Shiur #25: Hatmana ֠Part 3

  • Harav Baruch Gigi
The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash

The Laws of Shabbat
Yeshivat Har Etzion

Shiur #25: Hatmana – Part 3


By HaRav Baruch Gigi

Translated by David Silverberg



Hatmana with Cold Food


            The Gemara states (51a):


Rav Yehuda said in the name of Shemuel: It is permissible to conceal cold food [on Shabbat].  Rav Yosef said: what has he come to teach us – this is explicit in a Mishna: "A person may fill a jug and place it underneath a pillow or underneath a cushion"!  Abayei said to him: He has come to teach us a great deal, for were it only for the Mishna, one might have thought that this applies only to something which is not normally concealed; but something that is normally concealed, [one may] not [conceal it on Shabbat].  He therefore comes to teach us [that hatmana is permissible with all cold foods on Shabbat].  Rav Huna said in the name of Rebbi: It is forbidden to conceal cold food.  But does it not state in a Berayta, "Rebbi allowed concealing cold food"?  This is not a difficulty – one [source] refers to before he heard it from Rabbi Yishmael the son of Rabbi Yossi, and the other refers to after he heard it from Rabbi Yishmael the son of Rabbi Yossi, as [it has been told] that Rebbi sat and said, "It is forbidden to conceal cold food."  Rabbi Yishmael the son of Rabbi Yossi said to him, "My father allowed concealing cold food."  He said, "The elder has already issued his ruling!"


The Rishonim present different approaches in explaining this halakha, allowing hatmana with cold food:


1.   Rashi explains the Gemara as referring to one who conceals cold food from the sun, so that it will not become warm.  This halakha teaches that Chazal did not forbid this kind of hatmana as a safeguard against the standard hatmana, where one conceals warm food to retain its heat.

2.   The Rambam, by contrast, explained that the hatmana of cold food is intended to remove its chill.  He writes (Hilkhot Shabbat 4:4), "It is permissible to conceal a cold item on Shabbat with something that does not increase [the food's heat] in order for it not to become exceedingly cold, or to remove its chill."  Most Rishonim follow this approach.


Later in the sugya, the Gemara comments, "Similarly, Rabban Shimon Ben Gamliel would say: They forbade [hatmana] only [if the food or water is] in the same kettle; but if one transferred [the water] from one kettle to another, it is permissible: once he is cooling it, will he then bring it to a boil?"  Meaning, even though Chazal forbade concealing a kettle on Shabbat, even in material that does not increase its heat, once the contents are transferred to a different kettle, hatmana is permissible.


            Here, too, the Rishonim disagree in explaining the rationale behind this halakha.  Rashi writes:


They did not forbid concealing [food] after dark except in the kettle in which it had been heated, for there we have reason to issue a decree, lest one bring it to a boil.[1]  "But one may transfer from one kettle to another kettle and conceal it" – this is the text in the Tosefta, and this is also what is meant by, "if one transferred from one kettle to another, it is permissible," for in this case there is no need to issue a decree lest one bring it to a boil, for once he intentionally cooled it [by transferring it to a different kettle], will he then bring it to a boil?


According to Rashi, transferring a kettle's contents to another kettle is intended to cool the food, and we therefore have no reason for concern that the individual might then bring it to a boil.  But the Ran, who follows the majority view among the Rishonim in explaining the halakha of hatmana with cold food, suggests a different explanation for this halakha allowing hatmana after transferring food from one utensil to the next:


The reason is because they forbade hatmana on Shabbat only for hot food that is in a keli rishon in which it had been cooked.  But if one transferred it, [hatmana] is permissible, just as they allowed hatmana for cold food.  But Rashi z"l…was compelled to explain that one transferred it for the purpose of cooling it.


According to Rashi, we allow hatmana with cold food only if the objective is cooling the food, and likewise we allow hatmana for food that had been transferred only if this was done for the food to cool.  According to the other Rishonim, however, Halakha allows hatmana for cold food even for the purpose of retaining its heat, and therefore hatmana is allowed after a food is transferred to a different utensil, even for the purpose of retaining its heat.  In their view, the prohibition of hatmana was initially applied only to food in a keli rishon.


            It would appear that these Rishonim did not see a direct connection between hatmana with cold food and hatmana with hot food in a keli sheni.  These two halakhot are not identical, and merely resemble one another in that they both involve situations where we have no reason for concern that one will bring the food to a boil as a result of the hatmana.


            The Rambam, however, presented these two laws in conjunction with one another (Hilkhot Shabbat 4:4-5):


It is permissible to conceal a cold item on Shabbat with something that does not increase [the food's heat] in order for it not to become exceedingly cold, or to remove its chill… If one transferred the food or hot water from its utensil to a different utensil, he may conceal that other utensil on Shabbat in something that does not increase [the heat], just as [one may conceal] a cold item, for they forbade concealing on Shabbat only a hot item in the original utensil in which it had been cooked; but if he transferred it, this is permissible.


