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One of the nice things about being retired is the ability to rest on Shabbat (Shabbos to old-fashioned Ashkenazi types, like me).

In mid-winter, when candle-lighting is 4:05 PM, I begin to clean house on Wednesday, and start the challah on Thursday evening (the first rising is long and cold, in my unheated basement). In the summer, when days lengthen, it's a lot easier to get everything done.

My sister, who is highly involved in a NJ ultra-Orthodox community that is heavily into outreach, often hosts up to 15 guests for Shabbos. Many stay in her large house, from Friday through the end of Shabbos. Sometimes, she hosts unexpected guests (e.g. when a carload of Orthodox get caught in traffic, at sundown Friday, on the way to somewhere else).

The amount of work involved in hosting large dinner parties is enormous. It would sure save work, to be able to use modern powered appliances (such as the microwave and dishwasher). My sister uses a blech (sheet metal on low-heat, on the stove) to keep food warm, but it's a hassle (and maybe not as safe as chilling food, then microwaving to reheat).

It sometimes seems to me that, when the rabbis instructed us to rest on Shabbos, they meant the men, not the women. Yes, they made some concessions (such as allowing 2 sewing stitches, since a stitch in time saves nine).

If I "rested" on Shabbos, like my sister does, I'd have to spend the remainder of the week recovering ;-).

Any hints on halachically-correct labor-saving Shabbos practices? Ones that don't actually increase the workload?

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