shabbos candles

The Shabbos Weekly
Halachos Series on Hilchos Shabbos

shabbos candles

Published by
Pirchei Shoshanim

A Project of
The Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Based on the Shiurim Given by

Rabbi Dovid
Ostroff, shlita

developed from the Chabura of the
Pirchei Shoshanim Shulchan Aruch Learning Project

These Halachos were shown by Rabbi Ostroff to
HaGaon HaRav Moshe Sternbuch, shlita



Questions for the Week of Parshas PInchas

Introduction to Hilchos Yom Tov

How is it that certain melachos are permitted on Yom Tov and others are prohibited?

With respect to Yom Tov the Torah repeatedly states , [1] (you shall not do any work) and being a negative commandment, its violation carries a penalty of lashing.

Not performing melachos on Yom Tov is a mitzvas aseh a positive commandment, learned from the words shabbaton in the possuk which means to rest. [2]

How do you define ?

refers to procedures with non-food items. For example, turning off a light (we will see the halacha when turned off in relation to eating); construction and demolition; digging a pit etc.

On the other hand, direct melachos with food [3] such as reaping, threshing, gathering, winnowing, sorting, grinding, kneading, baking, shechting, cooking, picking fruit, capturing animals and transferring from one domain to another, are melachos and performed for eating purposes on Yom Tov. The Torah permitted these melachos with food for the sake of eating on Yom Tov, as it says melachos performed for the sake of the physical part of a person (eating and drinking) are permitted.

It is noted that this is midoraisso (biblically permitted) but midrabanan there are many restrictions, as we will see. [4]

So why is lighting a fire permitted?

That is true, but since one cooks food with fire it is also called and permitted for cooking. [5] We will also learn beH that one may light a fire from an existing fire and may not strike a match to light a fire. However, it is ossur to turn on an electric light, because amongst other problems, one is starting a fire from scratch and not passing fire from one place to another.

But I believe one may light a fire for warmth and to read even though it is not for food?

Also correct, but for another reason. The gemora Beitza 12a tells us that a concept called is employed. Namely, any melacha that may be performed for (eating and drinking) may be performed and even not for , provided that:

  • the benefit derived is slightly necessary on Yom Tov [6]
  • it brings physical benefit or pleasure or for a mitzvah that must be done on Yom Tov. [7]
  • the physical comfort benefits most Jews. (This excludes burning incense, for example, a pleasure limited to a select portion of the populace).

Can you give an example of direct physical benefit?

Carrying an item from a reshus hayachid to a reshus harabim, such as carrying ones child in the street to take him for a walk or carrying a lulav through a reshus harabim to shul is direct benefit from the melacha of carrying.

Lighting a fire or candle to read or for warmth is permitted, even though it is not food related.

And indirect benefit?

Conversely, performing a melacha that is one step away (or more) from physical benefit is prohibited, for example, to craft a skewer or spit to roast meat. The physical benefit attained is from the roasted meat and not from the spit. A sharp knife is most appreciated for carving meat, but sharpening the knife is an indirect benefit because one physically enjoys eating the meat, not the sharp knife. [8]

Even though these actions and similar ones are performed to prepare food necessary for Yom Tov, since the melachos are not done to the food, rather stages preparatory to preparing the food, they are not . They are known as , where  means preparatory.

But arent there different types of ?

Yes there are, and the concept is as follows. that can be done before Yom Tov may not be done on Yom Tov. that cannot be done before Yom Tov, or due to extenuating circumstances could not be performed before Yom Tov, may be performed on Yom Tov.

Since one can sharpen a knife, fashion a spit and chop wood for firewood before Yom Tov one may therefore not do so on Yom Tov.

The Shulchan Aruch HaRav writes that, if however, the knife became blunt on Yom Tov or the spit lost its point, one may sharpen the knife and the spit because these actions of could not be done prior to Yom Tov. [9] The Mishna Berura [10] however cites Rishonim who disagree and say that sharpening is always ossur on Yom Tov. We will beH discuss this at a later stage.

[1] Pesach Vayikra 23 8-9. Shavuos 23:21. Rosh Hashana 23:25. Sukkos 23:35-36. Rambam Hilchos Yom Tov 1:1.

[2] Shulchan Aruch HaRav simon 495:1.

[3] Based on the Rambam 1:2-4.

[4] Shulchan Aruch HaRav 495:2.

[5] Based on the kuntres acharon of the Shulchan Aruch HaRav simon 495:1.

[6] Rama simon 518:1.

[7] Shulchan Aruch HaRav simon 495:3. He explains that performing a mitzvah is equivalent to a physical necessity, provided that the time for the mitzvah is on Yom Tov and cannot be postponed to after Yom Tov.

[8] Although one would prefer to cut meat with a sharp knife, it is not called deriving benefit. Even if one would not be able to cut the meat at all it is still ossur to sharpen the knife, Shulchan Aruch HaRav simon 495:4.

[9] Shulchan Aruch HaRav ibid based on the MA.

[10] Simon 509:6.


Food for Thought

Must one try and cook all food before Yom Tov?

Based on the above, one should be permitted to pick fruit on Yom Tov. How come Ive never heard of that?

I also thought that one may not do melachos that precede kneading, what happened there?

Answers coming be"H next week.

Vort on the Parsha

The Ohr haCaim hakadosh points out that Hashem yisborach wished to extol Pinchas action on three accounts. Firstly he personally put his life in danger. for my sake and for no other reason. The perfect mitzvah is performed when all personal gains are waived aside.

in public, where everyone could see. Chazal tell us that the entire tribe of Shimon stood around and Pinchas put his life in danger on their account as well.

For a printed version, click here.



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Note:  The purpose of this series is intended solely for the clarification of the topics discussed and not to render halachic decisions. It is intended to heighten everyone's awareness of important practical questions which do arise on this topic.  One must consult with a proper halachic authority in order to receive p'sak.