QUESTION: Is it halachically permissible to pack on Shabbat or Yom Tov for a trip to be taken on the next day (Motza’ei Shabbat or Motza’ei Hachag)?
Moishe Halberstam, Esq.
Brooklyn, NY
ANSWER: We began our discussion with the general premise that it is preferable not to pack on Shabbat or a holiday in preparation of a trip to be taken subsequently, on a weekday. Some halachic authorities prohibit doing so. This activity would be categorized as hachana or preparation on Shabbat or a holiday for a need after Shabbat or the holiday, which is prohibited. Items not intended for use on the same day of Shabbat or a holiday are considered muktzeh, a biblically based concept (Exodus 16:5; Beitza 2b), the Torah’s frame of reference being food preparation.

In order to be able to prepare food on one day of a holiday for the next day of that holiday or for a Shabbat that immediately follows it, an eruv tavshilin (two types of food set aside as preparation of a meal) is prepared, the reasoning being that food is prepared for that same day
and it is the leftovers that are used on the following day. With this reasoning, the prohibition of hachana is avoided in the preparation of food. Though the Torah refers to food only, other types of preparation are included as well.

We also focused on the issues of hachana as they relate to garments and beds. Garments may be folded after being worn if they will be worn again on Shabbat; if they are folded by just one person; are new and not laundered yet; are white; and if the person has no other garment to wear. Beds may be made up on Friday night for the Shabbat day, but not on Shabbat day in preparation for Saturday night. However, should the unmade bed cause embarrassment (i.e., it is in a room where one will receive guests), the bed may be made, as this is now a need for Shabbat itself. A comment by the Mishna Berura (Orach Chayyim 302:3-18) indicates that not to fold at all (on Shabbat or a holiday) is a praiseworthy stringency.

We presented the views of R. Y. Neuwirth (Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchatah, Vol. I 28:70). He bases his rulings on the Mishna Berura (254:43), and concludes that on Shabbat and holidays one may perform an activity which would fulfill a need of a subsequent weekday if a monetary loss would occur without such intervention, but provided no extra effort is required to accomplish it, and the opportunity to do so will not present itself again later. An example offered was the soaking and salting (within three days) of meat of an animal that has been slaughtered. If Shabbat is the third day, and the koshering process has not been started yet, it may be started on Shabbat, preferably by rinsing one’s hands over a pot containing the meat. R. Neuwirth also described how one would put away a pile of clean, dry, laundry so as to avoid the prohibition of choosing – the work of borer – on Shabbat or a holiday.

We discussed the ruling that on Shabbat we are permitted to place used clothing into an unplugged washing machine that has no water in it, and also to replace food and drinks into the refrigerator on Shabbat, although both these actions seem to involve hachana. This is permitted because we wish to contain any odors that may emanate from the used clothing and because these activities involve the normal routine of placing items in their regular places; also, we are permitted to take action to prevent monetary loss, such as spoilage of food that needs to be refrigerated.

We detailed further examples of activities that entail hachana on Shabbat but are nevertheless allowed. We conclude this week with a more defined explanation of what is allowed to be done on Shabbat in preparation for the weekdays.

* * *

R. Shimon Greenfeld (1861-1930), one of the outstanding geonim in Hungary, served as rabbi in Semihaly. He authored the monumental halachic work Responsa Maharshag, where he discusses an interesting case involving hachana from Shabbat to a weekday. The case there (op. cit. Vol. 1:61) is relevant to our question, although the setting is quite different from that of our modern society.

If one wanted kosher milk in Semihaly, one had to either own a milk cow or secure milk from a neighbor. If the neighbor was a non-Jew, the presence of a Jew was required at the time of the milking, otherwise the kosher status of the milk was questionable as one could not be sure that milk from a non-kosher source had not been mixed in.

R. Greenfeld was asked about the halachic legality of a Jewish woman going with her non-Jewish maid to observe the milking of a non-Jew’s cow on Shabbat. The maid carried the containers to the farm (as there was no eruv there), and the milk was intended for use only
after Shabbat. The individual who posed this question was himself a rabbi, and he was asking how this could be accomplished in spite of the clear issues of hachana involved. The questioner mentioned that one may not prepare on the first day of a holiday for the second day of the holiday, even when no forbidden labors are involved (Orach Chayyim 503). For example, we do not bring wine, on the first day, to be used for the Kiddush on the second day of the holiday. Also, as discussed by the Magen Avraham (Orach Chayyim 667:1), one is not permitted to search and ready the Torah (by rolling the scroll to the desired spot), on Shabbat or a holiday, to facilitate the next day’s reading, even if the second day is a holiday as well, although reading the Torah is a devar mitzva, that is, it involves the fullfilment of a mitzva, and no prohibited labor is required.

Thus, in the case of the milk, where there is no devar mitzva and the milk is intended for use after Shabbat, what is the halacha?

This does look like a classic example of hachana as stated in the Mishna (Shabbat 113a). There we learn that we may not arrange (spread sheets on) the beds on Shabbat for use at the conclusion of [Motza’ei] Shabbat. However, that applies specifically  there the intent is “leharvi’ach zeman,” lit. to gain time, namely, to accomplish the chore during the leisurely Shabbat afternoon in order to save time after Shabbat. This would be considered hachana, and is forbidden.

The rinsing of dishes is also discussed. If one’s sole intention for doing so on Shabbat is to save time after Shabbat, this would be prohibited. This includes preparing wine for a holiday immediately following the Sabbath or even for Havdala, as well as preparing a Torah for the next day’s reading. These activities are prohibited on Shabbat as they constitute hachana for after Shabbat, and they can easily be accomplished later.

However, this cannot be said in the case of the milk. R. Greenfeld ruled that a prohibition does not seem to be warranted despite the hachana involved. Surely, the non-Jewish owner of the cow will milk his cow anyway, but the Jews will not have milk for the following day(s).
Therefore, leniency is indicated.

R. Greenfeld also discusses (Vol. 2:21) a case of a similar category regarding a holiday. The municipal government at the time would issue special notes which had to be obtained in order to secure flour. They were redeemable only on Mondays. The question here involved a
Monday which was a holiday. R. Greenfeld ruled as he did with the milk. Since this was a matter which could not be taken care of later, and the families affected would suffer from hunger without the flour, there was no restriction against redeeming the notes on the proper day.

Thus we see that if one’s intention is simply to save time after
Shabbat, these activities would be prohibited. However, if the purpose is
to accomplish, on Shabbat or on a holiday, an action that cannot be
postponed but does not involve a forbidden labor, it is permitted.

R. Moshe Feinstein discussed a similar case as well (Responsa Iggrot Moshe, Orach Chayyim Vol. 3:105). He was asked whether one is allowed to dress one’s young children in pajamas while it is still Shabbat although they will go to sleep only after Havdala. R. Feinstein explained
that according to his understanding, the routine for most small children – from two to four years of age and perhaps a bit older – is to change into pajamas a while before they go to bed, and they then run around for a while in their pajamas until they are tired. Thus, it would seem that pajamas have become the accepted way to dress at this time period, and a child may therefore be changed into pajamas an hour or two before Havdala.

However, the question may be whether it is permissible to dress the child in pajamas even earlier, when wearing pajamas is unusual, because the mother thinks that she may not have time to do it later, or if this specific child is usually not dressed in pajamas several hours
before bedtime, but the mother has free time now on Shabbat. In both of these cases there would be reason to prohibit this. Nevertheless, it is very difficult to absolutely prohibit this in every case because often a child will dirty his clothing and has to be changed anyway, and since bedtime is approaching, the parents wish to use pajamas; and that would be permitted even though, in the process, time is saved on Motza’ei Shabbat.

We understand from here that an action taken on Shabbat solely to save time after Shabbat is prohibited. R. Feinstein is consistent in applying this rule. Another case mentioned addresses folding the tallit after services on Shabbat and taking it [within an eruv, of course] home (Iggrot Moshe, Orach Chayyim 5:20). R. Feinstein permits bringing the tallit home for if the tallit is left behind, the owner would worry about losing his possession. R. Feinstein reasons that if the owner carries the tallit home, surely he must fold it (but only in the halachically accepted
manner) to fit it into the tallit case to facilitate carrying.

We return to our original question, where one is anticipating travel after Shabbat. Certainly, it is better not to plan a trip that requires travel immediately after Shabbat. However, sometimes that cannot be avoided. For example, one is invited to a simcha that begins soon after Shabbat and takes place in a distant location; or one has young children who must be put to bed as early as possible to facilitate an early departure; or one must vacate a hotel room at a certain time, which happens to be just when Shabbat ends. For these and similar cases, when one has no choice, we offer the following solution.

We assume that when leaving from home, the suitcases will be packed before Shabbat. Away from home, for that Shabbat, instead of unpacking the suitcases and using the hotel drawers, one should rather keep the suitcase packed and simply remove items as needed on Shabbat, and then return them there when finished with them, so that the suitcase has now become the “rightful place” for the items. As we discussed earlier, storing soiled clothing presents no problem as we do not leave them about on Shabbat due to their odor. Care should be taken that muktzeh items (i.e., shavers, hair dryers, pens, money) are placed in a separate suitcase. Garment bags are hung up but left unpacked, and weekday clothing may be put on only after Shabbat ends. In this manner, there is a minimum of packing required after Shabbat, and a lot of time is saved.

From our above discussions regarding lost opportunities, we conclude that only if the necessity to leave after Shabbat arises unexpectedly and being late will cause an opportunity to be lost, may one, even on Shabbat, pack those (non-muktzeh) items that one absolutely requires
for the trip.

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Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at