Monday, December 14, 2009

Fun halachic fact of the day

According to the Magen Avraham(*), there is a way to be mechallel shabbat (in violation of the laws of Shabbat) on a Wednesday (or any other weekday), but you can prevent the problem in advance with libun (heating something red-hot).

(*) As interpreted by me according to my personal metasystem for such things.


Shira Salamone said...

Could you repeat that, in English? :)

Larry Lennhoff said...

I thought I had translated most of the technical terms. All that's left is to give the whole thing away, then explain my interpretation.

If one deliberately cooks food on Shabbat, knowing it is Shabbat and knowing cooking is forbidden, that food is forbidden to be eaten by Jews forever. (You can sell it to a non-Jew). Pretty much everyone agrees with this. The Magen Avraham also adds the additional penalty that the vessel in which the cooking was performed becomes non-kosher, and must be kashered by heating it red hot(1). AFAIK most people do not follow his stringency.

So what is the mechanism by which a vessel becomes non-kosher (or becomes a meat vessel or a dairy vessel for that matter)? Usually it acquires 'taste' ( taam) from some substance or another. The units of taste are called (in the plural) bliot.

So a vessel may have meat bliot, dairy bliot, or treif bliot. Basar b'chalav (meat and milk combined) are also considered a special kind of taam, and we keep track of this because Ashkenazim treat vessels that have basar b'chalav bliot differently than vessels that have other kinds of treif bliot.

It is clear that other kinds of bliot exist as well - for example over Pesach we are concerned about bliot of chametz, even though the rest of the year we just ignore them.

The thing is, these bliot don't just hang around in the vessel. If you cook something else in it, the bliot come out and can move into whatever you are cooking in the vessel.

So by my interpretation of the Magen Avraham, the vessel we started with contains bliot of mechallel shabbat (Shabbat desecration). Cook some food in this vessel on Sunday(2), and the bliot of Shabbat desecration come out of the vessel and make the food non-kosher. Thus one has essentially transgressed Shabbat on Sunday. This can be avoided by kashering the vessel, so one can prevent Shabbat desecration by heating something red hot.

(1) It may be that if you just boiled something in the vessel you can just immerse the vessel in boiling water rather than heating it red hot.

(2) Biblically bliot only last 24 hours before going bad (but some ways exist to re-invigorate them), but rabbinically they stay bad for a long time.

Leora said...

So your original post was a quiz? I understood the response; it's clever. The quiz, I mean, now that I've read the response. If I understand that it was indeed a quiz...

Shira Salamone said...

"I thought I had translated most of the technical terms." You did. I was just having fun.

But *now* you've "translated." At least I'm confused on a higher level. :)

nailcutter said...

cutting your nails?