Insights into Halacha

For the week ending 10 March 2018 / 23 Adar II 5778

The Great Cholent Challenge

by Rabbi Yehuda Spitz
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It is a pasuk in one of this week’s Parasha, Veyakhel, that we have to thank for the main event of our weekly Shabbos repast…Cholent!

Cholent is its Name…

Ahh! Nothing is more geshmak than the awesomely redolent aroma emanating from the kitchen and wafting throughout the house on a Shabbos morning. If you are like most of us, you just can’t wait until you sink your teeth into that piping hot, special for Shabbos, delicacy, Cholent. This exceptional meat and potato, barley and bean (and whatever else you decide to throw in) concoction of a stew has been around for a very long time. In fact, the eminent Ohr Zarua, Rav Yitzchak of Vienna, in the mid-1200s, already mentioned Cholent by name![1]

Etymologists have a difficult time figuring out where the name comes from. There are several hypotheses regarding it, including the Hebrew / Aramaic ‘shelan’ (food that rested overnight), ‘shaluk’ (thoroughly cooked), from the German “shul ende”, referring to a food for after shul, and a combination of the French words chaud (“hot”) and lent (“slow”). However, most Sefardim stick to the name given to a hot Shabbos food by the Mishnah,[2]Chamin’ or ‘Hamin’.

The origins of this humble dish lie in the words of the renowned Ba’al Hamaor,[3] Rav Zerachiah Halevi of Gerona, who lived in the mid-1100s. He writes that it is a Takanas Chachamim (Rabbinic decree) to enjoy the Shabbos with a hot dish. He adds that whoever does not do so is suspect of being a ‘Min’ (heretic; a.k.a Apikores)!

The reason is that the heterodox Kara’im (Karaites), who denied the Rabbinic Mesorah, prohibited eating any hot food on Shabbos, due to their rejection of Torah SheBaal Peh (the Oral Law) coupled with their literal interpretation of the pasuk, “Lo Seva’aru Aish Bechol Moshvoseichem B’Yom HaShabbos, You shall not kindle fire in any of your dwellings on the Shabbos day”(Shemos Ch. 35: 3). The Ba’al Hamaor explains that one who refuses to eat a hot dish on Shabbos (cooked before Shabbos, as per the Oral Law) is suspect of following their heretical interpretation of the Torah and not those of our Chachmei Hadoros.[4]

On the other hand, the Ba’al Hamaor affirms that whoever makes sure to cook, heat up (before Shabbos), and eat a hot dish on Shabbos will merit seeing ‘the end of days’. Quite a large reward just for eating Cholent! And this is not just a minority opinion; his words are codified in halacha by the Rema as a ‘Mitzva’ and eating Cholent on Shabbos is considered ‘Minhag Yisrael’ by the Mishnah Berurah.[5] In fact, I know of a certain well- known rabbi who, although not enamored of Cholent, nonetheless makes sure to “eat one bean every Shabbos”, and that way fulfill “Mitzvas Cholent”.

Serving Up

However, getting the Cholent from a bubbling pot on a blech (a simple sheet of metal placed on the gas burners) onto our plates presents several halachic challenges, as, in our zeal to fulfill this gastronomical Mitzva, we certainly do not want to unintentionally desecrate the Biblical prohibition of ‘Bishul’, cooking on Shabbos. Aside from the issues of Shehiya, placing a food on the fire before Shabbos until the time it is being served on Shabbos, and the more stringent Chazara, returning food to the flame on Shabbos, there is also a separate issue of Maygis, stirring, which one might possibly violate by doing the simple innocuous action of lifting the lid off of the simmering Cholent pot and replacing it,[6] or just ladling out some Friday night ‘To’ameha’ Cholent.[7]

Therefore, in order to serve our ‘Mitzva Cholent’ properly, without Chas V’Shalom unwittingly transgressing any Shabbos prohibitions, authorities have come up with a five- point plan, which enables us to serve a steaming, savory Cholent, and allows us to return it to the flame for seconds (more Mitzvos!).

Note: This follows the widespread Ashkenazic practice that one must first remove the pot from the fire in order to serve.

