1. What is the purpose of this guide?

In this guide, we will discuss the laws of cooking on Shabbos as they apply to common situations of oven usage in our kitchens. The reader should remember when opening and closing an oven door that their oven must be compliant with the laws of Shabbos (click here for further details).

2. Can I heat foods in the oven before Shabbos?

At sunset of Friday afternoon, all food which is to be heated on a fire over the course of Shabbos must be fully cooked. Alternatively, the fire on which the food is heating must be covered with a blech – a hotplate is viewed as a covered fire.
The oven’s element is deemed to be an exposed fire.
Even when operating in Sabbath mode, all food left in the oven must be fully cooked before sunset.

3. Can I heat foods on Shabbos by putting them in the oven when on Sabbath mode?

In heating a cold food on Shabbos, the following rules should be noted:

  • A cold liquid may not be heated on Shabbos
  • An uncooked solid food may not be heated on Shabbos
  • A fully cooked cold solid food may not be heated by placing it directly onto the blech or hot plate
  • A fully cooked solid food may be heated by placing it on top of a pot warming on the hob (which is covered by a blech) or on an upturned empty tray or pan on the hotplate.

An oven does not carry the same permissive status as that of the pot on the fire.
Foods may never be placed to warm in an oven on Shabbos. This remains the case even when ‘Sabbath mode’ is in operation.

4. If I take food out of the oven can it be returned?

Returning a pot to the fire is viewed in a more lenient light than initially placing food on the fire. For this reason, as long as certain halachic criteria are met, it is possible to return a food directly to the covered fire and it is not necessary to place it on top of a pot.

According to many opinions, the permission to return a hot food to the fire is totally suspended in relation to an oven. No food may be returned at all to an oven on Shabbos. This is true even if the oven is operating in Sabbath mode.

5. How can one make use of an oven in ‘approved’ Sabbath mode?

When buying an oven with a reliable Sabbath mode, remember that no food can be placed inside to heat on Shabbos itself.
Instead, all foods must be fully cooked and left warming in the oven from before Shabbos.

6. What do I do if I have questions about this guide?

As always, if you require assistance, the ShailaText team of Rabbonim is available on 07403939613.
Questions can also be forwarded to technology@federation.org.uk.

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