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The Principles Of Bishul

Definition Of Terms Used Frequently In The Laws Of Bishul

The Dinim Of Keli Rishon, Sheni, Shlishi

Bishul Achar Bishul Cooking After Cooking

The Practical Applications Of Bishul

The Dinim Of Shehiya

The Dinim Of Chazarah

The Blech

Electrical Appliances And Heating Systems

The Laws Of Cooking On Shabbos
Based on the Sefer Shabbos KeHalachah
by Rabbi Y. Farkash
Following the rulings of the Rebbeim of Chabad

Chapter 8
The Blech

by Rabbi Nissan Dovid Dubov

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Note: Unless otherwise stated, all foods referred to in this chapter are fully cooked and Bishul is no longer applicable.
  1. Moving a Pot on the Blech

    Depending on the number of flames alight, one could possibly delineate three areas on the surface of a blech:

    1. The area directly above the fire.

    2. An area that is itself Yad Soledes but which would not be hot enough to heat the contents of the pot to Yad Soledes.

    3. An area distant from the fire that is warm but not Yad Soledes.

    (Obviously if all flames are burning, the entire surface of the blech would be in categories A or B.)

    The rule of moving pots around on a blech is as follows[1]:

    1. On Shabbos one may move a pot from A to B.

    2. If one wishes to move a pot from A to B and later to return the pot to area A, one should have this intention in mind when moving the pot.

    3. Even if on Erev Shabbos one removed a pot totally from the fire and then placed the pot on area B of the blech, it may still be moved to area A on Shabbos.

    4. It is prohibited to move a pot from area C to areas A or B.

    N.B. If food was only partially cooked before Shabbos, under no circumstances may the food be moved on Shabbos to a part of the blech directly over the flame as this would be considered an act of speeding up the cooking process.[2]

  2. Placing Food on the Blech on Shabbos

    No food, even if fully cooked, may be placed in the first instance on the blech on Shabbos, for this would be a prohibition of Shehiya and Mechzei Kimivashel: to "look like cooking."[3]

  3. Placing Challah on the Blech

    Some Poskim allow challah to be placed on an area of the blech where the challah would not be heated to Yad Soledes Bo. The reason for this leniency is that this is not the normal way of baking bread.[4] See also Section 3:2(a).

  4. An Electric Hot Plate

    Many Poskim compare the halachah of an electric hot plate to a blech, however other Poskim differentiate between a stove top upon which it is the "Derech Bishul" to cook on it, and an electric hot plate which is not the Derech of Bishul but is used only to keep food warm. According to these Poskim, in a case of Oneg Shabbos, one may place a fully cooked food on an electric hot plate (which has only one setting) in order to keep it warm.[5] If the food contains liquid, this would only be permissible providing that the food is still warm from being previously boiled. See Section 4:1.

    It should be noted that on Shabbos, one may not place a food to keep warm on an electric hotplate with variable settings, even if it is on the lowest setting and the plate could not heat the food to Yad Soledes Bo.[6]

  5. One Pot on Top of Another

    As explained above, one may not put a fully cooked food on the blech on Shabbos. However one may place a fully cooked food on top of a Shabbos kettle or on top of any other pot that contains fully cooked food. The reason is that placing one pot on top of another is not considered Derech Bishul - the way of cooking. For example, if on Friday night the chicken soup was removed from the stove without the intention to return it, and it was also put down - which would prohibit Chazarah in the normal way - even so, as long as the soup is still warm - so that Bishul does not apply - the pot of soup may be placed on top of another pot that is standing on the fire, in order to keep the soup warm.[7]

    Even if the bottom pot has no lid and the top pot is being used as the lid for the bottom pot, this is permitted.[8]

    The placing of one pot on top of another is only permitted when there is something in the bottom pot; however if the bottom pot is empty, it is prohibited. However, if a pot was removed from the stove top on Shabbos without the intention to return it, and later one wishes to return it (and it is a case in which lack of return would disturb Oneg Shabbos), then the Poskim allow the pot to be placed on the back of an inverted empty pot.[9]

    If before Shabbos, one pot was placed on top of another (e.g., for space considerations), and one wishes on Shabbos to remove the bottom pot, there is a dispute among the Poskim as to whether it is now permissible to place the top pot on the blech. In practice, if there is a need of Oneg Shabbos, one may be lenient and place the top pot on the blech. Preferably, a) one should have in mind from before Shabbos that in such an eventuality, one will return the top pot to the blech, and b) before Shabbos the top pot should be placed on the bottom pot immediately after it has been cooked (i.e., it should be taken off the fire and immediately placed on top of the other pot without being put down in the transfer). Alternatively, one may place an inverted pot or plate on the blech and place the top pot on that pot or plate.[10]

  6. Dry Food on a Radiator

    Fully cooked dry food may be placed on a radiator to warm up because it is not the normal way of cooking. However it must be pointed out that it is prohibited to place food that requires cooking on a radiator that presently is cold but which will eventually become heated through means of a time switch or thermostat. When the radiator becomes hot, the food will get cooked and this is a prohibition of Bishul. If one mistakenly placed food in such a manner on a radiator, it must be removed before it becomes cooked.[11]

  7. Adding Water to Cholent

    Since adding water to cholent is a most common occurrence, we shall repeat here the conditions necessary to allow it.[12]

    1. Firstly, make sure that the water being added, as well as the cholent, are both fully cooked.

    2. Remember all the dinim of Chazarah, i.e., the water must be added directly from a Keli Rishon into the cholent, but one may not draw water from the Shabbos kettle into a Keli Sheni and then add the water to the cholent. (However one may use a ladle as explained in Section 7:6.)

    3. Water may not be added from a thermos - see Section 7:5.

    4. The fire must be covered by a blech or the cholent must be standing on an electric hotplate with only one setting. If the fire is not covered, or the hot plate has variable settings, water may not be added.

    5. If hot water is poured from a kettle into the cholent as it stands on the blech, one must be careful to pour the water slowly and gently. The reason for this is that some Poskim are of the opinion that if the water is poured rapidly, it will "stir" the contents of the pot, and this may be a prohibition of "Maygis." Preferably, the pot should be removed from the stove, and water added from the kettle.[13]

    6. If the water inside the Shabbos kettle is to be used at another time for tea/coffee with milk, then one has to be careful that the cholent pot is not held too near the kettle in such a manner that meat from the cholent will squirt onto the kettle when the water is poured, rather the pot should be held at some distance from the kettle so that nothing will splash from one to the other. Furthermore, when the cholent pot lid is lifted off the pot, the pot should be held away from the kettle so that the arising steam from the pot will not go into the kettle.

  8. Moving the Cholent Pot Around on the Blech

    Based on the point made in Section 8:1, if on Friday night one checked the cholent and saw that it was on a place on the blech so hot that the cholent would dry out, then it may be moved to a place on the blech that is Yad Soledes Bo with the intention of returning it to its original place on Shabbos day.

    If one added hot water to the cholent (as explained in Section 8:7) and one now feels the cholent is too watery, it is permitted to move the cholent onto an area directly above the flame even if one's intention is to evaporate some of the water and dry out the cholent. All this is on the condition that both the water and the cholent are fully cooked.[14]



  1. (Back to text) Shabbos KeHalachah, p. 422, Biurim, p. 432.

  2. (Back to text) Ibid., p. 235.

  3. (Back to text) However we have already explained in the previous chapter that in a case of great necessity which would affect Oneg Shabbos, one may be lenient in a case where the pot was removed on Shabbos and put down but is still warm. Then it may be returned to the blech, even to a place on the blech that has the power to heat to Yad Soledes Bo (ibid., p. 412). In this case, one should place the removed pot on top of a plate or inverted pot on the blech. See Sec. 8:5.

  4. (Back to text) Shabbos KeHalachah, p. 414.

  5. (Back to text) Ibid., p. 416. To facilitate all opinions, one should invert a plate on the hot plate and put the food on the plate.

  6. (Back to text) Ibid., p. 426.

  7. (Back to text) Ibid., p. 402. One may also put fully cooked food into a pot that is standing on another pot (ibid., p. 401). However one should not place one pot on top of another if the pot on top enters into the bottom pot even a little (ibid., p. 403).

  8. (Back to text) Ibid., as long as the top pot does not enter the bottom pot but just rests on it.

  9. (Back to text) Ibid., p. 405.

  10. (Back to text) Ibid., p. 418.

  11. (Back to text) Ibid., p. 409.

  12. (Back to text) Ibid., pp. 389-393.

  13. (Back to text) Ibid., p. 223.

  14. (Back to text) Ibid., p. 202.

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