While it was uncommon in the past for families to purchase ready-made takeout food for their Shabbos meals, this trend has now become commonplace.
The halacha is that fully cooked, dry food may be reheated on Shabbos in certain ways. However, as the letter makes clear, this is only true if the food is really fully cooked. It has come to light that it is common practice for takeout food establishments to add spicing or garnishing to dishes after they are cooked for seasoning or presentation.
Examples of this might be sesame seeds, black pepper, pesto, parsley flakes, or any number of other spices or vegetables. When this is done, the dish now has completely raw ingredients in it. If this dish is now placed on Shabbos in a spot where it can reach a temperature of “yad soledes bo” (the temperature at which a person would pull his hand back after touching the food), the one who placed the food there has transgressed an issur, and if it is left there until is cooked it is a d’oraysa!
Furthermore, even if the dish is put up on a fire before Shabbos, it must be fully cooked if one wants to do “chazarah” on Shabbos.
The only way it is permitted to place a food on a fire, or to return a food to a fire, on Shabbos, is if one is completely sure that every part of it is fully cooked.
It also has become known that it is common for certain meat dishes to be sold in an extremely “rare” state, with partially uncooked meat in the center, or wrapped in “gooey” dough that is not completely cooked. In such instances, it is also forbidden to put the dish containing not 100% fully cooked food in a place where it can get to “yad soledes bo” in any way.
The four Poskim shlita, Rav Shmuel Felder, Rav Yaakov Forcheimer, Rav Osher Chaim Lieberman and Rav Shmuel Meir Katz, discussed this issue at a meeting this week, and wrote the accompanying letter which details the problem and stresses its severity.
[TLS – Provided by the Lakewood Shopper]