A. Rules And Guidelines
B. Practical Applications
A. Rules and Guidelines
1. It is prohibited to perform melacha (work) on erev Pesach after midday. This is because the day a person offers a korban (sacrifice) is a personal Yom Tov and one may not perform melacha on that day. Since the korban Pesach was slaughtered on Erev Pesach after chatzos (midday), it is prohibited to perform melacha erev Pesach from that time1.
This law still applies today, even though we can no longer bring the korban Pesach 2.
2. In some communities the minhag is to refrain from work the entire day, including the morning hours. One should conduct himself according to the minhag of his community 3. Nowadays most communities do not have this minhag so one can do melacha until midday 4.
3. Chatzos is determined by dividing the total amount of minutes from alos hashachar (halachic dawn) until tzeis hakochavim (when stars are visible) or according to other poskim, from sunrise until sunset, in half 5. (This is called shaos z'manios).
Work by a non-Jew
4. Although there are poskim who forbid even a non-Jew to work for a Jew on erev Pesach - as is the case on Chol Hamoed- the minhag follows the more lenient poskim 6. It is permissible even in the Jew's house 7.
5. One is even permitted to ask a non-Jew to perform work on erev Pesach which is not needed for the festival 8.
Type of Work Prohibited
6. The prohibition of working on erev Pesach is very similar to the restrictions which apply during Chol Hamoed (the intermediate days of the festivals). Whatever is permissible to do on Chol Hamoed is also permissible to do on erev Pesach 9. Conversely, the melachos of Chol Hamoed generally also apply to erev Pesach, however there are more lenient rulings on erev Pesach 10.
7. Chol Hamoed has in principle 39 prohibited melachos, just like Shabbos and Yom Tov, but it was given over to our Sages (of previous generations) to make exemptions as stated in Hilchos Chol Hamoed 11. We can therefore say that on Erev Pesach, there also exist 39 melachos in principle, with its own guidelines, which have to be defined.
Some Laws of Chol Hamoed
8. Although it is not within the scope of this article to enumerate the halachos of Chol Hamoed, nevertheless, it is useful to discuss some general rules in order that one can consult a Rav if necessary to clarify how these rules apply to erev Pesach.
There are five categories of work which are permitted on Chol Hamoed 12.
1. Tzorech ochel nefesh - work needed to prepare food.
2. Tzorech Hamoed - work needed to prepare for the Festival. (Only ma'aseh
hediot, unskilled labor, is permitted.)
3. Davar ha'aveid - work that is done to avoid a loss or damages.
4. Tzarchei harabim - work to fulfil community needs.
5. Po'el she'ein lo ma l'echol - paid labor by someone who lacks food to eat.
Guidelines for Melacha Prohibited on Erev Pesach
9. There are two basic factors that determine whether a melacha applies on erev Pesach.
a. Melacha Gemura- Work, which is thorough and complete as opposed to a repair, correction or improvement, is prohibited 13.
b. B'schar- Furthermore, it is prohibited to perform work for which one receives payment, even when that work only involves a correction or repair 14.
B. Practical Applications
1. Sewing a new garment, even if it will be needed for Yom Tov, is a prohibited melacha 15. However, mending a tear or sewing on a button onto an old garment needed for Yom Tov is only a repair and therefore is permissible on erev Pesach 16, even if one does so in a skilled manner 17. Nevertheless, if the repair is for someone else and one is getting payment, such work is prohibited 18. Asking a Jewish tailor to do this work is problematic if there is payment involved 19. Giving the job to a non-Jewish tailor is permissible 20.
2. Washing clothes is considered a melacha and is prohibited on erev Pesach 21, even with a washing machine 22. However, it is permissible to turn on the machine before midday even if the actual washing will take place after midday 23. A non-Jew is not prohibited from turning on the machine 24.
3. Ironing is permissible on erev Pesach as well as on Chol Hamoed 25.
4. Giving a haircut is a melacha prohibited on erev Pesach. One should take a haircut and shave before noon. If one forgets, he is not permitted to use a Jewish barber after midday on erev Pesach, even without payment 26. The solution is to take a haircut or shave from a non-Jewish barber 27.
5. One should cut his nails before noon. If he forgot to do so, he may cut his nails in the afternoon 28.
6. There are some poskim who prohibit shining shoes after midday on erev Pesach 29. Therefore, one should shine shoes before noon. However, if one forgets, he may rely on those poskim who permit it 30.
7. It is permissible for one to write notes for himself on erev Pesach, since one is not usually concerned that the outcome be perfect, i.e., it is not considered a thorough melacha 31.
However, when one writes to others, ones tends to be more particular that his handwriting should appear neat and exact. This is a proper melacha and it is prohibited on erev Pesach after midday 32. This applies even when writing for others without payment 33.
Buying and Selling
8. Even though engaging oneself in business is prohibited on Chol Hamoed, some poskim permit it on erev Pesach, but only until Mincha K'tana (2 ½ hours (zmanios) before sunset 34). However, according to many other authorities, conducting business falls within the restrictions of erev Pesach 35. Some write that the minhag is to prohibit it from noon 36.
1. Orach Chaim(O.C.) 468:1; Mishna Berura (M.B.) 468:1 based on the Yerushalmi quoted by Tosafos Pesachim 50a s.v. Makom shenahagu. However, Rashi Pesachim 50a writes that the reason melacha is forbidden is in order that one should not get too involved in his work and forget to burn his chametz, bring the Korban Pesach and prepare for Yom Tov. The Biur Halacha 468, s.v. Meichatzos writes that from the Poskim it seems that the main reason is as Tosafos explained.
The Pnei Yehoshua, there, mentions a third reason that the Torah gives Erev Pesach the same status as Chol HaMoed. When the Torah discusses the Festivals in Parshas Emor, it states "These are the Festivals". Immediately afterwards the passuk continues: "In the first month, on the fourteenth, in the afternoon it is Pesach for Hashem" (Vayikra 23:4,5). It appears that the Torah treats Erev Pesach from the time of the Korban Pesach - after midday, as a Festival.
2. Tosafos ibid; M.B.ibid.
3. O.C.468: 3;M.B. 468:12.
4. See the Chayei Adam,129:4 that the Achronim write that they have not found any place that refrained from work before chatzos. The Aruch HaShulchan 468:5 writes "That is how it is now that people work everywhere."
There is a dispute concerning the minhag for Yerushalayim. See Piskei Teshuvos 468:7. See Orchos Rabbeinu vol. 2 p.56, regarding the custom of B'nei Brak.
5. See Rema 233:1; M.B. 443:7,8; Minchas Shlomo 91:15. See also Aruch HaShulchan 233:14 and Igros Moshe O.C. 2:14.
6. O.C. 468:1 brings both opinions. The Rema concludes that the custom is to be lenient in this regard.The M.B. also rules this way. In 468:5 he writes that a non-jew may cut a Jew's hair after midday. And in 468:7, he writes that a non-jew may do laundry for a Jew after chatzos.
7. M.B. 468:5.
8. Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchesa 42:41 with note 141.
9. M.B. 468:7.
10. See Rambam Hilchos Yom Tov 8:18: "It is forbidden to perform melacha on the forteenth day of Nissan, Midivrei Sofrim (Rabbinical decree) just like Chol Hamoed and it is more lenient than Chol Hamoed." It is also apparent from the Gemara (Pesachim 55b), mentioned by the Be'er Heitev 468:14, that we are more lenient with regard to Erev Pesach. See also Machatzis Hashekel 468:3 and Sha'ar Hatzion 468:7,8 and 24.
11. O.C. 530:1; Chayei Adam 106-115, who lists the thirty-nine melachos.
12. M.B. 530:1.
13. O.C.468:2. Even though concerning Chol Hamoed we do not distinguish between repairs and complete jobs, nevertheless, as was mentioned above, we are more lenient in regard to Erev Pesach (Aruch HaShulchan 468:2).
14. O.C. ibid; M.B. 468:7.
15. Rema 468:2; M.B. 468:7.
16. O.C. ibid; M.B. 468:8.
17. M.B.ibid. However on Chol Hamoed skilled labor is forbidden.
18. O.C. ibid; M.B. ibid.
19. This is forbidden because of meseiyei'a l'd'var aveira - assisting one to sin. See Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchesa ch.66 note 43 and vol.3, corrections to ch. 42 note 144. In case of necessity, one should ask a Rabbi for possible options. See Sha'ar HaTzion 468:10; M.B. 542:2; Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchesa ibid.
20. As above, A 4.
21. M.B. 468:7.
22. See Teshuvos of Rabbi Yonasan Steif no.280 that laundering with a washing machine is also considered kibus, washing (and is included in the melacha of libun, whitening/washing). This is also the assumption of Piskei Teshuvos 468:6 and elsewhere. (See Sefer Rosh Chodesh - Otzer Halachos u'Minhagim 11:7 quoting HaGaon HaRav Y.S. Elyashiv shlita and HaGaon HaRav Y.Kamenetsky zt"l that those who have the custom not to wash clothes on Rosh Chodesh may not use a washing machine as this is also considered kibus and is forbidden.)
