The observance of Shabbos is a central aspect of Jewish life. In the column that is to follow, the 5TJT is launching a a halachic analysis of various aspects of the laws of Shabbos. We begin with one of the most common of the 39 forbidden categories of labor – Bishul or cooking. By Rabbinic law, there is an additional prohibition called “Chazarah.” This column deals with this Rabbinic prohibition.
DEFINITION & TWO PROHIBITED SCENARIOS
Chazarah is defined as the placing back of a food item on the heat source on Shabbos. There are two possible scenarios for this “placing back” to occur. The first scenario is a cooked food being placed on the heat source for the first time on Shabbos, and the “placing back” refers to the original time that the food was cooked.
The second scenario is when a food item was on the heat source on Shabbos and was taken off in such a manner that the initial placement has become discontinued or invalid. Both of these scenarios are considered violations of the Rabbinic prohibition of Chazarah.
[It should be noted that the heat source referred to here is one that is generally used for cooking. However, if that source of heat is never used for cooking then the Rabbinic prohibition of Chazarah does not apply, if the food is fully cooked. Thus, one could place a cold potato kugel from the refrigerator onto an old house radiator on Shabbos morning since 1] the potato kugel is already cooked and 2] the radiator is never used for cooking. Similarly, one can place such a kugel on top of the cholent pot since one never cooks food there. A blech, however, is a place where cooking is done and one may not even place cooked food there if it is possible for the kugel to reach a temperature above yad soledes bo.]
WHEN IT IS PERMITTED
The term “Chazarah” is used by people to mean the permitted manner in which to place food back on the blech. Such a “Chazarah” is permitted, when done with carefully adhering to the five conditions. When done with the conditions absent – it is considered forbidden Chazarah, when done with the conditions present it is permitted.
REASONS FOR PROHIBITION
There are two reasons cited for the prohibition of Chazarah. The first is “Mechzi K’mevashel” it appears as if you are cooking. This is the reason given both by the RaN and Rashi.
The second reason is the one given by Rabbeinu Tam in his Sefer HaYashar – “Shema Yechateh BaGachalim” – one may come to stoke the coals.
Which of the reasons do we follow?
The Mishna Brurah (253:37) rules that one should be stringent like both of the reasons cited in the Rishonim.
THE OTHER TYPE OF CHAZARAH
There is also a second type of Chazarah which we shall term “Tosfos Chazarah.” We are calling it “Tosfos Chazarah” because it is the opinion of the Baalei Tosfos and the Rosh. Other Rishonim such as Rashi, the Ran and the Rambam do not agree that this is forbidden.
“Tosfos Chazarah” forbids placing a cooled off food on an open flame on Friday – if it will not come to a boil before sundown. The Ramah (253:2) rules that the custom is to be lenient in regard to “Tosfos Chazarah” but it is good to be stringent when there is no need otherwise. [This type of Chazarah is actually something that seems to resemble Shehiya more than Chazarah.]
What is an example of “the other type of Chazarah?” If one places cold kugel on the blech on Friday ten minutes before candle lighting. Here the foodwas cooked but is just now heating up. According to Tosfos and the Rosh this is the “other type of Chazarah” which the Rabbis forbade.
Let’s say that someone is running late and forgot to place the cold kugel or chicken on the blech and it is only ten minutes before candlelighting. Is there any way they can still fulfill the Ramah’s “good to be stringent” ideal?
According to Rav Elyashiv (cited in Otzros Shabbos p.405) there is a workaround. He holds that if one placed the food on a very high flame and then lowered it afterward, one does not violate the “Tosfos Chazarah.” The problem with using this workaround is that one does not wish to violate the Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach requirement of not adjusting the fire after the blech has been placed.
The five conditions that make Chazarah permissible in our modern day ovens, stovetops and hot plates, can be remembered with a mnemonic device. “HI – I am from the W. CHIB Company. And HI, I am negotiable.” The five conditions of Chazara are:
W – Warm
C – Cooked
H – Hand
I – Intent
B – Bleched
The sentence “HI – I am negotiable” is important. It reminds us that the Hand requirement and the Intent requirement can be dispensed with in cases of necessity. If it is a case of some necessity but not great necessity, we can dispense with the hand requirement or the intent requirement but not both. If it is a case of great necessity both the Hand and Intent requirement can be ignored.
We will now explain each of the five requirements.
Warm – the food that was taken off the covered flame must still be detectably warm. If it has cooled off to room temperature it may not be put back.
Cooked – the food that is placed back on must have been completely cooked.
Hand – One must still hold onto the pot that was taken off the flame if one wishes t/o place it back on the covered flame.
Intent – One should have had the intention of putting the food back on the fire in order to do so.
Bleched – The flame that one is placing the food back on must be covered with a blech.
As a background, in the times of Chazal there were three types of ovens. They were called , a “Tanur,” a “Kupach,” and a “Kirah.” Each of them contained a fire that was fueled either by a] olive pit remnants and wood or by b] straw and grasses. Each of these ovens had a hole on the very top in which a pot could be inserted. The pot did not fall down into the oven because it had a large lip that curved around – preventing the pot from falling down the hole.
A Tanur was very very hot and had a triangular or cone shape. The heat was greater because the cone shape intensified the heat. A Kupach was cube shaped and had room for one pot insert. A Kirah was rectangular shaped and had room for two pot inserts.
All three of these different types of ovens have different halachos.
Before we discuss the exact technical differences, we should know that our Poskim have determined that modern day ovens are considered like a Kirah. Do not be confused by the fact that modern Hebrew calls all ovens a “Tanur.” A pizza oven or baker’s oven, however, is considered like a Tanur according to the Mishna Brurah (253:28). The Chazon Ish (OC 37:7) is lenient, however.
Chazara could never be done on or above a Tanur because it was so hot that Mechzi K’mevashel always applied. This is true even if there was Grifah or Ketimah.