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Making tea on Shabbos

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Rabbi Daniel Kirsch

Shevat 5, 5782
Question
1. I use teabags to make tea on Shabbos (I believe there are shitas that allow that and a neighborhood Rov did so, so I also do. Please advise if that is a problem). The first question is: If I want to make 2-3 cups of tea, and I pour from the urn into one cup and from that cup into another cup, is there a problem if I fill the first cup from the urn immediately after emptying it into a cup in order to make a second cup, and so on and so forth, or must I dry the first cup that I get from the urn every time? 2. Is there a problem taking the teabag out of the cup over a garbage can and dropping it directly in or do I need to use a spoon to do so. If I make a second cup of tea with it, can i take it out of one cup and put it into another without a spoon also?
Answer
Shalom Uvracha, You asked three questions. We'll 'try to answer them by the order of your questions: 1. "I use teabags to make tea on Shabbos (I believe there are shitas that allow that and a neighborhood Rov did so, so I also do. Please advise if that is a problem). " You said it right. There are opinions who permit making the tea in 'kli shlishi', meaning pouring water from the urn to the cup and then from the cup to another cup. Others forbid this. (see Mishna Berura 318: 89, Shemirat Shabbat Kihilchata, 1:57, Chazon Ovadia 'Mevashel' page 378). 2. "Is there a problem if I fill the first cup from the urn immediately after emptying it into a cup in order to make a second cup, and so on and so forth, or must I dry the first cup that I get from the urn every time?" You may refill the cup without drying the cup. Firstly, according to the Rema (318:15), there is no prohibition to cook liquids that were cooked once and then cooled down-- if they didn't cool down completely. According to Hagaon Harav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik (Mepninei Harav page 78), the definition of something that did not cool down completely is if it is a little above room temperature (there are other definitions ,see Rav Neventzal's comments on the Mishna Berura (318:15),and also Igrot Moshe: Orach Hachaim 4:134 and Eglei Tal that were quoted there in Mipninei Harav). Secondly even if the drops cooled down there are other reasons to be lenient about it, including that this is not 'derech bishul' (the normal way of cooking) and there is no kavana (intention) to be mevashel and other reasons (see Yebia Omer, 4: 33, Peninei Halacha 10:9 and the Harchavot of the Peninei Halacha there). Some poskim are machmir (strict) and require the cup to be dry. However, if you refill the cup within half a minute or a minute when the water that is left in the cup is still warm, then you can definitely be lenient and not dry the cup. 3. "Is there a problem taking the teabag out of the cup over a garbage can and dropping it directly in or do I need to use a spoon to do so. If I make a second cup of tea with it, can i take it out of one cup and put it into another without a spoon also?" According to some poskim you may do this without a spoon because there is no intention (kavana to do borer and other reasons see Chazon Ovadia 'Mevashel' page 378, Yalkut Yosef 319;42, Menuchat Ahava part 2, 7:45, Peninei Halacha 11:14 and hHrchavot there). Others are machmir in requiring the use of a spoon to take out the water. (see Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 3:64). In summary: 1. You can rely on the poskim who permit making the tea on Shabbos in kli shlishi. (Although, it is preferable to make the tea before Shabbos). 2. You may rely on the poskim who permit refilling the cup without drying the cup (but it is preferable to dry the cup if the water cooled down to room temperature, or at least spill out the drops). 3. You may rely on the poskim who permit taking out the teabag without a spoon. (but it is preferable to take it out with a spoon). All the best!
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