Here are the five steps:

  1. The pot of Cholent must be sitting on a covered flame, as a reminder that we cannot adjust the flame on Shabbos.[8] In Mishnaic and Talmudic terms this is referred to as “Garuf V’Katum”, meaning the coals in the ovens were pushed to the side and /or covered up. There is a famous machlokes Rishonim whether the key reason for doing this is so there will be a reminder that it is prohibited to stoke the coals and make the food cook faster and better, or whether it is meant to actually lessen the cooking heat. Making sure the flame is covered is a prerequisite for committing Chazara on Shabbos in a permitted manner. A blech on the stovetop is the most commonly known example of this.[9] [10]
  2. The Cholent must be fully cooked.[11]
  3. It must still be hot or at least warm.[12]
  4. One must take it off the fire in order to serve it.[13] If one wants to keep it hot for later (Fleishig Shalosh Seudos, anyone?) he must have in mind when taking the pot off the fire to serve that he is planning on returning it to the fire.[14]
  5. One must have his hand on it the whole time.[15]

However, in extenuating circumstances, even if one was not planning to return it to the flame, as long as his hand was still on it, he may nevertheless do so. Similarly, if he placed it on the counter (i.e. in order to serve the Cholent), but still intended to return it to the fire, according to the majority consensus, he is permitted to return it to the blech.[16]

Sefardic Style

Common Sefardic practice follows the opinion of the Shulchan Aruch, based on his understanding of the Rambam, that once the Cholent is fully cooked, scooping out from the pot no longer constitutes Maygis. Accordingly, one may scoop out and serve Cholent directly from the pot after it is fully cooked, even while it is still on top of the blech.[17]

However, it should be noted that the Ben Ish Chai and, later, Rav Ben Tzion Abba Shaul[18] qualified this leniency, explaining that one should only rely on this L’tzorech Mitzva; otherwise, they maintain that one must take the pot off of the fire before ladling out. Interestingly, the Tzitz Eliezer maintains that Yeshiva bochurim raiding the Cholent pot on a Friday night in order to learn qualifies as L’tzorech Mitzva. Rav Ovadiah Yosef added that if the bochurim in question were trying to save time in order to hurry back to their learning, then certainly even the Ben Ish Chai would agree that it is considered L’tzorech Mitzva to allow serving off the fire.[19]

When in Bnei Brak…

A third opinion is that of the Chazon Ish. His was a dissenting opinion regarding the permissibility of relying on using a blech, explaining that since a blech does not sufficiently lessen the fire’s heat level, as well as merely acting as a cover for the fire, it is not considered a true covered flame. Therefore, he held that one may not put the pot back on a blech on Shabbos. Consequently, he maintained that in order to keep Cholent hot after serving, it is permissible to scoop out Cholent while the pot was still on the fire, provided that the Cholent was fully cooked and one took care not to actively stir the pot. His brother-in-law, the Steipler Gaon, followed this as well.[20] According to this ruling, once the Cholent is fully cooked, one need not take the pot off the fire in order to serve.

Although, as mentioned previously, most contemporary Ashkenazic authorities did not allow one lechatchilla to scoop out of a hot pot while still on a blech, there is one scenario on which many contemporary authorities rule leniently (relying on the Chazon Ish’s shittah): if the pot is too heavy to move off of the fire. A prime example of this would be the giant Cholent pot found in many a yeshiva kitchen.

Many decisors, including the Minchas Yitzchak, Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, Rav Shmuel Halevi Wosner, and Rav Moshe Sternbuch, allow one to scoop and serve the Cholent without taking the pot off the blech if it is too heavy to move off the flame. However, it should be noted that Rav Moshe Feinstein was not inclined to rule leniently in scooping out Cholent from a pot on the fire, even if the pot was too heavy to move.[21] Rather, he mandated that several people move it together in order to properly serve the Cholent from off of the fire.

Although these procedures and nuances may seem complicated, they are but a small sampling of the numerous intricate halachos that pertain to the prohibition of cooking on Shabbos. It behooves us all to make sure that we are serving our Cholent in the proper halachic way, as, aside for the earthly reward of eating Cholent on Shabbos, the taste of its Mitzva is eternal.

This article was written l’Refuah Sheleima for R’ Shlomo Yoel ben Chaya Leah and l’zechus for and Shira Yaffa bas Rochel Miriam v’chol yotzei chalatzeha for a yeshua teikif umiyad.

For any questions, comments or for the full Mareh Mekomos / sources, please email the author:

Rabbi Yehuda Spitz serves as the Sho’el U' Meishiv and Rosh Chabura of the Ohr Lagolah Halacha Kollel at Yeshivas Ohr Somayach in Yerushalayim. He also currently writes a contemporary halacha column for the Ohr Somayach website titled “Insights Into Halacha”.

[1] Ohr Zarua (vol. 2, Shabbos, Hilchos Erev Shabbos, end 8).

