Shiur #23: Eiruv Tavshilin (Part 1)

  • Rav Moshe Taragin
The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash

Talmudic Methodology
Yeshivat Har Etzion

Shiur #24: Eiruv Tavshilin (Part 1)

By Rav Moshe Taragin


When Yom Tov precedes Shabbat, the procedure known as eiruv tavshilin must be executed prior to Yom Tov to allow preparation for Shabbat during Yom Tov proper.  What problem does eiruv tavshilin address, and by what mechanism does it allow one to prepare for Shabbat on the chag?


The gemara in Beitza (15b) raises the above question and offers three different approaches.  Initially, Shemuel suggests that this halakhic institution possesses Biblical roots.  Rashi (s.v. mai) already insists that Shemuel does not truly impute de-orayta status to eiruv tavshilin, but is merely hunting for some Biblical hint or allusion to this process.  Shemuel cites the verse in Shemot (20:8) which demands that we "remember Shabbat" (Zakhor et yom ha-Shabbat).  Though this verse dictates several additional halakhot (among them Kiddush), according to Shemuel it also implores us to highlight Shabbat when a condition arises in which our interest in Shabbat may diminish.  Clearly, a "routine" Shabbat following the drama of a "long-awaited" chag may feel a bit anticlimactic and dull.  To avoid this discrimination against Shabbat, an eiruv tavshilin "bookmarks" Shabbat before Yom Tov even begins, programming an awareness of Shabbat even during the euphoria of Yom Tov. 


Rava offers a similar explanation of eiruv tavshilin, "so that a person may select quality for Shabbat as well as quality for Yom Tov." Presumably, Rava agrees in principle with Shemuel, perhaps without the Biblical allusion.  By scheduling eiruv tavshilin, a person ensures actual food for Shabbat.  It is not merely the spirit of Shabbat which eiruv tavshilin reinforces, but also the actual menu.  Without eiruv tavshilin, foodstuffs, (or at least the choice items) may be exhausted during the chag. 


Unlike Shemuel's and Rava's common thread - viewing eiruv as a protectant of Shabbat against the overwhelming charisma of the chag – Rav Ashi suggests that the eiruv preserves the integrity of the chag.  Fundamentally, cooking on a chag for Shabbat poses no halakhic problem.  However, people may mistakenly infer that cooking may be performed on a chag even for regular days.  Witnessing preparations for Shabbat during a chag may tempt or confuse people into preparing for weekday needs.  To prevent this error, an eiruv tavshilin reminds them that preparations may only be conducted for a special Shabbat day to follow a chag, but not for a weekday. 


Finally, Rabbi Elazar formulates a third understanding.  Commencing preparation of Shabbat food during Yom Tov is forbidden.  However, CONTINUING the preparation of this food is permissible.  Having begun preparation of Shabbat food BEFORE the chag, we may continue it during chag proper. 


Interestingly, the greatest divide seems to exist between the first three opinions and the final opinion of Rabbi Elazar.  The first three views all concur that, fundamentally, it is Biblically permitted to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbat.  Whether the upcoming Shabbat, per se, permits this form of preparation, or whether we rely upon a logic known as "ho'il" (cooking on chag for subsequent use can never be forbidden outright since the food can, theoretically, be used for Yom Tov itself), no biblical prohibition applies to cooking on chag for Shabbat.   Various "secondary" issues, such as the diminished allure of Shabbat, or the confusion and possible future error, dictate the implementation of some symbol to avert these conditions. 


Rabbi Elazar appears to adopt a different tactic: cooking on Yom Tov for Shabbat is FUNDAMENTALLY forbidden.  However, completing a process of cooking is permissible (based upon a verse he cites).  Unlike the symbolic role of eiruv according to the earlier opinions, Rebbi Elazar suggests a more substantive function - to launch a cooking process which will be subsequently culminated. 


