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Sunday, January 16, 2022
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Beitzah 12a and 15b

Although cooking food on Yom Tov for a Yom Tov meal is permitted, cooking or preparing a meal on one day of Yom Tov for the following day is prohibited. This prohibition applies equally whether tomorrow is a weekday, a Yom Tov or a Shabbat. This is because one is not allowed to misuse the rest day in “hachanah,” preparation for another day. But what happens when Yom Tov is on Friday? May one cook on Friday for Shabbat? Or is this also considered hachanah and prohibited?

The answer is that Biblically, it is permitted to cook during the day on a Friday Yom Tov for Shabbat. The Talmud gives two reasons why the Torah permits cooking on Yom Tov for the following Shabbat day. According to Rabbah, it is because you never know how much food you may need on Yom Tov. There is always the possibility that unexpected guests may arrive. And “since” you are allowed to cook on Yom Tov for possible guests, you may also cook for Shabbat.The logic of “since,” on which Rabbah bases the permit, is referred to in Halacha as “ho’il.” According to Rav Chisda, both Yom Tov and Shabbat are frequently referred to in the Torah as “Shabbat.” Accordingly, the permission given by the Torah to cook on Yom Tov applies not only to the Yom Tov meal, but also to the Shabbat meal prepared on Yom Tov for the following Shabbat day. As pointed out by Tosafot, there is a practical difference between the two approaches. According to Rabbah, it would be Biblically prohibited to cook on Friday afternoon, shortly before sundown, because by that time, any Yom Tov guests would have come and gone. According to Rav Chisdah, however, this would be permitted.

Despite the fact that the Torah permits cooking on Yom Tov for the following Shabbat day, both Rabbah and Rav Chisdah forbid it unless one performs, on Erev Yom Tov, a special ceremony called “Eruv Tavshilin.” Eruv Tavshilin is a ceremony in which one makes minimum preparation for Shabbat on Erev Yom Tov by setting aside some bread and some cooked food for the Shabbat meal. In this way, the Shabbat meal has already been prepared before Yom Tov and all that is required on Yom Tov is its completion. This bridge, spanning from Erev Yom Tov to Shabbat, makes Rabbah more comfortable relying on the hoi’l exemption described above. The Eruv Tavshilin ceremony honors both the Yom Tov and the Shabbat. It honors the Yom Tov, because people who see that there is a Rabbinic prohibition to cook on Yom Tov, even for Shabbat, without the Eruv, will never violate the Yom Tov by cooking for a weekday. It honors the Shabbat by focusing one’s mind, which is already on Erev Yom Tov, on the needs of Shabbat, which might otherwise lie unattended in the shadow of Yom Tov. Based on the words of the Torah, “Tomorrow is a day of rest… bake what you want to bake and cook what you want to cook, today,” the cooked food, typically an egg or piece of meat, that one sets aside on Erev Yom Tov, as part of the Eruv, permits one to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbat, and the bread one sets aside permits one to bake.

When Yom Tov begins on Wednesday night, the Eruv Tavshilin ceremony is performed on Wednesday and when Yom Tov begins on Thursday night, it is performed on Thursday, in each case by the head of the household. The bread and the cooked food is lifted in one’s right hand and the blessing “Al Mitzvat Eruv” is recited. The following text, translated here for easy reference, should be read: “With this Eruv, let it be permitted for us to bake, cook, insulate, light the Shabbat candles, prepare for and perform all our Shabbat needs on Yom Tov.” Even those who eat out on Shabbat, and therefore have no need to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbat, are required to perform the Eruv Tavshilin ceremony without a bracha to enable them to light the Shabbat candles on Yom Tov for Shabbat. The Eruv ceremony should be performed before lighting the Shabbat candles. When the first day of Yom Tov is Thursday, the Eruv permits cooking on Friday for Shabbat but not on Thursday for Shabbat. The challah used for the Eruv should be used as the second loaf, (lechem mishneh) for Shabbat meals and should be eaten at the third Shabbat meal.

If, when reciting Mincha on Erev Yom Tov in synagogue, you realize that you forgot to perform Eruv Tavshilin, there is no need to run home. You can either call home and ask a family member to do it for you, or you can do it yourself, from synagogue, by setting aside in your mind food at home for the Eruv and actually setting the designated food aside when you get home. In most communities, the rabbi will perform the Eruv ceremony on Erev Yom Tov for all community members. This ceremony, conducted on your behalf—although without your knowledge at the time—is based on the principle that a benefit can be bestowed on a person in his absence, zachin le’adam shelo befanav. As a last resort, this communal Eruv may be relied upon, but the rabbis frown upon those that make a habit of it.

Because the Halacha is in accordance with Rabbah, who prohibits cooking on Yom Tov shortly before sundown, care should be taken to complete cooking for Shabbat well before sundown on Friday. For this reason, Maariv, the evening prayer, is usually set early on Yom Tov Friday to encourage people to finish cooking before the early Maariv service. Based on Rav Chisda’s position described above, however, the Chofetz Chaim permits one, in the case of an emergency, to finish cooking just before sundown.


Raphael Grunfeld, a partner at the Wall Street law firm of Carter Ledyard & Milburn LLP, received semicha in Yoreh Yoreh from Mesivta Tifereth Jerusalem of America and in Yadin Yadin from HaRav HaGa’on Dovid Feinstein, zt”l. This article is an extract from Raphael’s book “Ner Eyal: A Guide to the laws of Shabbat and Festivals in Seder Moed,” available for purchase on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Eyal-Guide-Shabbat-Festivals-Seder/dp/0615118992 or by e-mailing Raphael at [email protected]

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