The Shulchan Arukh, by contrast, first presents the law regarding food that had been transferred, before the halakha of hatmana with cold food, suggesting that he did not see these as a basic principle and then a derivative of that general rule.  According to the Shulchan Arukh, the halakha permitting hatmana after a food had been transferred stems from the fact that the person shows no interest in heating the food, and we therefore have no reason for concern that he might bring it to a boil.  Hatmana with cold food is permitted despite the fact that the individual seeks to reduce its chill, simply because Chazal never forbade hatmana of this nature.


            In short, the Rambam understood that the law permitting hatmana after a food had been transferred results from the halakha allowing hatmana with cold food.  Food in a keli sheni has the status of "cold food," and hatmana is thus naturally permitted.  According to the Shulchan Arukh, however, it would appear that this halakha hinges on the person's demonstration if disinterest in heating the food.


            This distinction between the two approaches perhaps forms the basis of a dispute among the Tosafists concerning the possible comparison between hatmana and hachazara with regard to food that had been transferred from its original utensil.  The Gemara (Shabbat 38b) raised the question of whether one may return food to the fire if in the interim it was transferred from its initial utensil.  Tosefot (38b) explain the distinction between hatmana and hachazara in this regard as follows:


Rabbenu Tam said that here [in the Gemara's discussion of hachazara], regarding one who left [food] on the stove in the same kettle, which is hot, he will not come to stir [the coals], but in a different kettle, which is cold, he might come to stir.  But regarding hatmana we are more lenient if it is cold, because a little stirring will be of no avail.


The Tosefot Yeshanim (51a) explain differently: "There, he wants [the food] to be warmed, and therefore we forbid [hachazara] if it is cold.  But here, regarding hatmana, so long as it is cold, we are more inclined to permit it, as stated earlier, that Rebbi allowed concealing cold food."


            Tosefot on 38b appear to maintain that the halakha allowing hatmana for food that had been transferred from its original utensil stems from the person's demonstration of the fact that he has no interest in the food becoming hot.  We therefore have no reason for concern that he might stir the coals.  Tosefot Yeshanim, however, viewed this halakha as deriving naturally from the fact that the hatmana prohibition does not apply to cold food, and any food in a keli sheni has the status of "cold food" with respect to this halakha.


            The Magen Avraham and Mishna Berura added that hatmana is permissible after a food's transfer from its initial utensil even if it was then returned to that utensil, either because the food attains the status of "cold food" the moment it is transferred from the original utensil, or because the individual demonstrated his disinterest in heating the food.  These authorities also consider allowing hatmana of a keli rishon if its contents are no longer at the point of yad soledet bo.  This ruling is more straightforward according to the Rambam, who allows hatmana of a keli sheni because of its status as "cold"; this would apply all the more so to a utensil that has dropped below the level of yad soledet bo.  According to the Shulchan Arukh, however, who explained this halakha on the basis of the person's demonstration of disinterest in heating the food, this ruling is far from simple.  For this reason, perhaps, the Magen Avraham and Mishna Berura did not state this conclusion decisively.


            This discussion perhaps affects the issue of transferring hot water on Shabbat from a keli rishon to a thermos.  Seemingly, we should consider the water in the thermos as tamun, concealed, given that the thermos has an outer utensil that envelops the inner utensil.  If we approach the halakha permitting hatmana after the food has been transferred as a general rule that hatmana applies only to a keli rishon, then we would allow transferring water into the thermos, which is a keli sheni.  But if this rule is built upon the individual's demonstration of his disinterest in heating the food, it would not apply in this case, since clearly one who pours into a thermos does so with the intent of retaining the water's heat.  One might nevertheless argue that even according to these Rishonim, we focus not on the individual's actual intent but rather on the objective reality that the food cools as a result of its transfer to a new utensil, and for this reason hatmana is permissible.  In any event, Rashi's view would certainly warrant forbidding transferring hot water to a thermos, since the objective here is specifically to keep the water warm, and not to have it cool.


