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Q & A: Hachana (Part I)

QUESTION: Is it halachically permissible to pack on the Sabbath or Yom Tov for a trip to be taken on the next day?

Moishe Halberstam
Brooklyn, NY


ANSWER: Your question is quite relevant in today’s fast-paced lifestyle where we travel much often than in previous times, and where the need for a trip may come up quite suddenly. It is certainly advisable not to pack on the Sabbath or on Yom Tov for a trip to be taken on a later day, and several halachic authorities rule that to do so is prohibited. To better understand the situation, we will examine the general concept of the prohibition of hachana, that is, preparation on the Sabbath or Yom Tov for a weekday.

The Talmud (Beitza 2b) cites Rabbah, who rules that the concept of muktzeh (i.e., items one may not touch on the Sabbath because they were not prepared before, “devarim she’einam min hamuchan”) is of biblical origin. It is derived from the verse in Parashat Beshalach (Exodus 16:5) regarding the manna, “Vehaya bayom hashishi veheichinu et asher yaviu [vehaya mishneh al asher yilketu yom yom] – And it shall be that on the sixth day [Erev Shabbat], when they prepare what they shall bring [it will be twice as much as what they pick up every day].” Rabbah explains: “A weekday may prepare for Shabbat and a weekday may prepare for Yom Tov, but Yom Tov does not prepare for Shabbat, and [surely] Shabbat does not prepare for Yom Tov.”

According to the Mechaber (Orach Chayyim 550:1), this rule also applies from one day of Yom Tov to the second day – added for those living outside of Israel – or even from the first day of Rosh Hashanah to the second (also observed in Israel). The Taz (ad loc.) explains that though Rosh Hashana is considered to be one long day, that does not apply to matters of leniency.

Rashi (Beitza 2b) s.v. “Ve’ein Yom Tov meichin leShabbat” explains that Yom Tov is also referred to as “Shabbat” [as we see in Parashat Emor (Leviticus 23:15), “You shall count from the morrow of the Sabbath (i.e., Passover),” and also further {23:39}, “On the first day a
Sabbath (Shabbaton) and on the eighth day a Sabbath” (i.e. Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret)] and thus it, too, requires preparation.

Tosafot s.v. “Vehaya bayom hashishi” explain that by means of an eruv tavshilin one may prepare on Yom Tov for Shabbat even though Rabbah rules that hachana is a concept of biblical origin, whether for the Sabbath or for Yom Tov. Thus, even though we might ask how the Rabbinical enactment of an eruv can nullify the biblical hachana, such is the case, and he reasons that since guests could arrive at any time now, the food would be ready now on Yom Tov for immediate consumption. Rabbah rules – as does R. Eliezer (Pesachim 48a) ? that we say “ho’il… – since…” (since guests may possibly arrive, we may prepare food). Thus the preparation is not for the next day (Shabbat), but rather for immediate use (on Yom Tov).

The commentary Ran (see Pesachim ch. 3, also quoted by the Magen Avraham, Orach Chayyim 527) states that biblically one may not cook on Yom Tov for Sabbath, and surely not for a weekday. Yet we are permitted to cook for Shabbat using the rule of ‘ho’il’ (i.e., since guests may arrive now), although there is still worry of transgressing the law. Establishing an eruv, however, obviates any possible transgression.

The Magen Avraham thus explains the Mechaber, who states that by means of an eruv one cooks in effect, a priori, for Shabbat.

The Rema explains the concept of the eruv, which is based on the mishna (Beitza 15b). There we learn, “[If} a holiday falls on the eve of the Sabbath, one may not cook on the holiday for the Sabbath but one may cook for the holiday itself, and if any [food] is left over, it remains for the Sabbath. One prepares a cooked food on Erev Yom Tov, and relies on it [to prepare food] for the Sabbath.” Rashi (ad loc., s.v. Lo yevashel bit’chila) explains that the food he cooks on Yom Tov must be intended for Yom Tov itself, with the stipulation that what is left will remain for the Sabbath… Beit Shammai say [that the prepared food must consist of]
two dishes, and Beit Hillel say – one dish. Both agree that a fish with an egg upon it (Rashi explains this to be fish roasted with an egg batter on it) is [considered] two dishes (thus satisfying Beit Shammai’s requirement)…”

Today we prepare a cooked item, usually an egg, and a baked item, such as matza, to serve as an eruv when necessary.

Thus, in effect, a forbidden labor (hachana) is not started on Yom Tov, but rather the labor which began on Erev Yom Tov is finished on Yom Tov, and the remainder of the food is saved for the Sabbath, and this is permitted. Were it not for the eruv, the issue of hachana would certainly be a concern, preventing Yom Tov preparations for Shabbat.

We thus have somewhat of an idea about hachana as it relates to food preparation for Shabbat or Yom Tov. Now we will be able to discuss your question, packing clothes on
Shabbat in anticipation of a departure after Shabbat.

(To be continued)

About the Author: 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 yklass@jewishpress.com.


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