Muktzah on Yom Tov

Question #1: Not far from the tree

An apple fell off my tree on Shabbos or Yom Tov. May I eat it?

Question #2: Raid the pantry!

We live in an apartment right above our grocery store. On Shabbos and Yom Tov, may we help ourselves to items that are in the store?

Question #3: Will these bones live?

May Fido’s Yom Tov seudah include leftover bones?

Introduction

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 (Shemos 12:16),“No work should be performed on these days. However, that which is eaten by everyone, only that may be prepared for yourselves.” We see from the pasuk that, although most melachos are forbidden on Yom Tov, cooking and other food preparations are permitted.

Imagine preparing a meal in the days of Chazal, or even as recently as just over one hundred years ago. Refrigeration and most modern methods of preserving food do not exist. Most food cooked earlier than the day it is served will be spoiled, or at least not particularly tasty. Therefore, virtually all preparations for a festive meal must be done on the day of the occasion. Not only all the baking and cooking, but even the shechitah and salting the meat (kashering) are performed the day the meal is served. To guarantee that our Yom Tov feasts are memorable and quality events, the Torah permitted any activity necessary to prepare a meal that will be served on Yom Tov.

In truth, there are a few food preparatory activities that are not necessary to have a delicious meal that day. It is rarely necessary to pick fruit and vegetables on the day that they are to be eaten — they can be picked a few days in advance of a banquet, without any risk of spoilage. Similarly, juices and oil can be squeezed a few days in advance, without affecting them adversely. We will see, shortly, some of the halachic ramifications of these observations.

Laying an egg

The freshest egg is one recently laid. May I cook on Yom Tov an egg that was laid the very same day? The opening Mishnah of Mesechta Beitzah, which is the primary source for the laws of Yom Tov, quotes a dispute in which Beis Shammai rules that an egg laid on Yom Tov may be eaten that day, whereas Beis Hillel rules that it may not. This is an atypical situation, since Beis Shammai rules more leniently than Beis Hillel; usually, Beis Hillel is the more lenient (see Eduyos, Chapter 4).

Which came first, the chicken?

The Gemara inquires why Beis Hillel prohibits eating an egg laid on Yom Tov. After all, it is permitted to shecht a hen on Yom Tov and, thereby, eat its as-yet-to-be-laid egg. To resolve this conundrum, the Gemara (Beitzah 2a-3a) presents four approaches:

A. The Mishnah is discussing a hen that is a professional, designated egg-layer, not yet ready for retirement to the pot. Since this hen is still considered more valuable for its egg- laying talents, it would not be used typically for meat, which will permanently hamper its ability to produce eggs. This protected status renders the hen muktzah as a meat source on Yom Tov, since we assume that its owner does not consider it a candidate for the Yom Tov pot. Because of a concept called nolad — that the egg makes its grand appearance from a muktzah hen on Yom Tov — Beis Hillel considers not only the hen muktzah and not for Yom Tov consumption, but also its egg.

On the other hand, Beis Shammai does not consider this hen to be muktzah, since every farmer and homeowner always realizes where a hen’s retirement home is and never loses track of its ability to be a source of Yom Tov meat. Therefore, they permit shechting this hen on Yom Tov, and, as goes the hen, so goes its egg, even one laid on Yom Tov. Anything laid by a hen that is not muktzah cannot be muktzah.

Although a great scholar, Rav Nachman, explains the dispute between Beis Hillel and Beis Shammai in this fashion, the Gemara calls a technical foul (or should I say “fowl”?) on his reason — the wording of the Mishnah seems to indicate that the status of the hen is not the source of the dispute between the two esteemed academies.

Or the egg?

B. The second great scholar to explain Beis Hillel’s position is Rabbah. He contends that Beis Hillel prohibits any egg laid on Yom Tov, regardless of whether the hen is muktzah or not. Rabbah’s rationale is based on a concept called hachanah. When the Torah describes preparing the mann on Erev Shabbos to eat it on Shabbos, it uses seemingly unnecessary words. Rabbah derives from these words that there is a category of muktzah that is prohibited min haTorah.

Rabbah understands that Beis Hillel accepts this halachic genre, which teaches that a food that did not exist in edible form prior to the onset of Shabbos or Yom Tov is muktzah, and a freshly laid egg fits this category. Beis Shammai does not accept the concept of hachanah – and this explains why the latter academy permits an egg laid on Yom Tov.

