At the end of Pesach, we must remember to prepare an eruv tavshillin.
Question #1: Where?
“Is it true that eruv tavshillin is more common in chutz la’aretz than in Eretz Yisroel?”
Question #2: What?
“What is the reason that many people use a hard-boiled egg for eruv tavshillin?”
Question #3: When?
“In what way is the halacha of eruv tavshillin different on Shavuos and Shevi’i shel Pesach from other Yomim Tovim?”
With Shevi’i shel Pesach beginning on Thursday evening, the laws of eruv tavshillin are germane both to those living in Eretz Yisroel and to those living in chutz la’aretz. In order to reply accurately to the above inquiries, we must first examine several aspects of this mitzvah that Chazal implemented – particularly, the whys, hows, and whats of eruv tavshillin. Because of space considerations, this article will not be able to address all the issues of eruv tavshillin, but will answer the opening questions that were posed. However, there are other articles on the topic that may be read on RabbiKaganoff.com.
First, the basics: When Yom Tov falls on Friday, an eruv tavshillin must be made on erev Yom Tov to permit cooking and other preparations on Yom Tov for Shabbos. As it turns out, making an eruv tavshillin is much more common in chutz la’aretz than it is in Eretz Yisroel. Since, in our calendar devised by Hillel Hanasi, the beginning of Sukkos, Pesach and Shmini Atzeres never falls on Friday, the only time there is a need for an eruv tavshillin in Eretz Yisroel is when Shavuos or the seventh day of Pesach falls on Friday, or when Rosh Hashanah falls on Thursday. On the other hand, in chutz la’aretz, in additional to these instances, often the two days of Yom Tov fall on Thursday and Friday.
When discussing the laws of Yom Tov, the Torah teaches kol melacha lo yei’aseh bahem, ach asher yei’acheil lechol nefesh hu levado yei’aseh lachem,“No work should be performed on these days; however, that which is eaten by everyone (kol nefesh), only that may be prepared for yourselves” (Shemos 12:16). We see from the posuk that, although most melachos are forbidden on Yom Tov, cooking and most other food preparations are permitted. However, cooking is permitted on Yom Tov only when it is for consumption on that day. It is forbidden to cook on Yom Tov for the day after, and at times this is prohibited min haTorah. There is, however, one exceptional situation – when Yom Tov falls on Friday and an eruv tavshillin was made, it is permitted to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbos.
To quote the Mishnah (Beitzah 15b), “When Yom Tov falls on erev Shabbos, it is prohibited to begin cooking on Yom Tov for Shabbos. However, it is permitted to cook for Yom Tov, and, if there are leftovers, plan them to be for Shabbos. Furthermore, (there is a way in which it is permitted to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbos) by preparing a cooked food from before Yom Tov which he leaves for Shabbos. According to Beis Shamai, this must be (at least) two cooked items, and, according to Beis Hillel, one cooked item suffices.” (As we are aware, we also set aside a baked item for the eruv tavshillin, but this is not essential.)
Prior to quoting the dispute between Beis Shamai and Beis Hillel, the Mishnah has expressed three distinct concepts:
No cooking on Yom Tov for Shabbos
1. It is prohibited to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbos (without making the eruv tavshillin).
2. It is permitted to cook for Yom Tov, planning to have leftovers for Shabbos.
3. Making an eruv tavshillin permits cooking on Yom Tov for Shabbos.
Each of these concepts, which we will explain one at a time, requires clarification:
1. No cooking on Yom Tov for Shabbos
It is prohibited to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbos.
Let me explain a question that is implicit here. If it is prohibited to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbos, why does an eruv tavshillin permit it? Or, in other terms, there are three types of eruv that Chazal instituted, eruv techumim, eruv chatzeiros and eruv tavshillin. All three of these mitzvos have the status of a takanas chachamim, which means that they were instituted by Chazal to permit something that is otherwise prohibited because of a rabbinic injunction. An eruv techumim permits walking on Shabbos and Yom Tov beyond the techum Shabbos, the distance outside the city or other “Shabbos residence;” an eruv chatzeiros permits carrying on Shabbos from one individual’s jurisdiction to that of another. Both of these prohibitions permitted by their respective eruvin are rabbinic injunctions. An eruv, which is a rabbinic introduction, cannot permit something that is prohibited min haTorah, as the Gemara asks, “Can an eruv tavshillin permit a Torah prohibition” (Pesachim 45b)?
If cooking on Yom Tov for Shabbos is permitted min haTorah, and it is prohibited only because of a rabbinic injunction, we can understand how Chazal could create a rabbinic innovation called eruv tavshillin and thereby permit this cooking. To paraphrase this expression of the Gemara, since Chazal created the prohibition, they can also reverse it (ibid.). However, if cooking on Yom Tov for Shabbos is prohibited min haTorah, how do Chazal have the authority to permit that which the Torah forbade?
