Shabbat 117 - Saving food

As we learned before , one is allowed to save Torah scrolls from fire on Shabbat by carrying them outside the house, and this includes the tefillin. Moreover, if the tefillin bag has money in it, then - even though normally money cannot be handled on Shabbat - here he is not required to throw it away, but can save the bag with the tefillin and the money inside.

One is also allowed to save food, both for humans and for animals. However, one can only save enough for Shabbat: for example, if the fire broke out of Friday evening, he can save the amount necessary for three meals, but if it started on Shabbat morning, he can only save two meals. Rabbi Yose allows to save three meals under all circumstances, because in his opinion the law is already strict enough, and there is not need to count meals.

The rationale for both opinions is the same: in truth, we are talking about carrying the food into a courtyard, properly fenced from the public area, so carrying any amount of it should be allowed. However, since a person is naturally agitated when his possessions are burning and may start extinguishing the fire, the Sages added prohibitions, so that while observing them he will recall that if he is not allowed to save all the food he wants, then certainly he is not allowed to extinguish the fire.

Art: Carlo Magini - Still life with food and vegetables