Cholent

Question

I was a guest at the home of a religious family this past Shabbat, and they served the tastiest delicacy into which I’ve ever sunk my teeth. It had an intoxicating aroma and looked like a molasses-colored potpourri. I believe they called it “Jolt.” What is the significance of this tasty tradition?

2 weeks

Answers

  1. You mean “Cholent.” I once read that the word Cholent comes from the French “Chaud-Lent” meaning “Hot-Slow.” This aptly describes Cholent. Great Jewish authorities say that it is a Rabbinical enactment to eat hot food on Shabbat. Aside from the mitzvah of Oneg Shabbat (enjoyment of Shabbat), eating hot food demonstrates our belief in the Oral Law. How? The Written Law states, “Do not kindle a fire in all your dwelling places on the Sabbath day.” Some misguided sects said that all fires had to be extinguished prior to Shabbat. To negate this idea, the Sages instituted that on Shabbat we eat delicious food kept hot by a fire.

    A renowned rabbi from a millennium ago composed the following poem in praise of eating hot food on Shabbat:

    Who prepares cooked foods
    And wraps them ‘round
    Delights in Shabbat…Gains a pound…
    He’s the one whose faith is sound;
    When Mashiach comes
    He’ll be around.

    Having said that, if one is in a hot climate and eating how food will not be a pleasure on Shabbat, it is not a strict requirement to do so.

    I’ve heard two other reasons why the food you describe is called “Cholent”, and I would be interested in hearing from anyone who has another possible explanation for this food’s name. (www.asktherabbi.org)

    I’ve heard that the word Cholent comes from the words “Shul-end,” because in many communities people didn’t have private stoves, so before Shabbat they all put their Cholent in the baker’s oven. On Shabbat morning after shul (synagogue services) finished, everyone went to the baker to pick up their Cholent.

    Another possible interpretation is that the word Cholent comes from the Hebrew “She’lan,” meaning “That it stayed over-night.” This refers to the fact that Cholent stays on the fire overnight.

    Shabbat Shalom and enjoy your Cholent and the rest of your Sabbath delights.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team