Shiur #10: The Status of Pouring From a Keli Rishon

  • Harav Baruch Gigi
The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash

The Laws of Shabbat
Yeshivat Har Etzion

Shiur #10: The Status of Pouring From a Keli Rishon


By HaRav Baruch Gigi

Translated by David Silverberg



            The term iruy in Halakha refers to pouring hot liquid from a keli rishon (the original pot in which it was cooked) onto food in a keli sheni.


            We find no explicit discussion in the Talmud Bavli regarding the status of iruy with respect to bishul.  Later, we will explain how the Rishonim tried to infer the status of iruy from various sources in the Bavli.  The Yerushalmi, by contrast, addresses this issue explicitly, but the Rishonim disagree in identifying the sugya's conclusion.  We will therefore begin with the discussions among the Rishonim, and then proceed to the Yerushalmi.


            The Mishna in Masekhet Shabbat (42a) permits adding spices to food in a keli sheni, but forbids doing so in a keli rishon.  The Rishonim noted that no conclusions can be reached on the basis of this Mishna with regard to the status of iruy.  The halakha allowing adding spices in a keli sheni implies the iruy from a keli rishon is forbidden, but the halakha forbidding adding spices in a keli rishon would suggest that pouring from a keli rishon is permissible.  Nevertheless, some Rishonim claimed that the Rashbam inferred from this Mishna that iruy from a keli rishon has the same status as a keli sheni, since the Mishna forbids only adding spices to a keli rishon, and not pouring from a keli rishon onto food.[1]


            Another sugya relevant to this discussion appears in Masekhet Pesachim (76a):


It was stated: [Pouring] hot [food] into hot [food] – is forbidden according to all opinions.  Cold into cold – is permissible according to all opinions.  Hot into cold, or cold into hot: Rav says, the top [food] triumphs, and Shemuel says, the bottom [food] triumphs.


The Gemara here addresses a situation of a permissible food and forbidden food one of which falls into the other.  Since the transfer of forbidden taste from one piece to another can occur only through heat, the question arises as to whether it occurs if only one of the two pieces is hot.  Rav and Shemuel disagree as to whether the piece on top determines the transfer of taste, such that if the top piece is cold there no transfer can occur, or if this is determined by the bottom piece.  Halakha follows the view that the temperature of the bottom piece is the determining factor.  At first glance, this halakha seems to accommodate the position equating iruy with a keli sheni, since the food in the keli sheni, into which liquid is poured from a keli rishon, is the determining factor.  Thus, the Rishonim who afford iruy the status of a keli rishon must deal with this sugya's implication to the contrary.


            A third sugya addressed by the Rishonim in this context is a Gemara in Masekhet Zevachim (95b), which deals with utensils used for cooking sacrificial meat, which require hag'ala (immersion in boiling water) to rid them of the absorbed taste of sacrificial meat.  The Gemara explicitly establishes, based on an inference from a verse, that a utensil requires hag'ala even if sacrificial meat was not cooked in it, but was rather poured into it from its original utensil.  This would appear to prove that iruy has the status of a keli rishon.


            We might, however, dismiss this proof based on the continuation of the Gemara's discussion:


Rami Bar Chama asked: What if one suspended it in the airspace of an oven?  Did the Torah require [hag'ala] only with regard to cooking and absorption [of taste], or [even] with regard to cooking without absorption [of taste]?  Rava said: Let us hear [the answer from the following source]: "Whether he cooked in it or if he poured boiling [sacrificial meat] into it."  [The Gemara responds:] We did not ask concerning absorption [of taste] without cooking; we asked about cooking without absorption [of taste].


The Gemara appears to classify iruy as a situation where taste is absorbed without the process of bishul.  We might therefore conclude that iruy has the status of a keli rishon only with respect to the absorption of taste of forbidden food, but not for purposes of the prohibition of bishul on Shabbat.  Thus, this sugya might actually prove that as far as bishul is concerned, we should treat iruy like a keli sheni, and so those who consider iruy equivalent to a keli rishon must address this sugya, as well.


            As mentioned, the Rishonim disagree in explaining the relevant sugyot, and thus reach different conclusions regarding the status of iruy.  Let us now present the main positions among the Rishonim.


1) The Rashbam rules that iruy has the status of a keli sheni, drawing support primarily from the aforementioned sugyot in Zevachim and Pesachim.  And even though the Gemara in Pesachim qualifies the principle of "tata'a gavar" ("the bottom one triumphs") by claiming, "until the bottom [piece] cools [the top piece], it absorbs one layer's-worth," this applies only to the issue of absorbing taste, but not to the process of bishul.  As far as the laws of Shabbat are concerned, therefore, iruy is equivalent to a keli sheni.


