Laws of Yom Tov (advanced)

by Rabbi Moshe Lazarus
Reviewed by Rav Yonason Wiener
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This article is part of The Complete Pesach Primer
  1. In the Torah, Yom Tov is called “Shabbos” and melacha is prohibited with the exception of “ochel nefesh” (“needs of feeding”).Therefore, all purposeful creative activity forbidden on Shabbos is forbidden on Yom Tov with the exception of those things permitted because of eating needs.
  2. Melacha is defined as the 39 categories of creative activities that serve as prototypes of the activities in the Tabernacle.
  3. In Eretz Yisroel, the technical term Yom Tov applies to:

    1. The first and last days of Pesach.
    2. The day of Shavuos.
    3. The first day of Succos.
    4. The day of Sh’mini Atzeres.
    5. The two days of Rosh HaShana.
    6. The day of Yom Kippur.

    Outside of Eretz Yisroel, the technical term Yom Tov applies to:

    1. The first two days and last two days of Pesach.
    2. The two days of Shavuos.
    3. The first two days Succos.
    4. The two days of Sh’mini Atzeres (Simchas Torah).
    5. The two days of Rosh HaShana.
    6. The day of Yom Kippur.
  4. The laws discussed in this section apply to all Yomim Tovim except Yom Kippur, which is like Shabbos since eating is not permitted.
  5. All melacha that is forbidden on Shabbos is forbidden on Yom Tov except those involving preparation of food, carrying from domain to domain and transferring flame.
  6. For all those things prohibited on Yom Tov, one is forbidden (as on Shabbos) to ask a non-Jew to do it for him.
  7. Outside the land of Israel, Yom Tov is always two days.On the second, all prohibitions apply as on the first.
  8. One who lives in Israel and is visiting outside of Israel on Yom Tov may not do work even in private.

What Melacha is Permitted?

  1. Concerning work on Yom Tov, the Torah states:“L’chol Nefesh Hu L’vado Y’aseh Lachem Ach Asher Y’achol.” (“But that which is feeding all people, it alone may you do.”)
  2. All melachos listed before kneading (in the list at the end of this bulletin.) are forbidden.
  3. Reaping, removing food from its organic source of growth, winnowing, grinding, squeezing fruits, and hunting are forbidden on Yom Tov even though they are for ochel nefesh.


  1. Meat may be salted on Yom Tov even if it could have been salted Erev Yom Tov.
  2. It is permitted to salt many pieces for an early day meal even if one wants only one piece.
  3. Cooking on Yom Tov is done without a blech.
  4. One may cook or bake more than he needs on Yom Tov as long as he eats from each pot.Then he may use the rest of the food on the second day of Yom Tov.Since he is preparing for the first day as well, it is permitted.
  5. If baking on Yom Tov, it is forbidden to measure the flour if the precise amount is not critical, as in baking bread, because one could have measured it Erev Yom Tov.However, in baking cakes, etc., it may be done (Pri Megadim).
  6. Flour must be sifted and checked for bugs.It should be done Erev Yom Tov.However, b’dieved, it may be done on Yom Tov if it was pre-sifted Erev Yom Tov and it is done with a “shinui” (some procedural change).
  7. It is permissible to have a non-Jew sift flour for you on Yom Tov.
  8. With water heated Erev Yom Tov, one may wash his entire body on Yom Tov.
  9. It is assur to cook for pets on Yom Tov.However, one may add to a pot he is cooking for himself.
  10. It is permitted to lower the flame on the stove only if the pot is over the flame and this will help the cooking process, and there is no other burner.
  11. Cooking implements that could not possibly have been prepared Erev Yom Tov may be prepared with a change (shinui) in normal procedure as a reminder that it is still Yom Tov.


