Rosh Hashana & Yom Kippur

Laws of Festivals

by Rabbi Mordechai Becher
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  1. Mo'ed - Interrupt our active life to contemplate truths at foundation of existence. Gather strength for activities of life.
  2. Prohibition of Melacha applies - i.e., tranformation and improvement of material world must stop.
  3. But where Yom-Tov requires activity for the Yom Tov, to become a time of Simcha - happiness - then certain activities are permitted.
  4. Activity which directly produces "natural enjoyment" for celebration of Yom Tov is permitted. Natural, usual and general gratification of the senses are covered by term "consumed by the soul" because gratification of senses should be elevated and sanctified by Yom Tov, but must be done in a way that conforms with ideas of Festival. Therefore, Ochel Nefesh (the Biblical term "consumed by the soul"), refers almost exclusively to sense of taste. No work is permitted just to gratify smell, sight, hearing etc., as this is either just a refinement or artificial gratification.
  5. Therefore, prohibition of work does not apply to:
    1. Preparation of food that could not be done on previous day.
    2. If quality of food is improved by preparation on Yom Tov.
    3. All food preparation that result in use of food for that day only.
  6. Prohibition does not apply to slaughtering, breading, baking, roasting, cooking, grinding spices (that would otherwise lose flavor), kindling and burning, carrying, extinguishing if indispensable in preparation of food.
  7. Activities forbidden - the rest of 39 Melachot of Shabbat: e.g., plowing, sowing, trapping, building and fashioning utensils, making cheese and butter.
  8. Rabbinic prohibitions:
    1. Things similar to Melachah - e.g., sharpening knives, producing fire.
    2. Things that might lead to Melachah - e.g., feeding animals not yet caught.
  9. Yom Tov Sheni - Second day of Yom Tov in the Diaspora. Where observed, it is the same as the first day.
    • Tourists in Israel
    • Israelis in Diaspora
    • Six months in each - like inhabitant during each stay
  10. Laws of Eruv Tavshillin for when Yom Tov falls on Friday (or Thursday & Friday):
    Baked and boiled food put away on eve of Yom Tov, blessing. declaration (not prayer, therefore say in a language that you understand). To cook for Shabbat (not for weekday). Eat Eruv Tavshilin food on Shabbat.
  11. Hallel: Praise of G-d for miracles.
  12. Kiddush: To sanctify the Festival with words, as on Shabbat.
  13. After Yom Tov: Havdalah. No spices, no candle.

Chol Hamo'ed - Intermediate Days of Festival

  1. Torah command to make a Mo'ed is defined by the Rabbis of the Mishna and Talmud.
  2. All toil is forbidden except for:
    • That which will cause loss.
    • Things which are necessary for the Mo'ed (and could not have been done beforehand).
    • Unskilled labor which involves little effort (e.g., turning on a light, driving a car).
  3. The main purpose of the Mo'ed is to absorb the lessons of the Festival without the distractions of mundane affairs. Therefore, it is correct to study more Torah than usual during the Mo'ed.
  4. It is appropriate to eat meat and drink wine during every day of the Mo'ed.

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