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. The mode usually overrides the usual, everyday operation of the electrical appliance and makes the operation of the appliance comply with the rules of Halakha (Jewish law).


Halakha forbids Jews from doing creative work on the Shabbat. Observant Jews interpret this to include various activities including 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 electronic (or electronic-controlled) devices on the Shabbat,[3][4][5] including a special "sabbath mode" for otherwise standard appliances.



Oven with Sabbath mode

While according to Halakha, raw food may not be cooked on the Shabbat, food that was already cooked beforehand may be kept warm until mealtime.[citation needed] On some holidays, food may be cooked, but turning the heat on is prohibited.[citation needed] 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 fire prevention safety feature that automatically shuts off the heat after a number of hours.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed] According to the prevailing Orthodox opinion and the minority Conservative view, 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.

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.[citation needed]

In June 2008, nine Haredi poskim signed a public pronouncement (Kol Koreh) stating that it was forbidden to raise or lower the temperature by reprogramming on Yom Tov using the Star-K Kosher Certification approved Shabbat Mode feature.[6] The pronouncement referred to the differing opinion of Rabbi Moshe Heinemann[7] (although without explicitly mentioning Rabbi Heinemann by name) as a minority opinion (Da'as Yachid) that should not be relied upon. However, Rabbi Heinemann said that he continued to stand by his opinion that it is permissible.[6]


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 would normally indirectly cause the compressor to turn on as soon as the temperature rises, will have no immediate effect on the electrical operation of the appliance.[8]


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.[citation needed]

Medical and security[edit]

In a life-threatening situation (Pikuach nefesh) there is no need for the Shabbat module as such a situation overrides the Shabbat.[5] The solution for medical and security appliances sometimes meet the halakhic requirements that are biblically mandated (D'Oraita), but not the halakhic requirements that are rabbinically mandated (D'rabbanan).[citation needed] Therefore the Shabbat module in these cases is intended only for the grey area of individuals working in security or with medical needs.[5]

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. ^ a b c "Military mouse keeps Shabbat". Ynetnews. 21 April 2007. 
  6. ^ a b "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. ^ "Holiday Mode for Sabbath Observance", Wine cellar

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