1. What is the purpose of this guide?

This guide has set out to clarify the problems inherent in the use of ovens for the Shabbos-observant consumer . We will clarify that even models which carry a ‘Sabbath mode’ feature are not guaranteed to be compliant with halachic requirements. We will explore the options available for those ovens which do not carry an approved ‘Sabbath mode’, and we will direct the householder towards ways to assess whether their oven can be used on Shabbos.

2. What is ‘Sabbath mode’ in an oven?

In many cases, use of the word ‘Sabbath mode’ is a misnomer as manufacturers have not adequately researched the issues involved.
When manufactured with input from a competent halachic authority, an oven working in ‘Sabbath mode’ is truly ‘Sabbath friendly’ as it complies with the laws of Shabbos – allowing one to access food which is heating in the oven. In all cases, the food must have been placed in the oven before Shabbos.
Here in the UK, an increasing number of models offer this mode, but are manufactured without halachic input; as such, their use on Shabbos must be evaluated on a product-by-product basis.
Where available, information from the manufacturer can assist in the evaluation process, and one needs to consult a halachic authority on the correct use of these models.
By their own admission, some companies have manufactured ovens which raise halachic concerns even if ‘Sabbath mode’ is operating. Members of the public are advised to research the model they are buying, and where necessary, to resort to other methods of heating food.

3. Which concerns do ‘Sabbath mode’ ovens need to address?

The following is a list of the issues which an oven can present in its Shabbos use; different models can show some or all of the following problems:

  • Light and fan turn on or off when door opens or closes
  • When oven is operating, element switches off when door is opened
  • Heating element reignites when door closes
  • Writing on LED display screen appears or changes when door is opened

A competent ‘Sabbath mode’ will address all issues by neutralising the effects of opening and closing the oven door on appliance activity.
This mode also addresses issues related to convenience and technical design. Amongst them is an ‘auto cut off’ feature – designed to lower the risk of fires; this safety feature will halt oven activity after a period of time. To allow for the convenience of Yom Tov cooking, the oven continues to run for up to 72 hours, but at a relatively low temperature.

4. What could be wrong with an oven which claims to operate in ‘Sabbath mode’?

When designed under Rabbinic supervision, the mode will have dealt with all relevant issues. When input is lacking, not all issues are necessarily addressed. Taken as an example, one company told us that the when the door of their oven opens, the power supply to the heating element will be immediately shut.
When questioned, the company told us that they do not claim their mode to be halachically compliant with the laws of Sabbath. Use of the term Sabbath mode is certainly misleading in this context.

5. If the oven I have bought offers ‘Sabbath mode’, can I open the door when Sabbath mode is activated?

If the oven is manufactured under supervision – with a hechsher, we advise you to consult the halachic guidance notes prepared by the relevant authority. To clarify whether your model is one of the rare few in the UK which has a hechsher we recommend you check the following link https://www.star-k.org/appliance/.

To date we are not aware of any which are under supervision. If your model does not appear on the Star-K’s, website you can e-mail us with a product name and number, and we will attempt to investigate further.

If your oven’s Sabbath mode is indeed not supervised, its use would only be permitted after thorough investigation. See below Q11 and Q12 for guidance on this matter.

6. Are there any ‘Sabbath mode’ ovens on sale in the UK which have been found to be compliant for use on Shabbos?

To date, the only models which we have researched are models developed by NEFF.

Early models developed in this range carried serious Shabbos concerns. Their talks with representatives of our communities educated them further in these matters, and
in more recent models, many of these isssues have been resolved.

However, even the newer models are not totally freed of any Shabbos questions, as the heat of the oven is still controlled thermostatically, and opening the door can trigger the oven’s heating cycle. Some of the models carry an element indicator light which indicates when the heating cycle is active. The Shabbos use of such ovens is halachicaly simpler.

Members of the public are advised to contact their Rabbonim before deciding to make use of these ovens on Shabbos. The shaila should be asked, explaining that the oven in question would be controlling the temperature with a thermostat even in Shabbos mode; mention also whether an element indicator light is present.

We have prepared usage guidelines which you can read in Q8 below; these guidelines or others should be used after consultation with one’s Rov.

7. Do you have a list of ovens and details of their status?

No. This is a facility we plan to develop. Keep on checking our on-line material.

8. What are your instructions for heating food in a NEFF ‘Sabbath mode oven’?

Our conversations with NEFF have resulted in sufficient information to establish that there is some grounds for permission to use ovens manufactured in the last few years to heat food before Shabbos . Nonetheless, since the thermostat of the oven remains active even in Sabbath mode, opening and closing the oven door may only be done in accordance with halachic guidance.

Here are our guidelines for use of the NEFF oven in ‘Sabbath mode’.

  • All food must be fully cooked and in place in the oven before Shabbos
  • NO FOOD whether raw or cooked, hot or cold may be PLACED in the oven on Shabbos
  • The temperature can be set before Shabbos to ANY level (the manufacturers have limited this to below 140 degrees)
  • Food which is left in the oven over shabbos MAY be removed during shabbos but ALL food MUST be removed before the oven door can be closed again.
  • In ovens which carry an element indicator light, the door should only be opened when the light is ‘on’.
  • An oven which has an indicator light may be opened and closed repeatedly when the light indicates that the element is working
9. Are the guidelines for Yom Tov use different for that of Shabbos?