See however Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchesa ch.42 note 139 who debates as to whether one may use a washing machine after chatzos. (See Sefer Rosh Chodesh - Otzer Halachos u'Minhagim 11:7 quoting HaGaon HaRav S.Z. Aurebach zt"l.) Nevertheless, on Chol HaMoed one may not wash clothes with a washing machine because on Chol HaMoed there is an additional restriction not to wash clothes - in order that shelo yikaneis l'regel k'shehu menuval, one should not begin the Yom Tov in an unkempt manner. However, this is not relevant to Erev Pesach.
The Seder HaAruch (Kol Bo l'seder leil Pesach) ch. 11 note 7 discusses a similar issue in regard to hair cutting, which is forbidden on Erev Pesach. Since one cuts his hair to appear neat and well groomed, it is a tzorech HaMoed, a necessity for Yom Tov (it is also comparable to ochel nefesh, since it is for one's body) and there is no question of melacha. (Hair cutting normally falls under the melacha of gozeiz, shearing.) Nevertheless, it is still restricted on Chol HaMoed in order that shelo yikaneis l'regel k'shehu menuval and yet this restriction applies to Erev Pesach as well! He concludes that the Sages made the enactment "shelo yikaneis l'regel k'shehu menuval" on Erev Pesach also. The reason is that one brings a korban on erev Pesach and it is therefore considered a Yom Tov. It is therefore only proper that one enters the day already well groomed. Thus we clearly see that the Seder HaAruch disputes the Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchesa's assumption that shelo yikaneis l'regel k'shehu menuval does not apply to Erev Pesach.
23. Piskei Teshuvos 468:8.
24. M.B. 468:7.
25. See Orchos Rabbeinu vol. 2, p.56; Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchesa ch.42 note 139 and 66:56 .There he permits ironing on Chol HaMoed since it is a non-skilled activity for the sake of the Festival. See Hilchos Chol HaMoed Zichron Shlomo p. 33.
26. M.B. 468:5.
27. Ibid. If no gentile barber is available, one may give himself a haircut or a shave. See She'arim HaMitzuyanim B'Halacha 113:6, based on the Shach Y.D.399:12. His reasoning for permitting this is in order that shelo yikaneis l'regel k'shehu menuval ,one should not enter Yom Tov in an unkempt/ungroomed manner. See however Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchesa ch.42 note 140 who asks there why didn't the M.B. permit one to give himself a haircut in this situation, based on this Shach. The Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchesa does not resolve this question and it appears that he was of the opinion that the M.B. had a reason - albeit unknown- not to rely on the Shach's reason. Perhaps the reason is that the Sages made the enactment "shelo yikaneis l'regel k'shehu menuval" on Erev Pesach as well, as was mentioned in the end of note 22, above.
28. M.B. 468:5. The Sha'ar HaTzion 468:7 explains the reason, that even on Chol HaMoed itself most authorities permit nail cutting, see O.C. 532. Even though we ourselves are strict in regard to Chol HaMoed, we can be lenient concerning Erev Pesach, which is more lenient than Chol HaMoed, as was stated above A6.
29. The Kitzur HaSh'la, quoted in Teshuvos V'Hanhagos 1:301 and Piskei Teshuvos 468 note 18, states " It is forbidden to polish shoes on Erev Pesach after chatzos."
30. Yabia Omer 1:32; She'arim HaMitzuyanim B'Halacha 133:6; Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchesa ch.42 note 173 (based on his own ruling in 66:48); Piskei Teshuvos 468:4; Yesodei Yeshurun vol. 6 p. 80. See also sources quoted in Hilchos Chol HaMoed Zichron Shlomo p. 34 note 71.
31. O.C. 468:2;M.B. 468:9.
32 M.B. ibid. It is written in Orchos Rabbeinu vol. 2 p.56, that one Erev Pesach a cheque, made out to a certain Yeshiva, was brought to the Chazon Ish to sign. He inquired if it was needed for the Festival, and when told that it was not, he did not sign. (A cheque is something that people are particular about and is signed for others.)
33. M.B. ibid. His source is the Levush. The Eliyahu Zuta on the Levush 468:4 explains that this cannot be considered a repair, rather it is a melacha gemura, a complete task, which is forbidden on Erev Pesach. It would seem that even when writing for oneself, if one is particular to write especially neat, that this would also be prohibited.
34. As this is the time that one must stop work every Friday and Erev Yom Tov, see O.C. 251,Sha'os z'manios was discussed in A3, above.
35. See Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchesa 42 note 137 and Piskei Teshuvos 468:5 with note 23 where they bring all the various opinions.
36. Hilchos Chag B'Chag Pesach 14:15.