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Thought for the Day: Preparing From One Day Of Yom Tov To Another

The Shulchan Aruch, O.Ch. תקג, rules that one is not permitted to prepare from one day of Yom Tov to the next day.  Not even if the next day is Shabbos, nor second day of Yom Tov (for us in the diaspora), nor even from one day for Rosh HaShana to the next.  That order is known as "לא זו אף זו"/not only this, but also this; that is, increasing order of surprise.

First, I am not allowed to prepare for Shabbos, even though I cannot do any preparations at all on Shabbos itself.  Why not?  It is a rule revealed explicitly in the Torah, aka גזירת הכתוב.  At this point, our question if of "why not?" is tantamount to asking "why are protons almost 2000 times heavier than electrons, but have exactly the same opposite charge?"  'Cause they do and 'cause you can't.

Even more surprising, I may not prepare for one day of Yom Tov to the next, even though the whole reason for the second day is because I might have been wrong about the first day.  (Yes, yes, I know... nowadays we are not really in doubt, but the halacha is determined as if it is.)  The Mishna Brura (ס'ק ג) explains that since the second day in the diaspora might be an ordinary day, by preparing on the first day for the second day you are risking preparing from Yom Tov to an ordinary day.  That risks transgressing a Torah prohibition (if you can't prepare for Shabbos, then a fortiori, you cannot prepare for an ordinary day), and the rule is always ספק דאורייתא לחומרא/in case of doubt concerning a Torah prohibition, the halacha is to be strict.

Yes more surprising, I am not even allowed to prepare from the first day of Rosh HaShana to the second day.  It is more surprising because Chazal say that the two days of Rosh HaShana are essentially one long day.  The Mishna Brura (ס'ק ד) explains, however, that we only say that as a stringency, but not when it would lead to a leniency.  (Man... those Chazal thought of all my excuses!)

Do you mind if we go back to that "not even from the first day Yom Tov to the next" for a moment?  The reason is because that day might by ordinary... but that means if the day for which you were preparing in the first day of Yom Tov had, in fact, the same קדושה/holiness as the Yom Tov itself, then there should be no problem, right?  But how could that happen?  Only one way: preparing on the first day of Pesach for the seventh day.  Think about it... that's the only example.  There is no other holiday that has two days of  דאורייתא Yom Tov.  (No, not Sukkos; the eighth day is a new festival, not a continuation of Sukkos.)  Seems like an extraordinarily clear inference from the halachah, doesn't it?

But you've never heard of this, so it must be wrong!  Ha!  That's what I thought, till I looked down at the bottom of the page, שער הציון, ס'ק ד, where he says, and I quote: לכאורה בודאי שרי!  The שער הציון concludes, however, that it really depends on a machlokes about cooking something on Yom Tov that you could have cooked before Yom Tov, and any way you can cook on chol ha'mo'ed; so don't try this.

Still getting a "לכאורה בודאי שרי" for a novel thought I had was quite the approbation from the saintly Chafeitz Chaim!


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