The fruit does not fall…

C. The Gemara (Beitzah 3a) ultimately concludes that not all amora’im accept the halachic status that Rabbah calls hachanah. Among those who reject it are Rav Yosef and Rav Yitzchak. Since they also did not accept Rav Nachman’s approach, they present other approaches to explain why Beis Hillel banned consumption of an egg laid on Yom Tov.

Rav Yosef interprets that Beis Hillel prohibits any egg laid on Yom Tov because it was included in a rabbinic prohibition banning fruit that fell off a tree on Yom Tov. These fruits are prohibited because of concern that someone might pick produce on Yom Tov. As I explained above, failure to harvest fruit, vegetables or grains on the day of Yom Tov itself will not disturb the festivity or pleasure of a Yom Tov repast (Tosafos, Beitzah 3a). As such, although most food preparations are permitted on Yom Tov, picking fruit is not. Not only that, but Chazal prohibited eating fruit that fell off a tree on its own, out of concern that someone might pick fruit on Yom Tov. This is itself very curious, because it is not clear whether harvesting fruit on Yom Tov is prohibited min haTorah or only miderabbanan. (Rashi [Beitzah 3a s.v. Veyitlosh] and many rishonim understand that harvesting fruit is prohibited min haTorah on Yom Tov, whereas many other rishonim disagree and contend that it is prohibited only miderabbanan [Tosafos 3a s.v. Gezeirah; Rambam, Hilchos Yom Tov 1:5-7; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 495:2].)

Not far from the tree

At this point, we can answer our opening question: “An apple fell off my tree on Shabbos or Yom Tov. May I eat it?”

The answer is that, because of a rabbinic injunction, I must wait until after Shabbos or Yom Tov to eat it.

Free-run juice

D. Rav Yitzchak disagrees with Rav Yosef’s approach that the reason why Beis Hillel prohibits an egg laid on Yom Tov is because it is included in the rabbinic prohibition banning fruit that fell off a tree on Yom Tov. Rav Yitzchak agrees that the fallen fruits are prohibited, but he contends that freshly laid eggs are not included in that prohibition. Instead, Rav Yitzchak includes eggs laid on Yom Tov under a different rabbinic prohibition – that which bans consuming juice or oil that flows out of a fruit by itself (called “free-run juice”) on Yom Tov, until Yom Tov is over. This juice is prohibited, because of concern that someone might squeeze fruit on Yom Tov. All halachic authorities prohibit squeezing fruit such as grapes, olives or pomegranates on Yom Tov, although it is disputed whether this prohibition is min haTorah or miderabbanan. Beis Shammai agrees that free-run fruit juice or oil is prohibited on Yom Tov. According to Rav Yitzchak’s opinion, Beis Shammai does not include eggs in this prohibition, whereas Beis Hillel does.

Yom Tov stricter than Shabbos?!

In the course of the above lengthy debate, the Gemara points out that the Mishnah’s principles regarding the laws of muktzah are stricter on Yom Tov than they are on Shabbos. The Gemara (Beitzah 2b) then asks, why did Rebbi, the author of the Mishnah, treat Yom Tov more strictly than Shabbos? Should not Shabbos, where the laws of melacha are more severe (see Mishnah, Megillah 7b), have stricter muktzah rules than Yom Tov?

The Gemara concludes that, since Yom Tov has many halachic leniencies, people might bend its laws when forbidden to do so. In order to reinforce the proper observance of Yom Tov, certain categories of muktzah were made stricter on Yom Tov than they are on Shabbos.

Many early halachic authorities rule this way. Here are a few examples of items that are muktzah on Yom Tov, notwithstanding that they are not muktzah on Shabbos:

Edible merchandise

Edible merchandise that you intend to sell, such as fruits, vegetables or treats, are not muktzah, should you decide that you want to eat them on Shabbos. However, on Yom Tov these items are muktzah and cannot be consumed, since, when Yom Tov started, you intended to leave them as items to be sold in your business and not consumed at home (Mishnah Berurah 495:20).

We can now answer the second of our opening questions: “We live in an apartment right above our grocery store. On Shabbos and Yom Tov, may we help ourselves to items that are in the store?”

The answer is that on Shabbos this is permitted (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 310:2), whereas on Yom Tov it is not!

