Why is it forbidden to light a fire on Yom Tov?
writes one may not produce fire from wood, stones or metal,
for example by rubbing or striking them, one against the
other until fire is produced, or by shaking flammable oil
until it ignites, or placing a glass bottle filled with
water in the sun and directing the rays onto flax or such
until it ignites. All this is prohibited, as it was only
permitted to transfer fire from existing fire. Igniting a
fire is prohibited because it can be ignited before Yom Tov.
We see that
igniting is classed as îëùéøéï
– a preparatory stage, with the halacha being that
îëùéøéï that can be
prepared before Yom Tov must be done so.
Ra’avad however argues with the Rambam’s reason
and says that the gemora
is concerned with ‘creating’ a new entity –
Which reason do we follow?
Shulchan Aruch HaRav
and Mishna Berura
cite both reasons, which appears contradictory, and yet the
P’ri Chadash writes that the Rambam’s reason
is not enough because if not for the issue of ‘creating a
new entity’ one would be permitted to ignite a fire even
though it could have been done prior to Yom Tov. The
Machtsis haShekel writes that if not for the Rambam’s
reason we would think that if indeed one wrongly ignited a
fire on Yom Tov it would be ossur to use, where in
fact the Magen Avraham
says that b’diavad (post factum) one may use the
fire. The Mishna Berura adds
that most poskim rule that one may use fire ignited
on Yom Tov.
So then I suppose striking a match
because one is producing fire. The K’sav Sofer writes
that one may not insert a matchstick into hot ash because
hot ash is not fire. Likewise, it appears that it is
ossur to graze a matchstick on red-hot metal, such as a
stove grate, but one may touch the matchstick to coals even
when the coal does not have a flame.
What about lighting a match from
the heat above a flame?
possible to ignite a matchstick by placing it above a
flame – not in the flame, but it appears from the K’sav
Sofer that such an action is ossur because the
flame appears from ‘nowhere’. Conversely Rav
Shlomo Zalman Auerbach held that
it is permitted, as was his custom to ignite a match above a
kerosene lamp, because the heat of a fire is part of the
May I use a match to transfer fire?
One may use
a match to transfer fire and it is not considered as
lighting superfluously. Although hav’arah is a
melacha, lighting a match to transfer fire from one
place to another is normal and may be done for permitted
May one start a fire with a
One may not
ignite a fire with a magnifying glass because one must
transfer fire, not produce a new one.
May I singe the wicks on Yom Tov?
customary for the husband to prepare the Shabbos and Yom Tov
candles and singe the wicks.
This question is applicable mostly in chutz la’aretz
towards the end of first day Yom Tov when preparing candles
for the second day Yom Tov. It also applies in Eretz Yisrael
when Yom Tov is on erev Shabbos and one lights
Shabbos candles on Yom Tov. This may not be done on Yom Tov
because one extinguishes the fire –
îëáä, which is not
Why is it ossur to turn on a light
on Yom Tov?
Halachically, an electric filament, like the type found in
an incandescent light bulb, is fire and turning on a light
on Shabbos is hav’arah – igniting a fire.
Based on the above we can appreciate that turning on a light
on Yom Tov is ossur because it is a new entity.
Flowing current is not fire and hence its transformation
from current to fire is îåìéã.
In addition, the Chazon Ish ruled that completing an
electric circuit is “constructing”, which is ossur on
Yom Tov as well and therefore even if the filament was not
‘fire’ it is ossur on account of boneh.
May one benefit from electric light
turned on b’issur?
Shlomo Zalman Auerbach
understands that it is ossur.
We mentioned above that one may benefit from a fire ignited
on Yom Tov even though it was done b’issur, because a
new flame is created all the time, whereas an electric light
is for all purposes and intent the same ‘fire’. Although
current alternates 50 to 60 times a second, to the naked eye
it is the same original light and is ossur.