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Why do we eat Cholent on Shabbat?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg


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In the 2nd Temple Era, there existed a sect of Jews known as the Sadducees (named after their leader. Saddok). This misguided sect denied the Divine origin of the Oral Law, and lived their lives by their own interpretation of the Scriptures.

One of their misinterpretations of the Scriptures concerned cooking on the Shabbat. The Torah says, "You shall not kindle fire in any of your dwelling places on the Sabbath day" (Exodus 35:3). The Sadducees understood this verse as a prohibition against having a fire burning on the Shabbat. Therefore, every Shabbat they would sit in the cold and darkness, and would eat only cold food.

In truth, the Torah is only banning the act of kindling a fire on Shabbat -- it is not prohibiting having on Shabbat a flame which was ignited beforehand.

The Jews dubbed as The Pharisees -- literally: the "separationists," remained loyal to the Rabbinic Torah and separated themselves from the errant Sadducees -- demonstrated their allegiance to the Oral Law by making a point of eating a hot dish on Shabbat afternoon.

In fact, many argue that the word "Cholent" comes from the Hebrew word "Shelahn," which means that it "rested overnight" on the fire.

Aside for the technical reasons for eating Cholent, we also must note that it is a tasty dish (which in itself is a good reason for the custom...), and there's nothing like a Shabbat afternoon nap which follows a plate of Cholent (wow! So many good reasons)!


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Posted by: Yoni Sapir, Outremont, Quebec, Canada on Apr 30, 2006

Actually, the word Cholent comes from french.

Chau (pronounced show) means hot in french. Lent means slow in french. hence the word means "slow-hot"

over years of translations and transliterations the word stuck -- cholent

(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Oral Law
G–d orally explained all the 613 Commandments to Moses. These explanations constitute the Oral Law.
1. The miraculous departure of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage in 1312 BCE. 2. The second of the Five Books of Moses. This book describes the aforementioned Exodus, the giving of the Torah, and the erection of the Tabernacle.
1. Usually a reference to the Holy Temple which was/will be situated in Jerusalem. 1st Temple was built in 825 BCE and was destroyed in 423 BCE. The 2nd Temple was built in 350 BCE and was destroyed in 70 CE. The 3rd Temple will be built by the Messiah. 2. A synagogue.
A stewed (usually meat) dish served hot on Shabbat afternoon. Since it is forbidden to cook or warm up food on Shabbat, the cholent sits on the stove-top from before sundown Friday evening.