Shopping for a new stove online last night, I came across a high-end Whirlpool that listed a feature called "Sabbath Mode." Compelled to look that one up... Basically, it disables all the bells and whistles (and safety features!) of your high-end appliance and converts it into "the one your grandma bought after World War II." No digital readouts, lights, buzzers, sensors, alarms, etc. And most importantly to Orthodox jews, Sabbath Mode enables them to turn the oven on before the Sabbath starts on Friday at sundown, so that it will still be on and hot when they want to cook dinner Saturday (since 1994, stoves have had a built-in automatic cut off that turns them off after 12 hours).
This Wired article has the background info on the development of Sabbath Mode - I found it pretty fascinating:
Wired 12.11: The Geek Guide to Kosher Machines
I'm not a spiritual person, but I do wonder what's wrong with having cold-cut sandwiches on the Sabbath, or ordering in for pizza -- turning the oven on the night before just seems like cheating, besides being incredibly wasteful and somewhat dangerous. A comment on this blog summed it up pretty well, I thought:
"I have issues with the notion that God cares if you turn on the oven during the sabbath, and I seriously doubt God approves of the waste and pollution that goes along with leaving the oven running all sabbath long, and I would love to know how pressing a button is work but opening and closing a door is not..."
If nothing else, it seems kind of funny to pay more for a feature that makes your stove do less.