Is There Anything I May Do on Shabbat to Prepare for Yom Tov? by Rabbi Avram Schwartz

This weekend, we will celebrate another marathon holiday – Shabbat followed by Shavuot. Shavuot, occurring later in spring, presents its own challenges of time: each day of the holiday, as with all yamim tovim, does not begin until dark, but as preparing for one day of the holiday on the previous one (or on Shabbat for Yom Tov) is forbidden, any preparations not done before the holiday may not begin until very late in the evening. What can be done according to halakhah? May one set the table? May one, for example, do something minimal but practically significant as removing loaves of hallah from the freezer to thaw? This teshuvah presents one approach to these questions.

The author of this teshuvah, R. Shammai Kehat Ha’kohen Gross shlit”a, is a leader of the Belzer hasidic community in Israel. He has served as a dayyan in Yerushalayim and Ashdod and as Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Belz. He is one of Belz’s most distinguished poskim. This teshuvah appears in his major halakhic work, Shevet Ha’kehati.

ע’ [בס’ תקי”ח סו”ס א’] ברמ”א ואם הניח עירוב מותר לטלטל ולהוציא כל שיש לו תורת כלי אעפ”י שאינן צורך היום כלל, ע”כ. וצ”ע אמאי אין אסור משום דאסור להכין מיו”ט לחול?

ונראה דמכאן ראיה למה דהביא בספר שש”כ פ’ כ”ח סעיף פ”א בשם הגאון ר’ שלמה זלמן אויערבך שליט”א [זצ”ל] דכל דבר שאין בעשייתו טירחה וגם רגילין לעשותו מבלי לחשוב על התועלת בעשייתו מותר לעשותו בשבת כגון הלוקח טלית לבהכנ”ס מותר אף להחזירה וכו’ ע”ש, ה”נ לא שנא.

ועוד נראה ע”פ דאי’ בשו”ת מהרש”ג ח”א [סי’ ס”א] דכל איסור הכנה משבת לחול היינו דוקא באם כונת העושה הוא להרויח הזמן שלא יצטרך לעשות זה בחול כמו הדחת כלים או הצעת המטה וכדומה, אבל במקום שאם לא יעשה זה בשבת יופסד הדבר לא גזרו, וראי’ לזה דמותר לטלטל כלי שמלאכתו להיתר מחמה לצל שלא יגנב ושלא ישבר והא כיון דאין צריך לאותו הכלי היום אלא שמכניסה להבית משום שצריך לה למחר לא הוי מכין לחול שכונתו הוא שלא יופסד הכלי ע”כ…
וכן י”ל עפי”ז דיש נוהגין בפסח להדיח הכלים תיכף אחר האכלה ונהגו כן אף ביו”ט של פסח ואף שלא יצטרך עוד הכלים היום וקשה דהוי הכנה ליום חול … ולפי”ז לא הוי הכנה במה שמדיח הכלים ביו”ט לצורך חול אלא מדיח כדי שלא יפסדו הכלים…

עי’ בספר שמירת שבת כהלכתה [פ”י ה”י] דאין להוציא מן המקרר אוכל קפוא ע”מ שימס ויהיה ראוי לאכילה במוצאי שבת ע”כ, אבל נראה לי דמותר להוציא החלות מהמפקיא ביו”ט הסמוך לשבת מלאחריו עפ”י דברי המהרש”ג הנ”ל דהכנה אסור רק אם רוצה להרויח זמן אבל לעשות דבר בשביל כונה אחר מותר, וה”נ בשלמא אם היה לוקח האוכל מהמקרר במוצאי שבת הי’ ממתין רק חצי שעה וכדומה אז אסור דרוצה להרויח זמו ע”י שנוטל בשבת והוה הכנה אבל כיון דאפילו יקח תיכף במו”ש יצטרך להמתין ארבע או חמש שעות לפחות וא”כ יתבטל מסעודת יו”ט שיצטרך לאכול בשעה מאוחר מאוד בלילה ואז ישנו ב”ב, בודאי מה שלוקח מקודם הוא כדי שלא יתבטל מסעודת ועונג הלילה אז אין שום הכנה כן נראה…

העולה להלכה: ביו”ט הסמוך לשבת מלאחריו מותר להוציא בשבת החלות מהמפקיא לצורך סעודת הלילה.

Rema writes that if one made an eruv, it is permitted to move and carry any utensil on Yom Tov, even for no useful purpose (OH518:1, end). Why isn’t this prohibited since it is generally forbidden to make preparations on Yom Tov for a weekday.
It seems that this source provides a proof for the ruling in the name of Ha’gaon Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l in Shmirat Shabbat Ki’hilkhatah (28: 81), that any action which is not especially effortful and is normally done without consideration of its particular value, is permitted on Shabbat. For example, one who brings their tallit to the synagogue may bring it home. (See further there). Our case is the same.

This also appears to be the position of Maharshag (R. Shimon Greenfeld, Responsa 1:61). He explains that the prohibition of preparing on Shabbat [or Yom Tov] is specifically when the intention is to save time on the weekday, such as washing dishes or making beds. If in refraining from doing something on Shabbat one will lose out entirely, then there is no prohibition. A proof for this theory is that is it permitted to move a utensil, whose usage is permitted on Shabbat, from one location to another[1] so that it won’t be stolen or broken. Despite the fact that one doesn’t have a use for that utensil on the day in question and only moves it in to the house to use it tomorrow, this is not considered preparing for a weekday on Shabbat since the intention is only to preserve the object…

Based on this idea, we can explain the practice that some have to wash dishes immediately after eating on Pesach, even while it is still Yom Tov and even if they will not use those dishes later that day. Isn’t this preparing on Yom Tov for a weekday?… Cleaning the dishes is not preparation but preventing the loss of those dishes…

Shmirat Shabbat Ki’hilkhatah (10:10) rules that one may not remove frozen food from the freezer to thaw it for use after Shabbat or Yom Tov. However, in my opinion, it is permitted to remove hallot from the freezer on Shabbat when Yom Tov immediately follows based on Maharshag’s theory, namely, preparation is forbidden only when one acts to save time afterwards; when done for another purpose, it is permitted. Since removing food from the refrigerator once Shabbat is over would only delay the meal by about half an hour, one is forbidden to remove the food on Shabbat in order to save that time as this constitutes preparation. In our case, removing the frozen food after Shabbat concludes, still necessitates waiting four or five hours, minimally, for the food to thaw. That would ruin the Yom Tov meal as one would need to wait until very late to eat it, at which point, everyone would be asleep. Removing food from the freezer earlier is done in order not to ruin the Yom Tov meal and the enjoyment of the Yom Tov night, and does not constitute preparation…

In practice: On a Yom Tov which immediately follows Shabbat, one may remove hallot from the freezer while it is still Shabbat for the evening meal.

1] Lit. from sun to shade.

Rabbi Linzer’s psak

In this teshuvah, Shevet Ha’kehati rules that it is permissible to take frozen hallot out of the freezer on Shabbat for Yom tov on Sunday, as this is done not just to allow the meal to start without delay but to provide the hallot for the meal itself. Similarly, one may place dry, cooked food on a food warmer (an act which is permissible on Shabbat) for the Yom Tov meal following if there is no other way to get the food warmed up in time for the meal. However, one is not permitted to set the table on Shabbat for Yom Tov since waiting to set it until Yom Tov causes only a delay in time.

I disagree with this ruling of Shevet HaKehati and think that it is overly permissive. According to his logic, it would be permissible to warm up or defrost food on Shabbat for motzei Shabbat if one needed it for a scheduled melaveh malkah. This is clearly not the case. The issue is not whether the cost is only a time delay or something more significant. The issue is whether the act is being done primarily for after Shabbat or being done for right now. Preventing my property from from being damaged is an immediate need. Taking my tallit home from shul is done because I want my tallit at home; I don’t want to leave it in shul. I am not doing these acts primarily to use the object or the tallit after Shabbat. Similarly, it is permissible for me to do the dishes on Shabbat because I don’t want dirty dishes in my sink right now. I may also clear the table and sweep the floor because I don’t want a dirty table and dirty floor on Shabbat right now. On the other hand, any act done primarily to prepare for after Shabbat is forbidden, even if the cost is more than a mere time delay.

As a matter of halakhah, it is my psak that one may not defrost hallot or warm food on Shabbat for Yom Tov following Shabbat, even if this means that one will not have hallot or warm food for the Yom Tov meal. One may do the dishes, clear the table, sweep the floors and take one’s tallit home from shul, as all of these are actions done for the present.