            We find a similar position – at least in the direction of chumra – to yield a stringent ruling – in the comments of Rabbenu Yona:


It is a terrible mistake made by some people who cover a kettle of hot water [to retain its heat] so that they can place [the water] into a pot on Shabbat when the food begins to dry.  At times one is not at the point of yad soledet bo and the other is at the point of yad soledet bo, and they cook together, such that cooking is done on Shabbat.  And even if they are both at the point of yad soledet bo, there is a view in the Yerushalmi that poured [liquid] does not have the same status as [liquid in] a keli rishon.  Thus, when one pours the water, the moment it leaves the utensil – even if it is still boiling – its level of boiling no longer has the capacity to cook, just like a keli sheni, which cannot cook, and it is therefore cooked inside the keli rishon.  And water that has been cooked is [nevertheless] subject to bishul if it stopped boiling.


Rabbenu Yona does not definitively rule that iruy is equivalent to a keli sheni, but he insists on satisfying this view in situations where it would yield a chumra.  His main point is that the halakha equating iruy with a keli rishon does not result from the principle of tata'a gavar, which would dictate that the poured liquid attains the status of the food on the bottom, in the keli sheni.  Rather, in Rabbenu Yona's view, even when one pours liquid into a keli rishon it has the status of a keli sheni, because the liquid stops boiling immediately upon leaving the walls of the utensil, thus becoming like a keli sheni in terms of its ability to cook other foods.


2. Rabbenu Tam maintains that iruy must be treated as a keli rishon, and he must therefore deal with the sugyot in Pesachim and Zevachim.  The Rishonim refute the proof from the halakha of tata'a gavar in several ways:


A) Many Rishonim distinguish between situations of a direct, unbroken flow from a keli rishon, in which case we would equate iruy with a keli rishon, and instances where the flow is interrupted, where we may consider the liquid equivalent to a keli sheni.  The sugya in Masekhet Pesachim which establishes the rule of tata'a gavar would thus be referring to an interrupted flow of liquid.  (See end of Tosefot in Zevachim 95b, and Ramban and Ran towards the end of Masekhet Avoda Zara, among other sources.)  On the basis of his view, Rabbenu Tam allowed performing hag'ala by pouring hot water on the utensil; see his comments in Tosefot, Avoda Zara 74b (s.v. darash Rava) and the aforementioned Rishonim, who disagree.


B) The Ra'avan (21) distinguished between pouring from a boiling hot keli rishon, which would have the status of a keli rishon, and pouring from a hot keli sheni, which we would treat as a keli sheni.  His intention, I believe, is that only pouring from a pot whose contents are still boiling has the capacity to cook the food onto which it falls.[2]  And when the Gemara in Zevachim describes a situation of iruy from a keli rishon as effectuating beli'a (absorption of taste) but not bishul, it means that the cooking process and heat occurred not by this utensil's independent force, but rather by force of another utensil.  Even this Gemara would concede, however, that iruy has the capacity to effect bishul.  (See Tosefot Ha-Rosh, Shabbat 42a s.v. ha-ilfas, and Tosefot, Zevachim 95b s.v. ira.)


C) A third distinction is suggested by Tosefot (in Zevachim), who wrote that liquid poured from a keli rishon has the status of a keli rishon, whereas when a solid food item is poured onto another solid food, we apply the principle of tata'a gavar, and cooking occurs only kedei kelipa (through one layer's-worth of the food).


3) Some Rishonim understood Rabbenu Tam as saying that iruy cooks only kedei kelipa.  The sugya in Pesachim thus poses no difficulty, because it says explicitly that even if tata'a gavar, taste is absorbed in such a case only kedei kelipa, and we might apply this to the process of cooking, as well, which would occur under these circumstances only to the extent of kedei kelipa.  (See Tosefot in Zevachim, and the Rosh in Masekhet Shabbat 3:16.)