            In practice, however, it would seem that this is permissible according to all views, but for an entirely different reason, namely, that pouring into a thermos does not constitute hatmana at all.  A thermos in truth is but a single utensil with thick insulation, and hatmana requires surrounding a utensil with a separate entity.  See Chazon Ish, end of siman 37.[2]


            Hatmana is permitted with cold food only with material she-eino mosif hevel – that merely retains the food's heat, and does not increase it.  One may not conceal cold food with material that will increase it heat, even before Shabbat.  This is the predominant view among the Rishonim, though the Meiri disagrees:


You should know that the prohibition of hatmana – even in something that increases heat – applies only to concealing hot [food] items.  Cold items, however, may be concealed even in something that increases heat, because materials that increase heat do not generate heat for something where there is no heat currently present at all.  They add [heat] only to something that has some amount of heat, as they said, "Rebbi allowed me to conceal cold food…"  Therefore, it is permissible to conceal a cold egg or any other cold item even in something that increases heat, and even on Shabbat.[3]


In any event, Halakha follows the majority view that hatmana with material that increases heat is forbidden even for cold food, and even before Shabbat.[4]


            We will now focus our attention on some specific issues concerning the prohibition of hatmana.


Concealing a Food Item Inside a Utensil


            The Mishna Berura writes (258:2):


The Acharonim wrote that it is forbidden to take a utensil containing cold liquid and thrust it on Shabbat into a utensil filled with hot water for it [the cold water] to be warmed inside it, even if it will not be able to reach the point of yad soledet bo, since this is an actual means of hatmana[5], given that it is entirely concealed inside it.


The Mishna Berura refers here to the position of the Taz, who held that the prohibition of hatmana applies even to concealing food within a pot, and not merely to covering foods with cloths and the like.  The Sha'ar Ha-tziyun (258:6) adds that if the pot would increase, rather than simply retain, the water's heat, then this is forbidden even before Shabbat.  The Chazon Ish (36:32), however, disagreed with the Taz, and held that the prohibition of hatmana does not apply to concealing food within hot water in a utensil: "The prohibition of hatmana does not apply here, for it is permissible to place a cup of hot water inside a pot of hot water."  He proves his position from the Gemara's discussion on 40b, where it tells that Rabbi Yitzchak Bar Avdimi wanted to place a jug of oil into the bath for it to warm, which seemingly proves that the prohibition of hatmana does not forbid placing food within utensils.[6]  Most Acharonim advocated following the Taz's view, that placing food within utensils indeed constitutes hatmana.[7]  It must be emphasized that this applies even to concealing food within water in a keli sheni.  Before Shabbat, however, this is permissible, since the utensil cools over the course of time and is therefore considered a davar she-eino mosif hevel, in which hatmana is permitted before Shabbat.


Warming Schnitzel or Other Foods Wrapped in Aluminum Foil on an Electric Hot Plate


            Rav Moshe Feinstein writes (Iggerot Moshe, 4:74:3):


Question: Is it permissible to wrap on Shabbat a cold, solid, cooked food in aluminum foil and warm it with a pot interrupting [between the food and the fire]?

Answer: It is permissible to conceal a cold [food] item, both so that it will not be warmed and so that it will not be cooled any further.  It is permissible even for the purpose of removing its chill somewhat.  But with [materials that] increase heat this is forbidden, as mentioned explicitly in [the Shulchan Arukh] 257:6.  And even with a pot interrupting [between the fire and the food] it increases the heat, and hatmana is therefore forbidden; and wrapping them [foods] with aluminum also constitutes hatmana.


Others, however, disagree, and hold that even those who forbid hatmana inside a pot, as discussed in the previous section, would rule leniently in this case, because the aluminum foil serves as the "pot" of the schnitzels, and this is not a standard means of hatmana.  According to some authorities, this would be forbidden if one wraps the schnitzel in two layers of aluminum, since the inner layer would then be considered the "pot" and wrapping in the outer layer would then constitute hatmana; one should exercise care in this regard.  (See Piskei Teshuvot, 253:17 and note 78.)


Placing Food Inside a Cholent Pot on Erev Shabbat


            Some have the practice of placing kugel wrapped in aluminum foil inside a cholent pot, such that it is entirely covered by the cholent.  Similarly, some people place rice or other legumes in separate bags inside the cholent pot.  The question arises whether this would be considered hatmana with a material that increases the food's heat, which is forbidden even if one does so before Shabbat.  Some authorities have indeed ruled against this practice, in light of the view of the Taz, who, as discussed earlier, applied the hatmana prohibition to placing food inside pots.  It would seem, however, that this is done for the purpose of cooking, and one does it in this manner solely to ensure separation between the different foods in the pot.  Furthermore, since it is wrapped in aluminum foil or a cooking bag, which are not actual pots, we might contend that the foil or bag is negated by the pot, such that the food is seen as placed directly in the pot.  This would not, therefore, constitute hatmana, and it should be permitted even according to the view of the Taz.[8]  It would indeed seem that one may be lenient in this regard, though is it advisable to make a small hole in the foil or bag so that the food inside can be perceived as mixed together with the other food in the pot.


Slow-Cookers ("Crock-pots")


            We will first explain the properties of this appliance, and then proceed to discuss the various halakhic questions that arise concerning its use on Shabbat.


