Sabbath mode

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Sabbath mode, also known as Shabbos mode (Ashkenazi pronunciation) or Shabbat mode, is a feature in many modern home appliances, including ovens[1] and refrigerators,[2] which is intended to allow the appliances to be used (subject to various constraints) by Shabbat-observant Jews on the Shabbat and Jewish holidays.


Jews are forbidden from doing creative work on the Shabbat. Observant Jews interpret this to include doing things such as making a fire, preparing food or even closing a switch or pressing an electronic button. A range of technology solutions have been created for those who need to use an electronic devices on the Shabbat,[3] [4][5] including a special "sabbath mode" for otherwise standard appliances.



Oven with Sabbath mode

While raw food may not be cooked on the Shabbat, food that was already cooked beforehand may be kept warm until mealtime. On some holidays, food may be cooked fresh, but turning the heat on is prohibited. In the past, the problem could be solved simply by lighting a stove or oven before the day began, and using its heat over the course of the day. In recent decades, however, appliance manufacturers have instituted a safety feature that automatically shuts off the heat after a number of hours. This renders the appliance useless for those who observe these religious laws.

When an oven is in Shabbat mode, the standard six- or twelve-hour automatic shutoff is overridden, and all lights and displays (for example, a light that might go on when the door is opened) are disabled.

In more recently designed ovens, Shabbat mode will often feature the ability to adjust the temperature of the oven without any feedback to the operator of the oven. This is not relevant to the Shabbat, but is useful on some holidays, when adjusting the heat is allowed, but changing a digital readout on the control panel is not, according to the prevailing Orthodox opinion and the minority Conservative view.

With some Shabbat mode ovens that are controlled using a keypad to set the temperature, there is a random delay triggered after a button is pressed before the temperature change takes place.

In June 2008, a number of prominent poskim signed a public pronouncement (Kol Koreh) stating that it was unequivocally forbidden to raise or lower the temperature by reprogramming on Yom Tov using the Star-K approved Shabbat Mode feature.[6] The pronouncement referred to the long-held lenient opinion of Rabbi Moshe Heinemann[7] as a minority opinion (Da'as Yachid) that should not be relied upon.[8] However, it has been pointed out that Rabbi Heinemann's opinion is fully consistent with the rulings of Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach[citation needed].


A refrigerator displaying the Sabbath Mode.

A Shabbat mode refrigerator includes, at a minimum, the ability to disable all lights or other electrical activity from occurring when the refrigerator door is opened. Some Shabbat mode refrigerators include a timer for the compressor so that opening the door, which will normally indirectly cause the compressor to turn on as the temperature rises, will have no immediate effect on the electrical operation of the appliance.[9]


Main article: Shabbat lamp

A Shabbat lamp is a special lamp that has movable parts to expose or block out its light so it can be turned "on" or "off" while its power physically remains on.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Setting the sabbath feature", p22, Example from an electric wall oven manual
  2. ^ Sabbath mode, Example of a refrigerator
  3. ^ Entrepreneurs Find Ways to Make Technology Work With Jewish Sabbath The New York Times, 1 September 2008.
  4. ^ How to be religious - and enjoy a Shabbat espresso Haaretz, 12 December 2007
  5. ^ Military mouse keeps Shabbat Ynetnews, 21 April 2007
  6. ^ "Preventing Transgression: Gedolei HaPoskim Asur Pressing Buttons on ‘Shabbos Mode Ovens’ on Yom Tov". 2008-06-05. Retrieved 2009-07-16. 
  7. ^ "Regarding Star-K certified Shabbath Mode ovens". 2008-06-06. Retrieved 2009-07-16. 
  8. ^ Rabbi Heinemann was not mentioned by name.
  9. ^ "Holiday Mode for Sabbath Observance", Wine cellar

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