[2] Shabbos (36b).

[3] Ba’al Hamaor (in his glosses to Gemara Shabbos, Perek Kira, Maor Hakattan end 16b - in the Rif’s pagination, end s.v. v’im); also cited by the Orchos Chaim (Hilchos Shabbos 72) and the Kol Bo (31, pg. 32a).

[4] For an expanded explanation and the parameters of this Mitzva, see Shu”t Ba’er Moshe (vol. 1: 1, 2) and Chut Shani (Shabbos vol. 2, pg. 147, Ch. 28: 12).

[5] Rema (O.C. 257: end 8), Darchei Moshe (O.C. 259, 2), and Mishnah Berurah (ad loc. 49).

[6] See Bartenura (Shabbos Ch. 7: Mishnah 2, s.v. ha’ofeh), Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 254: 4 and 257: 4), Mishnah Berurah (254: 23 and Biur Halacha 257 s.v. gorem), Mekor Chaim (318: 18), Shvisas HaShabbos (Mevashel 26: 81), Ketzos Hashulchan (124), Shu”t Igros Moshe (O.C. vol. 4: 74, Bishul 10), Chut Shani (Shabbos vol. 2, pg. 197), Shu”t Titz Eliezer, (vol. 7: 15), Shu”t Teshuvos V’Hanhagos (vol. 1: 207, 3), and ShemirasShabbos Kehilchasa (new edition Ch. 1: 41).

[7] There is an inyan of tasting the Shabbos food on Erev Shabbos l’kavod Shabbos, to ensure that it is properly cooked. This is referred to as ‘To’ameha. See Machzor Vitry (191), Arizal (Shaar Hakavannos, Drushei Seder Shabbos, 1), Magen Avraham (250: 1), Elyah Rabbah (ad loc. 6), Shulchan Shlomo (ad loc. 1), Shla”h (Shabbos, Ner Mitzva 31), Shulchan Aruch Harav (O.C. 250: 8), Mishnah Berurah (ad loc. end 2), and Kaf Hachaim (ad loc. 5).

[8] For the basic machlokes, see Rashi (Shabbos 36b s.v. ad sheyigrof), Tosafos (ad loc. s.v. lo), Rambam (Hilchos Shabbos Ch. 3: 4), Rif (16a in his pagination), and Ran (15b in the Rif’s pagination, s.v. oh ad). This is based on the famous machlokes (Shabbos 36b) between Chanaya and the Rabbanan regarding placing partially cooked food on a fire before Shabbos. The Rishonim and Poskim differ in their understandings as to what exactly they were disputing, as well as whom the halacha follows [see for example Ba’er Lagolah (O.C. 253: 10), Pri Megadim (ad loc. M.Z. 1), Hagahos Rabbi Akiva Eiger (ad loc. 5), and the Mishnah Berurah’s introduction toO.C. 253]. The halachic bottom line is that making sure the flame is covered is a prerequisite for committing Chazara on Shabbos in a permitted manner - see Shulchan Aruch and Rema - Orach Chaim 253 and main commentaries at length. Additionally, although the ikar minhag is to be lenient regarding Shehiya once it is cooked at least shiur ma’achal Ben Derosoi (which is at least a third or half cooked) before Shabbos Garuf V'Katum is not necessitated, [following the opinion of many Rishonim, as well as the Yeish Omrim in the Shulchan Aruch and the Rema (ibid; who writes ‘v’nahagu lehakel k’sevara acharonah’), and the Shulchan Aruch Harav (ad loc. 9)], nevertheless, several Acharonim, including the Machatzis Hashekel (ad loc. 15 s.v. v’yeish; who explains this as the Magen Avraham’s intent, that he was uneasy relying on the more lenient Yeish Omrim; on the other hand, it must be noted that the Pri Megadim, in his Mishbetzos Zahav ad loc. 15, did not understand the Magen Avraham’s comment in this context), the Maharsham (Daas Torah ad loc. s.v. v’nahagu; he comments strongly, citing precedent that anytime a ruling is referred to as ‘nahagu’, it reflects how the hamon am commonly act, but not necessarily deciding the proper halacha, which in this case would be to only allow Shehiya when the fire is Garuf V'Katum), the Mishnah Berurah (Biur Halacha ad loc. s.v. vinahagu; based on the Rosh - Shabbos Ch. 3: end 1; who concludes that “b’shvil shrabu dei’os b’hai piska,v’Yisrael adukin b’Mitzvas Oneg Shabbos, v’lo yishma’u lehachmir, hanach lahem k’minhag shenahagu al pi haposkim k’Chananya”) and Chazon Ish (O.C. 37: 3; on the other hand, see Orchos Rabbeinu, new edition vol. 1, pg. 197: 6) maintain that lechatchilla it is preferable even regarding Shehiya one should still ensure that his fire is Garuf V'Katum before Shabbos, unless he is certain that his Cholent fulfills the requirement of metztamek v'ra lo. Additionally, even though technically one may put the food on a fire raw right before Shabbos (called Kedaira Chaysa) [See Gemara Shabbos (18b), Rambam (Hilchos Shabbos Ch. 3: 8), Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 253: 1), and Magen Avraham (ad loc. 15; who writes that this is actually the preferred option as it is lechatchilla l’kulei alma)] and one won’t be nichshal by adjusting the flame, nevertheless, nowadays several authorities frown upon relying on this, as our stoves and ovens cook much quicker and the Cholent will be ready long before the Shabbos day seudah. Additionally, how raw the meat must be right before Shabbos is also debated. Therefore, optimally, the preferred option is to ensure that the Cholent is fully cooked before Shabbos for these reasons as well. See Elyah Rabbah (O.C. 253: 2), Mishnah Berurah (ad loc. 11), Biur Halacha (ad loc. 1 s.v. maysiach), Sfas Emes (Shabbos 18b), Chazon Ish (O.C. 37: 22), Rav Yosef Eliyahu Henkin’s Shu”t Gevuros Eliyahu (vol. 1: 58, 2 and 67, 68, 69 and 70), Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach’s Shu”t Minchas Shlomo (Tinyana 12: 4), and Rav Ben Tzion Abba Shaul’s Shu”t Ohr L’Tzion (vol. 1, O.C. 21).

