QUESTION: Is it halachically permissible to pack on the Sabbath or Yom Tov for a trip to be taken on the next day?
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 muktza, a biblically based concept (Exodus 16:5, Beitza 2b) with 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 Sabbath 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. The assumption is that a guest may suddenly arrive and require food. With this reasoning, the prohibition of hachana is avoided in the preparation of food. And even though the verse quoted refers to food only, other types of
preparation are included as well.
This week we focus on the issues of hachana as they relate to garments and beds.
* * *
We learn (Shabbat 113a, mishna): “We may fold articles [of clothing, on Shabbat], even four and five times. We may arrange the beds from Shabbat [Friday] night for Shabbat [by day] but not on Shabbat for Motza’ei (the departure of) Shabbat…”
Rashi s.v. “mekaplin et hakeilim” explains that generally clothes that are removed are also folded, because the cleaning/washing process softens the material and causes the garments to wrinkle easily.
Thus, we see from Rashi’s statement that folding garments improves their appearance and possibly prolongs their usage even after Shabbat, yet we may do so on Shabbat, even four and five times, if the intent is to wear them again on that day.
It is obvious that if there is no further need for these garments on that day, one may not fold them. Indeed, Tosafot s.v. “mekaplim keilim” state as follows: “From here we derive that it is forbidden to fold the tallitot of the synagogue [on Shabbat, at the conclusion of the tefillah]
because that is [equivalent to providing for] a need for the morrow.”
The Gemara, in explaining the mishna, cites what they expounded in the school of R. Yannai about this rule [of folding]: applies to one person only, but where two people [are engaged in folding] it is not permitted; as regards new garments [it is allowed] if they are white, but colored garments are not permitted [to be folded]. Further, the folding was only allowed in the event he had no other garment, but if he possesses other garments, he may not fold it.
It is on this Gemara that R. Yosef Caro (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 302:3) bases his rules: “We may fold, on Shabbat, garments that are needed to be worn that day, provided the following conditions are met: [the garments are folded] only by one person; they are new garments that have not as yet been laundered; they are white; and then only if one has no other [garment] to change into. If any of these stipulations are not met, one is prohibited from doing so (folding).”
The Mechaber then concludes: “There is an opinion stating that folding [the tallit] not according to the original creases is permitted in all cases, and his words seem to be correct.” This last statement of the Mechaber refers to both the Mordechai (Shabbat 113) and the Kol Bo (Hilchot Shabbat 31), who rule accordingly. In the Kol Bo we find this ruling attributed to a text of Ra’avad.
There appears to be an inconsistency in the Magen Avraham regarding the folding of the tallit and arranging a bed. The Magen Avraham (ad loc.) states: “And it seems to me that a bed that stands in a room in which he lives may embarrass him and be unpleasant if it remains that
way [unmade], and therefore it may be made, for it has become a need of Shabbat itself.” This statement stands despite a seemingly contradictory statement in the mishna (Shabbat 113a) stipulating that one may make the bed from Friday night for the Shabbat [day], but not from on the Shabbat day [in preparation] for Saturday night, since on Shabbat the straightening of the bed is not a necessity for Shabbat, but rather for after Shabbat. The reason for the former statement is obviously the fact that the unmade bed’s presence in a room that is being used
on Shabbat, even though the bed itself will not be used, will cause an impingement on the holiness of Shabbat, and thus making up the bed is permitted in that situation.
Yet we find that the Mechaber (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 14:4) states as follows: “One is permitted to take his friend’s tallit [without the latter’s knowledge] and recite a blessing upon it, as long as he folds it [again] if he found it folded.”
The Magen Avraham posits that he folds that tallit even in a manner different from the way he found it. [This halacha of the Mechaber is found in Hilchot Tzitzit, and refers primarily to weekdays.] However, on Shabbat he does not fold it at all, and even then it is permitted for
him to take [the tallit].” This is based on the rule in Bava Metzia (29b) “Nicha lei le’inish de’tiavid mitzva bemamoneih – A person is pleased when a mitzva is fulfilled with his possession” (lit. money). We apply this rule to the tallit scenario, so that although the borrower
returns the tallit unfolded and not in the condition in which he found it originally (because he had borrowed it on Shabbat and was therefore prohibited from folding it), the owner will rejoice in the fact that his possession enabled a fellow Jew to fulfill a mitzva. On the other
hand, when it comes to his own bed, an individual is allowed to make it (despite the folding that may be involved) even though he has no further use for it on Shabbat, to prevent an infringement on the spirit of sanctity of the Sabbath.
Regarding the tallit, the Mechaber himself seems to rule that as long as one does not fold the tallit in the original manner, one is permitted to fold it even on Shabbat. The Mishna Berura (Orach Chayyim 302:3-18) explains how we rule in this matter, stating: “Because this type of folding has no lasting effect and therefore there is no liability for transgressing [the labor of]
metakken (lit. fixing) [on Shabbat] at all, it is permitted in this manner even in the event that one of the four above mentioned conditions [i.e., folded by one person only, new garments never laundered, white garments, and where no other garment is available to change into] is not met, and even if there is no intention to wear the garment [again] on that day [Shabbat].”
The Mishna Berura continues, explaining the Mechaber’s last words in this chapter, “and his words seem to be correct” to indicate that “so have the Acharonim, the later halachic authorities, concluded in their rulings.”
“However,” adds the Mishna Berura (ibid.), “he who wishes to be more stringent and not fold at all, that is [considered] far better.” He then concludes with the statement of the Magen Avraham regarding the making of beds on Shabbat which, though generally prohibited as
the preparation of something needed later, on Saturday night, would be allowed if it is a bed in his house (i.e., in a room he frequents) and it is unpleasant for him to leave the bed unmade, as making the bed has thus become a legitimate need of Shabbat itself.
We will highlight out some points requiring further discussion. Why does the Magen Avraham include hatza’at hamitot, the making of beds, in this halacha, when the Mechaber did not? (The same question is addressed to the Mishna Berura as well.) We should also be asking why the Mechaber did not include the halacha relating to the making or straightening of beds – which
is found in the Mishna – in his Shulchan Aruch, especially since we see that Rambam did include it (Hilchot Shabbat 23:7). We wonder as well why the Chayyei Adam included this halacha in a separate chapter (60), apart from the chapter regarding the halachot of folding clothes on Shabbat (56). Further, why does the Mishna Berura state: “However, he who wishes to be more stringent and not fold at all, that is [considered] far better” – after he has already ruled that it is permitted? Also, we find the same ruling in the Aruch HaShulchan
(loc. cit. 302:11), with no mention of any laudatory stringency in this regard.
All this necessitates further explanation as to what the halacha actually allows.
(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 email@example.com.
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