Parshas Bemidbar.


Laws of Yom Tov (holidays).


1. In this weekly portion you will read about the positive mitzvos of the holidays. The forbidden works will be discussed in Parshas Pinchas.


2. One of the Torah’s mitzvos is to enjoy Yom Tov.  We make our holidays special, just as we separate the Shabbos from all the other days. We are commanded to wear our best clothes; we conduct our conversations and walk differently from any other day. There is also a mitzvah to give tzedoko to the poor before the holidays, so that they can also enjoy these days properly. On a holiday we make Kiddush before the meals. One may accept the Yom Tov and make Kiddush before sunset, just as on Shabbos. However, on the first days of Pesach, Sukkos and on Shmini Atzeres, one should make Kiddush only after it gets dark. On the second day of every Yom Tov we always wait for darkness and only then make Kiddush.


3. On a holiday we eat at least two meals, even though on Shabbos we have to eat three. As on Shabbos, one should say a blessing over two challas before each meal. After the holyday is over, Havdallah should be made, but, one should omit the blessing over the fire and the spices. The reason for this is as follows. During Shabbos one is forbidden to make fire, which is why we light a candle after Shabbos is over, thus showing that the prohibition is over as well. On Yom Tov one may light fire from an already burning one, and therefore there is no need to make a blessing over fire after the holiday is over. As for the spices, they compensate a spiritual fall down – the loss of additional spirituality, after Shabbos is gone. On a holiday the spiritual worlds do not raise as high as on Shabbos. Therefore, once the Yom Tov is over we don’t need to compensate the spiritual loss by smelling the spices. Certainly, when the last day of Yom Tov falls on a Shabbos, the Havdallah is made the same way as after a regular Shabbos.


4. In the Land of Israel any holiday, except Rosh Hashanah, is celebrated once, while outside the Land of Israel one should keep it for two days. The simple reason for this is that in the old times our calendar was not fixed, but depended on the witnesses seeing the new moon. Their testimony was accepted in the central rabbinical court, and the new month started. Messengers were sent to all states to inform everybody on which day the first day of the new month befell, and consequently, when one should keep the holidays. Jews, living far from the Holy Land, had to celebrate each holiday for two days, because they were not sure, which day of the month was sanctified to be the first. Rosh Hashanah had to be celebrated during two days even in the Land of Israel, because it falls on the first day of the month, and one could never know, when the witnesses would come. According to Kabbalah, two days are required for those, living outside the Holy Land, to perform the rectifications in the spiritual worlds that can be done in the Holy Land in one day. In our day, even those living in the Holy Land celebrate Rosh Hashanah for two days to achieve complete rectification.


5. According to the Torah law, only one of the two days is holy, and this is why on the first day, we are forbidden to prepare anything for the second day (e.g. cook a meal for the evening of the next day). For this reason, we light the candles for the second day, only after the stars come out, that is, only after the first day is over.


6. If the days of a holiday fall on a Friday and Shabbos, or on a Thursday and Friday, we have to do Eiruv Tavshilin, a special procedure, which permits us to cook for the Shabbos on Friday. In this case on Friday one may cook the meal, which will be consumed on Shabbos. Eiruv Tavshilin will also give us permission to light Shabbos candles from the already burning fire, on Friday before sunset.


7. For Eiruv Tavshilin one should take before Yom Tov a lump of cooked food that can be eaten with bread, not less than the size of a Kezais (somewhere between one and two ounces), and a piece of bread twice as big, make blessing over it and say, that with the help of this Eiruv we should be permitted to cook, bake and light candles on Friday before Shabbos. The food, used for Eiruv, can be eaten on Shabbos.