08 – Eruv Tavshilin

01. The Reason for Eruv Tavshilin

When Yom Tov is followed by Shabbat, it is a mitzva to set aside an eruv tavshilin before Yom Tov. Doing so makes it permissible to cook and bake on Yom Tov for Shabbat. The eruv consists of food that is prepared before Yom Tov for Shabbat. It is called an eruv (literally “merging”) because it merges or joins together the food of Yom Tov and the food of Shabbat. Once the eruv has been set aside, then just as it is permissible to bake and cook on Yom Tov for Yom Tov purposes, it becomes permissible to bake and cook on Yom Tov for Shabbat purposes as well. True, on the Torah level it is permitted to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbat even without an eruv, but the Sages prohibited doing so, in order to preserve the honor and dignity of both Yom Tov and Shabbat (Beitza 15b).

The honor of Yom Tov: The Sages were concerned that were it permissible to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbat unconditionally, people would also cook on Yom Tov for the upcoming week, thus transgressing a Torah prohibition. Therefore, the Sages permitted cooking on Yom Tov for Shabbat only for those who began the Shabbat preparation before Yom Tov by setting aside an eruv tavshilin. Then any preparation for Shabbat undertaken on Yom Tov is simply a continuation of what was begun before Yom Tov. Once people are aware that without an eruv tavshilin they may not cook on Yom Tov for Shabbat, they will realize that it is certainly prohibited to cook on Yom Tov for the upcoming week (R. Ashi’s opinion in the Gemara).

The honor of Shabbat: The Sages were concerned that because of the focus on preparing Yom Tov meals, people might forget that Shabbat was the next day, and would finish all the good food on Yom Tov. Therefore, the Sages required setting aside an eruv tavshilin before Yom Tov, which would help people remember on Yom Tov to leave some good food for Shabbat (Rava’s opinion in the Gemara). Since an eruv tavshilin both honors Yom Tov and ensures that Shabbat will not be forgotten, it is a mitzva for every Jew to set one aside.

One must make sure to complete cooking for Shabbat before shki’a on Friday, so that in theory, the food being cooked could be eaten on Yom Tov if unexpected guests drop by.[1]


[1]. If there were a Torah prohibition on cooking on Yom Tov for Shabbat, a rabbinic enactment could not have made it permissible. The Amora’im disagree as to the precise nature of the prohibition that is bypassed with an eruv. Rabba argues that since (ho’il) if guests were to arrive on Yom Tov they could enjoy the food cooked on Yom Tov for Shabbat, the cooking was not necessarily for Shabbat. Thus cooking on Yom Tov for afterward is not transgressing on a Torah level but on a rabbinic level, and an eruv can permit such cooking for Shabbat. (This position is referred to as ho’il, “since.”) R. Ḥisda disagrees with this position. Accordingly, one who intentionally cooks on Yom Tov for the upcoming week is subject to lashes, despite the possibility that guests will come and eat the food. Nevertheless, R. Ḥisda is of the opinion that the Torah permits cooking on Yom Tov for Shabbat. The only reason an eruv is necessary is because of the rabbinic concern mentioned above – that if it were permissible to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbat unconditionally, people would also cook on Yom Tov for the upcoming week, thus transgressing a Torah prohibition (Pesaḥim 46b).

In practice, most poskim follow Rabba (Rif, Rosh, Ramban, Rashba, Ran, Smag, Hagahot Maimoniyot), while some follow R. Ḥisda (Ha-ma’or, Rabbeinu Ḥananel, Rabbeinu Ephraim, Ritzba). Rambam incorporates elements of both positions – Rabba’s ho’il as well as R. Ḥisda’s concern (Beit Yosef 527:1).

Tosafot (Pesaḥim 46b s.v. “Rabba”), Rashba, and Mordechai state that according to Rabba, if one cooks on Yom Tov close to shki’a, when it is impossible that guests will benefit from his cooking, he transgresses a Torah prohibition. Based on this, Magen Avraham (beginning of §527) comments that even if one has set aside an eruv, he must be careful to finish cooking on Yom Tov while there is still plenty of daylight, so that were guests to arrive they would be able to enjoy the food. This is also the opinion of Eliya Rabba 527:2; SAH ad loc. 1; Ḥemed Moshe ad loc. 1; MB ad loc. 2; and Ben Ish Ḥai, Tzav §6. Pri Megadim is inclined this way as well.

