The second perek opens with the law of eiruv tavshilin. Cooking on Yom Tov for Yom Tov is permitted. One however is not allowed to cook on Yom Tov for the following day, even if that day is Shabbat. Nevertheless the Chachachim instituted the concept of an eiruv tavshalin allowing one to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbat the next day. In brief, it involves settings aside cooked foods prior to Yom Tov for Shabbat, such that any cooking on Yom Tov is a continuation of that which was started prior to Yom Tov. Let us address a basic question: How does an eiruv tavshilin help? In what way does this rabbinic initiative permit an act which was prohibited?
In Eiruvin(48b) we find a debated between Rabba and Rav Chisda regarding the punishment for one that bakes on Yom Tov for a weekday. Two points of debate are revealed in the discussion. One is that Rabba maintains it is biblically prohibited to prepare from Yom Tov to Shabbat whereas Rav Chisda understands that the prohibition is rabbinic.According to Rav Chisda the gezeira is out of concern that if cooking from Yom Tov to Shabbat was allowed, then one might also cook from Yom Tov to a weekday, which is biblically prohibited.1 According to Rav Chisda that eiruv tavshilin server as a heker(reminder) so that such a mistake is not made.
According to Rabba then, how does the eiruv tavshilin help when faced with a biblical prohibition? He explains that since it is possible that uninvited guests might arrive, the cooking performed on Yom Tov will have been for Yom Tov. Rabba maintains that this ho’il (lit. since) is valid enough to bring the prohibition of cooking from Yom Tov to Shabbat down to a rabbinic level.
The Tosfot adopt Rabba’s position in their first explanation of how eiruv tavshilin can appear to override a biblical prohibition (Eiruin 38a, mishum). They however explain that the license of eiruv tavshilin only works, as longs as the hu’il is valid (Pesachim 46b, Rabba). Therefore cooking food that would not be edible during Yom Tov or starting to cook late in the day would be prohibited even with an eiruv tavshilin.
The Biur Halacha (OC 527) writes that according to this position (shared by many other Rishonim) since preparation from Yom Tov to Shabbat is biblically prohibited, there would be no difference between cooking and all other melachot. He adds, in the name of the Magen Avraham, that this is why there is a custom to doven ma’ariv early on erev Shabbat that coincides with Yom Tov ensuring no cooking is performed close to dark.
The Tosfot however also cites the Ritzba that explains that the biblical issue of hachana from Yom Tov to Shabbat is only for new things (like a beitza). Cooking and baking however are only considered a tikkun (correction).
The Bi’ur Halacha however also cites Rishonim that rule like Rav Chisa above (Rabeinu Efraim, HaMaor). According to them, since there is no biblical prohibition of preparing from Yom Tov to Shabbat, as long as one has prepared an eiruv tavshilin, one could cook on Yom Tov up until Shabbat. Interestingly the Bi’ur Halacha notes that while the Rambam rules like Rabba, that the ho’il is affective in exempting one that cooks from Yom Tov to a weekday from lashes, when it comes to our case (cooking from Yom Tov to Shabbat) he rules like Rav Chisda that that the prohibition is rabbinic.
The Bi’ur Halacha concludes that one should certainly be concerned for those opinions that prohibit cooking on Yom Tov close to Shabbat even with an eiruv tavshilin. He adds however, that the lenient opinions are certainly worthy enough to be relied upon in pressing circumstances when nearing nightfall.
As always, turn to your Rav for the final word on all halachic matters.
1 The Biur Halacha understands that Rav Chisda would maintain that preparing from Yom Tov to chol would be prohibited biblically albeit not punishable by lashes. He also cites a number of opinions that maintain that Rav Ashi also holds like Rav Chisda. The Amoraim argues on our Mishnah about the reason for the rabbinic requirement of eiruv tavshilin. Rav Ashi maintains it is for the sake of Yom Tov, so people do not cook from Yom Tov to chol. Rava understands that this for the sake of Shabbat so that a nice portion is set aside for Shabbat as well.
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