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, 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 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 discuss some examples of hachana that are permitted, provided they fall in specified categories.

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The Gaon R. Yehoshua Yeshaya Neuwirth (Shemirat Shabbat K’Hilchatah, Vol. I, 28:70), explains the concept of hachana in the following manner: “Hachana refers to any matter a person does that is not something necessary for that day (Shabbat), even if it entails only minute effort – torach – and even if it is accomplished through the simple uttering of words (such as hafarat nedarim, the releasing of one’s vows) [such action would be forbidden on
Shabbat].” However, in the instance where one accomplishes an objective with one act for [both] Shabbat and Motzaei Shabbat together, without any extra effort, we do not prohibit it.

R. Neuwirth uses the Mishna Berura (Hilchot Shabbat 336:30) as his source for the latter leniency. There we learn that one who threw seeds on the ground for his fowl, even though some seeds will remain for the next day’s feeding, such is permitted as it consists of just one act.

R. Neuwirth (Shemirat Shabbat K’Hilchatah infra 28:83) specifies an additional source for his ruling, also in the Mishna Berura (254:43). A ruling discussed there informs us that one may perform an activity for a weekday need if a) there is no effort – torach – involved; b) if it were not done now, it would not be possible to be done on a weekday; or c) this would result in a monetary loss.

The examples R. Neuwirth discusses include the nullification of vows, that is, hafarat nedarim, particularly that of a husband for his wife. The Torah states in Parashat Matot (Numbers 30:9), “Ve’im beyom shemoa isha yani ota v’heifer et nidra asher aleha ve’et mivta sefateha asher asra al nafshah vaHashem yislach lah – But if on the day of her husband’s hearing [her vow] he shall restrain her and he shall revoke the vow that is upon her or the utterance of her lips by which she had prohibited something upon herself, then Hashem shall forgive her.” From subsequent verses (ibid. 30:14-15) we understand that there is a limited time frame for the husband to accomplish the annulment of the wife’s vow. He must complete it on the day he heard it, and should he procrastinate and do nothing on that same day, the vow remains in effect. Thus, even if the day was Shabbat when the husband heard the vow, despite the fact that annulment of the vow may not be a need specifically for that Shabbat, the husband must annul the vow, as the opportunity to do so later will be lost. The preferred manner of annulling this vow is for the husband to tell his wife, “Take this [i.e. the food she had prohibited upon
herself] and eat it.” However, if this is not possible, he may simply tell her, “Mutar lach – it is permitted (lit. annulled) for you.”

Another example offered by R. Neuwirth concerns freshly slaughtered meat that must be rinsed and soaked before the third day after slaughter. If one forgot to begin this task before Shabbat and Shabbat is the third day), the possibility to use this meat for cooking (in a pot) will be lost (although the meat will still be allowed to be broiled), therefore one is permitted to begin the rinsing and soaking on Shabbat. This is allowed despite the fact that the need is clearly for a following weekday and not Shabbat.

The Mishna Berura (321:21) cites Responsa Noda BiYehuda and Elyah Rabbah who posit in this case that if a non-Jew is not available to rinse the meat, it is preferable to do so by washing one’s hands over the pot of meat, leaving the meat soaking in water.

R. Neuwirth offers an additional example of hachana permitted on Shabbat. One may pick up a utensil not presently required for use on Shabbat (given that it is otherwise permitted for use on Shabbat) in order to prevent it from being stolen or broken. Still another action of permissible hachana described by R. Neuwirth involves items where a loss will occur if they are left where they are, such as clothing hanging in a backyard or on a porch [for drying purposes] and there is an imminent rainstorm. If left outside, the clothes will become soaked and unfit for use (even after Shabbat), so one may bring them in on Shabbat.

Thus, we have two guidelines: First, the item is being prepared for use both on Shabbat and Motzaei Shabbat with no extra effort. Second, without intervention, a monetary loss may occur, but no extra effort (torach) is required to prevent the loss.

R. Neuwirth presents numerous other situations which may also shed some light on our discussion. In his first volume (3:82) he opines that [dry] laundry taken down from the clothesline on Shabbat may not be sorted according to kind (i.e., socks, shirts, etc.). Rather, one may put each item in its place after it has been folded in the permissible manner (not in their original manner). The same rule applies to dry clothes in a pile (infra 15:41) consisting of items of assorted types and sizes. One may not sort them according to type and/or size, rather each item may be taken as it comes to hand, folded, and put in place. One may then return to the pile and process the next garment. This way, the entire pile will be put away little by little.

In these cases we encounter not only hachana, which, if done in the prescribed manner (not folded in its original fold), presents no problem, but we also encounter the issue of borer – choosing – a labor that is forbidden on Shabbat. Care must be taken to avoid transgressing the
prohibition of borer as well as that of hachana.

Finally, R. Neuwirth also permits restoring the dents (that are part of the style) in a hat that became crushed, folding a collar of a jacket or shirt back to its proper position, and folding up a pants cuff that fell down. All of these are not considered problematic.

Regarding a trip to be taken after Shabbat, we must consider another aspect involved in preparation for a trip. The storage of soiled clothing may present a halachic problem, and we will address this issue next week.

(To be continued)

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Rabbi Yaakov Klass is Rav of K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush; Torah Editor of The Jewish Press; and Presidium Chairman, Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim.