wasn’t sure, Rav Moshe is stringent. The Rav cited Rav Chaim Brisker ars saying it definitely is a spice.

    To the extent that halakhah’s bishul entails what the experts consider boiling (or not), it would seem the experts in the field agree.

    That said, I use a “keli shelishi” avoiding irui, like all the other observant people I know.

    • Why should the question if it is considered tavlin or not make a difference? All that tavlin does is take away the problem of mechzei kmevashel because it is avidi l’memtak. But a tavlin can still be cooked if it emits a flavor, no? It would really depend on the spice used.

      • Tavlin may be cooked in a keli sheini. (See Arukh haShulchan OC 318:44).

        And the MB s”q 74.

        Similarly, the Taz (s”q 16) quoting the peri Megadim says irui onto tavlin is assur only because the SA holds like Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam, who say irui keli rishon kekeli rishon.

        So, one should be able to make tea in a keli sheini. Which isn’t a chiddush in some circles. I’m just arguing that the metzi’us as the people in the business describe it would lead even rabbanim who pasqen otherwise to agree.

  2. This is the best presentation of the “Coffee Timer” shaila that I have seen.

    Ari Enkin

  3. A distinction needs to be made between instant and regular coffee. Instant coffee is already cooked in water in the factory and can never be cooked again. The same goes for instant tea. R Modechai Eliyahu was not discussing instant coffee (I checked). The only possible concern could be that of the Minchat Yitzchak.

    However, as mentioned in a footnote, Minchas Yitzchak was only referring to pouring directly onto the coffee solids. In his teshuva he clearly implies that this would not be a problem in a kli sheini. His problem is cooking the dissolved coffee which is now a liquid, but putting liquid in a kli sheini is not problematic unless it is yad niche is bo.

    I might point out that this discussion of bishul achar tzlia is applicable to Starbucks instant coffee, which is made with “micro-ground coffee” which seems to have never been brewed.

    Concerning tea, it is imperative to actually know the production process before an halachic ruling can be given. According to a writer in Hamaor tea leaves are halachically cooked in their production. Not only are they subjected to very high heat and dried out (halachic baking) they are also steamed at 240 degrees which might halachically qualify as cooking. According to Wikipedia however, factories typically do not steam the leaves.

    Even if tea leaves are cooked, some opinions hold that that there is bishul achar bishul with tea because they give a lot of flavor even when cooked again.

    Another common problem with making tea not addressed here is the issue of borer or socheit when using a tea bag. One must remove the tea bag in a spoon and one is not allowed to dunk it up and down on Shabbat.

    • The only possible concern could be that of the Minchat Yitzchak

      I don’t think that is correct. I believe R. Mordechai Eliyahu’s concern is that the hot water is the “gemar melakhah”, so to speak. See R. Gedaliah Felder’s discussion in Yesodei Yeshurun vol. 3, p. 415 (od yeish lomar): http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=4173&st=&pgnum=415&hilite=

      • You can’t prove anything about R’ Mordechai Eliyahu’s position from R’ Felder’s. R’ Eliyahu clearly states that the beans where only roasted before hand and the gmar bishulo is the cooking that happens when hot water is poured over them. This has nothing to do with R’ Felder’s problem of gmar malachto which he says is a problem because the the coffee grinds (or rather crystals and powder) are not edible without adding hot water.

        R’ Felder’s position assumes that by putting the coffee in hot water some sort of bishul is occurring, even if only a a little bit, so as long as it completes the process it is problematic. See also R’ Amsel here who raises the same problem but better explains himself. However, they both have misunderstood what freeze dried coffee is. It is simply dehydrated coffee that is reconstituted in water–even cold water (though it may take more time to dissolve)–and there is no cooking that is happening at all. There are no coffee grinds that are exuding their flavor. All flavor was there before and was already cooked.

        • You are correct. I misremembered R. Mordechai Eliyahu’s teshuvah as agreeing with R. Felder. R. Mordechai Eliyahu says there must be some bishul, but he also says that this applies even to something that is fully cooked. Are you sure that instant coffee is not cooked at all when hot water is poured on it?

