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Starting Shavuot Early – Day 1 and Day 2

Rabbi Dov Linzer

Denver, CO.

Question

In previous years, a number of families in my shul have asked me about making Shavuot early so that they can have the seudah at a reasonable time, and so that the small children to participate in the se’udat Yom Tov. The general practice is to not accept Shavuot until Tzeit, and I have told them they cannot do so, but it did create some serious difficulties for them.

This year, this is also relevant to us as a community – at least from the hakhanah perspective. We hope to serve hot food to our teens at shul on Shavuot night (Motzei Shabbat) at 10 pm, and it takes a long while for it to heat. We would like to take the food from the refrigerator on Shabbat to start “de-cooling.” Shekiah is 8:30pm.  What’s the earliest time the food may be taken from the fridge and put into the warmers? In general, what guidance can you give re preparing on Shabbat for Yom Tov.

 

Answer

There are a number of issues to address here. Let’s look at them separately. 

  • Temimot. The general practice on going into Shavuot Yom Tov 1 – is to not make Kiddush (or even daven Ma’ariv in some places) until Tzeit, for the sake of temimot. This is a chumrah introduced by some Achronim, which is disputed by others. From a halakhic point of view it makes no sense to me. Accepting Yom Tov early brings kedushat Yom Tov into the previous day; it does not cut the previous day short. When there is sufficient need, I see no need to be machmir to follow this practice, and you can accept Shavuot early.
  • Kiddush, Seudah, Havdalah. Kiddush and the meal can be made early – even from bein HaShemashot, like we often do on Shabbatot in the summer. Ideally, you should eat a kezayit of bread after Tzeit (or at least after Shekiah). You do not mention Shabbat in Kiddush because the Kiddush is for Yom Tov. You would say Havdalah in Kiddush – יקנה”ז – as you always do when Shabbat goes into Yom Tov. It is acceptable to say Havdalah from Plag HaMinchah onward when there is a need (obviously, no issurei Shabbat can be done until Tzeit). Since it is not Tzeit, you cannot light a candle and do בורא מאורי האש until after Tzeit. So the Kiddush would be יקה”ז – יין, קידוש, הבדלה, זמן.  When it is after Tzeit, light candles (they can be the Yom Tov candles) and make בורא מאורי האש over them.
  • Bishul and other melakhot. Bishul and other melakhot are not permitted until tzeit
  • Hachana after Shkiyah. Hachana can be done after shkiya, since this is a d’rabanan beit hashmashot which is mutar b’makom mitzvah. Similarly, even things that are rabbinically prohibited (e.g., heating solid food up in a way that would not be allowed on Shabbat) is likewise permitted, since you can do issurei di’rabanan bein hashmashot for the sake of a mitzvah.
  • Hachanah before Shkiyah and starting the meal after Shkiyah. You cannot do anything that is assur mi’drabanan. But what about things that are only a hakhanah problem – like setting the table, taking the food out of the fridge, putting the food on a blech and the like. The question here is – Can one be meichin from Shabbat to bein hashamashot? I have not seen this addressed directly, but my position would be that it is ok. 3 reasons:
    • (1) The issur is framed as משבת לחול, nobody would consider בין השמשות to be חול.
    • (2) Since you can’t do melakhah during bein hashamashot, it is effectively still Shabbat (similar to #1, but #1 was a textual point, this is the logic behind it).
    • (3) Since it is for bein hashamashot, which might be Shabbat, it is not ניכר – and possibly not even the case – that it is for חול.
  • Starting the meal before Shkiyah. Setting your table, warming the food (on a blech, etc.) and the like is fine, since you will be beginning the seudah on Shabbat (after you’ve accepted Yom Tov) – you are preparing from Shabbat to Shabbat. Once again, no issurei di’rabanan until bein hashmashot and no melakha until tzeit
  • Make sure everyone knows the halakhot. If you are doing this in your community, make sure to spell out and disseminate the important issues to them re hachanah only after shkiya and most importantly: No malakha until tzeit!! 

 

Summary: Early Day 1 – While It Is Still Shabbat

Temimot

  • When necessary, one can accept Shavuot as early as plag and does not have to be machmir and follow the practice of waiting until tzeit.

 

Once it is Plag or later you may:

  • Make kiddush with Havdalah (יקנה”ז), but DO NOT LIGHT A FIRE, and do not do בורא מאורי האש (so it will be יקה”ז)
  • Do hachanah that does not involve any issurim (d’rabanan or d’oraitta). This would include – setting the table, taking the food out of the fridge, warming solid food in a way that it can be warmed on Shabbat.
  • Do not hear up liquids until tzeit.

 

Once it is Tzeit, you must

  • Light Yom Tov candles and make the brakhali’hadlik ner shel yom tov. Do not say she’hechiyanu as that will have already been said at kiddush.
  • Cook, etc. Heat up or cook liquids.
  • Recite borei m’orei ha’eish over them (or any new fire)

 

Summary: Early Day 2 – While It is Still Day 1

Before Sunset, you may:

  • Make Kiddush and begin the meal once it is Plag.
  • Do preparations such as setting the table, taking the food out of the fridge and the like, as long as the meal begins before tzeit
  • Do anything you can do on Yom Tov to prepare for the meal, including cooking, transferring a flame and the like, if you will benefit from it before sunset (while it is still day 1).
  • Light Yom Tov candles with a brakha, provided that your meal will start before sunset and that the candles will enhance the experience of your meal

Between Sunset and Tzeit (Bein HaShmashot):

  • You may do preparations such as setting the table and the like
  • You MAY NOT do any acts that you cannot do on Shabbat – such as cooking, reheating liquids, or transferring a flame. This is regardless of when you will benefit from them (since, depending on when you cross the line into night, you might be doing melakha on day 1 for day 2).

 

Additional points:

  • You should ideally eat a kezayit of bread after tzeit or at least after Shkiyah, but on Shavuot not strictly necessary (Sukkot and Pesach are different, since there are mitzvot d’oraitta which start at night)
  • For simplicity’s sake, I did not include above the halakha that once it is shekiyah or later you may do hachanah even if it involves rabbinic prohibitions (when necessary), such as warming up solid food up in a way that is rabbinically forbidden on Shabbat – since the need to do this is not so common.

 

N.B. Make sure your community is very clear on these halakhot. In particular, drill it into them that:

o   ON SHABBAT GOING INTO DAY 1 – NO MELAKHA (incl. no heating up liquids) may be done UNTIL TZEIT

  • ON DAY 1 GOING INTO DAY 2 – NO MELAKHA may be done
    • BEFORE SUNSET FOR AFTER SUNSET
    • BETWEEN SUNSET AND TZEIT