Making Tea and Coffee on Shabbos

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by R. 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.

(republished from Aug ’14)
 

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.

2 comments

  1. I spoke to experts, employees from Stash Teas and Upton Tea Importers who are charged with finding fine teas, producing brewing recommendations, etc…

    The people in the field insist that making tea does not cook the tea leaf. Obviously the leaf undergoes a change, but it’s not different in kind to what happens to the leaf when sun- or cold brewing.

    The question is whether the technical definition of “bishul” is necessarily the same as their definition of cooking.

    But the question was once open whether tea was qalei bishul (things that cook readily, for which we need to be more strict) or more like tavlin (spices) that don’t cook at all and may be placed in a qeli rishon (SA OC 318:9). As you write, consensus emerged to follow the first opinion, or to consider tea leaves neither.

    But I doubt the Mishnah Berurah or Arukh haShulchan had access to tea experts. In particular, the Arukh haShulchan calls tea an “eisev”, a grass, not a leaf. The science behind tea and tea making didn’t reach Eastern Europe. I think the question should be reopened.

    The data from the experts would lean toward tavlin.

    But as I said, we wold have to really look about how to define “bishul”. While the leaf doesn’t cook in the common use of the English word, the tea does leave the leaf much faster because of the heat than with other brewing methods. Is that bishul or not?

  2. As you mention, although there are opinions that permit making tea thru using a Kli Shelishi, I would like to add that there may be another problem that I’ve seen some are not aware of and that is the issue of Borer! People remove the Tea Bag from the cup without realizing the issue of Borer.

    In fact, I know some Choshuva Rabbonim and Hecsheirim that do not permit the use of Tea Bags on Shabbos, even in a Kli Shelishi, for that reason.

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