          R. Gedaliah Felder does not require any bishul. Because the instant coffee is inedible until it is mixed with hot water, he considers the mixing a form of “makeh be-patish.” He explicitly compares it to the case of food that is so salty that it can only be eaten after rinsing–the rinsing is considered the final preparation of the food and therefore forbidden.

          I’m not advocating following these opinions. I have instant coffee every Shabbos. Just acknowledging them.

          • I think you have misunderstood R’ Felder and the general prohibition of maka b’atish. The rule in hilchot Shabbat is מלאכת מחשבת אסרה תורה, the work, not the result, is what the Torah prohibited. Every time there is a chiyyuv maka b’atish there is always something that is כעין מלאכה for which one is chayyav. That is to say, although perhaps the work done is not very substantial, and in other situations would be allowed on Shabbat, when the work one does finishes off the work needed to be done one is liable for maka b’patsih. The work is now significant and one is now chayyav–not for the work completed–but for the action one did.

            This understanding is clearly demonstrated in the halachot being discussed. The Mishna (Shabbat 145b) states that one may soak things (Rashi – to dissolve them) that have been cooked before Shabbat in hot water on Shabbat–except for salty fish. Notice the Mishna discusses hot water and the prohibition is to wash these fish in hot water. There is not prohibition to wash them in cold water because only when the water is hot can it be considered bishul (and therefore gmar malachtan). If it were possible to rinse away the salt in cold water then even hot water would have been permitted. This is explained clearly by the Mishna Berurah:

            חוץ מן המליח הישן – [נ] דג מלוח של שנה שעברה וקולייס האיספנין הוא שם דג שאוכלין אותו מחמת מלחו ע”י הדחה בחמין וע”כ אפילו הדחה נמי לא שזהו גמר מלאכתן והוי בישול ואיתא בגמרא דאם הדיחןבחמין חייב חטאת [נא] והנה כמה אחרונים כתבו דטבע של אלו הדברים שאין יכולין לאכלו כ”ז שלא הודח בחמין וע”כ הדחה שלהן חשיבא בישול דמשוי לה אוכל וה”ה [נב] שאר דבר מלוח כיוצא בזה שאין יכולין לאכול כלל בלי הדחה אבל דברים שיכולין לאכלן ע”י הדחת מים צוננים אין איסור להדיחן בחמין מכלי שני ולפ”ז דג מלוח שבמקומנו שנקרא הערינ”ג שיכולין לאכול ע”י הדחת צוננים ולפעמים אף בלי הדחה מותר להדיחו אף במים חמין ומהט”ז משמע דיש ליזהר שלא להדיחו בחמין וכן כתב בספר שלחן עצי שטים ובח”א וכן נכון לנהוג למעשה ועיין בה”ל:
            (If you read the Biur Halacha he is choshesh that there might still be a bit more bishul even if it can be eaten without using hot water.)

            As I explained before, the instant coffee is fully cooked. It can be dissolved in cold water and it will taste the same (although cold coffee is disgusting). Therefore there is no problem to even use hot water. R’ Felder that wrote that it is forbidden is obviously understanding that there is still some type of bishul occurring, just as R’ Amsel clearly states. However, I think they are wrong about there being any more bishul. Again let me reiterate, coffee crystals are dehydrated coffee that was already brewed. It is the flavor of brewed coffee beans and doesn’t exude any more flavor.

            • If I recall correctly, this is R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach’s objection to R. Gedaliah Felder (in Shulchan Shlomo, Shabbos 318:24). But R. Felder holds like the Arukh Ha-Shulchan (318:29) that this is about gemar melakhah and makeh be-patish in terms of completing the food, not necessarily finishing the cooking, and therefore even applies to rinsing with cold water:
              וכתב רבינו הרמ”א בסעיף ד’ דהוא הדין כל דבר קשה שאינו ראוי לאכול כלל בלא שרייה – דאסור לשרותו בשבת, דהוי גמר מלאכה עכ”ל.