This duality - eiruv as mere symbol or eiruv as substantive - may underlie an interesting etymological assertion of the Rambam regarding the connotations of the word eiruv.  The Rambam (Yom Tov 6:2) associates the term "eiruv tavshilin" with the process of eiruv chatzeirot, the mechanism that allows for carrying in courtyards on Shabbat.  Each serves as a reminder – a graphic symbol to highlight a fact that may otherwise be neglected.  Eiruv chatzeirot reminds us that we cannot carry into actual public domains (preventing confusion among those who legitimately carry in semi-public domains), while eiruv tavshilin prevents forgetting Shabbat, or averts an error of cooking on chag for weekday use.  Clearly, the Rambam aligns eiruv with the first model – a procedure to avert confusion or neglect.

               The Raavad disagrees with the Rambam asserting that the term eiruv stems from the more common root of combining or mixing.  By providing an eiruv, a person is 'mixing' or uniting the preparation of Yom Tov with the preparation of Shabbat needs thereby performing them together.  The Ra'avad's etymology describes the combining of preparations – a description which would support Rava's view of pre-preparing Shabbat to lend it accent or, alternatively Rebbi Elazar's view of launching Shabbat preparation prior to chag.  It would be difficult to harmonize this etymology with Rav Ashi's view of establishing a reminder to avoid confusion about Yom Tov cooking. 

An interesting nafka mina, practical ramification, to this distinction emerges from the Rosh's initial comments to this gemara (Beitza 2:1).  The Rosh raises the question as to whether there are any differences between Rava's view of protecting the integrity of Shabbat and Rav Ashi's view that eiruv tavshilin helps avert confusion about cooking on chag.  The gemara implies one difference: fundamentally, according to Rava, the eiruv can be established during Yom Tov itself.  Inasmuch as the eiruv aims to highlight the value of Shabbat so that it is not overwhelmed by chag, it can be arranged during Yom Tov proper.  Practically, the Sages worried that the excitement of the chag would distract one from Shabbat preparation and no eiruv would be established.  To avoid this danger, they decreed that the eiruv be fixed before chag.  Fundamentally, however, it could function even if placed during the chag.  Presumably, according to Rav Ashi, only an eiruv placed before the chag would serve as a deterrent to possible confusion about cooking on the chag. 


The Rosh seeks an additional factor to discriminate between Rava's view of allocating importance to Shabbat and Rav Ashi's view of avoiding confusion regarding cooking on Yom Tov for weekdays.  He suggests an "earlier prepared" eiruv as the difference.  According to Rava, the eiruv must be set proximate to the chag, to accentuate Shabbat when it is most vulnerable.  Preparing it earlier will not immediately showcase the significance of Shabbat.  By contrast, according to Rav Ashi, any eiruv, even one implemented well before the onset of the chag, will remind people that the cooking on Yom Tov is permissible only because it serves Shabbat; cooking for weekdays would not be allowed.


This determination - that Rava would oppose an eiruv which was positioned too early - can be contested.  Even an eiruv placed well before the chag may highlight Shabbat. In fact, one could contend that the longer the eiruv has been operative, the more attention Shabbat generates!


However, it IS CLEAR that RABBI ELAZAR'S logic would demand implementation of eiruv tavshilin as close to the chag as possible.  If the mechanism of eiruv entails the pre-chag launch of a cooking process to be CONTINUED during chag, the continuity may not be realized if the launch and the second stage are not proximate in time.  If the eiruv serves as SYMBOL, it may make little difference when the symbol was established.  If, however, the eiruv constitutes the START of a soon-to-be-completed process, we may require chronological CONTINUITY to assure this sequence. 


An additional question may pertain to the obligation to prepare an eiruv even if all cooking has been completed prior to the chag.  In an age of refrigeration many, if not most, prepare all Shabbat food prior to the chag to avoid the hassle.  The question thus arises if a person who has no plan to cook on the chag for Shabbat may skip the mitzva of eiruv.  Presumably, according to Rava, an eiruv is ALWAYS necessary to protect the value of Shabbat.  Perhaps, according to Rav Ashi (and, for that matter, Rabbi Elazar), a person who does not plan to cook on chag for Shabbat would be exempted from preparing an eiruv.