[9] Although there are those, most notably the Chazon Ish, who are stringent that a blech does not qualify [see Chazon Ish (O.C. 37: 9 and 11) as well as his teshuva printed in Shu”t Shevet Halevi (vol. 1: 91), Orchos Rabbeinu (new edition; vol. 1, pg. 196, 2), and Chut Shani (Shabbos vol. 2, pg. 11, Shaar Hatziyun 35); in fact, sefer Peninas HaShabbos (vol. 1: Ch. 9, ppg. 14 - 19) spends considerable length and detail on trying to understand the main reasons as to the Chazon Ish’s stringent shittah regarding a blech;see also Shu”t Panim Meiros (vol. 1: 84; cited in Shaarei Teshuva O.C. 254: 8), Shu”t Maharsham (vol. 3: 165), and Shu”t Levushei Mordechai (O.C. Mahadura T’lita’ei 37) who are machmir regarding a similar sounding case, with a rudimentary heat source used for making tea that will be hot and ready Shabbos day], nonetheless, nowadays the vast majority of contemporary authorities, based on the Magen Avraham (253: 31), Chayei Adam (vol. 2: 20, 11), Mishnah Berurah (253: 81), and Kaf Hachaim (ad loc. 11), maintain that this din translates to a blech. See Shu”t Maharam Schick (O.C. 117), Shu”t Maharshag (vol. 2: 50), Shu”t Maharam Brisk (vol. 2: 76; who adds that the aforementioned Gedolim who were machmir regarding the tea and heat source was only due to the fact that they held that that heat source did not qualify as a true blech; conversely, if a real blech would be placed between the heat source and the tea, “ain kaan shoom pikpuk l’kuli alma”), Shu”t Igros Moshe (O.C. vol. 1: 93), Shu”t Gevuros Eliyahu (vol. 1: 67, 68, and 96), Shu”t Shevet Halevi (ibid.), Shu”t Yaskil Avdi (vol. 3, O.C. 10: 2, 6), Shu”t Tzitz Eliezer (vol. 7: 15), Moadim U’Zmanim (vol. 7: 143), Shu”t Teshuvos V’Hanhagos vol. 1: 207, 2), Shu”t Yabea Omer (vol. 6, O.C. 32: 4), Shu”t Ohr L’Tzion (vol. 2: Ch. 17, 2), Yesodei Yeshurun (vol. 4: 18 and 19), Halichos Even Yisrael on Hilchos Shabbos (vol. 1: Ch. 31, 3), Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa (new edition Ch. 1: 20, 5 and footnote 54), and Kovetz Kol HaTorah (vol. 42, Nissan 5757, pg. 14: 4; ‘Leket mei’Hanhagos v’Hora’os HaGaava”d zt”l [Minchas Yitzchak] B’Inyanei Hilchos Shabbos’; adding that ‘shekein hayah mekubal b’dor shelifnei hamilchamah’). Indeed, the Me’ohr HaShabbos (vol. 2: Ch. 10, pg. 286) notes regarding a blech that the “deiah hamekubeles b’tzibbur b’derech klal,lehachshiva k’aish mechuseh”. Several authorities, including Rav Moshe Feinstein (ibid.), Rav Moshe Stern (the Debreciner Rav; in a teshuva printed in Kovetz Am HaTorah vol. 13, pg. 21, s.v. v’ode d’halo and later in Shu”t Ba’er Moshe vol. 7, Kuntress Electric vol. 2: 3), and Rav Shmuel Halevi Wosner (Shu”t Shevet Halevi ibid.) maintain that it is preferable to cover the oven knobs as well. However, if this was not done, Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Rav Yisrael Yaakov Fischer, and Rav Ben Tzion Abba Shaul held [see Me’ohr HaShabbos (vol. 2, Peninei HaMa’ohr, pg. 628 and 666), Shu”t Even Yisrael (vol. 8: 20, 4), Shu”t Ohr L’Tzion (ibid.), Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa (new edition Ch. 1: 20, 5, footnote 63), and Halichos Even Yisrael (ibid. 4)] that one may still consider his fire garuf. Interestingly, Rav Aharon Kotler is quoted (see Rabbi Shimon D. Eider’s Halachos of Shabbos pg. 338, Ofeh, end footnote 800 s.v. shama’ati) as maintaining that covering the knobs is the ikar of making a blech considered garuf v’katum, while covering the fire only preferable; concluding that in a situation where it is difficult to cover the fire with a blech or b’dieved, one may rely on covering the knobs as deeming the stove garuf v’katum. Thanks are due to my father, renowned kashrus expert Rabbi Manish Spitz, for pointing out this invaluable source.

