Parsha Halacha

Parshat Bechukotai
Shabbat Chazak/Shabbat Mevorchim
Chodesh Sivan

Making Tea on Shabbos

How and Why
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The Torah portion of Bechukotai begins with the verse[1]אִם בְּחֻקֹתַי תֵּלֵכוּ וְאֶת מִצְוֺתַי תִּשְׁמְרוּ וַעֲשִׂיתֶם אֹתָם׃ וְנָתַתִּי גִשְׁמֵיכֶם בְּעִתָּם – “If you follow My laws and faithfully observe My commandments, I will grant your rains in their proper times…” The Talmud says[2] that “the proper times” is referring to Friday nights[3] when people are not traveling.
The commentaries wonder as to how these verses are connected to the final verses of the previous Torah portion which discuss not serving idols as well as keeping Shabbat.[4]
Rabbi Tzvi Hirsh Yair (of 20th- century Poland and New York) explains[5] this by first discussing why the Torah writes the mitzvah of observing the Shabbat right after the prohibition of making and serving idols (in the last two verses of last week’s Torah portion).
The mistake of the early idolators is that they believed one should honor the angels and hosts of heaven since they are servants of G-d just as one would thank a servant of a human king. Their mistake was that, when the king is present, it is not appropriate to honor his servants, rather one must pay homage only to the king. Similarly, as G-d is everywhere, one must not show respect to His servants, but to the  A-lmighty alone.
This relates to a Midrash[6] which recounts a conversation between Rabbi Akiva and the Roman ruler, Turnus Rufus (known as Tinneus Rufus). Turnus Rufus asked Rabbi Akiva, “If your G-d honors the Shabbat, how does He make the wind blow, the rain fall and the grasses grow on Shabbat?” Rabbi Akiva answered that just as one is allowed to carry in one’s own yard, so too G-d is observing the laws of Shabbat because the entire world is his, i.e., it is not considered carrying.
This explains the connection between the verses:
1)     לֹֽא תַעֲשׂוּ לָכֶם אֱלִילִם Do not serve idols because I am everywhere.
2)     אֶת שַׁבְּתֹתַי תִּשְׁמֹרוּ  – Guard My Shabbat (i.e., G-d too observes the Shabbat).
3)     וְנָתַתִּי גִשְׁמֵיכֶם בְּעִתָּם – I will make it rain on Friday night. This is not a desecration of Shabbat because G-d is everywhere.

Making Tea on Shabbat
The rest of this article will discuss the correct manner of making tea on Shabbat.
In order to discuss this question, we must first explain some basic guidelines that relate to the laws of (not) cooking on Shabbat.

Kli Rishon
A pot (or other utensil) in which food was cooked is called a kli rishon (first vessel). Even after it is removed from the fire, it is still hot enough to cook any raw food items (or cold liquids) that are added to it.[7] The only exception to this is salt, which, according to most authorities, may be added to a kli rishon that is off the fire. Some disagree and say that salt may not be added, even to a kli sheini (second utensil). One who is strict should be blessed.[8]
·        Practical Application
One may not add spices to a cholent which is in the original pot even if it is removed from the heat source. Doing so would be a severe Shabbat violation. Also, one may not pour soup that has cooled off completely, back into the pot that it came from if that pot is still hot. (If the soup in the bowl is somewhat hot, see last week’s article.)

Pouring from a Kli Rishon (Iruy)
The Talmud says[9] that when one pours something hot onto something cold, the bottom item (e.g., a food onto which a liquid is being poured) will cool off the top one (e.g., a liquid that is being poured) rather than the top one heating and cooking the bottom one. (Pouring is called iruy.) This principle is called tata’ah gavar – the bottom one overpowers. Despite this, the Talmud says[10] that the hot item being poured can heat up the surface layer of the bottom food up to a peel’s depth (kedei kelipah). So, for the purpose of Shabbat, it is forbidden to pour a hot food or liquid onto a raw food item or onto a cold liquid as this can cook a “peel’s depth” of that item or liquid.[11]
·        Practical Application
One may not make tea on Shabbat by pouring directly from an urn or kettle. This would be a severe Shabbat violation.[12]

Kli Sheini
Kli sheini (second utensil) refers to a cup, bowl or other utensil into which hot food was transferred from the original pot (or utensil) in which it was cooked. The Talmud says that a kli sheini cannot cook items placed in it.[13] Tosfot explains[14] that the reason for this is that the walls of the kli sheini cool off the contents. As such, even though it is hot, it does not have the power to cook. Despite this, based on another source, the commentaries say[15] that one should not place most uncooked foods into a kli sheini as it may appear as if one is cooking them. In addition, some say that certain foods may cook in a kli sheini and since we don’t know what they are, we should refrain from heating things in a kli sheini.[16] The only items which we know do not cook in a kli sheini (nor does it appear like cooking) are spices and liquids and, as such, these may be placed in a kli sheini. [17]
·        Practical Application:
One may add spices or liquids (but not other uncooked foods) to a kli sheini.

