Is there anything wrong with putting up a cholent to cook right before Shabbos?

3 Answers 3


Some background:

The Gemara is concerned that if people leave a pot on the flame starting Friday afternoon, a person may get impatient for his dinner and stir the pot around on the flame, or play with the flame, to get it to cook faster.

The normal recommended alternative is if you want to leave a pot cooking from before Shabbos, you must make sure the food is at least 1/2 (some say 1/3) cooked before shabbos begins, that way, it's already "minimally edible" and hence "cooked."

Another option suggested is to take something large, raw, and needing a long cooking time, and putting it up immediately before shabbos -- you have no hope that this will cook in time for dinner Friday night, no matter how you play with it, so you'll leave it until the next day.

By this logic, if someone had a large pot of cholent containing large chunks of frozen (raw?) meat and raw potatoes, if an hour or so wouldn't be enough to cook it, it could be put up right before Shabbos.

Major caveat: Rabbi Yosef Eliyahu Henkin, the premier halachic authority of America for several decades in the early-to-mid 1900s, felt that a "will take too long to cook" setup as described by the Gemara didn't pertain to today's kitchen appliances, so he felt this option was no longer available. (This appears in the Ezras Torah calendar, which follows his rulings.) I don't know which other rabbis say what.

  • So let me get this straight, Reb Henkin would hold I can put it on right before Shabbos with no problem? Mar 6, 2011 at 5:21
  • 2
    NO. The Gemara says you could, Rav Henkin held that no longer applies, so you can't!
    – Shalom
    Mar 6, 2011 at 23:55
  • 1
    Shalom, can you link to some sources please, or at least give some more specific citations?
    – Seth J
    Jul 8, 2011 at 20:37
  • Per Rav Henkin, how is a modern slow cooker (crockpot) different? I would think if the knob is removed, it is very similar. Dec 12, 2018 at 11:52

Shulchan Oruch Harav rules that one may put raw meat (beef specifically, which takes longer to cook) into a pot and into an oven to cook slowly just before Shabbos. The reasoning is that since it will take a long time to cook, a person will not come to stoke the coals, or otherwise interfere with it and desecrate Shabbos - he knows it needs to cook the entire night.

On the other hand, placing raw meat into an oven to roast would be not permitted since it takes less time to cook and will become edible that evening. There is then a danger that a person might forget that it's forbidden to interfere with it and come to desecrate Shabbos.

It would follow that it is permitted to put the cholent in a slow cooker just before Shabbos, if it contains raw meat. A slow cooker on a low setting takes 6-8 hours to cook a cholent.

EDIT by sabbahillel Note that one must tape over or disable the control knob so that the setting cannot be changed once it is plugged in. This would prevent it from being turned up or down during Shabbos.

Either way, it is best to consult a competent orthodox rabbi. Try askmoses.com or chabad.org

  • This leniency doesn't seem to apply nowadays that we have advanced cooking devices which can cook meat in less than a whole night. Recall, the slow cooker also has a high setting, which cooks much quicker. We should be concerned he will switch the cooker to high from low.
    – Double AA
    Dec 4, 2013 at 3:41
  • @DoubleAA see what's quoted in Rav Henkin's name.
    – msh210
    Dec 4, 2013 at 4:55
  • @msh210 I'm aware of the machloket. This answer is incomplete without addressing the current situation (whether you reject the leniency or say once it's built-in it's in). Right now it sounds like Mr. zoger doesn't even know that his crock-pot has a high setting. (This is obviously false, but that doesn't make the answer any less lacking.) He applies the Heter as if it makes sense in today's kitchens. That is definitely inaccurate and IMO is reasonable justification for downvoting (improper application of a source, even if a true conclusion is reached).
    – Double AA
    Dec 4, 2013 at 5:03
  • @DoubleAA Part of setting the crockpot is removing the knob or taping it over so that it cannot be changed. This avoids the problem you mention. Sep 30, 2015 at 14:23
  • @sabbahillel No. That's something else... This is talking about putting in raw meat without doing that.
    – Double AA
    Sep 30, 2015 at 14:42

If you either put a blech or threw raw meat in just before shabbos, the only problem will be that your beans may not get cooked.

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