Chapter: Laws of the Festivals

Preface

With gratitude to the Almighty for the opportunity to study and teach Torah, we are proud to present the seventh English volume of Peninei Halakha. This volume codifies the laws of the Yom Tov and Ḥol Ha-mo’ed. The first eight … Continue reading

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01. The Idea of the Holidays

There are six holidays (Yamim Tovim)[*] mentioned in the Torah: a) the first day of Pesaḥ; b) the seventh day of Pesaḥ; c) Shavu’ot; d) Rosh Ha-shana; e) the first day of Sukkot; f) Shemini Atzeret         . We are commanded … Continue reading

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Introduction

I am grateful to God for providing me with the opportunity to study Torah and to teach it. The present volume, the Laws of the Festivals, addresses the laws of Yom Tov and Ḥol Ha-mo’ed. It is the natural outgrowth … Continue reading

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02. Agricultural Seasons and Judgment Days

The names of the regalim (pilgrimage festivals) reflect the agricultural periods in which they take place. Thus we read: “Three times a year, you shall hold a festival for Me: You shall observe the Festival of Unleavened Bread (Pesaḥ)…at the … Continue reading

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03. Israel and the Seasons

The sanctity of Shabbat is fixed and enduring. Since God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh, Shabbat is always on the seventh day of the week. In contrast, the sanctity of the festivals depends upon … Continue reading

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04. Shabbat and the Holidays – the Mitzvot and Their Punishments

Each of the six holidays mentioned above is the subject of a positive commandment to refrain from melakha (constructive labor) as well as a negative commandment against melakha. Thus, there are twelve mitzvot pertaining to resting on Yom Tov.[1] In … Continue reading

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05. Torah Study on Yom Tov

There is a mitzva to study a great deal of Torah on Shabbat and Yom Tov. As the Sages state: “Shabbat and Yom Tov were given to us solely for the purpose of learning Torah then” (y. Shabbat 15:3).There are … Continue reading

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06. Time for Learning and Eating

When it comes to the purpose of a holiday, there are two verses which seem to contradict each other. One verse tells us that the holiday is for God: “You shall hold a joyous gathering for the Lord your God … Continue reading

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07. The Festive Meals – “Mikra’ei Kodesh

It is a mitzva to have two festive meals on Yom Tov, one by night and one by day. This is one of the primary expressions of the sanctity of the holiday. All the holidays are referred to in the … Continue reading

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08. The Mitzva of Simḥa

There is a positive mitzva to experience simḥa (joy) on the festivals, as it is written: “You shall rejoice in your festival (ve-samaḥta be-ḥagekha)” (Devarim 16:14). We have already seen that Shabbat and Yom Tov are “mikra’ei kodesh” and that … Continue reading

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09. Meat and Wine at Yom Tov Meals

In Temple times, the joy of the pilgrimage festivals was expressed primarily through bringing ḥagiga offerings in Jerusalem, as we read, “You shall rejoice before the Lord your God…at the place where the Lord your God will choose to establish … Continue reading

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10. Women’s Mitzva of Simḥa

It is a positive commandment for women to rejoice on the festivals. Even though this is a time-bound positive commandment, it is incumbent upon both men and women, as the verse explicitly states: “You shall rejoice in your festival with … Continue reading

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11. To Enjoy and Bring Joy to Others

The mitzva of simḥa requires a man to include his entire family in his enjoyment, and to include the poor and despondent as well. This is not just a pious act, but is the simḥa required by the Torah: “You … Continue reading

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12. Festival Expenses

In general, the Sages encourage everyone to minimize expenses and to save money. People can use their savings to help their children train in a profession and start a family as well as to support themselves in their old age. … Continue reading

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13. Singing, Dancing, and Outings

Anything that brings one joy is included in the mitzva of simḥat ḥag. This includes singing, dancing, and tiyulim (outings). The more singing and praising God, the better. Torah giants composed religious poems and hymns to praise and thank God … Continue reading

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14. The Festive Mood and the Prohibition of Mourning and Sadness

It is a mitzva to be in good spirits for the duration of the festival. At first glance, this would seem to be an easy mitzva, since everybody wants to be happy. However, in practice this mitzva is difficult to … Continue reading

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15. The Mitzva of Making a Pilgrimage to Jerusalem in Temple Times

As long as the Temple stood, there was a mitzva to travel there for the festivals: “Three times a year, all your males shall appear (yeira’eh, literally ‘will be seen’) before the Sovereign Lord, the God of Israel” (Shemot 34:23). … Continue reading

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16. Making the Pilgrimage Nowadays

The commandment to make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem was nullified with the destruction of the Temple, as the mitzva is dependent on the ability to bring the offerings. Nevertheless, many Jews came and continue to come to Jerusalem for the … Continue reading

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17. Visiting One’s Rabbi

“One must visit his rabbi on the three pilgrimage festivals” (RH 16b; Sukka 27b). This is so that he can honor his rabbi and learn Torah from him. Doing so allows a person to connect with his rabbi and receive … Continue reading

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01. Preparations

Just as there is a mitzva on Shabbat to honor it (kavod) and to make it a delight (oneg), so too there is a mitzva to honor and delight in Yom Tov (above, 1:7-8). Therefore, everything which the Sages instructed … Continue reading