The Sugya in the Yerushalmi


            Let us now address the discussion in the Yerushalmi, Shabbat 3:5:


Is it permissible to place spices on the bottom and pour over them from the top?  Rabbi Yona says, this is forbidden; iruy is equivalent to a keli rishon.  Rabbi Yona's proof is from here: "Whether he cooked in it or if he poured boiling [sacrificial meat] into it."  Rabbi Yossi said, there, an earthenware utensil absorbs [taste even through iruy]; but spices are not cooked [in this fashion, and it is therefore permissible].  Rabbi Yossi challenged [this view] in the house of Rabbi Bon: Does it not state, "This is true even in a copper utensil"?  You must therefore say that a copper utensil absorbs [taste].  Is it permissible to pour from a continuous flow?  Rabbi Chananya the son of Rabbi Hillel said, [this is subject to the] dispute between Rabbi Yona and Rabbi Yossi.  Rabbi Yitzchak Bar Gufta asked in the presence of Rabbi Mana: If one did this on Shabbat, is he liable for cooking [on Shabbat]?  If he did this with meat and milk, is he liable for cooking [meat with milk]?  He said to him: This is as Rabbi Ze'eira said: What is clearly chalut [wheat stirred in hot water which is subject to the obligation of chala] – anything under which fire burns.  Here, too – what is clearly a cooked food –   anything under which fire burns.


The Yerushalmi addresses two questions.  The first concerns the status of pouring from a keli rishon onto spices in a keli sheni, which is the classic question of iruy.  The Yerushalmi's second question, however, is far from clear.[3]


            Rabbi Yona claims that iruy has the status of a keli rishon, and draws proof to his position from the sugya in Zevachim which requires hag'ala for utensils used for cooking sacrificial meat as well as utensils into which sacrificial meat was poured.  Rabbi Yossi dismisses this proof, arguing that the issue there hinges on the absorption of taste in the utensil, not the occurrence of bishul.  Rabbi Yona counters that earthenware utensils, which absorb taste very easily, can perhaps absorb taste even without the occurrence of bishul, but this cannot be said of copper utensils.  We must therefore conclude that iruy effects bishul just like a keli rishon.


            The Yerushalmi does not record Rabbi Yossi's response to Rabbi Yona's argument.  According to Tosefot (Shabbat 42b s.v. aval), Rabbi Yossi's silence proves that the accepted position is that of Rabbi Yona, that iruy has the status of a keli rishon.  By contrast, the Rashba (Shabbat 42b) and the Ran (Avoda Zara, 38b in the Rif) inferred from the closing comments to this sugya – "what is clearly a cooked food –   anything under which fire burns" – that in conclusion the Yerushalmi considers iruy equivalent to a keli sheni, and it cannot accomplish bishul.  Only with respect to absorption of forbidden taste does iruy function as a keli rishon.


            This view, however, requires some explanation.  The Yerushalmi said merely that the Torah prohibition of bishul applies only when the cooking occurs over fire; this does not preclude the possibility of a rabbinic enactment forbidding iruy from a keli rishon, just as cooking in a keli rishon itself constitutes – according to the Yerushalmi – a rabbinic violation.[4]  We might explain that since Rabbi Yona drew proof from the verse which the Gemara understood as requiring hag'ala for a utensil used through iruy, and the Yerushalmi clearly denies the occurrence of Torah-level bishul through iruy, the prohibition indicated in the verse is necessarily rooted in beli'a (absorption of taste), rather than bishul.  Clearly, then, as far as bishul on Shabbat is concerned, iruy is not deemed capable of cooking.


            The Ramban (end of Masekhet Avoda Zara) likewise inferred from the Yerushalmi's concluding remarks that the issue remains subject to the debate between Rabbi Yona and Rabbi Yossi.  He even claimed that the Yerushalmi's second question was asked only within the view that iruy does not have the status of a keli rishon.  This second question, which in the Ramban's text reads, "Is it permissible to pour with the flow," is as follows: Generally, the liquid poured from a keli rishon comes in contact with the spices or food into which it is poured in the keli sheni.  The Yerushalmi's second question relates to a case where the poured liquid met the spices as it fell, before it landed in the keli sheni.  Accordingly, the Ramban claimed that this question applies only within the view that permits standard iruy, and it asks whether this view would be stringent if the contact occurred as the liquid flowed from the keli rishon.  But since the Yerushalmi applied the debate between Rabbi Yona and Rabbi Yossi even to this case, we have no indication of the Yerushalmi's conclusion.


The Final Halakha


            The Shulchan Arukh (318:10) writes, "It is forbidden to place spices in a bowl and pour over them from a keli rishon."  The Mishna Berura comments, "For although spices cannot be cooked in a keli sheni, nevertheless, we follow the view that pouring from a keli rishon cooks to the extent of a layer's-worth if one poured directly over them such that the flow was unbroken."  The Acharonim establish that if the flow was disrupted before landing in the keli sheni, then its status is that of a keli sheni, and it does not accomplish bishul.


