Sabbath Mode Appliance Problems Run Hot and Cold: Let the Buyer Beware


ovenCan you remember back to the good ol’ days when your Erev Shabbos and Erev Yom Tov ‘To Do’ list included turning on your oven that would stay on until Havdalah so you could eat hot food? What about unscrewing the refrigerator light bulb or taping down the button on the refrigerator door frame to prevent the light from turning on when you opened the refrigerator door?

The Shabbos observer has long been challenged with a plethora of major kitchen appliance problems, but the installation of technologically advanced safety features by well-intentioned appliance makers have made our 20th century appliance challenges seem like child’s play.

Our greatest appliance challenges started about ten years ago, when oven manufacturers started installing 12-hour automatic shut-offs, digital displays, lights, and buzzers that posed problems for the observant Jew. Soon after, Star-K Certification started working with appliance manufacturers to change the computer boards in these ovens to bypass and eliminate many of these enhanced features. Presently, Star-K certifies sixteen brands of ovens and remains the only kashrus organization that certifies these Sabbath Mode appliances, which now include refrigerators and freezers. (The term “Sabbath Mode” is actually a misnomer, since it does not allow a person to cook on Shabbos. The term “Yom Tov Mode” would actually be more appropriate.)

Star-K’s president, Avrom Pollak, warns the observant buyer who is in the market for major kitchen appliances to beware. “Although a company contends that it sells Sabbath Mode appliances, it is no guarantee that they are halachically compliant,” notes Dr. Pollak. “Just as a kosher consumer should not eat meat from a store that posts a sign that says, ‘We Sell Kosher Meat,’ without knowing who certifies it, he or she should not trust an appliance company that is uncertified, just because it advertises that it sells Sabbath Mode appliances. The term ‘Sabbath Mode’ is not a trademarked term; companies that say they are selling such appliances may be self-certifying. We know of a number of manufacturers whose ‘certifier’ is their own engineer, and there are definite problems with these appliances.”

Star-K also warns the observant public about purchasing freezers that now feature a safety alarm system. This is problematic for the Shabbos observant consumer, since an alarm may ring on Shabbos or Yom Tov when the freezer door has been left ajar long enough for the temperature to drop. It will not turn off until the freezer door has been closed.

Prior to making a major kitchen appliance purchase, checking certification status is recommended. Call the Star-K office at 410.484.4110 or visit the Star-K website at

 {Margie Pensak for Star-K/ Newscenter} 


  1. Rav Eliyashev, Shlita amongst many other poiskim said it is not permitted to use these appliances while in the Shabbos Mode. See Reb shlomo miller’s letter re: above

  2. The 12 hour shutoff is the least of the problems, and can be easily bypassed on any electric oven by removing one wire connector.

    As for Rav Eliyashiv’s and other poskim’s psak, please consult your personal posek, unless he happens to be one of the above.

    Kesivah vachasimah tovah to all!

  3. #1
    What is your source please?

    I believe your statement is inaccurate. The only problem mentioned was with changing the temperature on yom tov. Otherwise, the Sabbath Mode, when under certification of the Star K, is invaluable.

    Again, I strongly belive that halochoh forums should have rules designed by a rov, if indeed they should be run by a news site at all. One of them should be that all comments must be signed. Readers may come to rely on completely mistaken comments.

    However, I definitely appreciate the original signed articles on halochoh subjects.