Volume 12 Number 27
                       Produced: Wed Mar 23 19:36:00 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Cooking on Yom Tov
         [Joseph Greenberg/HSI]


From: Joseph Greenberg/HSI <71564.3226@...>
Date: 16 Mar 94 20:44:12 EST
Subject: Cooking on Yom Tov

(Scanner's note: all typos are mine (or Logitech's), and misplaced
commas and periods count as typos. Also, if a footnote is omitted, it
is my fault as well).

     The following was written (several years ago) by Rabbi Reuven
Drucker, the Rabbi of the Young Israel of Greenfield, in Oak Park,
Michigan. I though it would be useful to members of mj. Rabbi Drucker
has accepted the position of Rabbi at the Agudath Israel in Edison,
NJ and will be starting his new position some time in June, 1994.
     Rabbi Drucker has agreed to answer question on this material,
although initially it will be through an intermediary (me, via email).
     All questions should be sent, via email, to
<72600.225@...> (Joseph Greenberg, although the name isn't
necessary). I will forward them to Rabbi Drucker, and return answers
as soon as possible.

                    Using the Oven and Stove on Yom Tov
                          by Rabbi Reuven Drucker

Cooking on Yom Tov
     There are certain Melachos (Categories of forbidden labor) which
are not permitted on Shabbos that may be performed on Yom Tov in
order to prepare food for the holiday. Some Melachos which are
permitted on Yom Tov include cooking, baking, and carrying.

     The difference between Shabbos and Yom Tov is based on the
verse, "No work shall be done [on Yom Tov], except that which may be
eaten by man-only that may be done for you."(1) From a philosophical
point of view, Reb Meir Simcha of Divinsk (2) suggests that Shabbos
and Yom Tov have two different purposes. Shabbos is a day to devote
to Torah study and those things which will strengthen our
relationship with Hashem. Therefore, the Torah forbade the more
mundane activities like cooking and baking which would distract us
from this goal. Yom Tov, however, is a day for developing and
strengthening our relationships with one another. Since the Torah
recognizes the social importance of food, it allows us to bake and
cook so that we have the opportunity to prepare fresh food for our

The Use of the Stove and Oven on Yom Tov
     A Melacha which is usually involved in cooking is Havorah
(kindling a fire). This act, too, is forbidden on Shabbos, but is
permitted with limitations on Yom Tov. Although striking a match and
starting a fire on Yom Tov is forbidden (Molad Aish), transferring a
fire from a pre-existing flame is permitted. Therefore, one may light
a candle from another which is burning.

     The use of the stove or oven on Yom Tov hinges on this very
important distinction. Adjusting the temperature on an electric stove
_always_ requires the completion of a new electrical circuit, which
in Halacha is considered havorah,(3) and is thus not permitted.
Adjusting the temperature on an electric oven, however, is sometimes
permitted, because it does not always require the completion of a new
circuit. These halachos will be explained in the following section.

Electric Oven
     1. One may not turn on an electric oven on Yom Tov.(4)

     2. If the oven had been turned on from before Yom Tov, one may
even place raw food in it to cook (unless Yom Tov falls on

     3. If the cooking process requires an increase or decrease in
the oven temperature, there are Poskim(6) that allow adjusting the
thermostat on a model that has a "bake light."(7) Thus:

          a) If the "bake light" is on, the temperature may be
raised, but not lowered.
          b) If the "bake light" is off, the temperature may be
lowered, but not raised.

     4. Without a "bake light" it is not permitted to adjust the
temperature in the oven, because it is not possible to determine if
electricity is passing through the heating element. If the circuit is
broken by the action of the thermostat, raising the temperature would
in effect complete the circuit.

Electric Stove
     1. One may not turn on an electric stove on Yom Tov.(8)

     2. If the burner had been turned on before Yom Tov, one may use
it to cook on Yom Tov (unless Yom Tov falls on Shabbos).

     3. The burner temperature may not be raised or lowered, even if
this would facilitate the cooking process.(9) This is forbidden, even
if the control has "infinite switching."(10)

     4. However, if one has an electrician install an indicator light
for each burner to signal when the electric current is passing
through the element, he may adjust the temperature of the burner in
the same fashion as the electric stove. Thus:
          a) If the indicator light is on, the temperature may be
raised, but not lowered.

          b) If the indicator light is off, the temperature may be
lowered, but not raised.

Gas Stove
     1. There are two types of gas stoves-those that have a standing
pilot light (generally, older models, since the conservation laws
have forbidden such models to be sold) and those that have electronic

     2. One may turn on a gas stove on Yom Tov (unless Yom Tov falls
on Shabbos) if it has a standing pilot,(11) but not if it has
electronic ignition~.(12)

     3. If the stove had been turned on before Yom Tov, even an
electronic ignition may be used to cook.

     4. If the cooking process requires that the temperature be
increased, one may do so on a gas stove, even if he knows that it
will have to be lowered later so the food does not get ruined.

     5. If the cooking process requires that the temperature be
decreased, there is a difference of opinion in the Poskim under what
circumstances it is permitted. The Minhag is never to extinguish the
flame entirely, only to decrease its size.

     6. Some Poskim hold that one may lower the flame only if all the
following conditions are met:

          a) There is only one burner that can be used.(13)

          b) There is a need to keep the food on the burner, even if
only to keep it hot.

          c) There is a concern that the food will burn and get
ruined if kept at the present temperature on the stove.

