Cholent Question Stumps Jeopardy Contestants

Cholent (Photo: Flickr by Alex B.)

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The contestants on a Jeopardy episode that aired this week were stumped by a photo of cholent, JTA reported.

The photo was a clue in the “Sabbath” category for $400: “Exodus 35:3 bans doing this on the Sabbath, hence the Jewish dish ‘cholent,’ which can go on the stove Friday and cook until Saturday lunch.”

Contestants offered guesses of “What’s cooking?” and “What’s work?” but failed to come up with the specific prohibition the photo was illustrating.

In the end, Mayim Bialik, an Orthodox Jew who is serving as the show’s temporary host, explained the answer: “What is ‘lighting a fire?’ And the word ‘cholent’ is from the French ‘chaud lent,’ [meaning] ‘cooks a long time.’”

The contestants obviously did not brush up on the Lamed Tes Melachos in preparation for the show.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)


  1. In the end, Mayim Bialik, an Orthodox Jew who is serving as the show’s temporary host, explained the answer

    With all respect to the editors, even I, the resident apikores, wouldn’t characterize one of my favorite actresses, authors and public figures as an ORTHODOX yid. Bialik at one point called herself MO, but she also is a dedicated feminist vegan who has appeared in countless movies and TV shows and is a founding member of one of those Tikun Olam type of organizations that promotes “ethical” treatment of animals and Tofu Chulent.
    P.S. If you haven’t seen her hosting on Jeopardy (and that sort of TV is within your hashkafah) check it out. Not Alex Trabek but by far the best of the “temporary” hosts.

  2. The show needs to brush up on THEIR halachos. Reason we have cholent is because we cant do the act of cooking ON shabbos so we put it up BEFORE shabbos. If lighting the fire was the issue, you could just light the fire BEFORE shabbos and then put the chulent on it. ודוק ונמצה קל ופשוט

  3. Cooking (bishul) is correct as it is lumped with baking/(ofeh )

    Havarah (lighting a fire) is not the av malacha in regards to bishul

    So the contestant was correct
    The show writers were incorrect

  4. The response of “What’s cooking?” should have been accepted. Unless the judges were specifically looking for one of the 39 melachos (which I highly doubt), I’d equate cooking= lighting a fire for the show’s sake. I’d appeal the judges arguing that although lighting a fire is forbidden on shabbos, it’s also forbidden to use cook using an previously-established fire.