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I saw on the website that its forbidden to use a Sous vide for Shabbos, I’ve read elsewhere that its allowed. Can you please clarify?

 

Full Question:

I read the article regarding the usage of Sous Vide on Shabbos, I also noticed an article from the OK on this topic, among other things they write that Hatmona doesn’t apply if the food is visible, they seem to be basing themselves on שו”ע הרב מהדו”ב לסי’ רנ”ט קטע המתחיל על כן.  Can you please clarify this point?

 

Answer:

The relevant section of the article you sent is reproduced here, followed by a response:

There is a discussion amongst the Poskim about whether food wrapped in a plastic bag is included in the prohibition of Hatmana. [ראה בכל זה בספר שבת כהלכה (להגר”י פרקש שליט”א) ח”ב פרק י”א סעיף ט”ו ובהערות] Sous vide may not be included in the above prohibition for the following reasons:

1) The food is not placed in a heated pot; the water and food are being cooked simultaneously.

2) The bag is meant to protect the food from crumbling, but is not intended to insulate.

3) The food is visible through the water and bag. [ע”פ שו”ע הרב מהדו”ב לרנ”ט קטע המתחיל על כן]

4) There is no lid on the pot.

 

In response: 

First, it should be noted that Shabbos Kahalacha (the source cited in the article) does not discuss Sous Vide, but Kishke and Kugel in a Cholent. There is indeed much discussion whether food wrapped in a bag is included in the prohibition of Hatmana, but that discussion occurs in the context of Kishke and Kugel, and it does not necessarily apply to Sous Vide.

To more specifically address the four reasons brought in the article:

 

Reason 1) The author seems to state that since the food is put in cold water, and then warmed up together with the water, this is not regarded as Hatmana, being that the food and water are being heated up together. There are several problems with this:

  1. One practical concern is that this is not always the case. Many Sous Vide users will place food in the water only after it is hot.
  2. The main problem is that the article quotes this reason completely out of context – see Shabbos Kahalacha (Biurim 11:12) where this reason is not stated as a stand-alone leniency, but as an additional criteria that is required in a case where the two foods (such as Cholent and Kishke) are being heated up for the sake of cooking both. In other words, Shabbos Kahalacha quotes R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach who allows Kishke/Kugel in Cholent on the basis that the two are heated for the sake of cooking both, i.e. “two foods cooking side by side” which “equally require the source of heat beneath”, and Shabbos Kahalacha adds an additional requirement that these two foods be heated up simultaneously.

This all clearly does not apply to Sous Vide, where the purpose of heating the water is not to cook it, but rather, to cook the food placed in it. When a food is placed in a Dovor Hamosif Hevel, it doesn’t matter if the Dovor Hamosif Hevel was heated up before the food was placed inside, or simultaneously together with it.

  1. It is not clear that the Alter Rebbe agrees with the Psak of R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach at all:

First of all, this additional criteria was innovated in order to reconcile the Psak of R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach with the Alter Rebbe. However, one could also tentatively draw the opposite conclusion – that the Psak of R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach is incompatible with the Alter Rebbe, which would mean that even if the two foods are heated up for the sake of cooking both, this does not remove the Issur of Hatmanah, even if both are heated up simultaneously.

Furthermore, this Psak seems negated by the Alter Rebbe in Kuntras Achron Siman 258. (See Shabbos Kahalacha Biurim 11:12 for a possible reconciliation, but it would not apply to Sous Vide.)

 

Reason 2) This reason is applicable to the case of Kishke and Kugel. However, the exact opposite is true with Sous Vide – the purpose of the bag is not to prevent crumbling, but to facilitate the Sous Vide method of cooking/warming via insulation in the water, as opposed to cooking in water. Without the bag, this method of cooking/warming would not be effective. (In any case, this reason seems negated by the Alter Rebbe in Kuntras Achron Siman 258. See Shabbos Kahalacha Biurim 11:12 for a possible reconciliation, but it would not apply to Sous Vide.)

 

Reason 3) In that Mahadura Basra, the Alter Rebbe says that Hatmana does not apply to items placed directly in water because it is visible within the water (see there for more details). As the article states, some indeed use this as a basis to allow Hatmana in transparent vessels. [According to this reason, Hatmana would not apply to a transparent baby bottle either.]

However, it should be noted that the Alter Rebbe is discussing a case where the food is directly in the water, and there is no intervening barrier. The Alter Rebbe explains that food in the water is permissible because Hatmana implies some sort of covering or concealment, whereas water alone does not cover or conceal food that is placed directly in it.

However, with regards to Sous Vide, the food is not directly in the water, but in a bag, and in turn, the bag is in the water. The Alter Rebbe does not discuss such a case directly. It may be argued that although the bag is transparent, it is still covering the food in a barrier-like way, even if it is not literally hiding it from view. Thus, the fact that the food is visible through the bag is irrelevant.

Furthermore, and more importantly, the Alter Rebbe innovates this Chiddush in order to answer questions on certain Rishonim. However, other Rishonim deal with these questions differently, implying that they do not hold of this reason. Given this, it is not clear if the Alter Rebbe stated this Chiddush as a given, or as a matter subject to a Machlokes Rishonim, and if the latter, the Alter Rebbe does not seem to give any indication that we can rely on the opinions which are lenient in this regard.

מקורות: ע”פ דברי אדה”ז אלו במהדו”ב נוטים כמה מחברים להתיר הטמנה בכלי שקוף (הערות וביאורים הטמנה ע׳ רכז בהערה 254, אז תשכיל חלק א’ עמ’ ק”ו, קובץ שבת מאהבה עמ’ מ”ב), אם כי לא כתבו באופן החלטי. ומאידך יש שמחלקים בין אוכל לכלי שקוף ע”ד הסברא שכתבנו בפנים (ראה קובץ בית אהרן וישראל גליון קל”ט עמ’ קל”ח, עיי”ש שהזכיר בקבוק תינוק כדוגמת הטמנה בדבר שקוף, וכן ראה בסדר יעקב עמ’ שמ”ג שמסתפק בדומה לסברא זו), וע’ גם בראש השרביט (עמ’ תל”ד) שהעלה בצ”ע. ובשבת כהלכה שם מציין כמה פעמים לספר מתנה טובה סי’ ג’ אות ה’ שדן ע”פ דברי אדה”ז אלו במהדו”ב אם יש היתר להטמין בניילון שקוף שנראה התבשיל מתוכו, אבל אין הספר תח”י. ועכ”פ בנוגע לבקבוק תינוק לא מצינו שנהגו להקל מטעם שהוא שקוף (ראה שבת כהלכה יא, לט שלא הזכיר להקל משום כך. ואולי מיירי כשאינו שקוף), וא”כ ה”נ ל”ש.

 

Reason 4) The fact that the Sous Vide pot has no lid is absolutely irrelevant. The lid might be relevant in a case where the pot plays a role in the insulation. However, with regards to Sous Vide, the insulation is provided by the water and not the pot, and the fact remains that the food is completely submerged and insulated on all sides by the water (the water bath).