            The Acharonim (see Taz 318:16) write that we accept the position equating iruy with a keli rishon only where it yields a stringent ruling, out of concern for this view.  One may not, however, rely on this view to yield a lenient ruling, such as to permit hag'ala through pouring from a keli rishon.  We might add that in light of the Mishna Berura's comment, that iruy has the capacity to cook only to the extent of kedei kelipa, it certainly would not suffice for hag'ala.


            Rabbi Akiva Eiger (chiddushim, 318:10) writes that the prohibition against iruy applies only when one pours directly onto the given food item; if one pours onto a different side of the utensil and the liquid then comes in contact with the food, this resembles cooking in a keli sheni and is permissible.


            The Mishna Berura writes that if, ex post facto, one did pour liquid onto food from a keli rishon, one must assume that a layer's-worth of the food was cooked and is thus forbidden for consumption by virtue of the law of ma'aseh Shabbat (the prohibition against partaking of food cooked on Shabbat).  This ruling appears difficult in light of the rule that when an issue is subject to a debate among the poskim, we do not forbid be-di'avad (after the fact), as we may rely on the lenient position.  And here, the Rashbam permits pouring from a keli rishon, and one should therefore be allowed to partake of the food cooked in this fashion be-di'avad.[5]  The answer, perhaps, is that the accepted view represents a middle position in between the two extreme views (that iruy cooks completely, like a keli rishon, and that it does not cook at all, like a keli sheni).  Halakha accepts the view that iruy cooks a layer's-worth, and we therefore cannot act leniently against this position, even be-di'avad.  Clearly, however, this matter requires further elucidation.


            The Shevitat Ha-Shabbat (Mevashel section, Be'er Rechovot 58) writes that if one cooks through iruy inadvertently, or thought that it was permissible, one may partake of the food be-di'avad.


            The Bei'ur Halakha comments that if one poured onto a baked or roasted item, he may partake of the food be-di'avad.  He explains that even though we generally follow the Yerei'im's position forbidding cooking a previously baked item, and thus one should not pour water from a keli rishon onto a baked food, nevertheless, if one did pour, we may rely on the authorities who hold that a baked food item is no longer subject to bishul.


Pouring Onto a Thick Food Item


            The Iglei Tal (Ha-ofeh, 14) writes:


One who pours from a keli rishon onto thin items, that are no thicker than a kedei kelipa, or onto spices that are made to extract flavor and enhance a food – is liable [for bishul].  But [if one pours onto] items that are thicker than a kedei kelipa – he is not liable even for the kedei kelipa that is cooked [through pouring]… because at the moment of pouring it is cooked only to the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai [half or one-third cooked], and for anything that is cooked on only one side to the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai – one is not liable.


The Iglei Tal's theory is based on the sugya in Masekhet Menachot (57b), which establishes that cooking one side of a food item only to the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai does not constitute bishul.  Bishul requires either that both sides (meaning, the entire depth of the cooked item) reach the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai, or that at least one side is fully cooked.  Iruy, the Iglei Tal claims, cooks only one layer's-worth, and only to the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai, and thus if the item is thicker than one layer, it would not constitute a Torah violation of bishul.


            However, the Acharonim debate whether one may le-khatechila (initially) pour from a keli rishon onto thick food items, as the Iglei Tal concludes, "what more – one may do so even le-khatechila," or if this should be forbidden on the grounds of chatzi shiur (a "partial violation"), regarding which Halakha follows Rabbi Yochanan's position, the chatzi shiur is forbidden by Torah law.  (See Shevitat Ha-Shabbat, ibid. 59).


            The controversy surrounding this issue relates mainly to the nature of the prohibition of chatzi shiur and its application to bishul on Shabbat.  The Shevitat Ha-Shabbat discusses his disagreement with a "scholar from Jerusalem" as to why cooking only one side of an item to the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai does not constitute bishul.  One possibility claims that this does not qualify as bishul at all because the food is simply not edible, as even Ben Derusai himself would not eat food in such a condition.  Alternatively, one might explain that Chazal established a shiur (amount, or degree) of cooking for an act to qualify as a significant occurrence of cooking, and they therefore required that both sides be cooked to the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai.  According to the second approach, then since the cooked side is able to combine with the other side to comprise a complete shiur – thus satisfying the basic condition for applying the prohibition of chatzi shiur ("chazi le-itzterufi") – the rule of chatzi shiur takes effect, and forbids partaking of this food.  Although in my opinion the first approach seems more compelling, one should nevertheless act stringently in this regard and follow the position of the Shevitat Ha-Shabbat.