     7. Other Poskim hold that it is permissible to lower the flame
in the situation described in SS6, even if there is a second burner

     8. Under no circumstances may the flame be lowered to save fuel
costs or to prevent heat build up in the kitchen.

Gas Oven
     1. One may use the gas oven on Yom Tov as he would the gas
stove, as described above in "Gas Stove" SS 1-4.(15)

     2. If the cooking process requires that the temperature in the
oven be decreased, the situation should be handled differently from a
gas stove.

     3. The difference between the gas stove and the oven is that the
oven is controlled by a thermostat. Thus:

          a) If the large flame which heats the oven has been turned
off by the thermostat, the temperature may be decreased or the oven
turned off entirely.(16)  Note: One should examine his oven to see if
there is a second pilot light which acts as an intermediary between
the pilot and the large flame. If this second pilot light is on and
will be extinguished by decreasing the temperature in the oven, it is
not permitted to lower it.

          b) If, however, the large flame is on, decreasing the
temperature would extinguish this flame entirely, and would not be

     The simple process of cooking on Yom Tov has become increasingly
complicated by the technological revolution. In order to maintain our
observance of Torah, we sometimes need to understand the latest
advances in technology. The above discussion raises questions that
should be considered before adjusting the stove and oven on Yom Tov.
Consult your Rav for any practical decisions regarding your model
stove or oven.

     (1) Shemos 2:16.
     (2) Meshech Chochmah to Vayikra 23:14.
     (3) See Shmiras Shabbos Kehilchosoh, Chapter 13, note 6.
According to Chazon Ish, Orach Chaim 50:9, however, the use of
electricity is prohibited because of boneh, building.
     (4) Turning on an electric oven involves completing two
electrical circuits. One circuit turns on the "bake light" and the
other turns on the heating element inside the oven. Completing each
circuit is considered molad aish.
     (5) Cooking on Yom Tov is permitted as described above.
     (6) See Kashrus Kurrents, Passover 5744 in the name of Rabbi
Moshe Heinemann. Cf., however, Kashrus V'Shabbos B'Mitboch HaModerni,
Shabbos V'Chag, Volume 7.
     (7) If the "bake light" is on, it indicates that the circuit is
closed and that electricity is passing through the heating element.
If it is off, it indicates that the circuit is open.
     (8) See footnote #3.
     (9) The electronic circuitry of the stove differs greatly from
the oven. See the discussion in the following footnote.
     (10) The control knob on an electric stove can work in one of
several ways. There is a "multiposition snap switch" which is a dial
that turns and snaps into four or eight heating positions. A second
type is a push-button switch, which is a series of buttons that allow
the desired temperature to be selected by pushing the appropriate
button. Both of these controls vary the temperature in the heating
element by disconnecting and connecting different heating coils.
Therefore, each turn of the knob or each button pushed opens or
closes an electrical circuit.
     "Infinite switching" is an entirely different arrangement. There
is only one coil operating at one voltage. The heat in the burner is
controlled by varying the time that the circuit will be closed. The
longer it is closed, the hotter the element will become. What
determines the length of time that the circuit will be closed is a
small bimetal thermostat which is connected in series with the
burner. As the burner heats up, so does the bimetal strip. When the
bimetal reaches a certain temperature, it opens, thus breaking the
electrical circuit to the burner. When the bimetal cools down, it
closes, thus reconnecting the circuit to the burner. This process
cycles on and off to maintain a steady temperature in the burner.
(See Appliance Service Handbook, George Meyerink, Prentice-Hall,
Inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1973; this fact has also been
corroborated by discussions with product engineers of the major stove
      It therefore follows that even when the burner was turned on
before Yom Tov, the temperature may adjusted, since even a hot burner
may actually be disconnected from the electrical supply. Increasing
the temperature of even a hot burner could mean closing an electrical
     Some people erroneously believe that an "infinite switch" acts
as a rheostat similar to a dimmer switch on a chandelier. If this
were indeed the case, one would be permitted to raise the temperature
of the burner. However, a discussion with product engineers and a
review of the literature indicate that a rheostat mechanism is never
used in stoves for this purpose.
     (11) The fire which is created at the burner is ignited from
pilot light, typically located in the center of the stove. As a
result, the transfer of fire in this circumstance is not comparable
to lighting one candle from another, because the flames do not touch.
Nevertheless, most Poskim are lenient in this regard. See Igros
Moshe, Orach Chaim 1, #115 and Shmiras Shabbos Kehilchosoh, Chapter
13, note 13, and cf. what is cited in the name of the Steipler Gaon.
     (12) The electronic ignition works by the passage of natural gas
across a glow coil powered by electricity. Thus, turning on the
burner of this type of range completes an electrical circuit.
     (13) If there were a second burner that was already set with a
smaller flame, it would be preferable, according these Poskim, to
take the food from the first burner and place it on the second,
rather than lower the temperature of the first in order to avoid
kiboi, extinguishing or lowering the flame of the first. See Shmiras
Shabbos Kehilchosoh, Chapter 13, note 49.
     (14) See Igros Moshe, Orach Chaim 1, #115.
     (15) Raising the temperature of a gas oven with an electronic
ignition poses no problems, since the electronic igniter lights a
standing pilot which remains lighted until the oven is manually
turned off.
     (16) Decreasing the temperature or turning off the oven in this
situation does not affect the flame, since it is not burning.


End of Volume 12 Issue 27