Enjoying A Hot Dish
‘What Was Really Meant Was Replacing It…’
The Gemara states that even though Chananya would permit shehiyah (leaving partially cooked food on an open flame on Shabbos), he would prohibit chazarah unless the coals are garuf ve’katum (swept or covered).
Rashi (36b sv “aval lo tavshil”) indicates that chazarah is prohibited because it gives the impression to anyone watching that one wishes to cook the food further. Thus, he only permits doing so if the coals (or flame) are covered.
Stoking The Coals
The Ran (ad loc.) explains that Chananya’s concern with chazarah is similar to the rabbanan’s concern with shehiyah: namely, that one may to stoke the coals. (Nowadays, the equivalent would be moving a pot closer to the flame or raising the flame.) Chananya fears that when returning a pot to the flame, he may find that the pot has cooled off and will desire to stir the coals to help reheat it.
Thus, even if one accepts the lenient ruling of the Rema (Orach Chayim 253:2) who rules in accordance with Chananya, it is important to perform grifah and ketimah (covering or sweeping the coals) because many times pots have to be adjusted and moved closer to the fire. Also, occasionally one needs to lift a pot to remove some food and then replace it on the stove. Since such an act is considered chazarah, Chananya would only permit if the coals are garuf ve’katum.
The Maharil (cited by Magen Avraham, Orach Chayim ad loc. sk31) maintains that placing a blech on a stove is the equivalent of ketumah (and gerufah) and thus permits leaving food on a blech-covered stove on Shabbos. This is the widely accepted minhag today (see Chayyei Adam 20:12; also Kisvei Rav Henkin, page 21, who rule accordingly).
What To Cover?
Rabbi Shimon Eider (Sefer Hilchos Shabbos note 961) cites Rabbi Aaron Kotler who says that covering the knobs on a stove or oven constitutes ketumah since it serves as a reminder not to raise the flame.
Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe, Orach Chayim vol. 1, responsum 93) disagrees and asserts that the essence of ketumah is accomplished today by covering the flame, not the knobs controlling the flame. Why? Because, as the Ran explains, the whole point of ketumah is to make a hekker – a recognizable sign that one is only interested in letting the food simmer on its own but is uninterested in stoking the coals. Thus, only covering the flames constitutes ketumah, not covering the knobs. Nevertheless, Rabbi Feinstein advises people to cover the knobs as well. While using a blech demonstrates that one does not wish to cook, covering the knobs ensures that one does not do so.
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