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Why Did Whirlpool and General Electric Make “Sabbath Mode” Appliances?

There are many types of consumer products that cater to different ideologies and traditions. Organic chocolates, vegan burgers, even KFC’s double-down burgers have a halal-approved version. But did you know there are also appliances designed to cater to religious rituals?

Some appliances are programmed with Sabbath mode. This feature attracts practicing Jewish consumers with machines that allow them to observe restrictions on certain daily routines during Sabbath or other Jewish holidays.

Sabbath Practices

Shabbat, or Sabbath, is a Jewish holy day where Jews enforce religious practices. Traditionally, the Sabbath starts at the nightfall of Friday and ends an hour after sunset on Saturday. It lasts about 25 hours in total.

Shabbat is the Hebrew term that means rest, and the practice traces its history from the Bible’s story of creation. God rested from creating the universe on the seventh day of the first week, so Jews rest from work on the Sabbath.

The Sabbath is part of the deal between God and the Jewish people, to which it is kept holy as it is the fourth commandment. Practicing Jews avoid work and regular daily routines while on Sabbath. They ensure that all chores like shopping, cleaning, and cooking are finished before sunset on Friday. (Source: BBC)

In the Mishnah, the Rabbis listed 39 categories of labor that were forbidden based on the types of work related to the tradition of constructing a tabernacle in the olden times. In modern times, actions that may represent any forbidden labor are avoided entirely, including operating electronics. (Source: My Jewish Learning)

Other mundane tasks are also avoided during the celebration to entirely enjoy the restful spirit the tradition calls for. One cannot accomplish chores or discuss business matters based on Isaiah’s verse of honoring the Sabbath by not doing your usual ways.

Jews also dress up and make sure everything is in order, following the commandment. Sabbath candles are lit on the sunset of Friday, marking the beginning of Sabbath. They represent two commandments: Zachor, which means to remember the Sabbath, and Shamor, to observe the Sabbath.

This ritual is followed by drinking sweet wine from a Kiddush cup and partaking of challah, a soft, rich, and eggy braid-shaped bread. By tradition, they must have three meals during the Sabbath, with one meal including bread. (Source: BBC)

Sabbath Mode Appliances

In today’s world, it is fairly tricky to observe Sabbath fully. However, there are different approaches to comply with the rules of the tradition. For example, driving is forbidden during the Sabbath since it represents starting a fire when fuel is burned. The alternative approach if one needs to travel is to walk. (Source: Aish)

Another approach is more technological. Since cooking is forbidden during the celebration, a sabbath mode capable oven can run continuously throughout the day, keeping the pre-cooked food warm until the next meal. The display on the oven will be turned off, and it will disable its beeping warning.

Refrigerators on sabbath mode will continue to run on a timed defrost to keep food fresh. Its lights will not activate if its doors are opened, and the ice and water dispenser function will be turned off. (Source: Don’s Appliances)

Companies like Whirlpool and GE spend on research and development because they want to build products that do not exclude people, further widening their appeal in different markets. (Source: The Spoon)

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