7. Placing a non-insulated pot of food directly on top of coals of an oven or fire

This article is an excerpt from

To purchase this Sefer, click here

7. Placing a non-insulated pot of food directly on top of coals of an oven or fire:[1]

First Opinion:[2] To place the pot directly on coals, even if the coals are dimmed and covered, is forbidden in all cases, [even if the pot is completely uncovered from insulation materials[3]] even if the [further cooking of the food will make it] condense in a way that is damaging for it, meaning that its [further cooking] is detrimental for the person [cooking it] and upsets him that the food will condense. [Furthermore, the prohibition remains even if the food] it’s completely raw. [See Q&A 1]

The reason for this prohibition is: because doing so [i.e. placing a pot directly on top of coals] is considered insulating [with a matter which increases heat], as he is insulating [the pot] on top of the coals, and the coals increase the heat in the pot. [It is therefore forbidden to be done] as it’s forbidden to insulate on top of something that adds heat, even if [the added heat] condenses [the food] in a way that is damaging for it, or [even] if the food is completely raw.

Other Opinions: [However] there are opinions[4] which say that as long as the pot is not insulated by its top part [See Halacha 3 above] it is not [Halachically] considered insulation, and even if the pot is inside the oven and the opening of the oven above has been covered, [nevertheless] this carries no [Halachic] meaning[5]. This opinion holds that it was not forbidden to insulate on something which increases heat unless one attaches a moveable item[6] around the pot, and the pot is thus completely insulated within that item. [In such a case it is forbidden] even if this item [which one insulated the pot within] does not increase its heat, but [rather] the pot was stood on something that increases its heat, then [nevertheless] it is forbidden just like as if it were entirely insulated with an item which increases its heat.

However, in our case [above in the 1st opinion where the pot has not been insulated with a moveable item,] even though the walls of the Tanur or Kirah surround the walls of the pot, and [furthermore] even if the opening of the oven above has been closed, nevertheless since there is no moveable object which has been attached around the walls of the pot, this is not considered [the prohibition of] insulating, for the reason to be explained. [Thus] there is no prohibition involved in having the pot stand over something which increases its heat.[7]

Their reasoning is[8]: because the Sages only prohibited insulating with material that adds heat because of a decree that [if this were to be allowed then] one may come to insulate in embers. Therefore [insulating] is not prohibited unless it is done in a way similar [to insulating with] embers, [meaning that just like ember] is moveable and is attached to the walls of the pot [so too all insulation is only prohibited if it is moveable and attached to the walls of the pot]. [Thus being that] the walls of the oven and its opening are not attached to the pot [therefore it is not prohibited to be done]. ([This applies] even if the oven is small and narrow, as it is not possible that there isn’t a small amount of air separating the [walls of the oven from the pot])

The Final Ruling: The custom is like the latter opinion. [See Q&A 2]

What is the law if the coals themselves are surrounding the walls of the pot? Even if burning coals surround and are attached to the walls of the pot, [nevertheless] this is not considered [the prohibition of] insulation [according to our custom, based on the second opinion[9]], being that the top of the pot is open, [meaning it has no coals surrounding its top].[10]


A. Removing the pot from the surrounding coals on Shabbos:[11]

However [in the above case that the coals surround the walls of the pot] it is forbidden for a Jew to take this pot off on Shabbos.

The reason for this is: because through him removing the pot he [automatically] stokes the upper coals and causes them to fall onto the bottom ones hence extinguishing them, while the top ones burn on their own due to this stoking. Now although one doesn’t have intention to stoke [the coals when removing the pot,] nevertheless [since] it is inevitable to avoid doing so[12], being that it is impossible to take the pot off without stoking the coals, [therefore it is forbidden to be removed, as is the law by all cases in which the prohibition will inevitably occur through one’s unintended actions].

Asking a gentile to remove the pot from the surrounding coals: Nevertheless, it is permitted for one to tell a gentile to take off the pot.

The reason: Now, even though anything that is forbidden for one to do on Shabbos is forbidden to ask a gentile to do so [on ones behalf], nevertheless here since the involved prohibition [of stirring the coals] occurs inevitably without ones intention to do so, as the Jew did not ask him at all to stoke the coals, and rather has sent him to [remove the pot off the coals which is] to do something permissible, therefore even though this inevitably causes something prohibited to occur [it is nevertheless permitted]. [The reason for this is because] this prohibition was not done due to instructions of the Jew, as the Jew did not command him to do the prohibition, [therefore its permitted for the gentile to do it] as the gentile isn’t commanded at all to guard Shabbos. [The reason that he may not be told to do any intended prohibition for us is not because he is commanded to keep the Shabbos] but rather [because] we are prohibited to send a gentile to do something [which for us is] prohibited [to intentionally do].


B. Removing the pot from the coals if it is not surrounded by the coals but only sitting on them:[13]

If the coals are not surrounding the pot, but are rather [only] on its bottom, then from the letter of the law it is permitted even for a Jew to remove it. [see note[14]]

The reason for this is because: even if this will slightly stir the coals by him removing the pot, [nevertheless it is allowed as] through doing so he will not further ignite the coals or extinguish them. Now although the coals are Muktzah and its forbidden to move something Muktzah even when shaking it only a small amount, nevertheless since he is not [directly] shaking it with his hands, but rather [indirectly] through the pot, [therefore] this is considered “moving from the side[15]”, of which there is no prohibition at all [for one to do].