            The slow-cooker consists of two pots: an outer pot that is attached to the electricity, which heats the food, and an inner pot made (generally) from earthenware, into which the food is placed.  The outer pot surrounds the entire perimeter of the interior pot and is placed very close to its walls, with only a slight space separating between the two.  Some slow-cookers allow the option of setting the heat to different levels.

            Several halakhic problems arise when using this pot for Shabbat:


1)   Shehiya: If the food in the pot is not cooked at least to the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai, according to Chananya's view, or, according to the Chakhamim, it is not fully cooked and considered mitztameik ve-ra lo (a food for which ongoing cooking would be detrimental), one may not place the food in the pot.  Since the pot's temperature is adjustable, it has the status of a stove that is not garuf ve-katum (neither cleared of its coals nor covered).  In order to overcome this problem, one must ensure that the food has reached the point of ma'akhal Ben Derusai before Shabbat, in which case he may then rely on Chananya's view.  Or, he should at least cover the dials used for adjusting the heat, so that we may consider the pot katum.  An additional option for rendering the pot katum is to place something like a small rock or brick in between the inner and outer pots to make a separation between them.

2)   Hachazara: So long as the food is not fully cooked, one may not return the inner pot once he had removed it.  And even if the food has been fully cooked, one may return it only if he rendered the pot katum, as described above.  However, even then the issue of hachazara is not a simple one.  As we discussed in our shiurim on the topic of hachazara, it is permitted to return a pot to the top of the stove, but not inside it.  With regard to this matter, see Iggerot Moshe, 4:74:27.

3)   Hatmana: For many years, communities in the United States have had the practice to use a slow-cooker for Shabbat, on the assumption that the slight space between the inner and outer pots eliminates the problem of hatmana, and because the upper part of the pot is exposed.  (On top of a slow-cooker there is only the covering of the inner pot.)  This was the view of Rav Shmuel Wosner[9], that according to the Rama's definition of hatmana as a complete covering, the exposed area on top of the slow-cooker suffices to render its use permissible.  He added that although one might wish to act stringently in light of Rabbenu Tam's position in Sefer Ha-yashar (235), that even the concealment of the majority of a pot constitutes hatmana, and the Chazon Ish was inclined to forbid even partial hatmana, nevertheless, one should not object to those who follow the Rama's lenient ruling in this regard.


Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt"l, by contrast, ruled that one may not use this appliance on Shabbat because it constitutes hatmana with a davar ha-mosif hevel; in his view, the small space between the two parts of the appliance is of no avail.  He advised making some interruption in between the internal and external pots with a simple tin utensil.  As we wrote earlier, one may also place inside even a small brick to raise the inner pot slightly to expand the space separating between the pots, and then he may certainly use the slow-cooker.[10]  It should be noted that Sefaradim, who follow the Shulchan Arukh's ruling that even partial hatmana constitutes hatmana, should certainly refrain from using a slow-cooker without making some sort of interruption, as we explained.


[Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt"l, pointed out in his response that if the crock-pot has heating coils both on the bottom AND sides of the sleeves it is problem.  However, if either the bottom OR sides of the sleeve do not have heating coils there is no problem. (Rav Mordechai Friedman ed.).




1.         This is the reason given for the prohibition against hatmana with material that does not increase the food's heat; see the first shiur of our series on hatmana.

2.         See also Iggerot Moshe, O.C. 1:95.

3.         See the continuation of the Meiri's discussion there, as well.

4.         The Shulchan Arukh codifies this ruling explicitly in 257:6.

5.         We cannot permit this kind of hatmana on the basis of the fact that the water is cold, and the hatmana prohibition does not apply to cold foods, since here the intent is to actually heat the water, and not merely to remove its chill.

6.         It should be noted, however, that Rashi explains the Gemara to mean that Rav Yitzchak intended merely to remove the chill from the oil.  If so, then this provides no proof for the Chazon Ish's position, because hatmana does not apply in any event to cold foods, as discussed earlier.  One could also contend that the Gemara does not refer to the complete immersion of the jug of oil in the bath, and thus this would not qualify as hatmana.

6.         See Shemirat Shabbat Ke-hilkhata, 42:63.

7.         See also Piskei Teshuvot, 258:1 and note 6.  See as well Shemirat Shabbat Ke-hilkhata (42:63), who allowed this practice because the individual's primary intent is not to heat the food in the foil or bag from the heat of the food in which it is embedded, but rather to place it directly on the fire.  And although one food completely envelops the other, this does not amount to hatmana, and should be seen instead as two items placed together over the fire.

8.         His comments are cited towards the end of the work Orchot Shabbat, beirurim section, chapter 2.

9.         For more details on using a slow-cooker, see Orchot Shabbat, pp. 112-113, note 149, where solutions are suggested in the name of Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt"l and yblch"a Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv shlit"a.