  1. It is permitted to knead dough on Yom Tov and separate Challah.
  2. Challah is the part of the dough (size of an olive) taken and given to the Cohain.Since there is doubt today concerning the spiritual purity (tahara) we burn the Challah.Since we may not burn Challah on Yom Tov we must set it in a special place until after Yom Tov and then burn it.
  3. If flour in the dough is less than 2 lb. 10 oz (1 kilo 200 gram.), Challah should not be taken.Between 2 lb. 10 oz. and 4 lb. 15.2 oz. (2 kilo 250 gram.), it should be taken without a brocho (Chazon Ish).Over 4 lb. 15.2 oz. it should be separated with a brocho.
  4. If dough was kneaded Erev Yom Tov and Challah not separated, it is forbidden to separate on Yom Tov.One may, however, leave over and separate after Yom Tov, outside Eretz Yisrael only.
  5. In Eretz Yisroel it is forbidden to eat before Challah is separated.
  6. If one kneads another batch of dough and mixes it with the dough kneaded Erev Yom Tov, then the procedure mentioned in “D” above is permitted even in Eretz Yisroel.

Preparing on First Day Yom Tov for Second Day

  1. One may not prepare on the first day Yom Tov for the 2nd day Yom Tov.
  2. One may cook or bake more than he needs on Yom Tov as long as he eats from each pot.Then he may use the rest of the food on the second day on Yom Tov.Since he is preparing for the first day as well, it is permitted.
  3. If the pot is already on the fire you may add meat or fish only but not other things.
  4. Once one has finished the meal on first day Yom Tov, one may not add even meat or fish to the pot.
  5. If you are cooking extra in the day, it is preferable not to mention that the cooking is being done for the night.
  6. Although it is permissible to pound (not grind) spices on Yom Tov, if their strength will wane were they ground Erev Yom Tov, it should be done in an unusual way to remind us it is Yom Tov.
  7. It is permissible to measure out spices to add to cooking pot because over-spicing may ruin the dish.

Eruv Tavshilin

  1. If Yom Tov falls on Erev Shabbos, in order to cook for Shabbos on Yom Tov, one must make an eruv tavshilin.
  2. What is an eruv tavshilin?We usually take a piece of bread or matzah and a cooked food as large as an egg, set aside Erev Yom Tov, and eat on Shabbos.
  3. How does it work?Actually there are two concepts that join together to make the eruv tavshilin work.The first is; since we started preparing the meal Erev Yom Tov we are only finishing its preparation on Yom Tov and second is the concept of “Shema Yavo’u Orchim” (“Perhaps guests will come unexpectedly in the afternoon of Yom Tov and we won’t have anything to feed them”) therefore, we may prepare for that eventuality.If they do not come we may eat the food on Shabbos.It is important to note that each one of these principles is not sufficient on its own but together they allow the eruv to work.
  4. Therefore, one must be certain to finish cooking in enough time to be able to eat some of the food Erev Shabbos.
  5. If one forgot to make an eruv tavshilin, he may do so up until the congregation says “Barchu” for Ma’ariv or before nightfall, whichever falls earlier.
  6. If one forgot completely to make an eruv tavshilin he may rely on the eruv of the community only if it is the first time it happened.
  7. Even after a woman has lit candles on Yom Tov she may depend upon her husband’s eruv tavshilin (Baiur Halacha).
  8. The size of the eruv should be at least a k’beitzah of bread (size of an egg) and a k’zayis of cooked food (3.3 fl. oz.).
  9. Erev Yom Tov at the time of setting aside the eruv one should give it to an adult Jew to merit (be “m’zakeh”) for the community.He takes it back and says the brocho: “On the Mitzvah of eruv tavshilin” and then the formula “With this eruv we shall be permitted to bake and cook and “hide” and transfer fire and to do all needs from Yom Tov to Shabbos for me and so and so and all the people of this city!”
  10. This formula is found in Siddurim in Aramaic.If one does not comprehend Aramaic, it is preferable to say it in English (as written in paragraph I).
  11. If one made an eruv he may cook from second day Yom Tov for Shabbos but not from first day Yom Tov to Shabbos even though he made the eruv on the eve of the first day, unless the first day is a Friday.
  12. If the eruv was eaten or lost before he cooked for Shabbos, he may no longer cook for Shabbos unless there remains at least a k’zayis.
  13. It is customary and proper to eat the eruv with the third meal Shabbos afternoon.
  14. It is the opinion of the Rosh that if an eruv was not made it is forbidden to light Shabbos candles.Although we do not hold in accordance with this opinion, but are lenient according to the Rambam, we do make an eruv and specify kindling in the formula.
  15. Outside Eretz Yisroel, if one forgot to make an eruv tavshilin Erev Yom Tov for any Yom Tov except Rosh HaShana, he may do it on the first day itself with the following stipulation:If today is holy there is no need to make an eruv and if tomorrow is holy then let this eruv allow me to cook, etc.”

Igniting and Extinguishing

  1. It is forbidden to kindle fire on Yom Tov but one may transfer fire from one source to another.
  2. If fire was kindled, although it is forbidden to do so, according to most halachic authorities, it is permissible to use the fire.There is an opinion (Taz) who holds it is forbidden.
  3. It is forbidden to extinguish combustion on Yom Tov
  4. If one’s house is on fire it is permitted to extinguish the fire on Yom Tov.
  5. It is forbidden to turn lights on or off on Yom Tov.

Why Two Days Outside Eretz Yisroel?

  1. Why are there two days Yom Tov outside Eretz Yisroel?According to the Torah, every new month is sanctified in Sanhedrin when two acceptable witnesses testify they saw the renewed moon.Sanhedrin (court) would, after satisfactory examination of the testimony, declare the new month.Messengers would then be sent out to spread the word that the month was sanctified.It was necessary to inform people because each lunar month is either 29 or 30 days.The most distant place in Eretz Yisroel could be reached within a week, but outside Eretz Yisroel took longer.In the months of the holidays of Pesach and Succos, there would always be a doubt as to when the new moon was declared in Beis Din.(It actually depended on the day it was declared not the day it was seen.)Therefore, the rabbis instituted two days Yom Tov for “S’feika D’Yoma” (“Uncertainty of the day”).When Beis Din no longer had the power to sanctify, the calendar was instituted.Although today we know which is actually Yom Tov (the first day) we may not nullify the second day because of the principle:Any decree made by a Beis Din can be nullified only be a Beis Din greater in number and wisdom.There hasn’t been any such Beis Din.Therefore, today, outside Eretz Yisroel, two days must be kept according to the law.
  2. Why is Rosh HaShanah two days even in Eretz Yisroel?Rosh HaShana is obviously a problem because it falls on the new moon.It has a special status of “Yom Arichta” — one long day, since if Beis Din would proclaim today holy all work done on it would be retroactively forbidden.In addition, it would be impossible to notify all the land.Therefore, even in Eretz Yisroel, Rosh HaShana is two days.
  3. Those people who come from outside Eretz Yisroel and are visiting for Yom Tov must keep two days.
  4. If one has moved permanently to Eretz Yisroel, he keeps only one day.
  5. If one is studying in Eretz Yisroel and is uncertain as to whether he will remain or not, if he is dependent upon his parents for most of his support, he keeps two days.In any case, he should ask a “posek” (rabbinic legal authority) what to do.

Lighting Candles on Yom Tov

  1. When kindling candles Yom Tov say: “Asher Kid’shanu B’Mitzvosuv, V’tzivanu L’hadlik Nair Shel Yom Tov.”
  2. On the first day on Yom Tov also say Shehechiyanu.This applies to Sh’mini Atzeres as well.(In the diaspora both days Yom Tov.)
  3. If Yom Tov falls on Shabbos, one brocho is said mentioning Shabbos first.
  4. If the second night of Yom Tov falls on Friday night one must be extremely careful to light at least 18 minutes before sunset in order not to desecrate the Shabbos.
  5. If the second night is Saturday night one must be extremely careful to light after nightfall (after Shabbos is over) in order not desecrate the Shabbos.On all Yomim Tovim, candles are lit on the second day after nightfall.
  6. Some women who have a custom to light many candles on Shabbos light only two on Yom Tov.

Carrying Where There is No Eruv

  1. It is permitted to carry on Yom Tov if there is some need for it to enjoy the Yom Tov.
  2. It is permitted to carry a Machzor home from shul even though it will not be used again on Yom Tov if it was brought on Yom Tov.
  3. It is permitted for children under 13 to play ball, even in the street.
  4. If there is an “Eruv Chatzeros” then even things not connected to the needs of the Yom Tov are permitted to be carried, as long as there is some need.
  5. Although it is permitted to carry from one domain to another on Yom Tov is not permitted to carry large or heavy loads because it is profane weekday activity.(In the house it is permitted if it is necessary for the chag.)