Partly dried fruit

Another example of an item that is muktzah on Yom Tov but not on Shabbos is fruit set aside to dry which is not fully dried when Yom Tov begins. If they are not yet dry enough for most people to eat them, it is not permitted to eat them on Yom Tov. However, if they are dry enough that some people would eat them, they are not muktzah on Shabbos, notwithstanding that most people would not eat them (Shaar Hatizyun 495:31).

Will these bones live?

Yet another example is leftover bones. The case would be that on Shabbos or Yom Tov you ate meat and you want to give the leftover bones to your dog. If the bones were considered part of a “people food” when Shabbos or Yom Tov started and are now considered animal food, they have a status called nolad,a category of muktzah that most poskim prohibit on Yom Tov, but not on Shabbos. Nolad means that the item changed status during Shabbos or Yom Tov – in this case, it changed from being food to feed.

This allows us to answer the last of our opening questions: “May Fido’s Yom Tov seudah include leftover bones?” The answer is that you may not feed Fido leftover bones on Yom Tov, although it is permitted to feed him the bones on Shabbos, because the laws of muktzah are stricter on Yom Tov (Mishnah Berurah 495:17).

Muktzah only on Shabbos

On the other hand, because the melachos of food preparation, such as shechting, cooking and kneading, are permitted on Yom Tov, sometimes something is muktzah on Shabbos but not on Yom Tov. In order to explain this adequately, I need to digress a little and explain some of the general rules of muktzah that apply every Shabbos and Yom Tov. There are three levels of muktzah:

K’li she’me’lachto le’heter

This is an item whose primary use is permitted, such as a chair or a pillow. These items can be moved on Shabbos or Yom Tov in order to accomplish one of three purposes:

(1) To use it.

(2) To use the place where it is located.

(3) To avoid it becoming stolen, lost or damaged.

However, it may not be moved without any reason (Shabbos 123b-124a; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 308:4).

K’li she’me’lachto le’issur

This is an item whose primary use is forbidden, such as a hammer (primary use is to hammer nails, which violates the melacha of boneh) or a needle (primary use is to sew, which violates the melacha of tofeir), although you might have a permitted reason to use it. Items in this category may be moved to accomplish one of two purposes:

(1) To use it. If there is a need to use it for a purpose that is permitted and there is no k’li she’me’lachto le’heter readily available to do the job (Shabbos 124a). For example, it is permitted to use a hammer on Shabbos or Yom Tov to open a coconut, or a needle on Yom Tov to sew closed a chicken or turkey that you are baking with its stuffing inside.

(2) To use the place where it is located. For example, you accidentally left a hammer on a chair that is needed on Shabbos or Yom Tov.

Under normal circumstances, k’li she’me’lachto le’issur may not be moved for any other purpose, including concern that it may be stolen, damaged or lost.

Completely muktzah

These are items that may not be moved on Shabbos. This includes items that are not considered “utensils,” such as stones, wood and animals.

Differences between Yom Tov and Shabbos

Because it is permitted to cook and prepare food on Yom Tov, the definition of what fits into each category on Yom Tov is often not the same as it is on Shabbos. For example, cooking utensils are usually categorized as k’li shemelachto le’issur on Shabbos and can be moved only if you have a Shabbos use for them, or you need their place for something else. However, these same items are k’li shemelachto le’heter on Yom Tov, since it is permitted to cook with them. Therefore, on Yom Tov, they can be moved, even if your only reason to move them is that you are afraid that they might become damaged where they are. In other terms: If the Torah permitted us to cook on Yom Tov, pots and stoves are therefore not muktzah on Yom Tov, although they have the status of k’li she’me’lachto le’issur on Shabbos.

Here is another example of a type of item that is muktzah on Shabbos, but not on Yom Tov. On Shabbos, charcoal, pieces of wood and other items that can be used as fuel are muktzah because they have no use. On Yom Tov, however, when cooking is permitted, charcoal and wood are usually not muktzah. Wood that fell or was chopped from a tree on Yom Tov is muktzah.