Two differing approaches
How we answer this conundrum is dependent on a debate between two amora’im, Rabbah and Rav Chisda (Pesachim 46b), which has major ramifications specifically for this coming Yom Tov, when Shevi’i shel Pesach falls on Friday.
Rav Chisda contends that, min haTorah, it is always permitted to cook on a Friday Yom Tov for Shabbos. This is called tzorchei Shabbos na’asin beYom Tov, literally, “Shabbos needs may be performed on Yom Tov.” Since Shabbos and Yom Tov both have kedusha, and are both sometimes called “Shabbos” by the Torah, cooking on Yom Tov for Shabbos is permitted min haTorah, just as cooking on Yom Tov is permitted for the same day (Rashi ad loc.). The prohibition not to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbos is a rabbinic injunction; Chazal prohibited this in order to make sure that people do not cook on Yom Tov for a weekday, or on the first day of Yom Tov for the second, both of which might be prohibited min haTorah. Making an eruv tavshillin permits cooking on Yom Tov for Shabbos, since a person thereby realizes that, without an eruv tavshillin, he cannot cook on Yom Tov even for Shabbos — therefore, he understands that he certainly cannot cook on Yom Tov for any other day.
The other position — ho’il
Rabbah contends that it is often prohibited min haTorah to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbos. In other words, he maintains that tzorchei Shabbos einam na’asin beYom Tov – notwithstanding that Yom Tov is sometimes called Shabbos, it is still prohibited min haTorah to cook on Yom Tov for any other day, including Shabbos!
If that is true, how can an eruv tavshillin, which is a rabbinic solution, permit that which is prohibited min haTorah?
The answer is a halachic concept called ho’il, which permits cooking on Yom Tov min haTorah whenever you might have a need for extra cooked food on Yom Tov itself, even when you are not expecting to need the extra food and it is unlikely that such a situation will arise. For example, after finishing the Yom Tov day seudah, min haTorah it is permitted to cook another meal, provided it will be ready to eat before the Yom Tov day is over. This is because it is possible that unexpected guests may arrive at your door, and you now have a meal ready to serve them. The idea that perhaps something will happen is expressed as the word ho’il; this word is now used as a brief way of referring to a complicated legal concept.
Therefore, whenever it is possible that guests may yet arrive on Yom Tov, it is permitted to cook for them min haTorah. Although miderabbanan it is not permitted to rely on ho’il to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbos, since this is only a rabbinic injunction, eruv tavshillin can permit the cooking.
However, this heter applies only as long as the meal will be ready to be eaten while it is still Yom Tov. There is no heter to begin cooking a meal on Yom Tov that will not be ready until Yom Tov is over. In other words, according to Rabbah, when ho’il does not apply, it is prohibited min haTorah to cook. Under these circumstances, an eruv tavshillin will not permit someone to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbos.
Thus, there is a halachic difference between Rabbah and Rav Chisda that affects us! According to Rabbah, it is not permitted to put a cholent on the fire on Friday that will not be ready to eat until sometime on Shabbos. Usually, it is perfectly fine to cook food on Friday that will be left on a properly covered fire when Shabbos starts and not ready to eat until the Friday night seudah. However, this Yom Tov it is not permitted to do this, according to Rabbah. Since this food will not be ready to eat on Yom Tov, the law of ho’il does not apply. Since the rule of ho’il does not apply, there is no heter to cook the cholent on Yom Tov for Shabbos, even if one makes an eruv tavshillin! Thus, the menu for Shabbos may have to depend on what one is planning to cook, or, more accurately, on whether it will be cooked in a way that it can be eaten on Yom Tov.
How do we rule?
The Mishnah Berurah, in Biur Halacha (527:1), notes that it is unclear whether we rule according to Rabbah or according to Rav Chisda. He concludes, therefore, that it is preferred to be machmir and have the food cooked for Shabbos in a way that ho’il applies, particularly when we are dealing with a potential question of a Torah law, such as when the first day of Yom Tov falls on Friday, as it does this Shevi’i shel Pesach. This means that all the food cooked for Shabbos should be edible before Shabbos arrives. The Biur Halacha rules that, under extenuating circumstances, it is permitted to rely on the rishonim who rule according to Rav Chisda’s opinion, but it is preferable lechatchilah to have the food for Shabbos cooked in a way that it will be already edible on Friday.
When the the first day of Yom Tov falls on Thursday, and, therefore, Friday Yom Tov is miderabbanan, there is more latitude to be lenient.
Why is Shevi’i shel Pesachdifferent?
At this point, we can answer the third of our opening questions: Why is eruv tavshillin more significant on Shavuos and Shevi’i shel Pesach than any other Yom Tov?
In the calendar we currently use, the first day of Shavuos and Shevi’i shel Pesach never fall on Thursday, although they both often fall on Friday. When this happens, Friday is Yom Tov min haTorah, and it is important to plan the menu such that the meals cooked on Friday for Shabbos will be ready to eat when there is still time to eat them on Yom Tov.
