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16 March 2005

The Geek Guide to Kosher Machines

This might be a rerun, since I found this article in my history, but it still kills me!
From sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, Orthodox Jews are forbidden to work, write, and drive. In all, 39 activities are off-limits to those complying with the Torah's fourth commandment, to keep the Sabbath holy. In the home, that means no cooking or fire lighting - or its modern analog, moving electricity through a circuit.

For decades, observant Jews have found ways to work around Sabbath restrictions in the kitchen. They taped down the button on the refrigerator door frame to keep the light from turning on. Or someone unscrewed the bulb before Friday sunset. They turned on an oven in advance - that way, they could warm food on the Sabbath without altering temperature settings. In recent years, however, well-intentioned appliance makers have been installing safety features that automatically shut off ovens after 12 hours. That meant a unit turned on at dusk Friday would be cold before lunch on Saturday. When companies learned this was complicating dinner preparation for some Jews, they supplied an optional override. Thus, a rudimentary "Sabbath mode" was born.


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