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We use an electric stove to cook in our house, not fire or gas (aside from the occasional barbecue). To cook on first day Yomtov and more so on second day we would have to leave the stove on from the start.

What can one do al pi halacha to avoid leaving electrical appliances on for so long? (time switches, hinting to a non-Jew, etc.)

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Please make sure to consult with your Rabbi before implementing any ideas presented here. –  Isaac Moses Oct 12 '11 at 14:02
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The standard advice here is yes, just leave it on for the entire yomtov. Sorry, we're not magicians here that can hey presto improve on the wheel, so to speak.

If you really, really wanted to put it on a time switch (/grumble/), I suppose you could, though that would have your oven clock blinking all sorts of funny times throughout yomtov; you'd have to find one that can handle enough current for your range; and the truth is, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein wasn't crazy about the timers anyhow -- he accepted using them for lights (their #1 application), but not anything else.

Hinting to a non-Jew -- bad idea. If something came up, e.g. you forgot to turn the oven on before yomtov, fine you could try it. But to try and rely on that in the first place -- and then hope that you can do the hinting within the bounds of halacha, while getting the non-Jew to turn the element up/down, on/off just the way you want it, without driving him crazy -- just a bad idea.

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Do you know why Rabbi Moshe Feinstein wasn't crazy about timers? –  zaq Oct 12 '11 at 13:12
    
@Zaq, the Gemara had allowed simple, gradual processes, such as leaving wool to soak in a vat of dye. Yes it will reach point X such that it is considered "dyed" at a certain point in time, which will be on Shabbos, but it's a gradual process that started well-before. Whereas the electric device on the timer is doing nothing for several hours, then suddenly working. (A teacher of mine said that if not for RM"F's argument, what's to stop us from having robots do all our work on shabbos in the future?) –  Shalom Oct 12 '11 at 14:02
    
This maybe a new question, but isn't there a Gemara which allows putting a container of water near a fire before Shabbat, so that the container will burst and put out the fire on Shabbat? How is that any different than a timer? –  zaq Oct 12 '11 at 17:54
    
@Zaq, there's quite a bit of discussion regarding "grama." For one, the water-burst thing is a one-time thing. –  Shalom Oct 12 '11 at 18:06
    
That wasn't about "how can I have a nice toasty fire but only until 8PM", that was about "oh gosh this caught on fire, how can I extinguish it without violating shabbos!" –  Shalom Oct 12 '11 at 18:07
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