Pouring from a Kli Sheini
The Talmud says[18] that one may pour from a kli sheini onto uncooked foods besides for certain foods which cook easily such as old salted fish and Spanish Mackerel. The latter are called kalei habishul (items that cook easily). Included in this category are any foods that cooks easily such as eggs[19] and Quaker instant oats[20] . In addition, there is an opinion that one should be strict with all foods and consider that they may cook easily and that one should therefore refrain from pouring from a kli sheini that is yad soledes bo (too hot to touch comfortably) onto any non-cooked food.[21] Although this opinion is not cited explicitly in the Shulchan Aruch, some recommend to be strict in this matter.[22]
·        Practical Application:
According to most authorities one may pour from a kli sheini onto raw foods unless they are the kind that cooks easily.

Kli Shlishi
A kli shlishi is a utensil which is twice removed from the fire, e.g., one poured hot water into a cup from an urn and then transferred that water into another cup. The second cup is called a kli shlishi. Most authorities are lenient and say that a kli shlishidoes not cook at all.[23] Nevertheless, if it’s a food item that cooks easily, such as raw eggs, one should be strict even regarding a kli shlishi.[24] In addition, some are strict regarding all raw foods and say that they may cook even in a kli shlishi.[25]
·        Practical Application:
One may not add quick oats to hot water in a kli shlishi.

A Soup Bowl
If one takes soup from a pot into a bowl with a ladle, some consider the ladle to be a kli sheini and the bowl a kli shlishi. Others disagree and consider the ladle to be a kli rishon and the bowl to be a kli sheini. In practice, Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchak Weisswrites[26] that the bowl can be considered a kli shlishi.
·        Practical Application:
According to Rabbi Weiss, one may add bread (or soup nuts) to soup that was ladled into a bowl. (Since bread and soup nuts are baked as opposed to cooked, the rules of bishul [cooking] still applies to them. See last week’s article.)

Making Tea
Based on the above we can conclude that:
1)     One may not make tea by pouring from the urn into a cup that has a teabag in it.
2)     One may not place a teabag into hot water that is in a kli sheini.
3)     Many authorities say that tea is considered kalei habishul (it cooks easily) and that therefore one may not pour onto a teabag from a kli sheini or place it in a kli shlishi.[27] Others disagree and permit this.[28]

The Best Way
The best way to make tea on Shabbat is to make a tea essence (concentrated tea) before Shabbat. This essence can then be added to a kli sheini as needed.[29]
As far as making coffee, there are several other issues at play, so we will discuss that another time with G-d’s help.

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom Chazak UMevorach and a Chodesh Tov!

[3] The Talmud also mentions that Wednesday night is an appropriate time for rain as people would not go out then due to demonic forces (sheidim) that would prowl on those nights. The Siftei Chachamim (on Deut. 11:14) says that Rashi leaves this out as he is referring to the present era when these forces are no longer prevalent. See also Shvilei Pinchas (5772) who explains this matter from a spiritual perspective.
[5] Chemdat Tzvi on Parshat Bechukotai. Rabbi Yair was the rabbi of the Home for the Sages of Israel on the Lower East Side of Manhattan at the time of the publishing of his book (1966).
The Talmud (ibid) says that ox meat also cannot cook in a pot that is off the fire. The Rosh writes, however (Shabbat 3:17), that although the meat does not cook in a kli rishon, the moisture in the meat can cook.
[10] Ibid as understood by The Ri in Tosfot D.H. Aval Notein on Shabbat 42b. It is noteworthy that the Rashbamdisagrees with (his cousin) the Ri. But, in practice, the opinion of the Ri is accepted. see Shulchan Aruch HaRav 318:19.
[11] Ibid. See ibid 20 that some are lenient regarding pouring onto cold liquids.
[12] See Mili DeMarava (by the LINK Kolel in Los Angeles) 2006, page 129 that the bag does not act as the kedei klipah since it is very thing and perforated.
[15] Tosfot D.H. Kol Sheba on Shabbat 39a
[16] Yerei’im, cited in Shulchan Aruch HaRav 318:12
[17] Based on Shabbat 42b (spices) and 40b (liquids).
[18] Shabbat 39a as explained by Tosfot D.H. Kol Sheba. See there that some interpret the Talmud differently.
[19] Shmirat Shabbat Kehilchato 1, footnote 148 in the name of Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach
[20] Shabbat KeHalacha, 1:51
[21] Yere’im 274
[22] See sources quoted in Shabbat Kehalacha 1, footnote 97 in reference to a kli shlishi. Rabbi Chaim Sholom Deutch of Kolel Tzemach Tzedek compares the two cases.
[24] See Shmiract Shabbat Kehilchato ibid regarding an egg in a kli shilshi
[25] Yerei’im ibid and sources quoted in footnote 21
[26] Minchat Yitzchak 5:127:3 cited in Shabbat Kehalacha 1, footnote 108
[28] See sources quoted in Shabbat Kehalacha 1, footnote 51
[29] Mishnah Berurah ibid

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