Halacha for Sunday 1 Sivan 5780 May 24 2020

The Holiday of Shavuot- Coronavirus

The holiday of Shavuot will be celebrated, G-d willing, at the conclusion of the period of the counting of the Omer this coming Friday (beginning from Thursday night), the 6th of Sivan (and outside of Israel on Shabbat, the 7th of Sivan as well). Let us, therefore, begin to discuss some of the pertinent laws of Yom Tov (which apply to the holidays of Pesach, Rosh Hashanah and Sukkot as well).

Food Preparation
The Torah states (Shemot 12) regarding the various holidays, i.e. the first day of Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, the first and last days of Pesach, and the holiday of Shavuot: “No work shall be performed on them; however, any (work necessary for) food preparation eaten by all, this alone may be performed by you.” This means that any work which is forbidden on Shabbat is also forbidden on Yom Tov, besides for work needed to prepare food which is permissible on Yom Tov.

Some works pertaining to the Yom Tov food preparation which the Torah allows on the holiday itself include cooking, frying, baking, and the like.

Cessation of Work on Holiday
The Sefer Ha’Chinuch explains that the reason the Torah forbade performing work on holidays is in order for the Jewish nation to remember the great miracles that Hashem performed for them and their ancestors and to pass this message on to their children. If work was permissible on these days, the honor of the festival and joy of the holiday would be forgotten because everyone would be busy at work; thus, due to the prohibition of working on the holidays, the Jewish people will be free to gather in synagogues and Batei Midrash to hear words of Torah and wisdom from luminaries of the generation who expound Halacha and stories of the Torah. This is based on the teaching of our Sages, “Moshe instituted that the Jewish nation expound the laws of Pesach on Pesach, the laws of Shavuot on Shavuot, and the laws of Sukkot on Sukkot, as the verse states, ‘And Moshe spoke out the festivals of Hashem to the Children of Israel.’” Similarly, our Sages taught, “Shabbat and holidays were only given to the Jewish nation so that they may delve in Torah study.” We were therefore commanded to have a complete cessation of work, excluding work needed for food preparation (for instance, preparing a dish for a holiday meal, according to the conditions and procedures we shall lay out in following Halachot). Similarly, our Sages have taught, “There is no distinction between Shabbat and Yom Tov besides for [the prohibition of] food preparation.”

Half for Hashem and Half for You
Nevertheless, one should divide the hours of the holiday with half being spent in the synagogue and Bet Midrash and half being spent eating, drinking, and enjoying the holiday.

Coronavirus
This year (5780), unfortunately, as a result of the global Coronavirus pandemic, holding prayer and Torah study services in synagogues may prove difficult in many regions around the world. Nevertheless, there are many people who wish to stay awake all night and study Torah at home. We must point out though that most people will not be able to remain awake all night in this manner and will fall asleep at some point or another during the night and later wake up to recite Keri’at Shema and pray with a Minyan (where legal and appropriate). One should be proactive in setting an alarm clock or by going to sleep fairly earlier so that one does not pray Shacharit on Shavuot, one of the most precious of the year, at too late an hour. Making sure to recite Keri’at Shema and the Amida prayer before their respective last times to do so is a holy obligation prescribed by Halacha, especially on the day we celebrate the giving of the Torah, while staying up all night learning on Shavuot is merely a righteous custom. One should therefore use discretion and give priority to what is most necessary.

The custom to adorn the synagogue with flowers and greenery on Shavuot applies to anywhere where prayers are being held, even if it is not a synagogue.

In the next Halacha we shall, G-d-willing, discuss which works may not be performed on Yom Tov although they are associated with foods preparation.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

Megillah Reading- Coronavirus

Every member of the Jewish nation is obligated to read the Megillah on the day of Purim. One must read it during the night and once again the next day, as the verse states, “My G-d, I call out to you during the day and you do not answer; during the night I have no rest.” This verse is wr......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Hearing Parashat Zachor- Coronavirus

“Remember What Amalek Has Done to You” On the Shabbat preceding Purim, which is this coming Shabbat, after the opening of the Ark immediately following Shacharit prayers, two Sifrei Torah are removed; in the first one, we read the weekly Parasha (which is Parashat Vayikra this year, 577......

Read Halacha

Matanot La’Evyonim- Coronavirus

In the previous Halacha we briefly discussed the Mitzvah of “Matanot La’Evyonim” on Purim day which is the distribution of two monetary gifts, one to each pauper. What Must One Give? In order to fulfill this Mitzvah, one need not give actual gifts; rather, it is permissible to ......

Read Halacha

The Days of Purim and the Laws of Mishloach Manot- 5781

The Days of Purim Purim will be celebrated in approximately two weeks from today. This year, we must discuss several unique laws, first of all, because Purim day (the 14th of Adar) falls out on a Friday. Second of all, in Jerusalem, a “three-day Purim” will be celebrated since the 15th ......

Read Halacha


The Mitzvah of the Purim Feast This Year (5781)

Holding the Purim Feast at Night The holiday of Purim is different than all other holidays we celebrate in that whereas regarding other holidays the Mitzvah of partaking of a joyous holiday meal applies during the day and night, regarding the holiday of Purim, there is only a Mitzvah to hold a feas......

Read Halacha

 A Joint Mishloach Manot by Husband and Wife

Question: On Purim I stay home and I do not give out my own Mishloach Manot. May I fulfill my obligation by sending a joint Mishloach Manot along with my husband? Answer: First, let us discuss the obligation of women with regards to Mishloach Manot. A Woman’s Obligation in Mishloach Mano......

Read Halacha

The Mitzvah of Joy and Torah Learning on Purim Day

There is a Mitzvah eat heartily during the Purim Feast. One should preferably eat bread during this meal. The Rambam (Chapter 2 of Hilchot Megillah, Halacha 15) writes: “What is the extent of one’s obligation during this feast? One should eat meat and prepare a delicious meal to the b......

Read Halacha

Sucking On a Fruit

Question: If one sucks on an orange or a grapefruit but does not chew it with one’s teeth, must one recite the “Boreh Peri Ha’etz” like on other fruits or should one recite the “Shehakol” blessing like one would when drinking other fruit juices? Answer: Indeed,......

Read Halacha