Sunday, 16 November 2014

Slow-Cookers on Shabbos

Question: Do I need to line my slow-cooker with foil in order to use it on Shabbos?
Answer: The Gemara (Shabbos 36b) writes that to prevent one from accidentally lighting a fire on Shabbos (mavir) there is a restriction against leaving uncooked food cooking on Shabbos (shehiya). The Mishna (Shabbos 3:1) teaches that one may place a pot in an oven after one has removed the coals (garuf) or cover the coals with ashes (katum).
The Chazon Ish (OC 37:11) writes that placing a metal sheet, or blech, over one’s stove hardly affects the cooking and so doesn’t help on Shabbos. Nonetheless, the Kaf Hachaim (OC 253:11), R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 1:93), R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 7:15) and R’ Shmuel Wosner (Shevet Halevi 1:91) write that placing a metal sheet or blech over one’s stove would be considered garuf vekatum, allowing one to leave food on the flame even if it wasn’t yet fully cooked when Shabbos begins (See Biur Halacha 253:1).
A second issue with slow-cookers is hatmana, insulating. The poskim debate as to whether it is enough for just the lid to be uncovered, or if part of the sides need to be exposed to avoid hatmana. R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Shulchan Shlomo, Shabbos 257:13) maintains that in order to avoid the issue of hatmana, one must line the pot with foil which should stick out a little so that it is noticeable. R’ Shmuel Wosner (Shevet Halevi 9:52), however, writes that as the pot is not covered on top, there is no issue of hatmana (See Rema OC 253:1; Taz OC 258:1; Shulchan Aruch Harav, Kuntres Acharon 257:3(. R’ Dovid Ribiat (The 39 Melochos, p633) writes that this was also the view of R’ Moshe Feinstein (See Igros Moshe OC 4:74).  
R' Yosef Shalom Elyashiv (quoted in Orchos Shabbos 2:n149) maintained that in order to avoid hatmana, one must raise the pot insert a little. Thus, some place some scrunched up foil underneath the pot, too.
In conclusion, one should ideally line their slow-cooker with a foil-blech, especially if one may want to return the pot to the flame.

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