Using hot plates on Shabbos

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    What are the halachic issues regarding putting a hot plate on a timer, i.e. so that it shuts off for the night and goes back on in the morning?


    And between a hot plate versus a blech on a stove, is one safer than the other for overnight use?


    A Blech is a lot safer than a hotplate since is doesn’t require a heat producing electrical appliance active for over 24 hours. [common sense]


    I was told it’s fine to have a hot plate turn on and off on a clock. The only issue would be if you want a hot/warm liquid item Shabbos morning. Liquid can’t be rewarmed, so it would need a continuous source of heat from before Shabbos starts.

    I have my hotplate turn off at about 11:00 Friday night, then turn back on at about 8:30 Shabbos morning. I put two pans upside down on the top, and put my food on top of them before leaving to shul. Then, when I get home, the food is nice and warm for our meal.


    I would say a blech is much more dangerous than a hot plate, since it is a gas fire all night.

    But regarding electric hot plates, it depends who you ask. Worst case scenario, a hot plate should be treated like a blech, which means that you can’t put something cold directly on the surface. You use like an inverted pan or something like that. This is because of the issue of “michzei kemevashe” or looks like you are cooking.

    Harav Elyashiv said that a hot plate should be treated like a blech in all aspects. Harav Ovadia Yosef and others have said that a hot plate is not used for cooking, so it doesn’t have the problem of michzei kemevashel and so you can put food (dry of course) directly on the hot plate. Harav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach writes that it makes sense to be more lenient with a hot plate like Harav Ovadia, but it is better to be machmir. Harav Dov Lior (chief rabbi of Kiryat Arba and Chevron) holds like Harav Ovadia.


    If liquid is sitting on a hot plate attached to a timer from *before Shabbos*, I don’t see why the hot plate going off and back on again would be an issue. Even if the hot plate is off when Shabbos starts, and one leaves raw food on it before Shabbos starts, the timer is already doing the melacha of meva’er by turning on the electricity. What’s the difference if it does the melacha of bishul too? There might be an issue of shehiyah, but that applies even on Erev Shabbos. (The heter, of course, is a blech.) However, Reb Moshe was against using timers on Shabbos in general, except for lights (and perhaps other things that are commonly used with timers during the week – some people do put their percolators on timers every night), kayadua.


    A lot of people, lately, seem to use the ‘overturned pan’ technique to warm cold food on Shabbos. I don’t remember seeing this growing up (it wasn’t *sooo* long ago). See Bi’ur Halacha ??”? ??’ ? ?”? ?????.


    ahirsch: i remember r elyashiv held a hot plate it worse than a belch and needs to be covered in foil

    Rebbe Yid

    There might be a distinction (which may not be clear in teshuvos) between a hot plate that’s used for cooking (like those old fashioned ones with the coil) and one that’s used for warming (like the modern large smooth topped ones).

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