[10] Regarding the Shabbos hot plate (plata), another common method to keep food warm on Shabbos, most contemporary authorities, including Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank (Shu”t Har Tzvi, O.C. 136), Rav Moshe Feinstein (Shu”t Igros Moshe, O.C. vol. 4, 74, Bishul 35), Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (cited in Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa new edition Ch. 1: footnote 83), Rav Ovadiah Hadaya (Shu”t Yaskil Avdi vol. 7, O.C. 28: 8 and 44, Sheilah 15: 3; retracting from original proscription in vol. 5, O.C. 34 and vol. 6, O.C. 15), the Debreciner Rav (Shu”t Ba’er Moshe vol. 6, Kuntress Electric vol. 1: 1 and 2 and vol. 7,Kuntress Electric vol. 2: 3), Rav Yisrael Yaakov Fischer (cited in Me’ohr HaShabbos vol. 2, pg. 656 and Halichos Even Yisrael on Hilchos Shabbos vol. 1: Ch. 31, 9), Rav Yitzchak Zilber (Shu”t Az Nidberu vol. 1: 79, 88, pg. 157 and vol. 8: 15), Rav Eliezer Yehuda Waldman (Shu”t Tzitz Eliezer vol. 8: 26), Rav Ben Tzion Abba Shaul (Shu”t Ohr L’Tzion vol. 2: Ch. 17, end footnote 1), Rav Shmuel Halevi Wosner (Shu”t Shevet Halevi vol. 5: end 30), Rav Ovadia Yosef (Shu”t Yabea Omer vol. 6, O.C. 32: 5 and Shu”t Yechaveh Daas vol. 2: 45), and Rav Yitzchak Yosef (Yalkut Yosef, Shabbos vol.1, pg. 90 and Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, O.C. 253: 1) maintain that it is has the halachic status of a blech, since its temperature cannot be changed, and it is only meant to keep food warm, and not actually cook. However, it should be noted that several of these poskim maintain that this halachic dispensation only applies if one is actually unable to cook on the plata. Other authorities feel that even if one can actually cook on said hot plate, the din still applies as it is not the derech to cook on a hot plate, and therefore no issue of Mechezi K’mevashel arises. Several authorities, on the other hand, including the Chazon Ish (see O.C. 37: 9 and 11; cited in Orchos Rabbeinu vol. 1, pg. 102: 11; new edition vol. 1, pg. 196: 3), Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv (cited in Shvus Yitzchak on Inyanei Shehiya Ch. 8, pg. 91) and Rav Nissim Karelitz (Chut Shani, Shabbos vol. 2, pg. 114)], are stringent that a plata does not constitute a true covered flame, due to a lo plug. Rav Moshe Sternbuch (Shu”t Teshuvos V’Hanhagos vol. 1: 207, 6) rules that only b’shaas hadchak may one be lenient to perform Chazara onto a plata. See also Me’ohr HaShabbos (vol. 2: Ch. 10, footnote 26), who discusses this machlokes at length. Due to this debate, several authorities maintain that it is preferable to place a layer of thick aluminum foil on the plata before Shabbos, in order to satisfy all opinions - see Shu”t Shemesh U’Magein (vol. 1: 56), Shvus Yitzchak (ibid., 12), Chut Shani (Shabbos vol. 2, pg. 116 s.v. um”m), Halichos Even Yisrael (ibid.), and Orchos Shabbos (vol. 1: Ch. 2, 13).