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02. Candle Lighting

Just as the Sages ordained candle lighting for Shabbat, so they ordained candle lighting for Yom Tov. Lighting candles honors the festival and adds joy to the meal. Since this is a mitzva, a berakha is recited: “Barukh ata Hashem … Continue reading

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03. The Yom Tov Amida

The Amida on Yom Tov (the following describes all prayers, except for Musaf, of all holidays except Rosh Ha-shana) has seven berakhot, just like the Amida for Shabbat. The formulations of the first three and last three berakhot are the … Continue reading

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04. The Amida When Yom Tov Coincides with Shabbat

When Yom Tov and Shabbat coincide, the Amida is that of Yom Tov, with Shabbat-specific insertions. Each time both Shabbat and Yom Tov are mentioned, Shabbat is mentioned first, as it is both holier and more frequent. The conclusion of … Continue reading

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05. Kiddush and the Festive Meal

On Yom Tov night, just as on Friday night, there is a mitzva to recite kiddush over a cup of wine, at the site of the festive meal. The Sages ordained that the sanctity of the day be invoked in … Continue reading

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06. Birkat Ha-mazon

On Yom Tov, Ḥol Ha-mo’ed, and Rosh Ḥodesh, the Sages ordained that the sanctity of the day be invoked in Birkat Ha-mazon, as eating on these holy days is not the same as eating during the week. It is endowed … Continue reading

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07. Hallel

It is a mitzva to thank and praise God for the festivals He gave us; we therefore recite Hallel. However, Hallel is not said on every festival. There are three requirements which must be met for Hallel to be said: … Continue reading

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08. Torah Reading on Yom Tov and Ḥol Ha-mo’ed

An ordinance from the time of Moshe Rabbeinu mandates reading the Torah every Monday, Thursday, and Shabbat, so that three days never go by without a public Torah reading (BK 82a). Over the course of time, the custom developed to … Continue reading

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09. The Musaf Amida and Ve-te’erav

The three prayer services that we recite each day correspond to the three patriarchs as well as to the daily sacrifices in the Temple. Shaḥarit and Minḥa correspond to the two daily (tamid) offerings in the morning and afternoon, respectively, … Continue reading

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10. Reading the Megillot

The Sages state in a beraita in Masekhet Sofrim (14:1) that over the course of the year we publicly read all five megillot (scrolls): Shir Ha-shirim on Pesaḥ, Rut on Shavu’ot, Eikha on Tisha Be-Av, Kohelet on Sukkot, and Esther … Continue reading

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11. Havdala

Just as there is a mitzva to make havdala at the end of Shabbat, so too there is a mitzva to do so at the end of Yom Tov, giving verbal expression to the difference between the sanctity of Yom … Continue reading

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12. When Yom Tov Follows Shabbat

When Yom Tov begins as Shabbat departs on Saturday night, we must take care not to prepare on Shabbat for Yom Tov. Shabbat is meant to be holy and restful, not a day to prepare for another day. Making efforts … Continue reading

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13. Isru Ḥag

It is a good custom to eat and drink a little more than usual on the day following a festival (Rema 429:2), since the aura of the festival spills over into it. In the Yerushalmi, this day is referred to … Continue reading

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01. Why Melakha Is Forbidden on Yom Tov

On the holy days of Shabbat and Yom Tov, one may not do melakha, for at these times we transcend the limitations of this world, with all its sinfulness and cursedness, in which man must work hard to sustain and … Continue reading

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02. Melakhot Permitted on Yom Tov

On Shabbat, one may not do any melakha, as the verse explicitly states: “But the seventh day is a Shabbat of the Lord your God; you shall not do any melakha” (Shemot 20:10). In contrast, on Yom Tov, one may … Continue reading

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03. The Principle of Mitokh

There is a basic principle that applies to all melakhot that are permitted for food preparation on Yom Tov: once (mitokh) they are permitted for purposes of food preparation (le-tzorekh okhel nefesh), they are permitted for other purposes as well. … Continue reading

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04. Melakhot Are Permitted Only for the Sake of Yom Tov

All of the melakhot that are permitted on Yom Tov are permitted only for the sake of Yom Tov; it is forbidden by Torah law to do melakha for weekday needs. Therefore, if one cooks toward the end of Yom … Continue reading

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05. For Non-Jews and for Animals

The melakhot permitted on Yom Tov are permitted for the sake of the mitzva of simḥa of Yom Tov. Therefore, one may cook for other Jews, since they too have a mitzva to rejoice on Yom Tov. However, it is … Continue reading

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06. Shaveh Le-khol Nefesh

When melakhot are permitted on Yom Tov for food preparation or other Yom Tov pleasures, they are permitted on condition that one performs them for the sake of something which is shaveh le-khol nefesh, which means that most people derive … Continue reading

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07. Cooking More Yom Tov Food than Needed

Even though a Yom Tov meal can be enjoyed with only one dish, one who wishes to enhance his simḥa of Yom Tov may cook many different dishes, as is standard when preparing the most sumptuous of meals. One who … Continue reading

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08. Food That Could Have Been Prepared Before Yom Tov

The basis for the permissibility of doing melakha on Yom Tov is to prepare and improve dishes and thereby enhance the simḥa of the festival. The taste of fresh bread from the oven cannot be compared to the taste of … Continue reading

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