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Thought for the Day: Carrying Outside a Private Domain On Yom Tov and קרבת השם

The issue of carrying outside a private domain on Yom Tov is different than on Shabbos.  The issue on Shabbos is, of course, that the Torah forbids transporting an item both more than four cubits (six feet; give or take) in a public domain and also across the boundary of public and private domains.  (NB: The terms "public" and "private" here vis-à-vis Shabbos and Yom Tov refer to occupancy and size, not to ownership.)  Chazal extended that restriction on Shabbos to include domains that are neither private nor public, private domains that look like public domains, and from one private domain to another.  Chazal also, as is well known, mandated a procedure -- know affectionately as שיתופי מבואות and עירוב חצירות, or just עירוב, for short -- that would if properly constructed and within the prescribed guidelines of populace and whatnot permit such transportation.

On Yom Tov, however, the Torah permits a variety of crafts/labors on Yom Tov under the rubric of "the necessity of preparing food"; whether the Torah permits certain actual labors/crafts or gave permission to Chazal to permit them and which are permitted is an interesting discussion and definitely outside the scope of the present work.  (Three or four paragraphs is tyrannical scope limiter; besides, I love saying that.)  In any case, one of the labors/crafts permitted for the sake of food preparation is both carrying in a public domain and also transporting from a private to public domain.  Moreover, מתוך שהותרה הוצאה לצורך אכילה, הותרה שלא לצורך/since transporting goods is permitted for (the necessity) of eating, it is also permitted (even) without that necessity. (תקי''ח, ס' א)

Just for fun, there are two controversies among the poskim:

  1. Does "שלא לצורך" mean "for no particular reason at all; just 'cuz", or does it mean צורך קצת/must have some benefit to the enjoyment of the Yom Tov?
  2. The עירוב was, as noted above, created as a remedy to the additional strictures imposed by Chazal.  That being the case, does and עירוב help also for Yom Tov, or is its efficacy limited strictly to Shabbos?
The Mishna Brura recommends being strict in both cases.  So what's called צורך קצת?  The Shulchan Aruch brings one example that I found particularly heart warming: carrying a baby.  The Mishna Brura explains that the necessitating circumstances being שמחת יום טוב/one of the pleasures that the Torah wants one to enjoy on Yom Tov.  We work all week and it gladdens our heart to be able to spend some time with our children and infants on Yom Tov.

Another interesting case is carrying a lulav for a woman to be able to  fulfill the optional for her mitzvah.  Many poskim are lenient, citing the fact that they get some נחת רוח/nachas out of waving a lulav (and even get some level of reward),  so it is no worse that kids playing ball outside.  R' Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, however, is stringent and his reasoning is fascinating.  What, asks R' Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, is the source of their נחת רוח?  The mitzvah itself is surely not the source of the נחת רוח because of the well know dictum מצוות לאו ליהנות נתנו/mitzvos were not given to us for the pleasure (that we may or may not feel).  Rather, she is feeling the glow of the קרבת השם -- the resulting closeness to HaShem.  That being the case, one should explain to her that refraining from getting involved with the controversy of carrying on Yom Tov for an optional mitzvah will bring even more קרבת השם, and hence more נחת רוח.  Automatically, therefore, the necessity of carrying the lulav falls away.

Regardless of how ones decides (after appropriate CYLOR) to conduct oneself in this particular case, the principle is general and foundational.  The חת רוח, the pleasure of learning Torah and doing mitzvos is the קרבת השם that is engenders.  Anything else is merely self-serving and not different than in principle than any other human activity done for self pleasure.


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