Doing Business

  1. Although business (“buying and selling”) is forbidden on Yom Tov there are ways to acquire products needed for Yom Tov on Yom Tov itself.The following are some specific rules.
  2. If something which has no specified amount, size or weight, like meat is taken, a random cut must be taken as it is forbidden to weigh anything on Yom Tov.
  3. Prices may not be stipulated or asked on Yom Tov.
  4. One may pay for things taken on Yom Tov after Yom Tov.
  5. A Jew may not sell to a non-Jew on Yom Tov.
  6. Something of specified weight, size or amount may be taken if price is not discussed.

Miscellaneous Melachos

  1. Although it is permitted to do sh’chita on animals if it is needed for simchat Yom Tov, since it is impractical to cover the laws in a work of this nature, and since it involves difficulties of hachana, muktza, and technical difficulties of sh’chita itself, we will not go into details.
  2. On Yom Tov it is forbidden to milk a cow that is kept for milking.However with one that is standing for sh’chita it is permissible to milk into or onto a food.
  3. It is permitted to separate (Borer) on Yom Tov if the food is needed that day but not with strainers, etc.
  4. It is permitted to peel vegetable with a peeler on Yom Tov.
  5. Making butter or cheese on Yom Tov is prohibited.
  6. It is permitted to heat water to wash ones hands, face and feet on Yom Tov.
  7. One may not apply perfume on Yom Tov (or Shabbos) on clothes although it is permitted to apply perfume to the body.
  8. An egg that was laid on Yom Tov is forbidden to touch.If it was laid on first day Yom Tov it is permitted on second day, except Rosh HaShana.
  9. One is not permitted to do work with animals on Yom Tov.
  10. It is permitted to sweep the house if it will mean greater simchat Yom Tov.
  11. It is forbidden to put food directly in front of wild animals, birds or fish on Yom Tov, but one may feed pets and domestic animals.
  12. It is forbidden to ride on Yom Tov.
  13. If one is visiting Eretz Yisroel on Yom Tov and keeps two days, he may not ride on the second day.

Simchat Yom Tov

  1. One should spend liberally for expenses of Yom Tov.
  2. One should not eat a meal Erev Yom Tov after the 9th hour of the day.
  3. If Erev Yom Tov is Shabbos it is permitted to eat seudas shelishis (the third meal).
  4. It is proper for everyone to help prepare some dish for Yom Tov.
  5. There is a mitzvah on Yom Tov to split the day, half for learning Torah and half or eating and drinking.
  6. One is obligated to have two whole breads on Yom Tov as on Shabbos.
  7. A special kiddush is recited in the evening and another one in the day.
  8. On Yom Tov one should wear even nicer clothes than on Shabbos.
  9. Seudas shelishis is not eaten on Yom Tov.
  10. One should buy his wife new clothes and jewelry according to his financial position to increase the joy of Yom Tov.
  11. Although it is a mitzvah to be happy on Yom Tov one should not over-indulge in wine or become frivolous but his joy should be a service to HaKadosh Boruch Hoo.

39 Melachos of Shabbos

  1. Plowing.
  2. Sowing.
  3. Reaping.
  4. Sheath-making.
  5. Threshing.
  6. Winnowing.
  7. Separating.
  8. Grinding.
  9. Sifting.
  10. Kneading.
  11. Baking.
  12. Shearing.
  13. Cleaning.
  14. Combing raw materials.
  15. Dying.
  16. Spinning.
  17. Weaving operations.
  18. "" ""
  19. "" ""
  20. Separating into threads.
  21. Tying a knot
  22. Untying a knot.
  23. Sewing.
  24. Tearing.
  25. Capturing.
  26. Slaughtering.
  27. Skinning.
  28. Tanning.
  29. Marking with guidelines.
  30. Smoothing.
  31. Cutting.
  32. Writing.
  33. Erasing.
  34. Construction.
  35. Demolishing.
  36. The finishing touch.
  37. Kindling a fire.
  38. Extinguishing a fire.
  39. Carrying.

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