Warming Up Food on Yom Tov


Minneapolis, MN

K’vod HaRav, I’m hoping to host the second seder in shul. Our shul ovens turn off after 12 hours automatically and there is no override function. From a culinary standpoint, the best food-warming option would be to hire a non-Jewish person to (privately) turn on the ovens. Is that an acceptable approach?

The other option is for the shul to invest in some platas (hot plates) and timers, but I have found those to be very unpredictable and uneven as far as food warming goes and this seder is potentially feeding dozens. Thank you for your time and wisdom.


As it is Yom Tov, making a fire is just a derabanan (Shulchan Arukh OC 502:1, Biur Halakha s.v. ein motzi’in), so I think that this would count as shevut dishvut bi’makom mitzvah or for simchat yom tov (See Mishnah Berurah 510:23). We are indeed somewhat hesitant to do that when it comes to kitchen issues, because then you could simply have a non-Jew do all the derabanan you are not allowed to do (nitina lekhatchilah, hatmana bi’mosif hevel, etc.) on the basis of Oneg Shabbat. However, that’s primarily a problem if this is being done regularly, not if it is something that comes up from time to time. Here there is no other reasonable choice, coupled with a big mitzvah. Here it is not just simchat yom tov, but talmud torah, mitzvah maggid, mitvot ha’seder, etc. Given this, I definitely think it is fine to hire a non-Jewish person to turn on the ovens. However, given the concern mentioned above, for the long term, I would advise you invest in gas ovens so that even a Jew could turn them on after transferring the fire or by using a pilot light.
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