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QUESTION

PHILADELPHIA, PA

Shalom Rav Linzer – what are your thoughts on a gentile putting dry food to warm in an oven for kiddush? I know it’s not usually done but it seems like a d’rabbanan l’tzorech rabim (rabbinic prohibition done for the sake of the community)? The venue my shul meets at (a conservative synagogue) feels that hot plates are a liability.

ANSWER

This is exactly the case dealt with in SA OH 253:5 and Beur Halakha ד”ה להחם הקדרה (Biur Halacha 253:5:2). In short, the logic would argue that it is mutar, and some poskim indeed rule that way, and at the same time the simple sense of Rema in 253:5  is that it is forbidden: 

כל הדברים שאסור לעשות מדברים אלו, אסור לומר לאינו יהודי לעשות. לכן אסור לומר לאינו יהודי להחם הקדירה אם נצטנן

Mishneh Brurah (in Beur Halakha ibid) recognizes that this is an acceptable opinion, but he neither rejects it, nor does does he endorse it 

ובדבר יבש אין בו רק שבות דחזרה אפשר דהמיקל בזה ע”י א”י אין גוערין בו

Rav Moshe (IM OH 1:94) does not mention the lenient positions and rules straight like Rema even bi’dieved

הנה להחזיר מן המקרר על התנור דבר גוש שנתבשל לפני השבת… למקום שהיד סולדת שאסור לישראל להחזיר אסור לעשות זה גם ע”י נכרית כמפורש ברמ”א סעי’ ה’, ולכן ההיתר שעשו שחממו ע”י נכרית שטעמה מתחלה אינו כלום שזה אסור ואף בדיעבד אסור לאכול כמפורש שם

I, personally, would distinguish between an ad hoc need versus a regular arrangement. In addition to the debate above, to allow something like this on an ongoing, regular basis would mean that as long as you have a non-Jew working for you, you can forget about all the d’rabanans regarding cooking, heating, etc. for your Shabbat food. (See, in this regard, Heichal Yitzchak, OH 30). This might have been what is informing Rema’s position, above.

Is there any way you can do a kadeira al gabai kadeira or the like?

Postscript:  I have been informed that in the world of kashrut organizations, there is a makhloket between the OU and Rav Heinemann on what the Mishneh Brurah’s final position is in the Beur Halakha, whether the Mishneh Berurah would allow even li’chatchilah or only b’shaat ha’dachak and the like. The OU adopts the former (which is clearly pshat), but Rav Heinemann rules like the latter reading, thus paskening that it is mutar li’chatchilah. From what I have been told, a good number of national kashrut industries likewise adopt Rav Heinemann’s more permissive reading of Mishneh Brurah. (However, if to rule this way, I would rather say, that we rely on the poskim cited in Beur Halakha that permit li’chatchilah and not claim that that was the position of Beur Halacha himself.)

So, it certainly seems that you have broad shoulders to rely on here.