Moving muktzah to cook on Yom Tov

There is another leniency that applies on Yom Tov that does not apply on Shabbos. It is permitted to move a muktzah item on Yom Tov in order to enable the preparation of food or to enhance simchas Yom Tov (Rema, Orach Chayim 509:6 and 518:3). For example, a completely muktzah item was left or placed on top of a stove or a counter that you need to prepare food. You are permitted to pick up the muktzah item with your hands and move it, in order to cook and prepare food (Mishnah Berurah 509:31; 518:23). Since on Yom Tov it is permitted to cook and prepare food, if the prohibition of muktzah would disturb the ability to cook or otherwise prepare food on Yom Tov, it is permitted to move the muktzah item.

Conclusion

The Torah refers to the Yomim Tovim as Mo’eid. Just as the word ohel mo’eid refers to the tent in the desert which served as a meeting place between Hashemand the Jewish people, so, too, a mo’eid is a meeting time between Hashem and the Jewish people (Hirsch, Vayikra 23:3 and Horeb). Although on Shabbos we are to refrain from all melacha activity, on Yom Tov the Torah permitted melacha activity that enhances the celebration of the Yom Tov as a mo’eid. Permitting the preparation of delicious, freshly prepared meals allows an even greater celebration of the festivities of the Yom Tov, as we honor our unique relationship with Hashem.

More on the Laws of Yom Tov

Photo by Rene Cerney from FreeImages

There are several articles on the various topics germane to Shavuos available on this website. Search for dairy bread, Eruv Tavshillin, Nat, Shavuos, and Yom Tov.

Question #1: Plan-overs on Yom Tov

“I have been told that there is a way to cook more than you need on Yom Tov in order to have plenty of leftovers for Chol Hamoed or for after Yom Tov. How does that work?”

Question #2: Muktzah Grill

“I own a portable, charcoal-fired grill. Is it muktzah on Yom Tov?”

Question #3: Fireplace on Yom Tov?

“May I use my fireplace on Yom Tov?”

Answer:

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. Yet, we also see that this posuk does not provide a blanket approval for all food preparations, but limits it to that which is eaten by everyone (kol nefesh), and furthermore permits only performing melacha “for yourselves” as the beneficiaries. We will see, shortly, what these pesukim include and exclude.

This article is not a full review of the rules of Yom Tov observance; rather, it focuses on some details of the laws of preparing food on Yom Tov, with which many people are unfamiliar. As always, this article is not meant to provide halachic guidance for our readers – that is the role of the individual’s rav or posek. The purpose of this article is to provide background and to explain concepts.

Kol nefesh

The posuk permits cooking and food preparation. Certain other activities are also permitted, even though they are not food preparatory, such as carrying, but these activities are permitted only when there is a Yom Tov purpose or benefit (Tosafos, Beitzah 12a). Nevertheless, activities such as burning incense are forbidden on Yom Tov, because the Torah permits only that which kol nefesh,“everyone,” appreciates; not everyone appreciates the smell of burning incense (Mishnah, Beitzah 22b; Kesubos 7a; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 511:4). On the other hand, it is permitted to add a pleasant fragrance to food that will be eaten, since this is considered tzorach ochel nefesh, a food purpose (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 511:4 and Mishnah Berurah ad locum).

Most authorities prohibit smoking on Yom Tov, because many people do not appreciate its “benefits.” Even in earlier generations, when the dangers of smoking tobacco were not known, there was a large discussion among halachic authorities whether smoking is permitted on Yom Tov, because of the concern that it does not qualify as something that kol nefesh enjoys (Magen Avraham 514:4, Pri Megadim and Chasam Sofer ad locum; Mor Uketziyah, 511; Pnei Yehoshua, Shabbos 39b s.v. Ve’omer R”I; Korban Nesanel, Beitzah 2:22:10 et al.)

Cooking that is prohibited

Even cooking and other food preparations are not always permitted on Yom Tov. For example, it is permitted to cook and prepare food on Yom Tov only when that food will be served on Yom Tov, but it is forbidden to cook on Yom Tov for Chol Hamo’ed, on the first day of Yom Tov for the second day, or on either day of Yom Tov for after the holiday is over. Even cooking on a Yom Tov that falls on a Friday for Shabbos is permitted only when one first makes an eruv tavshillin, a topic for a different time. Similarly, preparing the meals of the second night of Yom Tov may not take place on the first day of Yom Tov. For this reason, a common custom in Eastern Europe was to delay maariv on the second night of Yom Tov in order to discourage beginning the meal preparations before the first day of Yom Tov was over. (Remember that, in those days, preparing the meal before Yom Tov and freezing or refrigerating it so that it could be warmed up was not an option.) The davening was delayed intentionally, so that by the time the men returned home from shul, the women would have had sufficient time after the first day of Yom Tov had ended to prepare the meal.