            Regarding very thin items, however, pouring from a keli rishon clearly entails a potential Torah violation, even if pouring cooks only to the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai.  One therefore may not pour from a keli rishon onto tea.  In light of what we discussed in the previous shiur regarding kalei ha-bishul (items that cook more easily), one should refrain from placing tea leaves in a keli sheni, as well.[6]


A Repeated Iruy


            Consider a case of one who poured from a keli rishon onto a food item before Shabbat.  May he then pour onto that food on Shabbat?


            This question in essence consists of two separate issues:


1)      The initial iruy cooks only a layer's-worth, and thus the second pouring might cook a layer's-worth from the second side, which was unaffected by the initial iruy.

2)      Since, as we mentioned above, iruy cooks only to the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai, and we follow the position that one violates bishul even by cooking a food that had already been cooked to this point (so long as it has not been fully cooked), the second iruy might therefore violate bishul in that it cooks the food item even further.


The Peri Megadim (Mishbetzot Zahav 318:15) permits pouring hot water on tealeaves upon which one had already poured water before Shabbat.  In Eishel Avraham (253:41), however, the Peri Megadim writes that one should refrain from doing so, out of concern that he might now pour on a different side, which had not been cooked as a result of the initial pouring.  The Mishna Berura (318:39) writes that if one pours hot water on tealeaves before Shabbat and stirs them thoroughly as he pours, we may consider the leaves fully cooked on all sides, and thus permit pouring hot water on them on Shabbat.


            The Sha'ar Ha-tziyon (318:63) raises the concern that the initial pouring perhaps did not fully cook the leaves, in which case we should forbid pouring water on them during Shabbat.  He claims that we may rely on a sefeik-sefeika ("double doubt"): perhaps Halakha follows the Rambam's position, that soaking a previously soaked item does not constitute bishul, in which case here, too, repeating the action does not have the capacity to accomplish bishul, and perhaps Halakha follows the view that a food that had already reached the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai is no longer subject to bishul.  In my opinion, we should add yet another factor, namely, that tealeaves are very thin and are thus cooked in their entirety as a result of iruy, given that they are no thicker than kedei kelipa.  Furthermore, as the Peri Megadim appears to suggest, tealeaves are fully cooked through the process of iruy.  This issue, however, requires further clarification.




1.                  See Tosefot Ha-Rosh, Shabbat 42a s.v. ha-ilfas, and the comments of other Rishonim to that sugya.

2.                  It is unclear whether this would relate to the position of the Ra'avya, a grandson of the Ra'avan, which we cited in a previous shiur, that a keli rishon off the fire can cook only while its contents are still boiling.

3.                  Some commentaries explained the two questions as relating to two types of iruyiruy with a steady flow, and with an interrupted flow.  Others claimed that the Yerushalmi questions whether a flow of liquid coming down a pot has the status of iruy.  See Penei Moshe and Korban Ha-eida; their precise intent is not altogether clear.  Later we will bring the Ramban's explanation.

4.                  See our shiur on the topic of cooking in a keli rishon.  This difficulty is especially pronounced in the comments of the Rashba, who claimed that according to the Yerushalmi's conclusion iruy has the status of a keli sheni and is permissible on Shabbat.  The Ramban (as we will soon discuss) deals only with the question of hag'ala through iruy; he thus needs only to demonstrate from the Yerushalmi that iruy does not constitute bishul on the level of Torah law, thereby proving that hag'ala in this manner is ineffective if the utensil had absorbed forbidden taste through cooking.

5.                  The rule allowing one to rely on a lenient position be-di'avad stems from the fact that the prohibition against making use of an item produced through melakha on Shabbat originates from Chazal, and is not a Torah prohibition (as we will discuss in a later shiur).  Therefore, in situations subject to a dispute, we may rely on the lenient positions to permit benefiting from or eating the item ex post facto.  The source of the halakha cited by the Mishna Berura is the Peri Megadim (Eishel Avraham, 318:10), and it appears that he himself held that the position permitting iruy from a keli rishon is dismissed entirely, and thus does not come under consideration at all.  He therefore does not rely on it even be-di'avad.  Indeed, in Yoreh Dei'a, the Peri Megadim (Mishbetzot Zahav 68:9, section 3) refused to accept a sefeik-sefeika that takes into account the possibility that Halakha follows the view equating iruy with a keli sheni.  And he writes explicitly in Orach Chayim (Eishel Avraham 318:14) that we do not consider this issue subject to uncertainty at all.

6.                  In a future shiur we will discuss the preferred options for preparing tea on Shabbat.