At this point, we will examine the second point that we derived from the Mishnah, where it stated, “It is permitted to cook for Yom Tov, and, if there are leftovers, plan them to be for Shabbos.” In other words, even without having made an eruv tavshillin, there is a way to cook more than you need on Yom Tov in order to have plenty of leftovers, or, shall we call them, “plan-overs.” One may cook amply for the Yom Tov meal, knowing that there will certainly be leftovers that can be served on Shabbos. As a matter of fact, if one follows the halacha correctly here, it is even permitted to cook on the first day of Yom Tov planning to have enough leftover to serve on the second day, or even on a weekday. This is provided that each dish is, or could be, served at a Yom Tov meal on the day that it was prepared.
This plan-over preparation is called marbeh beshiurim, literally, “increasing the quantities,”which means that, while preparing food on Yom Tov, it is permitted to include a greater quantity while cooking, provided no additional melacha act is performed. For example, if you need to heat a small amount of water for a cup of tea, you may place a large pot of water on the fire, since only one act of heating water — placing a pot on the fire — is being performed.
However, it is prohibited if an additional melacha action is performed. For example, if the pot is already on the fire, you may not add extra water to it, since this involves a new melacha action.
Here are other examples. You are making a cholent or cooking soup; you may add greater quantities of meat, beans or other ingredients than you will need for your Yom Tov meal into the pot before it is placed on the stove, because you place the entire pot onto the fire at one time.You may fill a pot with meat on the first day of Yom Tov, even though you need only one piece for the first day.
However, it is prohibited to prepare individual units of a food item, knowing that you are preparing more than can possibly be eaten on Yom Tov. For this reason, you may not fry more schnitzel or similar items than you will possibly need for a Yom Tov meal, since these involve separate melacha actions. Similarly, it is forbidden to bake more than what you will possibly need for the day (Beitzah 17a). Adding water or meat before putting the pot on the fire simply increases the quantity cooked, but does not increase the number of melacha acts, whereas shaping each loaf or roll is done separately, thus increasing the number of acts performed.
Why is this permitted?
Why is it permitted to cook extra on Yom Tov by use of marbeh beshiurim? We would think that cooking extra on Yom Tov is forbidden, just as in a situation of pikuach nefesh, where it is forbidden to cook more than what is necessary for the needs of the ill person. Why, then, is it permitted to cook extra on Yom Tov, as long as no extra melacha actions are performed?
The Ran (Beitzah 9b in Rif pages, s.v. Umiha) explains that there is a qualitative difference between the performance of melacha actions on Shabbos (or Yom Tov) to save someone’s life, and cooking on Yom Tov. Although saving lives is a huge mitzvah and supersedes Shabbos, the act performed is still an act of melacha. On the other hand, prohibited activities on Yom Tov are defined as melachos that are not food preparatory. Preparing food on Yom Tov involves no melacha activity whatsoever, and is as permitted on Yom Tov as it is to set the table on Shabbos. Since no melacha activity is performed, there is nothing wrong with adding more to cook while the Yom Tov meal is prepared, provided that no additional melacha action is done.
At this point, let us examine one of our opening questions: “Why do many people use a hard-boiled egg for eruv tavshillin?”
It is permitted to continue cooking on Yom Tov for Shabbos only as long as the eruv tavshillin, or at least a kezayis of the cooked part of the eruv tavshillin, still exists. In the days before refrigeration, someone who prepared meat or a different food on Wednesday or Thursday for eating on Shabbos was faced with a practical problem. Once you cook food, it begins to spoil very quickly, if it is not refrigerated. Therefore, notes the Aruch Hashulchan, it was not uncommon that the eruv tavshillin was no longer edible when people were cooking on Wednesday for Shabbos, and an inedible eruv tavshillin is considered the same as one that no longer exists. If your eruv rots, there is no heter to permit cooking for Shabbos.
Using a hard-boiled egg for the eruv tavshillin resolved this problem, since an egg cooked before Yom Tov and kept without refrigeration will still be edible on Shabbos.
However, in today’s world, when you can place the cooked part of your eruv tavshillin in the refrigerator and it will last until Shabbos, it is preferred to use as eruv tavshillin a cooked delicacy that you intend to serve at the Shabbos meal. For this reason, my practice is to use for the eruv tavshillin the gefilte fish that will be served on Shabbos.
The Torah refers to the Yomim Tovim as mo’ed. Just as the word ohel mo’ed refers to the tent in the desert which served as a meeting place between Hashemand the Jewish people, so, too, a mo’ed is a meeting time between Hashemand the Jewish people (Hirsch, Vayikra 23:3 and Horeb). Unlike Shabbos,when we refrain from all melacha activity, on Yom Tov the Torah permits melacha activity that enhances the celebration of the Yom Tov as a mo’ed. Permitting us to cook delicious, fresh meals allows an even greater celebration of this unique meeting time with Hashem.