[11] See Rambam (Hilchos Shabbos Ch. 9: 3), Ohr Zarua (vol. 2: 62), Tur (O.C. 318: 4), Bais Yosef (O.C. 253: 2 s.v. uma”sh Rabbeinu), Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 318: 4), Rema (O.C. 253: 2), Taz (ad loc. 10), Biur HaGr”a (to O.C. 318: 4), Shulchan Aruch Harav (ad loc. 18), Chayei Adam (vol. 2: 20, 9), Mishnah Berurah (ad loc. 61 and Biur Halacha ad loc. s.v. v’davka and 318: 4 s.v.afilu), and Kaf Hachaim (ad loc. 45). Although there are many Rishonim who hold that Chazara would be permitted once the food is cooked at least shiur ma’achal Ben Derosoi (if all of the other criteria are met), nevertheless, in the words of the Mishnah Berurah (Biur Halacha ibid.): “kasheh lehakel d’hu nogeya b’inyan Deoraysa” and “ain lazuz lemaaseh m’psak HaShulchan Aruch, uv’prat shehu M’Deoraysa”. However, the lenient opinions are taken into account, and b’dieved, if one performed Chazara onto a heat source that was Garuf V'Katum, as long as the Cholent was cooked shiur ma’achal Ben Derosoi (although not fully cooked), the Cholent is still permitted to be eaten on Shabbos. See Biur Halacha (318 ibid.), citing precedent from the Pri Megadim (ad loc. E.A. 10).

[12] See Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 253: 2), Rema (ad loc. 15), Magen Avraham (ad loc. 19), Tosefes Shabbos (ad loc. 23), Ba’er Heitiv (ad. loc. 12), Shulchan Aruch Harav (ad loc. 18), Mishnah Berurah (ad loc. 24 and 54), and Kaf Hachaim (ad loc. 53). Although this is essentially a machlokes between the Shulchan Aruch and Rema, with the Shulchan Aruch only permitting Chazara when the pot still maintains the heat level of Yad Soledes Bo (approximately 113°F or 45°C), nonetheless, the Ashkenazic psak follows the Rema who allows leniency as long as the pot has not cooled off entirely. Accordingly, the Yalkut Yosef (Shabbos vol. 3, pg. 216 and Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, O.C. 318: 59) maintains that a Sefardi should not personally be meikel to perform Chazara once the heat level of the Cholent has cooled off and is no longer Yad Soledes Bo. However, he qualifies that a Sefardi bochur in an Ashkenazi Yeshiva need not complain if it is customary in the Yeshiva to be meikil with performing Chazara with lukewarm Cholent, and even if they are doing so specifically to serve the Sefardi Bochurim.

