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Thought for the Day: Erev Tavshilin -- What It Helps

The Torah wants us to live in the here and now; each and every here and now.  It makes sense when you realize that each here and now is a brand new creation.  Given that, it's a bit funny to say, "I'll prepare now for tomorrow," when tomorrow doesn't even exist yet.  Moreover, it won't exist until it is needed, and it will be created to provide whatever purpose the Creator decides.

That's true during the week just as a matter of philosophy.  On Shabbos and Yom Tov, though, it's a matter of halacha.  One is not allowed to prepare from one day to the next.  Not on Shabbos for Sunday, obviously, but also from Yom Tov to Shabbos and even one day of Yom Tov to the next.  That's why we don't fold our tallis after davening in the morning (the main reason, any way), don't light candles for second day of Yom Tov until way after dark, and have very late s'udos on second day Yom Tov evening.  We're all used to that that.

However, when we have one of our beloved "three day yontifs" (as we will (again) have this year for Rosh HaShana, Sukkos, and Shmini Atzeres), or even a first day of Yom Tov on Friday (as can happen with Shavuos), then things are trickier.  You can't cook on Shabbos, so don't have the option of waiting to start cooking after Yom Tov.  Chazal, therefore, provided us with "eiruv tavshilin"; the most common of the Eiruv Trilogy (the other two being chatzeiros and t'chumim).

Eiruv means "mixture".  In this case, by beginning our Shabbos preparations before Yom Tov, we are allowed to continue those preparations on Yom Tov itself.  Our Shabbos preparations on Yom Tov are thereby "mixed in" with preparations that started before Yom Tov while it was still just an ordinary day.  The main activities of preparing for Shabbos involve cooking and baking, so we take two foods -- one baked (I usually use matzah) and one cooked (I usually use either fish or hard boiled egg).  The Mishna Brura poskens that even if one made his eiruv with only a cooked food, he would still (b'di'avad) be allowed to bake; that is, the cooked food covers everything.  Using only a baked food (not a casserole, which is still called "cooked" in halacha, but bread or cookies) is problematic and does not allow one (even b'di'avad) to cook.  So don't do that.

R' Fuerst has two very cool shiurim on this topic; you should listen here and here.  Listen to the end... that where the kulos are.

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