In contrast, many poskim maintain that one may cook until shki’a (Radbaz 2:668; Rishon Le-Tziyon, Beitza 2b; Sho’el U-meshiv, Mahadura Tinyana 2:10). They are relying on the Rishonim who follow R. Ḥisda completely (so ho’il is not taken into account). They are also relying on Rambam who feels that Rabba agrees with R. Ḥisda, as he follows Rabba in one place (Laws of Yom Tov 1:15) and R. Ḥisda in another (6:1). Pri Megadim (Hilkhot Yom Tov, Petiḥa 1:17) and AHS (527:3) point out that this accords with the common custom to cook for Shabbat on Yom Tov up until shki’a.

At first glance, there seems to be a problem. Since most Rishonim believe that the halakha follows Rabba, and in their opinion the prohibition of cooking on Yom Tov for afterward is a Torah prohibition, how can we disregard their position by cooking until shki’a? Furthermore, how is it possible that all the Rishonim who follow Rabba do not specifically admonish people to make sure to finish cooking earlier in the day, so that the food could be eaten before shki’a? We can suggest that in fact, the food in question will almost always be cooked enough to be edible on Yom Tov. After all, we can assume that the cooking begins before lighting Shabbat candles, since people want to be able to stir the food and add the appropriate spices. Therefore, they are certainly putting the food on the fire a significant amount of time before shki’a. Additionally, those Rishonim who follow Rabba may think that the opposing opinion of R. Ḥisda (that ho’il is not taken into account) is significant enough to define this case as one of uncertainty. Besides, whether bein ha-shmashot is considered day or night is also uncertain. Accordingly, as long as the food will be ready during bein ha-shmashot, we may regard the case as a twofold doubt and be lenient. In practice, some say that when necessary, if one did not manage to cook early, he may cook until shki’a (BHL 527:1 s.v. “ve-al”; R. Mordechai Eliyahu, Ma’amar Mordechai, p. 125; SSK 2:14; Ḥazon Ovadia, p. 278). R. Ben-Zion Abba Shaul (Or Le-Tziyon 3:22:3) is stringent, but makes an excellent suggestion: he writes that a person may add an egg, which cooks in a matter of minutes, to the food he wishes to cook. Since it is permissible to do melakha in extra quantities (marbeh be-shi’urim), he may then add anything else to the pot, as long as all the food is added to the pot before it is put on the fire.

02. What Is an Eruv Tavshilin?

An eruv tavshilin is food that one sets aside before Yom Tov, when Yom Tov will be immediately followed by Shabbat. As long as the eruv exists, everything that one may do on Yom Tov for the sake of Yom Tov may be done for the sake of Shabbat as well.

The food used for the eruv must be the kind of food which it is appropriate to eat with bread. This includes meat, fish, eggs, and spreads (as long as they are cooked). In contrast, food that is not appropriate to eat with bread – such as cereal, noodles, and rice – is not appropriate for the eruv, even though it is cooked (Beitza 16a; SA 527:4). Many people use hard-boiled eggs for the eruv, since they can last until Shabbat even without refrigeration (AHS 527:13).

The food used for the eruv may be cooked, roasted, boiled, or smoked. Even pickled food may be used, as there is a principle that “pickled is considered cooked.” However, raw food may not be used as an eruv (Beitza 16b; SA 527:5; SHT ad loc. 25).

It is preferable le-khatḥila to set aside an egg’s bulk (kebeitza) of bread as well, as there is an opinion that an eruv’s cooked food allows people only to cook, while baked food is necessary to allow people to bake (Rabbeinu Tam). Nevertheless, technically, one who set aside only cooked food may bake as well as cook for Shabbat (SA and Rema 527:2-3).

Just as a kezayit of food is adequate for one person’s eruv, it is sufficient for a household as well. Similarly, one who is setting aside an eruv on behalf of all the city’s residents may use one kezayit for everyone (Beitza 16b; SA 527:3).

It is preferable le-khatḥila to set aside a substantial portion of food. When possible, it is a good idea to use a pot full of food that was cooked before Yom Tov for Shabbat. Nevertheless, technically, even if one takes lentils that were left on the bottom of a pot, and which had been cooked for weekday use, he has fulfilled his obligation, as long as there is at least a kezayit of them (Beitza 19a; SA 527:6; MB ad loc. 8).

Many people eat the eruv’s cooked food at one of the Shabbat meals. Since this food has been used for one mitzva (eruv), it is appropriate to use it to fulfill an additional mitzva (oneg Shabbat). Similarly, many people use the eruv’s bread as part of leḥem mishneh at se’uda shlishit (MB 527:11, 48).

Even if one ate part of the eruv’s cooked food on Yom Tov, he may still cook and bake for Shabbat, as long as a kezayit of the food remains. However, if less than a kezayit is left, no further melakha may be done on Yom Tov for Shabbat. Even if the eruv’s bread remains, it is not good enough, as the primary part of the eruv is the cooked food (SA 527:15; MB ad loc. 7).

03. Placement and Uses of the Eruv Tavshilin

The following is the procedure for setting aside an eruv tavshilin. Taking the cooked food and the bread, one recites the following berakha: “Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who sanctified us with His mitzvot and commanded us concerning the mitzva of eruv” (“asher kideshanu be-mitzvotav ve-tzivanu al mitzvat eruv”). Afterward, he should recite: “With this eruv it shall be permitted to us to bake, cook, light a flame, and do everything necessary on Yom Tov for the sake of Shabbat.” This text may be recited in the original Aramaic (as found in siddurim) or in translation.

If one intends to slaughter animals on Yom Tov for Shabbat, to separate foods, or to grind spices, he should ideally mention this when setting aside the eruv. However, even if he didn’t mention it, any melakha that may be done on Yom Tov may be done for the sake of Shabbat. After all, the declaration recited when setting aside the eruv is a sweeping one: “everything necessary on Yom Tov for the sake of Shabbat.”[2]

Even if one has no plans to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbat, he should still set aside an eruv and recite the berakha, because the primary goal of the eruv is to allow for the possibility of cooking, so it is relevant even if he does not end up doing so. Additionally, by setting aside the eruv he remains aware that Shabbat is coming, and will make certain to prepare food to enjoy its three meals. Besides, according to most poskim, it is having an eruv which allows one to light Shabbat candles on Yom Tov.[3]

When a head of household sets aside an eruv, all family members and any guests sleeping there are thereby allowed to cook and bake for Shabbat. It is even permissible for a head of household to appoint a family member or guest to set aside the eruv on everyone’s behalf. Likewise, guests in a kosher hotel, who are eating the food from the hotel’s kitchen, are all covered by the hotel’s eruv and are permitted to light Shabbat candles on Yom Tov. This is also true in a yeshiva, where all the students and their guests may rely on the yeshiva’s eruv.[4]

The eruv is set aside before Yom Tov and is preferably made of food cooked on Erev Yom Tov for Shabbat. This way, the eruv serves as a reminder that it is prohibited to cook on Yom Tov for the upcoming week, and that nice food should be saved for Shabbat. If one sets aside the eruv any earlier, it is less likely to work as a reminder. However, be-di’avad even if one sets aside the eruv long before Yom Tov, it is effective, because his intention is for the food to serve as an eruv for the holiday. Even if one intends to use an eruv for a number of holidays, it is effective be-di’avad as long as it remains in existence (SA 527:14).


[2]. The recitation of the eruv formula permits one to engage in all the melakhot that are permitted on Yom Tov for the sake of Shabbat. This is implied by SA 527:12. There are those who are stringent and say that if one did not explicitly mention the specific melakha he is planning to do, such as slaughtering, he may not do it (Or Zaru’a; Rema 527:20). At the other extreme are those who are lenient, maintaining that be-di’avad if one set aside the eruv but said nothing at all, the eruv is still effective (Yam Shel Shlomo §16). In practice, if one intends to do a melakha that is not mentioned in the declaration, le-khatḥila he should add it to the declaration (rather than rely on the generalized formulation), but if he did not do so, he may rely on those who are lenient (MB ad loc. 63).

Some maintain that an eruv tavshilin permits only preparations for the Shabbat meals, while other Shabbat preparations are forbidden. This is why SA states (528:2) that even if one set aside an eruv tavshilin before Yom Tov, on Yom Tov he may not make an eruv ḥatzerot or eruv teḥumin for Shabbat (MA ad loc. 2; Yam Shel Shlomo). However, others explain SA differently: an eruv tavshilin allows one to do whatever one may do on Yom Tov for Yom Tov on Yom Tov for Shabbat. Since one may not set aside an eruv ḥatzerot or teḥumin on Yom Tov for Yom Tov, it is forbidden to do so for Shabbat as well (R. Akiva Eger; this is also the inclination of Yeshu’ot Yaakov 528:1). In their opinion, it is permissible for one who set aside an eruv tavshilin to do all of the following on Yom Tov: heat up water in order to immerse in a mikveh on Shabbat, fold a talit, and roll a Torah scroll from the Yom Tov reading to the Shabbat reading. Since this is a disagreement about something rabbinic (after taking ho’il into account), we can be lenient. This is the opinion of Ḥeshev Ha-efod 2:65; Or Le-Tziyon 3:22:6 (at the end); and Ḥazon Ovadia, p. 320.

[3]. According to Behag, Or Zaru’a, Rosh, Rashba, and Ran, one may not light Shabbat candles without an eruv tavshilin, while Beit Yosef (basing himself on Rif and Rambam) maintains that it is permitted to light Shabbat candles even without an eruv. It is proper to defer to the stringent opinion (MB 527:55; Kaf Ha-ḥayim ad loc. 112). A single candle may still be lit, as we wrote in section 5 above.

According to Ma’amar Mordechai 527:18 and Kaf Ha-ḥayim ad loc. 113, one who does not plan to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbat should not recite the berakha when setting aside the eruv, as some say an eruv is not necessary to permit the lighting. However, the custom in practice is to recite the berakha, because the purpose of an eruv is to allow for the possibility of cooking (Ḥut Shani, p. 150). Additionally, some maintain that we take into account Rava’s opinion that the reason we set aside an eruv is to remember Shabbat (Taz ad loc. 13; this is also implied by a number of Rishonim).

[4]. The head of household’s eruv covers all members of the household (Yam Shel Shlomo; MB 527:56). This includes married children who are visiting (Eshel Avraham [Buczacz] §7; Ḥazon Ovadia, p. 277 n. 8), as well as any other guests (Ma’amar Mordechai, Mo’adim, p. 127). This is also the case for hotel guests and yeshiva students (Ḥut Shani, p. 155). In all these cases, some disagree, as is discussed in Harḥavot 8:3:5-7. However, their reasoning is not convincing. Besides, this is a case of uncertainty about rabbinic law, so we follow the lenient view.

04. The Local Rabbi

Although each person has a mitzva to set aside an eruv tavshilin, there is a mitzva incumbent on the leading resident of the city – that is, the local rabbi – to set aside an eruv for everyone in the area. His eruv allows everyone to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbat, even if they themselves forgot to set aside an eruv or were unable to do so. Similarly, one who does not know how to set aside an eruv may rely upon the rabbi’s eruv. However, if one could have set aside an eruv but chose not to do so, he may not rely on the rabbi’s eruv, since he ignored the mitzva. Similarly, if one forgot to set aside an eruv twice in a row, he is considered to be negligent (poshe’a), and may not rely on the rabbi’s eruv. However, if one forgot once, then remembered, and then forgot again, he is not considered to be negligent. He may rely on the rabbi’s eruv.[5]

In order for the eruv to benefit everybody, it must belong to everybody. To assure this, an act of acquisition (kinyan) must take place. This means the rabbi must give the eruv’s food to someone else, who lifts it one tefaḥ with the intent to acquire it on behalf of all the city’s residents (including the rabbi). Once the food belongs to all the residents, the rabbi should take the eruv and declare: “With this eruv it shall be permitted to us to bake, cook, light a flame, and do everything necessary on Yom Tov for the sake of Shabbat.” It is preferable le-khatḥila for the kinyan to be effected by a respected person who is not a dependent member of the rabbi’s household. Be-di’avad, the rabbi’s wife may do it (SA 366:10; 527:10-11).

The rabbi’s eruv is effective for everyone within teḥum Shabbat, including one who was unaware that an eruv was being set aside for him. As long as he finds out on Yom Tov that the rabbi set aside an eruv for all the residents, he may rely on it to cook for Shabbat. However, someone outside of the teḥum may not rely upon the eruv, since he would not be allowed to walk over and eat it. Even if he set aside an eruv teḥumin (and could walk over), he still may not rely on the eruv tavshilin, because it is reasonable to assume that the rabbi did not have him in mind when he set it aside (SA 527:8-9).

If it is known that the local rabbi always makes sure to set aside an eruv for everybody, one who forgot may rely upon the rabbi’s eruv without checking further, as there is a ḥazaka (presumption) that he remembered to set aside the eruv. Furthermore, if the rabbi did forget, he would make a public announcement to prevent people from transgressing by cooking for Shabbat in reliance on his eruv (Rema 527:9).

In addition to the local rabbi, any resident may set aside an eruv for everyone in the area. Then, should the rabbi forget to do so, he can inform the rabbi and community that he set aside an eruv, and everyone may then rely on that eruv. The resident should make sure that someone else lifts the eruv one tefaḥ with the intent to acquire it on behalf of all the city’s residents. He should also make sure to use the formulation that explicitly includes the city’s residents (MB 527:32; SHT ad loc. 31).


[5]. We find in Beitza 16b that great Amora’im would set aside an eruv for all the city’s residents, meaning all those within their teḥum Shabbat. However, when someone forgot twice in a row to set aside an eruv, Shmuel told him that that is considered negligence, and the collective eruv does not cover him. For if the local rabbi fulfilled the obligation for those who could have set aside an eruv but neglected to do so, then he would in effect be negating the rabbinic enactment requiring everyone to set aside an eruv before Yom Tov, both to honor Yom Tov and to make sure that Shabbat is not forgotten (Rosh; SA 527:7). At what point is a person considered to be negligent? According to Ḥayei Adam 102:7, if a person forgot more than once, by the second time he is considered negligent. In contrast, AHS 527:18 states that in our hectic times, even one who forgets twice in a row is not considered negligent. Only one who intentionally does not set aside an eruv is excluded from relying on the local rabbi. The intermediate position is that one who forgets twice in a row is subsequently deemed negligent (Kaf Ha-ḥayim ad loc. 48). Some Rishonim say that the local rabbi can exempt even those who know how to set aside an eruv but prefer to rely on his. According to them, only one who intended to set aside his own eruv and forgot twice is considered negligent the second time and is not covered by the rabbi’s eruv (Rashba; Me’iri; see SHT ad loc. 37-38 and Ḥazon Ovadia, p. 291). In practice, since the custom is that everyone sets aside an eruv, one who forgets twice in a row is considered negligent and may not rely on the local rabbi’s eruv.

05. When There Is No Eruv Tavshilin

If a person does not have an eruv tavshilin to rely on, either because he has forgotten to set aside an eruv twice in a row (and thus may not rely on the rabbi’s eruv) or because he forgot just this time and is in an area where no one set aside an eruv for everyone, then if he has a friendly neighbor who did set aside an eruv, the person can give his food to his neighbor as a gift. Then, since the neighbor now owns the food, the neighbor can cook and prepare it for Shabbat, and then give him some.

If one realized on Yom Tov that he forgot to set aside an eruv, and he has not yet cooked his Yom Tov meal, he may fill a big pot with enough food for Yom Tov and Shabbat. Since the pot is placed on the fire only once, putting in more food (marbeh be-shi’urim) is permitted. However, once the pot has been placed on the fire, he may not add anything to it for Shabbat (SA 503:2; 3:4 above).

If one did not realize he had forgotten to set aside an eruv until after he finished all his Yom Tov cooking, then to allow him to honor Shabbat, the Sages were lenient and allowed him to bake one loaf of bread, cook one pot of food, and light one candle for Shabbat (SA 527:20; MB ad loc. 55).

If one transgressed and knowingly cooked on Yom Tov for Shabbat beyond what the Sages permitted, the food cooked may be eaten on Shabbat. There is no concern that people will learn from him to do likewise, as everyone knows that the cooking he did was forbidden. However, if one finished his Yom Tov meal and then cooked more food, claiming that guests may arrive or that he wanted to eat more, then his family may not eat it on Shabbat, because if we are lenient with this type of deception (ha’arama), everyone would start using it and would never again set aside an eruv tavshilin (Beitza 17b; Rambam 6:10; SA 527:23-24; see above ch. 7 n. 3 concerning ma’aseh Yom Tov).

If one has not yet eaten his Yom Tov meal, but has already finished preparing the food for it, when he realizes that he forgot to set aside an eruv, may he cook more food for Shabbat and then eat some of this food at the Yom Tov meal so that his cooking on Yom Tov is not solely for Shabbat? Some poskim say that since in truth he is not interested in eating the food on Yom Tov, even if he does so, it is considered deceitful and forbidden (Radbaz; the first opinion in SA 527:21). Others permit it, since a little of each type of food will in fact be eaten on Yom Tov (Rema 503:1; MA). Many practice leniently, but it is better to be stringent (MB 503:7, 11).[6]


[6]. However, once the Yom Tov meal is over, all agree that one may not cook for Shabbat and eat a kezayit of the food on Yom Tov, as that is deceitful (SA 503:1). If one did so anyway, then since a kezayit of the food was in fact eaten on Yom Tov, the Aḥaronim disagree as to whether he and his family members may eat the food on Shabbat, or whether it is prohibited as trickery (MB ad loc. 13).

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