Cooking on Yom Tov for a non-Jew is prohibited (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 518:2). Furthermore, Chazal forbade inviting a non-Jew for a Yom Tov meal, out of concern that a Jew might cook specifically for him on Yom Tov (Beitzah 21b). It is permitted to invite non-Jewish domestic help for a Yom Tov meal, since you would not prepare for them a special dish (Rosh; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 512:1). However, you may not cook for them on Yom Tov.

Similarly, it is forbidden to cook or do other melacha on Yom Tov for an animal. Thus, although it is permitted to mix baby cereal on Yom Tov, even in a way that is prohibited on Shabbos because of the melacha of losh, kneading, this can be done on Yom Tov only for a Jewish child. To prepare this product for a non-Jew or for a pet is not permitted on Yom Tov, since this involves a melacha activity. Similar to cooking and other food preparatory melachos, losh is permitted on Yom Tov, but only to provide food for someone Jewish.

Plan-overs

At this point, we can begin discussing the answer to our opening question: “I have been told that there is a way to cook more than you need on Yom Tov in order to have plenty of leftovers for Chol Hamoed or for after Yom Tov. How does that work?”

Adding more

One type of cooking that is permitted on Yom Tov is called marbeh be’shiurim, 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, this 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 activity.

Here are other examples. If you are making a cholent or cooking soup, you may add into the pot greater quantities of meat, beans or other ingredients than you will need for your Yom Tov meal 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 necessary 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. Shaping each loaf or roll is done separately, which is forbidden on Yom Tov as unnecessary work.

Why is this permitted?

Why is it permitted to cook extra on Yom Tov by use of marbeh be’shiurim? We would think that cooking extra on Yom Tov is forbidden, just as in a situation of pikuach nefesh, when it is forbidden to cook more than what is necessary for the needs of the ill person. So, why 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, versus cooking on Yom Tov. Although saving lives is a huge mitzvah, even if it involves desecrating Shabbos, the act performed is still a melacha on Shabbos. The Torah permitted this melacha, because saving lives is more important.

On the other hand, when the Torah defined prohibited activities on Yom Tov, it defined the prohibition 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 in the course of preparing the Yom Tov meal, provided that no additional actions are done.

Muktzah on Yom Tov

In general, the laws of muktzah apply on Yom Tov, although there are many situations in which the laws are different from the way these laws are applied on Shabbos. First we will review the basic categories of muktzah, so that I can explain how the rules are different on Yom Tov.

There are three levels of muktzah:

A         Kli she’me’lachto leheter is an item whose primary use is permitted, such as a chair or pillow. Such an item can be moved on Shabbos or Yom Tov in order to accomplish one of three purposes:

(1) To use it.

(2) To use the place where it is located.

(3) To avoid it becoming stolen, lost or damaged.

However, it may not be moved without any reason (Shabbos 123b-124a; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 308:4).

Therefore, if you left a pillow on your open porch and you are afraid that it will rain, you can bring the pillow indoors. You are also permitted to use it for a pillow fight, assuming the other person is agreeable to the pillow fight. (If they are not, it would be prohibited to use it for this purpose even on a weekday.) However, it is not permitted to move a pillow without any purpose at all.

B         Kli she’me’lachto le’issur is an item whose primary use is forbidden, such as a hammer or a needle, although you might have a permitted reason to use it. An item in this category may be moved to accomplish one of two purposes:

(1) To use it. If there is a need to use it for a purpose that is permitted, and there is no kli she’me’lachto leheter readily available to do the job (Shabbos 124a). For example, it is permitted to use a hammer on Shabbos or Yom Tov to open a coconut, or a needle to remove a splinter. (In the latter case, you should try to avoid causing bleeding.)

(2) To use the place where it is located.

Under normal circumstances, it may not be moved for any other purpose. It may not be moved when your reason to move it is concern that it may be stolen, damaged or lost.

C         Completely muktzah

These are items that may not be moved for most purposes on Shabbos or Yom Tov.