Lechatchilah one should have a gentile remove it: Nevertheless [despite the above allowance] Lechatchilah a Jew should not take it off himself, but rather have a gentile do it, and [only] if there is no gentile [available to take it off] should he take it off himself.

Removing it with care: One should be careful to remove the pot gently in order so he not stoke the coals and so he not shake them at all, (if it is possible for him to do so).

The reason for this is because: as there are opinions which say that even through shaking the coals alone they ignite a little bit, and thus [we suspect for this opinion and require one to remove the pot gently, as when one does so] since he is taking it off gently in a way that it is possible that the coals will not shake at all, it is therefore not considered an inevitable occurrence[16], and thus even if in the end the coals do shake [with one’s gentle movement], it is nevertheless permitted [even according to this latter opinion] being that it was done without intention.


C. Final ruling in Kitzur Dinei Hatmanah:[17]

If the coals are surrounding the pot, then a Jew should not remove the pot from it, but rather [have it done through] a gentile. [However] if the pot is [only] sitting on the coals, it is permitted [for a Jew to remove] it [gently[18]] if it is unable to be done through a gentile.


Summary of placing a pot directly on top of coal:

If the pot is not properly insulated, then according to our custom it may be placed even directly on top of coals even inside of an oven.[19]


According to the Beis Yosef [Sephardim] may one leave food on a blech or electric plate on Erev Shabbos if it is not insulated?[20]

This matter is disputed amongst Poskim.[21]

Should one be stringent like the 1st opinion to Lechatchilah not place a pot directly on coals?[22]

Some Poskim[23] rule one is to be stringent like the ruling pf the Michaber. Seemingly according to the wording of the Alter Rebbe there is no need to be stringent.[24]

Summary of removing the pot from the coals on Shabbos:[25]

In a case that the walls of the pot is even semi surrounded by the coals, one may not remove the pot from the coals on Shabbos due to that through removing it one inevitably causes the coals to fall and thus extinguish the lower coals while stoking the higher coals.

However, one may ask a gentile to do so for him being that the prohibition of Amirah Lenachri does not apply when one intends that the gentile do a permitted act for him which just happens to inevitably cause a forbidden act to occur. In a case that the walls of the pot are not surrounded by coals, then Lechatchila, if practical, one should have a gentile remove it rather than a Jew. If this is not possible even a Jew may remove it from there, although this must be done gently in order to try to prevent movement of the coals.[26]



[1] Admur 253:10 [and 257:10, the additions from this chapter are brought in the brackets or mentioned in footnotes]

[2] Michaber 253:1; 257:8; Rabbeinu Chananel 37; Rashba 47b; Tur; Rosh; Chazon Ish 37:19; Peri Megadim 259 M”Z 3; See Shevisas Shabbos Hatmana 6

[3] Admur 257:10

[4] Rama 253:1; M”A 257:18; In Rishonim: Or Zarua 2:8; Ravaya 197; Mordechai 299

[5] Admur 257:10

[6] As opposed to the walls of the oven, as will be explained below.

[7] Admur 253:10

[8] Admur 257:10

[9]  However according to the first opinion certainly this is prohibited.

[10] However, in the Mahadurah Basra for chapter 259 the Alter Rebbe brings that perhaps even if only majority of the walls of the pot are covered, then it is considered insulation. See Halacha 3B, for the final ruling in this.

[11] Admur 253:10

[12] Lit. “Cuts off the head and it will not die”. This refers to one that wants to cut the head off a bird for the need of its head, even though he has no intention to kill it, nevertheless since this is an inevitable result of the process of removing the head, it is therefore forbidden on Shabbos. This term is borrowed and used in all cases that one does not intend to do a prohibition, but it will inevitably occur.

[13] Admur 253:11

[14] This however is only regarding a pot, however regarding meat that is actually sitting on top of coals, see chapter 254:2 that one is not allowed to remove it until it dims.

[15] Lit. “Tiltul Min Hatzad”. This refers to a type of movement of Muktzah which was permitted by the sages. Anytime one moves a non-Muktzah object and unintentionally moves also a Muktzah object through doing so, then even if it is inevitable to not move the Muktzah with moving the non-Muktzah, nevertheless the Sages allowed this and called it “Moving from the side”. See chapter 311:14

[16] Lit “Cuts off the head and it will not die” see above note 17 for explanation on this matter.

[17] Kitzur Dineiy Hatmanah in 259, taken from 253:10-11

[18] Admur 253:11

[19] There are opinions which say that it is a prohibition of Hatmanah to place the pot directly on the coals, and certainly if the coals surround the pot. Other opinions argue and the custom is like this opinion, and thus this is allowed to be done.

[20] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 pages 34-36

[21] The Sephardi Poskim of this generation dispute this matter. Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach learns that it is allowed and is not comparable to the law above regarding coals, in which the Michaber rules stringently, as it is not possible to insulate the pots there as it is with the coals. Rav Farkash agrees and brings proofs to this ruling. The Ketzos Hashulchan even goes as far as to rule that it may even be minority insulated according to the Beis Yosef, although as brought above, Rav Farkash argues on this ruling.

[22] Shabbos Kehalacha Vol. 2 page 19

[23] Peri Megadim 259 M”Z 3; Chazon Ish 37:19; See Shevisas Shabbos Hatmana 6

[24] However, the does write to be stringent initially.

[25] 253:10-11

[26] This however is only regarding a pot, however regarding meat that is actually sitting on top of coals, one is not allowed to remove it until the coals dim, as will explained in the section on roasting.

Was this article helpful?

Related Articles

Leave A Comment?

You must be logged in to post a comment.