No Work Erev Pesach – What about Sukkot?

Pesachim (4:1) | Yisrael Bankier | 13 years ago

The beginning of the forth chapter discusses how one should behave if they travel away from home and the custom in that place differs from his own. The first example is the difference in minhag regarding whether melacha is allowed prior to midday on erev Pesach. After chatzot however, the mefarshim explains that everyone agrees that the work is prohibited. Why is melacha prohibited on erev Pesach earlier than the eve of all other festivals?

The Yerushalmi explains that from midday onwards was the time for the slaughtering of the korban Pesach. That being the case, it would not be proper for one to have his korban slaughtered for him while he carries on about his own business. It would appears that the different minagim relate to whether this prohibition stretches to morning as well. The Tosfot (Pesachim 50a) explains that even though there is no korban Pesach today, once that gezeira was put in place, it continues today.1

The Maggid Mishnah (Yom Tov 8)**however has a difficulty with this explanation of Rashi, who he cites as explaining that the reason for the prohibition is that one should be busy with sorting out his matza and marror needs.2 If that was the reason, then on erev Sukkot melacha should be prohibited early as well he should be busy with his sukkah.

The Tosfot Yom Tov defends Rashi by explaining that the mitzvah of sukkah is different to the mitzvah of matzah. When it comes to sukkah people are accustomed to building their sukkot on motzei yom kippur (readers take note!). Therefore people would not be busy with their sukkot, on erev Sukkot. With matzah however, they were accustomed to making them on erev Pesach (see Tur 457)*. *

**The Mahariach suggests that since the prohibition after chatzot is not mentioned explicitly, then perhaps it is prohibited after chatzot on erev Sukkot as well. The reason there are differing minhagim from the morning on erev Pesach but not on erev Sukkot is because the chametz must be removed during the morning, whereas the lulav and sukkah can be prepared all day. This answer would not align with the Rambam who rules that the work on the eve of other festivals (including sukkot) is prohibited from mincha onward. 

The Rashash cites a different understanding that explains that Rashi was only providing a reason for those that had the custom of prohibiting work prior to chatzot. When it comes to the prohibition of working after chatzot, Rashi agrees with the explanation of the Yerushalmi cited above.    

1 See the Tifferet Yisrael for more details regarding why the gezeira still applies today.

2 Rashi printed in our Gemara explains that the reason for prohibiting work is that the Chachamim were concerned that people would forget to remove chametz, slaughter the korban Pesach and prepare matzah.


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