If a Jew accidentally cooked on Shabbos, may the food be eaten on
From a customary
perspective it would seem a bit far fetched to envisage a frum
Jew cooking on Shabbos, so what’s the issue? Firstly, as will soon
be described, it is indeed possible. Secondly, this applies to all
Shabbos violations such as performing prohibited borer
(separating), or accidentally switching on lights.
Please provide an example of accidental
A classic example:
the halacha states that food is susceptible to the prohibition of
cooking prior to being fully cooked,
- which means; one may not move a pot of food – which is not yet
fully cooked – to a hotter spot on the hotplate or blech; one may
not cover such a pot of food with a towel or any covering,
because both activities hasten the cooking process.
If one removed the
lid from the pot of food and discovered that the food is not fully
cooked, it may not be returned to the pot for any money in the
world, as it will cause a Shabbos violation of cooking.
An even grosser
violation would be pouring boiling water from an urn onto a teabag.
So what’s the answer?
We find a
between R’ Yehuda who holds that one who did a melacha
accidentally (b’shogeig) may not consume that food until
after Shabbos. The prohibition includes the person responsible and
others. R’ Me’ir holds that he and others may consume the food on
in accordance with R’ Yehuda (in wake of most Rishonim). The
Vilna Ga’on rules
in accordance with Tosafos who sides with R’ Me’ir.
Berura arbitrates between the two rulings and states that in
normal circumstances we follow the opinion Shulchan Aruch,
meaning the food may not be consumed until after Shabbos. When
necessary for the sake of Shabbos, one may rely on the Vilna
Ga’on and consume the food on Shabbos as well.
But we have not
It is imperative to
know that in the cases above, when food was pushed closer to the
hotspot or the pot was covered, if the food was cooked more than
ma’achal Ben Derosai
beforehand one may consume the food on Shabbos even though a
prohibited act was performed.
This is different
to tealeaves that were not cooked at all.
How would you define “necessary for
If one can easily
manage without that dish or beverage, it is not “necessary for
Shabbos”. For example, one poured boiling water onto tealeaves,
thereby cooking them, as stated. In most cases one is able to
substitute tea with another beverage and/or one can make another tea
in a permitted manner. It is hard to envisage that tea made in a
prohibited manner as “necessary for Shabbos”.
Or if potato kugel
was cooked b’issur, either by covering it or pushing it
closer to the hotspot before fully cooked, if it serves the main
diet at the Shabbos table, it would be “necessary for Shabbos”, but
if there is ample food without it, it would not be “necessary for
May one benefit from a light switched on
It depends who
switched it on and why.
If a Jew switched
it on for the sake of pikuach nefesh, we learned that one may
benefit from it as there is no concern that more light will be
switched on for the ill person’s benefit.
If a Jew switched
it on accidentally, based on the above it may only be used when
“necessary for Shabbos”, which is hard to visualize, because one
intended on managing fine that Shabbos without it.
If a Jew switched
it on deliberately, it may not be used by anyone that Shabbos.
The following has
indeed happened: a religious person was walking down a dark stairway
in a building when a ‘kind’ neighbor felt sorry for him and switched
on the lights. Our friend may not use those lights, being that they
were switched on deliberately on Shabbos and he may not do anything
that he could not do before. He may obviously continue down the
stairs but he my not hurry and take advantage of the lights because
they were switched on b’issur (in a prohibited manner).
What if the mechalel Shabbos switched it on
The same rule
applies, because they are turned on b’issur.
May an adult benefit from a light switched
on by a child?
It depends on the
child’s intention. If the child switched it on for his own benefit,
an adult may benefit from it,
but if he switched it on for an adult, one may not benefit from the
What if a light was switched on
If one leans on a
wall without realizing that a light switch is there or was pushed
against it, the Oneg Yom Tov simon 20 writes that one may not
benefit from the action. The reason being that Chazal did not
make a distinction between an unintentional violation and the above
case called mit’aseik.