              כלומר אפילו בצונן אם אינו ראוי לאכילה בלא זה – הוי גמר מלאכה וחייב משום מכה בפטיש, וכן דבר מלוח שאינו יכול לאכול בלא הדחה והדיחו – חייב. ורבים תפסו דכונתו הוא לשרותו בחמין דווקא, ולעניות דעתי נראה דגם בצונן אסור כשזה הוה גמר מלאכתו, אך אנחנו אין אנו יודעים מאכלים כאלו שלא יהיו ראוים רק על ידי שרייה.

              • Ok, now I understand. Rereading R’ Felder with that understanding I wonder if he is using the Yerushalmi ( מן דאשכחון מסמך סמכון, מן דלא אשכחון מסמוך עבדוניה משום מכה) as a source for his position that maka b’patish is forbidden even if the action itself is not a melacha. I checked the Baer Yitzchak he quotes but I did not find it at the location cited.

                Recently a prominent halachic authority used this Yerushalmi in that very way. Dr. Dror Fixler wrote an article to counter this position which he finds no basis for. See הגדרת מלאכת מכה בפטיש והקשרה לחשמל בשבת. R’ Shaul Lieberman in Yerushalmi Kefshuto explains that the Yerushalmi holds maka b’patish is a sub-category of each and every malacha, the exact opposite of what R’ Felder seems to be proving from it.

  4. Most black and green teas made from leaves are cooked in a furnace before packaging for export or sale. This was not always the case, and there are still teas that come fresh or include uncooked ingredients. Should most store-bought teas present no problem due to being bishul achar bishul? Or is the fear of confusion between types requiring stringency?

    • Example of firing oven or furnace for tea processing, now more common as it speeds processing:
      http://www.teatulia.com/tea-101/tea-processing.htm

    • But it’s nothing like cooking to maachal ben derusa’i.

      (Hojicha and some Taiwanese oolongs are roasted, so you can talk bishul achar tzeli.)

      Assuming you believe that soaking them in hot water is bishul, whereas google will show you that tea sellers try hard to teach you how to brew tea WITHOUT cooking the leaves. I’m still stuck on this issue; before I’m capable of discussing something like bishul achar tzeli, I need to know in what sense we’re using the word “bishul”.

      To answer Ephraim’s question: tavlin do not cook in a keli sheini (IM OC 4, 74.18). In question 15, RMF’s actual discussion of tea, he doesn’t mention the tavlin issue, though. The questioner asks about keli shelishi, and RMF’s answer focuses on nothing cooking in a keli shelishi. The mention of tavlin is in q. 18, where the question is about lemon or onion as tavlin. BTW, by definition tavlin are added to emit a flavor. RMF wonders whether tea “אפשר לא נחשבו בכלל תבלין דהם לא ניתנו לטעמא אלא למראה”. I presume he means floating leaves in tea that was made already. Otherwise, he would be saying that tea is colored water, tasting like water. But I don’t know.

      • What I mean to ask is that tavlin in the Mishna and Talmud is mentioned in teaching other important things and it is only as an aside that we learn that putting it in a kli sheini is not a problem. Even then it is mainly to teach that there is not problem of mechzei kmivashel, but this also obviously assumes that it is not cooked in a kli sheini either. The Mishna never meant to give a ruling that all tavlin cannot be cooked in a kli sheini. The Gemara (Shabbos 42) implies that there are some tavlin which can be cooked when it asks about salt. Basically, tavlin was never ruled to not be kalei habishul but in general they can be defined as such, but there are some tavlin which are.

        If one were to try to determine the status of tea vis-a-vis bishul bishabbos, the question to ask is not if tea has similar spicing qualities as other tavlin but if it is cooked easily in a kli sheini. The approach you quote in the name of R’ Chaim seems backwards.

        BTW, by definition tavlin are added to emit a flavor.

        I don’t think that is true for all spices. Some spices are added to add flavor when eating the spice itself. Think of ground black pepper or salt.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: