Parashat Bo: Halakhah

Halakhah הֲלָכָה

Cooking on Yom Tov
Mishnah Beitzah 5:2 teaches us an important rule:
אֵין בֵּין יוֹם טוֹב לְשַׁבָּת, אֶלָּא אֹכֶל נֶפֶשׁ בִּלְבָד
There is no difference between Yom Tov and Shabbat other than the permission to prepare food.
That’s a bit of an oversimplification—actually there are a bunch of differences. Here are a few:
The idea that cooking is ok on Yom Tov comes from our parashah! In a discussion of the first and seventh days of Pesah, the Torah says that מְלָאכָה (melakhah, productive work) is forbidden. But there’s one exception:
אַךְ אֲשֶׁר יֵאָכֵל לְכׇל נֶפֶשׁ הוּא לְבַדּוֹ יֵעָשֶׂה לָכֶם׃
Except whatever is needed for people to eat, that is the only thing that shall be done for you.
Based on this pasuk, we are able to get up on the morning of Yom Tov and make a hot pot of oatmeal or roast some vegetables, even though those things are not allowed on Shabbat. We get to enjoy Yom Tov by eating fresh, hot food. Yum!
There are still rules for cooking on Yom Tov, though. Here are a few to keep in mind:
  • We are not supposed to create new fires on Yom Tov. You have to light a flame before Yom Tov and leave it burning so that you can light other fires from it in order to cook.
  • You can only cook on Yom Tov for that day. You can’t spend the afternoon of Yom Tov cooking for the rest of the week! (But it’s ok if you have leftovers.)
  • You can only cook things that were ready to become food when Yom Tov started. You can make applesauce on Yom Tov, but you can’t make applesauce from apples that fell off the tree that morning!
  • If Yom Tov falls out on Shabbat, then Shabbat’s rules take over. So in that case, make sure to do all your cooking in advance!