Rosh Hashanah Appliance Woes

Was it the freezer last year? Yes, it was.

For years I’ve enjoyed my Hagaz, a type of timer for gas stoves that allows you to cook on Yom Tov. On certain weekday holidays, one may light a stove from an existing flame but not put it out. Newer models of stoves are equipped with a sensor that turns off the gas as soon as the flame goes out, preventing gas leaks, but the stove still heats up the house and leads to a waste of gas (and a high bill). Many people I know use an electric hotplate to warm up food, but that doesn’t work for soup and I like to have the option of cooking. I can manage without if I have to, but will need to adjust my menu in a serious way.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, during a routine check, the gas company disconnected the Hagaz and told me I needed a brass pipe instead of the rubber one. He told me to call the office and make an appointment. After one cancellation the guy finally came this morning. He asked me where the part was. It turned out that I needed to order a part from Machon Tzomet, the institute in Alon Shevut that makes the Hagaz. Unfortunately, no one had told me this in advance. And Rosh Hashanah is in two days, lasting from Friday until Sunday evening.

The Machon Tzomet employee said they could send it by messenger and it might arrive on Friday.  “Worse comes to worst, you’ll have it for Sukkot.” I pointed out that the Hagaz will be useless on Sukkot because it falls on Shabbat (only one day in Israel). If I don’t get it installed this week, it will wait until Pesach. (Sometimes I use it to turn off the stove on Friday evening, or if I have to run out of the house in the middle of cooking.) So she called the messenger service and they assured her it would come by Friday at the latest. I asked her to write a note on the envelope saying that they should call me as  soon as they know which day it will arrive.

In the meantime I called the gas company, and, needless to say, they can’t get me a technician in time for the holiday. So I am trying to find someone to install it privately, and I hope he (are there female gas technicians?) will be flexible in case it shows up Friday at noon.

Update: I found someone.

My mother, a”h, would say that this kind of aggravation is the price of affluence. If we didn’t have so much stuff we wouldn’t have to spend so much time worrying about them.

I hope your Rosh Hashanah preparations are going more smoothly.


  1. I have had major applicance trouble right before a holiday twice in the last year! (Oven and stove/freezer). I think the appliances are built with a secret timer to break at just the “right” time. Then you are so grateful to find someone to come fix it right before the holiday that you will pay almost anything!

    How did your mother cook on the holiday?

  2. I like your mother’s perspective!

    My mother-in-law has a similar tendency toward appliance failure, but hers is with Pesach. She’s lost her fridge twice, and one year when I was coming she called me the day before erev to find out what she could make without an oven. Hers had blown, and there was no way to get someone in before chag so it couldn’t be kashered so it was out for all eight days. Fun. She also has no neighbors in walking distance whose oven she can use. So we bought a Pesach crock pot, used the stove-top, and prayed for guidance.

  3. In my previous house, we had a gas oven that broke several times right before Pesach. Luckily we were able to get it fixed in time, although it was expensive. After the second or third time, one of the repairmen told me that it was actually caused by the self-cleaning process; the ceramic heating element that ignited the gas sometimes could not withstand the extreme heat. Replacing this oven was not in the cards, but in future years I took the precaution of self-cleaning it several days in advance, to leave enough time for repair if it was necessary.

  4. Hmm. I’ve made cakes. They’re in the freezer.

    I can’t figure out where to buy fish. All the males in my house are sick (though at the same time, so I didn’t have to take off time from ulpan). Going to make challah today, I think. And I hope I’m not coming down with something. I’m still feeling very new in my kitchen and can’t quite get it together.

  5. I like your mother’s advise!
    We turn on the gas burner and then put on a pot of water tht is almost full and wait for it to boil over and extinguish the gas. Not as elegant as your solution, but (I hope) halachically OK.

    • Ariela, never heard that idea. The links work for me, could you try again? Click on the post titles.

  6. BTW – the link on your homepage to “Cooking manager” appears not to work either.
    Shana tova!

  7. “this kind of aggravation is the price of affluence”

    i’ll remember that line

    out appliance woes always strike pesach time. a few years ago i was impatient with ancient freezer, so instead of waiting for it to defrost (i didn’t know about using hairdryers), i took the ice with a hammer and chissel. next thing i knew the freon is all spraying out

    last year we came home after the first days to an apartment full of gas. one of the valves in the oven was shot.


    interesting idea with the pot of water. i’m going to ask about it.

  8. SP613: My mother? She had a gas stove with a pilot light, and she turned off burners on yom tov. The oven was lit with the same pilot light. She used it, but I don’t remember details.

  9. Staying afloat–in Israel rabbis don’t approve of kashering ovens for Pesach. Ovens are not as basic an item here as in the US. Some people buy toaster ovens but many just do without. OUr rabbi said I could kasher my smaller one but I just cook simply and forgo baking. If you search for Pesach you’ll find more on the subject.
    Tesyaa, that’s common. Another problem is flooding electronic parts or ignitions by overzealous washing.

  10. I know nothing about the topic of course, but a friend who went to yeshivah after school for a good few years, and thus hopefully should know, says they do this a lot – the pot of water thing. It cracks me up!

  11. “she turned off burners on yom tov.”


  12. Katherine,
    I guess you are more anthropologically in the know than some of us!
    LoZ, using the know. My parents were not observant by Orthodox standards.

  13. LoZ: I think the pilot light stayed on all the time so you weren’t extinguishing the flame entirely.

  14. Tesyaa is right.

  15. TESYAA:

    i thought one can’t lower the flame unless necessary for cooking purposes. i.e., you can never turn off a burner completely, regardless of whether or not there is a pilot light still burning?

  16. LoZ: Right, according to halacha you are not supposed to lower it unless necessary for cooking.

  17. what can I say, I’ve acclimatised well 🙂

    failing that, I can always come over and switch it off for you! ha ha I crack myself up.

  18. It really bothered me not to be able to lower the flame. Our rabbi told me if it bothered me a lot, we could lower a GAS flame. (It wasn’t so much frugality, but that I hated the hot kitchen and I was worried about safety). Now I live in a house with only ELECTRIC appliances. No one allows you to lower an ELECTRIC burner, so I just leave it on low. By the second day I’m usually willing to raise it.

  19. With the gas, my parents simply left it lit the whole time, i only encountered the “idea” with the pot in Israel, when the idea I was told about is that you fill up a vessel with water that you need to use on yom tov (e.g. to drink tea, or boil an egg).
    You put “accidently” too much water in it,… then oy vay, it boiled over and put out the flame of the gas….Well it is dangerous like that, the gas is leaking out.
    So you just have to go and turn the button off…
    Anyway that is the reasoning i was told and everyone seems to do this.

    Well that is what many people seemed to do before the Hagaz was invented.
    I only bought mine last year.
    It was quite near yom Tov, they deliver by a messenger as MII said.
    but when I told them where I lived (in the shomron), they said (and they are in Gush Ezion), that they do not deliver over the green line!

    So I had it delivered to work, but I was already on vacation and someone had to bring it to me

    About Koshering ovens on Pesach, I think our rabbi says there is a problem koshering a turbo oven as you cannot reach the fan to get it clean enough, but 1. I know people who take the oven apart and 2. maybe they are not familiar with the pyrotechnic cleaning.