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 provide 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 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, 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 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.

* * *

When discussing travel after Shabbat, we must keep in mind that not all trips originate from one’s home. Often, a return trip home or continuation of a journey occurs immediately following Shabbat. This would require not only taking care of and preparing one’s clean clothes, but dealing with one’s laundry as well. 

This issue is quite relevant to our situation at hand. We find the following discussion in Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchatah (Vol. I, 15:22), referring to a person at home on Shabbat: “One is permitted to put his soiled clothing in the washing machine, where he usually stores them until they are washed, but only on condition that there is no water in the machine.”

In his footnotes to that comment, R. Neuwirth explains that since one usually stores them there during the week, placing clothing there on Shabbat does not present a problem regarding
hachana on Shabbat for a weekday. R. Neuwirth cites R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach as his source for this ruling, and refers to other sources as well, including the gaon R. Moshe Stern, the late Debreciner Rav (Ba’er Moshe Vol. I, 32:14).

R. Stern explains that there is no problem of hachana when putting soiled clothing in the washing machine if the purpose of doing so is to enhance the house on Shabbat by eliminating any unpleasant odors. He also notes that there is no issue of uvda de’chol (lit. a work that is usually done on weekdays), a category of work that is prohibited on Shabbat. The only problem in that regard may be lifting and carrying a pile of clothing. R. Stern refers to Tosafot (Shabbat 148a s.v. “de’atkin”) and the Rema (Orach Chayyim 510:8) who rule that there is no violation of uvda de’chol encountered with items carried in a house. Further, R. Stern cites
Terumat HaDeshen, who rules that even where one carries from one house to another house sharing the same courtyard [provided there is an eruv] we do not violate uvda de’chol either.

R. Stern cautions that not only is there to be no water in the machine where the clothes are placed, but the electric cord should not be plugged in. In such a situation he sees no problem with putting soiled laundry in the washing machine. He questions, rhetorically, whether there would be a question of mar’it ayin (lit. appearance – but meant to indicate a permissible action that might be mistaken for prohibited conduct). Is it possible that someone who views this activity would assume the individual will now do laundry on Shabbat?

This question is quickly dismissed, as the problem of mar’it ayin exists only when an action is performed outdoors. Regarding an activity normally performed indoors, there is no worry of mar’it ayin. Therefore the ruling is that in this situation it is surely permitted to store the soiled laundry in the empty, unplugged washing machine.

Our original case refers to a person in a hotel room. It would seem that he begins the procedure of packing as soon as he stores his soiled laundry in a laundry bag. (If the goal is the honor of Shabbat, we must assume this would be permitted, so as to contain unpleasant odors, despite the ensuing benefit that now the clothes are prepared for future laundering, clearly a weekday activity.)

Indeed, this is not the only activity we may do on Shabbat that seems to be in preparation for a need of Motza’ei Shabbat. For example, R. Moshe Sternbuch discusses the use of a refrigerator on Shabbat (Teshuvot VeHanhagot, Vol. I:227). At issue is whether one may return food items to the refrigerator on Shabbat to ensure their freshness and keep them from spoiling. Would this be considered hachana for the weekday?

R. Sternbuch responds that there is reason to say that since the food is being placed in the refrigerator to prevent spoilage, hachana is not an issue here, as one only wants to prevent loss of food. Throwing out spoiled food that could have been saved would cause agmat nefesh, pain and anguish on Shabbat, which we try to avoid.

Indeed, such is the normal routine that one follows at the conclusion of any meal, even without intent for the needs of a subsequent day. Because the normal and consistent storage place
of fruit and other perishables is in the refrigerator, there can be no misconstruing placing such items there as hachana for a weekday need.

Therefore, food and drinks normally stored in the refrigerator, whether they will be needed again on that same day or not, may be returned to the refrigerator, even when they will definitely not be used on the same day of Shabbat or a holiday. The reasoning is that replacing the item into the refrigerator does not indicate whether it will be used again on that day.

On the other hand, the storage of leftover foods in the freezer presents a problem in regard to hachana as one’s actions here are clearly for the needs of another day. This activity would not be permitted. Rather, the food to be stored may be put in the freezer only on Motza’ei Shabbat (but could be stored in the refrigerator until then). R. Sternbuch adds that items which will spoil in the refrigerator if not stored in the freezer, such as ice cream and ices, would be permitted to be stored in the freezer. This would fall under the classification of hatzala, rescuing one’s possessions, as opposed to hachana.

Thus we see that there are some activities which we may perform on Shabbat in the course of the day, although the benefit of the activity clearly takes effect after Shabbat.

(To be continued)

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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