[13] The issue with serving from on the fire is Maygis, stirring, which might technically be an Issur Deoraysa of Bishul - see Gemara Beitza (34a) and Rambam (Hilchos Shabbos Ch. 9: 4). Although in our case we are referring to serving Cholent that is fully cooked, and therefore according to most authorities stirring should no longer be an issue [see Beis Yosef (O.C. 318: 18), Shu”t Ridbaz (vol. 3: 411), Maamar Mordechai (318: 20), Eglei Tal (HaOfeh 17), and Shu”t Avnei Nezer (O.C. 59], nevertheless, the Rema (O.C. 318: 18; citing the Mahar”i Weil, Dinin v’Halachos 30), Elyah Rabba (ad loc. 40; citing the Kol Bo, 31), Magen Avraham (ad loc. 42), Chayei Adam (vol. 2: 20, 9), Shulchan Aruch Harav (O.C. 318: 30), Tosefes Shabbos (ad loc. 56), Shvisas HaShabbos (Mevashel 26), Mishnah Berurah (ad loc. 113), and Rav Moshe Feinstein (Shu”t Igros Moshe, O.C. vol. 4: 61 and 74, Bishul 9; citing the Tiferes Shmuel’s glosses on the Rosh, Shabbos Ch. 3: 15), are machmir that one should only ladle out the Cholent when it is fully cooked and also off the fire. Although one may infer from the Mahar”i Weil and Remas wording that this action may be problematic as well, nonetheless the vast majority of halachic authorities, including the Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 318: 18), Taz (ad loc. 23), Magen Avraham (ad loc. 44; referring to beans), Pri Megadim (ad loc. M.Z. 23), Elyah Rabbah (ibid.), Chayei Adam (ibid.), Shulchan Aruch Harav (ad loc. 30), Aruch Hashulchan (ad loc. 56), Mishnah Berurah (ad loc. 117 and Biur Halacha s.v. af), and Kaf Hachaim (ad loc. 177), rule that this is the preferred method of serving Cholent on Shabbos, (unless you can just pour out directly from the pot) and does not constitute Maygis.

[14] Gemara Shabbos (38b), Tur (O.C. 253: 2), Rema (ad loc.), Shulchan Aruch Harav (ad loc. 19), Mishnah Berurah (ad loc. 56 and Biur Halacha ad loc. s.v. v’daato).

[15] See Tur (O.C. 253: 2), Shulchan Aruch (ad loc.), Rema (ad loc.), Magen Avraham (ad loc. 20), Shulchan Aruch Harav (ad loc. 19), and Mishnah Berurah (ad loc. 55 and Biur Halacha ad loc. s.v. v’lo). This halacha is based on a dispute between the Shulchan Aruch and Rema, which stems from a machlokes Rishonim whose origins lie in the Gemara’s safek (Shabbos 38b) whether specifically placing the pot down on the floor is what no longer allows for Chazara (shittah of the Shulchan Aruch) as it is ‘mevattel daato lehachzir’, or if the pot specifically needs to be ‘odeh b’yado’ to allow Chazara (Rema’s shittah). Many contemporary authorities maintain that the pot does not need to be held suspended while ladling out Cholent; it may be allowed to rest upon a surface (table, counter; certainly not being placed on the floor) as long as the pot is still being held by the handle. See Shu”t Igros Moshe (O.C. vol. 2: 69 and vol. 4: 74, Bishul 33), Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa (new edition Ch. 1: 20, 4, footnote 60; quoting Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach), Shvus Yitzchak (ibid. Ch. 14; quoting Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv), Chut Shani (Shabbos vol. 2, pg. 123: 3), and Orchos Shabbos (vol. 1 Ch. 2: 47). However, it is important to note that there are contemporary poskim, including the Minchas Yitzchak (Kovetz Kol HaTorah, Nissan 5757, pg. 15: 7, ‘Leket mei’Hanhagos v’Hora’os HaGaava”d zt”l [Minchas Yitzchak] B’Inyanei Hilchos Shabbos’), the Ba’er Moshe (Kovetz Am HaTorah, Maharura Tinyana, vol. 1, pg. 14 and 15), the Shevet Halevi (teshuva originally printed in Orchos Shabbos vol. 1, pg. 516: 3 and later in Shu”t Shevet Halevi vol. 11: 67, 3), Rav Ben Tzion Abba Shaul (Shu”t Ohr L’Tzion vol. 2: Ch. 17, 6), and Rav Shmuel Auerbach (cited in Orchos Shabbos vol. 1: Ch. 2, footnote 76), who hold that placing the pot on the counter nowadays is akin to placing it on the floor in the olden days, as that is how cooked food is currently commonly served. As such, they maintain that once one does that, he may no longer perform Chazara as it was ‘mevattel daato lehachzir’. Therefore, several poskim opine that if one needs to place the Cholent pot down on a counter in order to serve, it is preferable to do so only partially, while still supporting its weight in one’s hand. In this manner the counter is only being utilized as an aide, and should therefore be muttar ledivrei hakol. See Shvus Yitzchak (ibid. pg. 161), Kovetz Am HaTorah (ibid.), Kovetz Beis Talmud L’Horaah (vol. 3: pg. 155, 22 citing the Karlsberger Rav, Rav Yechezkel Roth), and sefer Peninas HaShabbos (vol. 1: Ch. 29, 2, pg. 506 - 507).

