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Topic: Shabbat, Oven Lights

Ken Rosenberg writes:

You wrote recently [Ask the Rabbi #82] about eating food cooked on Shabbat. I have a related question: Just prior to a recent Shabbat lunch, my son, the cook, realized that he had forgotten to disable the oven light before Shabbat so it wouldn't come on when he opened the oven the next day to get the cholent. I tried to slip a knife in the crack to hold the switch closed as he got out the cholent, but, alas, I slipped and the light came on. He refused to eat the cholent, but did eat it after Shabbat was over. What is the status of the cholent in the event of such an occurrence? Can it be eaten on Shabbat?

Dear Ken,

In general, food cooked on Shabbat by mistake - shogeg - cannot be eaten - e.g., someone who forgot it was Shabbat and baked a cake, the cake is forbidden until after Shabbat.

In your case, however, this doesn't apply. Turning on the light had no effect on the cholent whatsoever. When the oven light went on, the cholent was already hot and fully cooked. So eating it is not considered benefiting from a Shabbat prohibition.

Furthermore, the knife slipping was totally unintentional and falls into the category of 'Mitasek' - a category even less severe than 'shogeg.'

On top of all this, it sounds like your son had already opened the door when the knife slipped. If, when the knife slipped, the door was already open enough so that it was no longer holding in the button, it's 'the knife's fault,' not 'the door's fault.' The light going on is unrelated to the opening of the door - therefore, the cholent is certainly permitted.

I'm glad that your son 'the cook' is sincere about mitzvah observance, but I'm sorry that he missed out on a delicious cholent. I have two suggestions:

  1. Study the laws of Shabbat with your son.
  2. Practice sticking the knife in the door and holding down the button (during the week)!
  • Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 318:1.
  • Shmirat Shabbat Kehilchata 10:16 (44).

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