Beit Midrash

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The Laws of Yom Tov

A summary of the general laws of Yom Tov: Cooking, preparing food, showering and Eruv Tavshilin.


Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed

It is a proper custom for every Jew, Torah students in particular, to go over the laws of Yom Tov before each holiday. Here is a summary of the general laws of Yom Tov.

Preparing on Yom Tov for the following day
It is forbidden to prepare on the first Yom Tov for the second. This includes cooking, heating food, washing dishes, etc. These activities are allowed only a few minutes after Tzet Hakochavim (The appearance of stars in the sky). If food was cooked from the first Yom Tov to the second (Bedeieved), it is permitted.

Eruv Tavshilin
So what do we do when Shabbat immediately follows the Holiday? How do we prepare for Shabbat?
When Shabbat immediately follows Yom Tov, there is a Mitzva to do Eruv Tavshlin on the day before Yom Tov (For Rosh HaShana this year, Wednesday), to allow preparing food on the Friday of Yom Tov that precedes the Shabbat . This allows us to prepare for Shabbat on Yom Tov using activities which are allowed on Yom Tov. Such actions include, cooking using an existing flame, putting food on a hot plate, preparing candles, showering for the Sabbath and so on.

It is best is to finish the preparations and cooking for the Sabbath on Friday noon, so the food will be editable on Yom Tov (but Bedieved (after the fact), these preparations are allowed until shabbat comes in).

Actions on Yom Tov
Any work that’s prohibited on the Sabbath is forbidden on Yom Tov, except for the actions of "Ochel Nefesh" (needed food). Although preparing food is permitted by the Torah, our sages permitted only some of the actions when needed for cooking meals for Yom Tov.

The Shmirat Shabat Kehilchata distinguishes between types of foods:
Foods which are land crops and will get spoiled if will be grinded before Yom Tov, such as bananas, apples or onions – can be grinded in a normal way.
Foods which are land crops and will not get spoiled if will be grinded before Yom Tov but the taste will change, even slightly, such as coffee, horseradish and spices – can be grinded with a change. Grinding can be done even with the special tool for this.
Foods which are land crops and will not get spoiled if will be grinded before Yom Tov, such as nuts and salt – should be grinded before Yom Tov, and only in they were not, can be grinded on Yom Tov, even with the special tool, but with a change.
Foods that are not land crops such as eggs, meat and fish, may be grinded with a fork on Yom Tov without any change. If a person is used to grind them with a manual machine, it is better to prepare them before Yom Tov, but if not, it can be done with a change.
The Pniney Halacha wrote that it’s permitted to grate vegetables and cheese with grater, since a grater is usually used for grinding food for the same day. Though when a person needs to crush food which is often used for several days, it should be done with a small change, such as turning the grater, or if it’s used usually on a plate, it should be used on a tray.
(Note: Hagaon Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu ztl was more strict, and prohibited grinding or crushing on Yom Tov with a hand grinder or grater and even with a change and even if the taste of the food will change a bit if will be grinded before Yom Tov. But using a mortar or fork for grinding with a change is allowed).

The Shmirat Shabat Kehilchata wrote that peels which aren’t edible (such as potatoes, etc.), may be peeled with a peeler as usual, and so wrote the Pniney Halacha.
(Note: Hagaon Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu ztl only allowed peeling at the time of cooking and eating and advised not to use a peeler, but to peel in a different manner).

Separating food
On Yom Tov (as opposed to Shabbat) separating food doesn’t need to be for immediate use but for the same day. Checking rice and beans is allowed on Yom Tov and should be done with a change (not on a tray etc.).

Cooking on Yom Tov
Preferably, whatever can be cooked before Yom Tov, should be cooked before Yom Tov. If a person didn’t have time to cook before, he can cook with a small change and if he was no choice, he can cook without change. With an Eruv Tavshilin, a person can cook on Yom Tov for Shabbat without change.
On Yom Tov, food can be cooked only on an existing flame or if the gas was lit by an existing flame. Lighting a new fire with a match, lighter, etc. is prohibited. Turning off the flame after cooking is also prohibited but it is permitted to boil water until it spills over the flame and puts it out and then turn off the gas.

Preparing candles
Setting up candles – It if forbidden to stick candles to the candlestick with hot wax but it is permitted to clean the sticks so that new candles can be set.

Showering on Yom Tov
People who are used to showering every day and are bothered from not showering can wash their whole body on the second day of Yom Tov with water heated by the sun. Sefaradim who go according to the Shulchan Aruch can shower also on the first day of Yom Tov.
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