[16] See Mishnah Berurah (253: 55 and 56 and Biur Halacha ad loc. s.v. v’daato and v’lo), Chazon Ish (O.C. 37: 12; who is even more lenient, allowing Chazara if the pot was placed on a table, even if one did not have specific intention lehachzir; however, it must be pointed out that leshittaso, on a practical level, as the Chazon Ish did not consider either a blech or plata Garuf V'Katum, this dispensation would not be so nogeya), Me’ohr HaShabbos (vol. 2: Ch. 10, 4), Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa (new edition Ch. 1: 21), and Orchos Shabbos (vol. 1: Ch. 2, 43 and 47), as well as previous footnote.

[17] See Shu”t Yabea Omer (vol. 10, O.C. 55, Kovetz Ha’aros on Shu”t Rav Pe’alim, O.C. vol. 3: 44, 35), Chazon Ovadia (Shabbos vol. 4, Mevashel 14, pg. 362), and Yalkut Yosef (Shabbos vol. 3: 318, 43, pg. 187 and Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, O.C. 318: 46), based on the Beis Yosef (O.C. 318: 18; who is medayek from the lashon of the Rambam), Radbaz (ibid.), and Chida (Machazik Bracha, O.C. 318: 7). This is also stated as the basic Sefardic psak by the Ben Ish Chai (Shu”t Rav Pe’alim vol. 3: O.C. 44[b]).

[18] Shu”t Rav Pe’alim (ibid.) and Shu”t Ohr L’Tzion (vol. 2: Ch. 30, 15, pg. 238). Interestingly, the Kaf Hachaim (O.C. 318: 171, 173, and 177) also seems to conclude stringently, akin to the Ashkenazic psak.

[19] Shu”t Tzitz Eliezer (vol. 7: 15) and Shu”t Yabea Omer (ibid.). This assessment fits well with the Mishnah Berurah’s statement (Biur Halacha 342 s.v. muttar bein) that anything that is a ‘Tzorech Shabbos’, even if not truly necessary but rather simply adds ‘oneg’, is still considered a ‘Tzorech Mitzva’.

[20] Chazon Ish (O.C. 37: 9, 11 and 15) and Orchos Rabbeinu (vol. 1, pg. 149; new edition vol. 1 pg. 280 - 281, 16). There is precedent from a similar shittah of the Avnei Nezer (Shu”t O.C. 59; see also his Eglei Tal, Maleches HaOfeh 17), who maintains that once the Cholent is misbashel kol tzorcho and metztamek v’ra lo, ‘yeish lismoch l’hetter’ to scoop out from the pot on the fire, that ‘ikar l’halacha’ it is not considered maygis. The Steipler Gaon is quoted (Orchos Rabbeinu ibid.) as remarking that since he is machmir regarding Shehiya and Chazara (as per his brother-in-law, the Chazon Ish), he must be lenient regarding Maygis; otherwise he would not be able to fulfill the Mitzva of eating Chamin on Shabbos.

[21] See Shu”t Minchas Yitzchak (vol. 5: 127, 6), Shvus Yitzchak (Hilchos Bishul Ch. 41: 2, 2, citing Rav Elyashiv’s opinion), Shu”t Shevet Halevi (vol. 10: 11, 2), Shu”t Teshuvos V’Hanhagos (vol. 1: 207, 4), Shu”t Az Nidberu (vol. 5: 13, 1), Shu”t Tzitz Eliezer (vol. 7: 15, 5), Shu”t Mishnah Halachos (vol. 7: 51), and Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa (new edition Ch. 1: 32). Rav Moshe Feinstein’s dissenting machmir opinion is found in Shu”t Igros Moshe (O.C. vol. 4: 74, Bishul 9). Quite fascinatingly, it turns out that concerning the simple-sounding, yet quite complicated halachic topic of serving Cholent on Shabbos, the perceived ‘Meikel’, Rav Moshe Feinstein, who allows Chazara onto a blech, is actually the most machmir, as even regarding an industrial-sized Cholent pot, he only allows the Cholent to be served off of the fire. On the other hand, the perceived ‘Machmir’, the Chazon Ish, who in practice forbids Chazara on Shabbos nowadays, is practically more meikel, as lemaaseh, once the Cholent is fully cooked, he allows it to be scooped out and served from the pot while still on the fire.

Disclaimer: This is not a comprehensive guide, rather a brief summary to raise awareness of the issues. In any real case one should ask a competent Halachic authority.

L'iluy Nishmas the Rosh HaYeshiva - Rav Chonoh Menachem Mendel ben R' Yechezkel Shraga, Rav Yaakov Yeshaya ben R' Boruch Yehuda.

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