Differences between Yom Tov and Shabbos

Because it is permitted to cook and prepare food on Yom Tov, the definitions of what fits into the above categories on Yom Tov are not necessarily the same as they are on Shabbos. For example, utensils used to cook are usually categorized as kli she’me’lachto le’isur on Shabbos and, therefore, can be moved only if you have a Shabbos use for them, or you need their place for something else. However, these same items are kli she’me’lachto leheter on Yom Tov, since it is permitted to cook with them, and therefore they can be moved on Yom Tov, even if your only reason to move them is that you are afraid that they might become damaged.

Here is another example of a type of item that is muktzah on Shabbos, but not necessarily so on Yom Tov. Charcoal, pieces of wood and other items that can be used as fuel are completely muktzah, because they have no use on Shabbos. However, on Yom Tov, when cooking is permitted, these types of fuel may not be muktzah, as I will explain.

Lighting candles

A candle is another example of an item that is not muktzah on Yom Tov, although it is muktzah on Shabbos. Although it is prohibited to strike a match on Yom Tov (see below), it is permitted to kindle a candle.

Lighting a candle that has no purpose is prohibited. But it is permitted to light a candle to put on the table, even if its illumination is not noticeable, since this enhances the honor of Yom Tov (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 514:5). Similarly, it is permitted to kindle a candle in shul, even in the daytime, since it enhances the honor of Yom Tov (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 514:5 and Mishnah Berurah 31).

Moving muktzah to cook on Yom Tov

There is another leniency that applies on Yom Tov that does not apply on Shabbos. It is permitted to move a muktzah item on Yom Tov in order to enable the preparation of food or to enhance simchas Yom Tov (Rema, Orach Chayim 509:6 and 518:3). For example, a muktzah item was left or placed on top of a stove or a counter that you need to prepare food. You are permitted to pick up the muktzah item with your hands and move it in order to cook and prepare food (Mishnah Berurah 509:31; 518:23). Since, on Yom Tov, it is permitted to cook and prepare food, if the prohibition of muktzah would disturb the ability to cook or otherwise prepare food, it is permitted to move the muktzah item.

New fire

Creating a new fire on Yom Tov is forbidden (Mishnah Beitzah 33a). Therefore, it is prohibited to create a flame by using a flint, rubbing stones together, or striking a match. Similarly, it is prohibited on Yom Tov to light the stove by using the electric igniter.

Muktzah Grill

At this point, we are in a position to address the second of our opening questions: “I own a portable, charcoal-fired grill. Is it muktzah on Yom Tov?” The answer is that, even if you have no intention to use the grill, on Yom Tov it has the status of kli she’me’lachto leheter. As a result, not only can it be moved if you need the place where it is currently located for some other item or purpose, but it can be moved even when the only concern is that it will get damaged or stolen.

Fireplaces on Yom Tov

Many people are surprised to discover that it is permitted to use a fireplace on Yom Tov, either for cooking or warmth, and that it is also permitted to barbecue on Yom Tov. As we noted above, the fireplace or grill must be kindled from an existent flame – but once it is kindled, you may add lighter fluid, charcoal or wood to the fire as needed. It is even permitted to take a burning piece of wood from one side of the fire and move it to another side, to have the fire burn stronger (Rema, Orach Chayim 502:2). The Rema rules that we are not concerned about extinguishing the flame on this piece of wood, because your intent is to make the fire burn better. It is permitted to place food on the grill or fireplace, even though you extinguish the flame a bit with the food or with the drippings. If you add wood to the fire, it must be wood that is assumed to be used for adding to a fireplace or wood-burning stove, as opposed to adding something such as construction lumber, which is not permitted because it is mukztah.

It is not permitted to split the wood, if you can use it without doing do (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 501:2). This is prohibited because this tedious work is unnecessary. There are many detailed halachos regarding use of fallen wood on Yom Tov (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 501:3-6), and the simplest solution is to use only wood that you have set aside from before Yom Tov for this purpose.

Conclusion

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 Hashem and the Jewish people (Hirsch, Vayikra 23:3 and Horeb). Although on Shabbos we are to refrain from all melacha activity, on Yom Tov the Torah permitted melacha activity that enhances the celebration of the Yom Tov as a mo’ed. Permitting the preparations of delicious, freshly prepared meals allows an even greater celebration of the festivities of the Yom Tov, as we celebrate our unique relationship with Hashem.

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