Proper Use of A Blech and Hot Plate on Shabbat
Taken from Daily Halacha by: Rabbi Eli Mansour
The Halacha today is a basic overview regarding the use of a blech and hot plate. Some questions on this topic have previously been addressed in Daily Halacha. Please see; “Is It Permissible To Heat Liquid Type Items On A Blech on Shabbat” dated Nov. 23, 2003, and “Some Issues of Placing Dry Items Onto The Blech on Shabbat” dated Nov. 24, 2003. These Halachot can be viewed or printed by logging onto www.dailyhalacha.com, and typing the word “BLECH” into the keyword search on the left side of the screen.
The question was asked if there is a permitted method to reheat food on Shabbat. More specifically, is it permitted to reheat previously cooked dry food on Shabbat? For example, is it permissible and if so, how can one reheat chicken, or rice, or Kibe (fried torpedo shaped meat hors d'oeuvre)? It is of course forbidden to cook these foods on Shabbat, but is it permissible to take these foods if previously cooked, out of the refrigerator and reheat them on Shabbat??
It is clear according to all opinions that it is forbidden to put these items on an open fire. Meaning, you would not be allowed to put previously cooked rice into a tin or pot and then put it directly onto a stove. Now even though a stove normally has a grate over the flame, it nevertheless is still forbidden. Additionally, it would also be forbidden to put the rice back into an oven. So again, it is forbidden to put previously cooked dry food onto an open flame or into an oven.
However, according to Chacham Ovadia Yoseph, there are permitted ways to reheat previously cooked dry food on Shabbat. He writes in Yihave Da’at, Helek 2, Teshuva 44, that you may reheat food on Shabbat, by placing the food onto a piece of metal plate that is over the fire. In Yiddish this is called a ‘Blech’, and today the term is commonly known throughout the world. You can even place the cold food on any position on the metal plate including the spot that is right above the heat source.
Chacham Ovadia Yoseph explains his reasoning for this leniency. Putting food onto a metal plate rather than directly onto the stove grate would seem odd and not appear as if you were cooking the item. Normal cooking means putting the tin or pot into an oven or putting on an open flame. But putting food onto a Blech is not the normal place where one usually cooks. Therefore, it is permissible to place the food on the Blech.
There are other opinions in this regard. Chacham Ben Tzion has a different understanding of Maran and exactly how to reheat foods. However, Chacham Ovadia Yoseph certainly can be relied on this case.
So therefore, it’s proper to buy a conventional metal plate (Blech) that is sold in the market, and to put it over the stove grate before Shabbat in order to alleviate the problem of Chazara (return.) Chacham Ovadia Yoseph is also lenient to allow the use of hot plates. A hot plate is an appliance that consists of a heated surface where the warmth stems from an electric mechanism. One is permitted to place previously cooked dry food onto any position on such a hot plate, even directly above the heat source itself. Using a hot plate is not considered the normal way of cooking. That is the Halacha, according to Chacham Ovadia Yoseph.