Is one permitted to place cold liquid – such as water or soup – near the stove on Shabbat to remove the chill?
It goes without saying that one may not place cold liquid on a fire, blech or hotplate on Shabbat. Likewise, it is clearly forbidden to place a cold liquid near a fire, blech or hotplate on Shabbat and leave it there until it reaches the temperature of “Yad Soledet Bo” (the point at which one’s hand would immediately recoil on contact). It is less clear, however, whether one may place cold liquid near the fire for just a minute or two to remove the chill, and then remove it before it becomes hot.
The Shulhan Aruch (Orah Haim 318:14) addresses this question and rules that this is forbidden on Shabbat, due to the concern that one may forget to remove the liquid before it becomes hot. If a person would be allowed to put a liquid near a fire, he might place it there and then become preoccupied with something else, and forget about the liquid. It will then reach the point of “Yad Soledet Bo,” and the person will have thus violated Shabbat. It is therefore forbidden to place cold liquid near a fire or other heat source on Shabbat. One may do so only if the liquid is placed far enough from the heat source that it cannot reach the point of “Yad Soledet Bo” at that spot. But the liquid may not be placed at a spot where it can reach this level of heat, even if one intends to remove it before that point.
Hacham Ovadia Yosef, in his work Leviyat Hen, rules that an exception may be made in the case of liquid that has already been cooked and was then cooled. If, for example, one has Kibbehamda or cold soup that was cooked before Shabbat and then placed in the refrigerator, and he wants to serve it cold on Shabbat, he may place it near the stove to remove the chill. Even in this case, he must remove it from its spot near the fire before it reaches the temperature of “Yad Soledet Bo.” But as long as he ensures to remove it before that point, he may place the liquid even very close to the fire or other heat source. The basis of this ruling is the combination of several different factors. First, according to some authorities, it is permissible to reheat cold liquid that had been cooked before Shabbat, even directly over the fire (a position known as “En Bishul Ahar Bishul Be’lah”). Although we do not follow this opinion, we may take it into account in combination with other factors. Secondly, Rashi maintained that one may place cold liquid near a flame to remove its chill on Shabbat. Halacha does not accept this position, but with regard to liquid that had already been cooked, we may combine Rashi’s view with the aforementioned position allowing reheating liquids to permit placing previously-cooked liquid near a fire. Hacham Ovadia also adds the argument that it is not very likely that a person will forget to remove the liquid before it reaches the point of “Yad Soledet Bo.” Thus, in light of these considerations, he allows leaving previously-cooked liquid near a fire or other heat source, even at a spot where it could reach the point of “Yad Soledet Bo,” provided that one ensures to move it before that point.
This is also the ruling of Rabbi Moshe Halevi (Israel, 1961-2001), in his work Menuhat Ahaba, though in his view, one should rely on this leniency only where this is necessary to remove the chill for an elderly or ill person, or somebody else who is very sensitive to cold. Hacham Ovadia, however, allows this in all cases.
Summary: One may not place a cold liquid such as water or soup near a stove or other heat source on Shabbat to remove its chill, unless he places it far enough that it could never become hot at that spot. If the liquid had been cooked before Shabbat, then one may place it near a fire or other heat source (but certainly not on the fire), but he must ensure to remove it from that spot before it becomes hot.