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Topic: Cholent, Definition

Richard Alan from Chicago wrote:

I was a guest at the home of a religious family this past Shabbat, and they served the tastiest delicacy into which I've ever sunk my teeth. Before it was even served, the intoxicating aroma wafted in from the kitchen, exciting our taste buds to unprecedented levels of anticipation. At last we dined on the molasses-colored potpourri. I believe they called it "Jolt." What is the significance of this tasty tradition?

Dear Richard,

You mean "Cholent." I once read that the word Cholent comes from the French "Chaud-Lent" meaning "Hot-Slow." This aptly describes Cholent. The Ba'al HaMeor cites authorities who say that it is a Rabbinical enactment to eat hot food on Shabbat. Aside from the mitzvah of Oneg Shabbat (enjoyment of Shabbat), eating hot food demonstrates our belief in the Oral Law. How? The Written Law states, "Do not kindle a fire in all your dwelling places on the Sabbath day." Some misguided sects said that all fires had to be extinguished prior to Shabbat. To negate this idea, the Sages instituted that on Shabbat we eat delicious food kept hot by a fire.

The Ba'al HaMeor concludes with the following poem in praise of eating hot food on Shabbat:

 Who prepares cooked foods 
 And wraps them 'round 
 Delights in Shabbat...Gains a pound... 
 He's the one who's faith is sound; 
 When Mashiach comes 
 He'll be around. 
We have received from various readers other reasons for the name "Cholent", and we have included them in Ask the Rabbi #72 & Ask the Rabbi #74.


  • Ba'al HaMeor, Masechet Shabbat Perek Kirah.

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