Regarding use of the NEFF ovens on Yom Tov, our guidelines are as follows:

  • The oven should be set to the desired temperature in Sabbath mode before Yom Tov
  • No adjustments may be made to the temperature setting during the course of Yom Tov
  • Food may be placed in the oven to cook or heat on yom tov and need not be in place from before yom tov
  • The door may be opened and closed as is required during the course of cooking. It  should not be opened for no reason
10. Our family keep food warm for the Shabbos meal in an oven, the oven is set on a timer – why do we need a Sabbath mode?

Appliance design has changed significantly in recent years presenting new challenges in to shemiras Shabbos. Older models were certainly simpler; in most ovens, the light bulb could be removed or was only lit when the oven was heating. Generally, a timer function was available, which, once reaching the end of the desired cooking period would totally shut off all appliance function – doors could be opened and food removed with no halachic concern.

If your oven is of the more traditional type described above, there is no need for a Sabbath mode, and the timer function should be used. See Q11 for instructions for sue of these appliances.
A competent ‘Sabbath mode’ is necessary to resolve the halachic challenges related to modern appliances whose use often involves problematic electronic activity such as switching on and off light and fan and direct changes to the heating element on opening and closing the door.

11. Can ovens which do not carry ‘Sabbath mode’ be used on Shabbos?

In the case of ovens which are not manufactured under supervision, you should not use the oven unless it has been thoroughly investigated. As a rule, the simpler and older models are more likely to meet our criteria than the more recent models.

Here are our instructions for use of an oven which is not approved for Shabbos but may be used when operating on a timer:

  • No oven may be used if opening and closing the door triggers a light, makes changes to a display screen, starts/stops a fan/lights. These points must be researched before using any oven on Shabbos.
  • In some cases, it will be possible to neutralise these problems by taping down a small door switch – look carefully you may find it
  • To test the oven, turn the oven to ‘off’ – and then open the door.
  • Check that no light is lit, and listen out to see if the fan operates
  • Check that nothing changes on the LED screen
  • The manufacturer should be contacted and asked whether element is effected by door opening and closing. This can also be tested at home by listening out for a quiet clicking sound or by testing the power using a power meter as the door to detect current changes as the oven door is opened and closes.
  • Even if the oven does not carry any of these issues, the oven should only be used if a timer can be set
  • The timer should be set before Shabbos to switch the oven off in time for your Shabbos meal
  • The door should be opened only once the timer has closed off all appliance activity.
  • The alarm indicating the end of the desired time period may not be switched off on Shabbos
  • NOTE –  some models carry a timer whose alarm will continue to sound until it is switched off; in others an icon is cancelled when the door is opened; these models are not suitable for Shabbos use
12. Can ovens which do not have a timer be used on Shabbos?

In Q11, we gave instruction for the use of an oven which has no Sabbath mode; this, though the traditional use of a timer which shuts off all appliance activity.

A further possibility exists for cases where no timer function is available; this approach allows for opening the oven when the element is working, and the Federation Beis Din have deemed this acceptable.

No oven may be used if opening and closing the door triggers a light, makes changes to a display screen, starts/stops a fan/lights or it switches off a heating element. These points must be researched before using any oven on Shabbos.

  • Check that nothing changes on the LED screen
  • The manufacturer should be contacted and asked whether element is effected by door opening and closing. This can also be tested at home by listening out for a quiet clicking sound or by testing the power using a power meter to detect current changes as the oven door is opened and closes.
  • In ovens which have an element indicator light, when the light glows this shows that the element is active and heating.
  • One may open the door when the light is showing.
  • The oven should then be closed swiftly
  • The door can be opened and closed repeatedly
13. What are the yom tov rules for the operation of an oven?

On Yom Tov, cooking is permitted; however, switching on and turning off an oven are forbidden. Similarly, adjusting the temperature on an oven is not permitted. Our guidelines for oven use are as follows:

  • No oven may be used if opening and closing the door triggers a light, makes changes to a display screen, starts/stops a fan/lights or it switches off a heating element. These points must be researched before using any oven on Shabbos or Yom Tov.
  • If the oven is working in thermostatic mode and the door opening does not directly affect its operation, the oven may be used for Yom Tov cooking.
  • The oven should be set to the desired temperature on Sabbath mode before Yom Tov.
  • No adjustments may be made to the temperature setting during the course of Yom Tov.
  • Food may be placed in the oven to cook or heat on Yom Tov and need not be in place from before Yom Yov
  • The door may be opened and closed as is required during the course of cooking. It  should not be opened for no reason
14. WHICH OVEN DO YOU RECOMMEND I BUY?

To date, we are not aware of a Sabbath mode oven available in the UK which has resolved all shailos.

From a halachic perspective, the best ovens are those which operate a timer function which switches off all electronic activity. Taping down a tiny door switch may be necessary.

The safest way to buy an oven, is to call your local frum salesman; he will be equipped with all the relevant details regarding each appliance. Supporting our community businesses is also a special mitzvah!

15. What should I do to find out about other ovens?

The information in this guide will be updated on a regular basis, based on enquiries we make to manufacturers.
You can help us to expand this facility, by sending in queries about appliances you have bought. Send the name of the manufacturer, the product number and if possible contact details for a customer services department.
Please email all such queries to technology@federation.org.uk and we will try to provide assistance on these matters, and provide assistance where possible.

16. what else should i read about ovens?

It is imperative that when using ovens on Shabbos, members of the public are aware that food may not be inserted into them on Shabbos. Click here to read our guide on how to keep food hot in an oven over Shabbos.

You may also find it useful to refresh your knowledge on how to keep your oven kosher click here to read our guide on this topic.

17. 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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