Before every Sabbath or Shabbat, some Jewish people begin preparing for synagogue and rest from work by lighting candles and baking challah.

Some Jewish people live by religious laws that mean they cannot turn lights off or operate appliances. The Orthodox Union Torah website said the Torah doesn’t allow cooking on the Sabbath and there are restrictions around reheating food, such as not using microwaves. Some Jewish people follow these practices and there are household appliances already primed for meeting these religious accommodations.

What is the purpose of ‘Sabbath mode’?

These appliances have what’s called “Sabbath mode,” which is a way for people who observe the Sabbath to use them without violating religious laws. The Wall Street Journal said, “In ovens, Sabbath mode disables the light and display, and allows people to set the temperature to warm food without shutting off. In refrigerators, the mode disables the lights and auto-defrost, as well as the water and ice systems.”

For example, Whirlpool — a household name for kitchen appliances — has an option for stoves which turns off any noises, disables timers and “prevents unintended use of the cooktop,” while still allowing use of cooktop burners.

Another company that has this feature on their appliances is GE Appliances. The company’s website said, “Refrigerators with a Sabbath Mode feature puts the refrigerator in a timed defrost mode. It also turns off the icemaker, dispenser and control touch screens. The interior lights are not affected by opening or closing the door.”

The company said it also worked with the Orthodox Union when developing Sabbath mode for its devices. About the Sabbath mode feature, Michael Gnat of the wholesaler Midnorthern Appliances said to Toronto Star, “We have a large Orthodox clientele and the Sabbath mode feature is critical for them.”

What is Sabbath mode on an oven?

If you’re wondering whether or not your oven has Sabbath mode, it probably does. The Wall Street Journal reported 85% of built-in ranges and just shy of two-thirds of wall ovens have Sabbath mode. As for refrigerators and dishwashers, around one-third of them have the feature, but that number is growing.

As The Wall Street Journal reported, some Orthodox Jewish families have two ovens and two refrigerators due to their dietary restrictions. They believe they should keep meat separate from dairy and not eat them at the same time or prepare them using the same pots and pans.

“Serving that community led GE to collaborate with the Orthodox Union’s kosher certification agency to bake a custom smart feature into appliances,” The Wall Street Journal said. This smart feature tracks Jewish holidays and Sabbaths to automatically disable lights and defrost settings to help Jewish people with their observance.

What is Sabbath mode on a refrigerator?

On a refrigerator, Sabbath mode allows a person to open up the refrigerator without the light turning on or any sound being made. Per Whirlpool, this also means the water filter status light is turned off and temperatures of the refrigerator are unable to be adjusted.

Can you open the fridge on Shabbat?

It depends. If opening the refrigerator would activate lights and sounds, then it is forbidden to do so, per Kol Torah. When the refrigerator is in Sabbath mode, then it’s OK.

How do you enable Sabbath mode?

First, check if the manufacturer of your appliances has a Sabbath mode option on your particular appliances. Then, check your owner manual for specific directions. It varies from appliance to appliance, but typically, it involves turning off the oven or refrigerator light, and then, turning off the clock and timer. Different manufacturers have different steps to put refrigerators and ovens in Sabbath mode.

Why do Jewish people keep the Sabbath day?

For Jewish people, the Sabbath day is observed as a commemoration of God resting on the seventh day after the creation of the Earth.

Observing the Sabbath for Jewish people usually includes attending services at a synagogue as well as home worship. According to Britannica, observing the Sabbath is also a commemoration of God’s covenant with Israel. Ezekiel 20:12 reads, “Moreover, I gave them my Sabbaths, as a sign between me and them, so that they might know that I the Lord sanctify them.”

Sabbath begins the sunset of Friday and lasts until sundown on Saturday, per Pluralism Project. “By lighting candles and saying the appropriate blessings over the wine and bread at sunset on Friday, Jews enter into this temple in time.”

Jewish people often look forward to the Sabbath. According to BBC, there are customs like saying specific prayers and eating challah that have meaning and remind Jewish people of God’s covenant with Israel. It’s seen as an important day of rest and joy.

What can’t you do during Sabbath?

Observant Jewish people will often interpret the Hebrew Bible differently on how to observe the Sabbath.

According to Jewish Virtual Library, Jewish people refrain from doing work on the Sabbath. Work can include doing things like baking, driving or going to the store. Jewish people were forbidden from doing 39 types of work that related to sanctuary building in ancient times (such as the Tabernacle of Moses) and in modern times, Jewish people refrain from doing similar types of work — instead of not extinguishing a fire, some Jewish people won’t turn off a light during Sabbath.