Three days of holiness

It is a mitzvah to rejoice on Rosh Hashanah and accept the yoke of Heaven with joy, out of fear and remorse, but one must be sure to observe the holiday properly.

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Rabbi Eliezer Melamed,

מצווה. הרב מלמד
מצווה. הרב מלמד
פלאש 90

          
Rosh Hashanah and Accepting God's Kingdom with Joy

Rosh Hashanah is one of the Jewish holidays in which it is a mitzvah to rejoice (Shevuot 10a), and therefore the eve of Rosh Hashanah is one of the four days when large numbers of animals were slaughtered, and consequently, those selling the slaughtered animals were required to warn purchasers against the prohibition of "it and its young", namely, the prohibition against slaughtering an animal and its young on the same day (Chullin 83a).

Rosh Hashanah is also "yom teruah," (day of blasting the shofar), i.e., a day of fear and remorse, because on this day life of the previous year ends, and what we failed to do is lost. On this day God also creates life of the New Year, and consequently, it is a day of judgment. The teruah, which is a broken and disjointed sound, expresses the aspect of fear.

However, the Torah commanded us to blow before and after the teruah a tekiah peshuta (a straight, flat sound) expressing joy, because the purpose of judgement and fear is for our correction, and therefore, it includes joy.

Consequently, the essence of repentance on Rosh Hashanah is for us to accept upon ourselves God's kingdom, and thus connect and become a partner in all Godly ideals; such an exalted matter as this, is accompanied by both joy and fear.

Accordingly, halakha determines that on Rosh Hashanah we should partake in choice and fine meals as a good sign for the entire year, but on the other hand, not overeat, so as to maintain proper fear for the day (S.A, O.C. 597:1).

Reforming the Judicial System
Our Sages said (Tanchuma, Emor 22), that by way of the repentance and fasts of the righteous before Rosh Hashanah, the Holy One, blessed be He, waives a third of our sins, and by way of Yom Kippur of all of Israel, He waives the other two thirds. The Shelah HaKadosh, Rabbi Isaiah ben Avraham Horowitz, explained that God does not waive sins one transgresses by himself, for concerning that our Sages said: "Anyone who says that God waives the execution of justice, will have his own life waived" (Bava Kama 50a), and atonement for a sin that one transgressed must be done in detail.

The intention here is "on the transgressions that all of Israel are guarantors of one another" (Shevuot 39a). For there is room to argue against us that we failed to do everything possible to awaken the public to Torah and mitzvot, but by means of our repentance, it is proven that we really do want the name of the Almighty to be sanctified in the world, and as a result, we are not punished for the sins of our fellow Jews.

It is also important to add that when we are able to act, repentance is accepted provided we accept upon ourselves to do our best to correct the situation. In the coming year, the challenge before us is to reform the judicial system, which today is the governmental establishment most detrimental to the values ​​of the Jewish people, the Torah, and the Land of Israel. Only if we understand the depth of the problem and demand that the public's representatives act efficiently and diligently to remedy it, will we be free from the mutual responsibility of each and every one of us for the grave damage the legal system causes to the dignity of Israel and the Torah.

Bathing on Yom Tov and Shabbat
This year we are blessed with three consecutive holy days and seeing as many people are accustomed to shower every day and if they refrain from bathing for three days, consequently, they will defile the honor of the holiday and Shabbat, it is worthwhile to review and study the laws of bathing on Shabbat and Yom Tov.

It is permitted to bathe in hot water that was heated on the eve of Yom Tov, or in hot water that was heated on Yom Tov by a dude shemesh (solar water heater) or a Shabbat clock. This is the difference between Shabbat and Yom Tov – on Shabbat, it is permitted to bathe in lukewarm water, but not hot water, whereas on Yom Tov, it is permissible to bathe in hot water (Peninei Halakha: Shabbat 14:8).

There are, however, some poskim (Jewish law arbiters) who are stringent, and are of the opinion that the halakha for Yom Tov is the same as Shabbat, and that even on Yom Tov, one is permitted only to bathe in lukewarm water. There are some poskim who are stringent and are of the opinion that on Shabbat and Yom Tov it is forbidden to bathe even in lukewarm water, and this is the custom of some Ashkenazi Jews. In practice, however, the halakha follows the majority of poskim, who are of the lenient opinion that it is permissible to wash in hot water on Yom Tov. And when refraining from bathing causes sorrow, such as on the two days of Rosh Hashanah, or on Yom Tov followed by Shabbat, it is appropriate to act according to the lenient poskim, in order to honor and enjoy the holiday.

Likewise on Shabbat, if a person suffers from not washing he may wash himself with lukewarm water, i.e., water in which one does not receive enjoyment from the warmth, but on the other hand, does not suffer from the cold.

Using a Solar Water Heater (Dude Shemesh)
If one has a solar boiler (dude shemesh), he may bathe in water that was heated up on Yom Tov. One who does not have a solar boiler may turn on his electric boiler before Yom Tov. So as not to waste electricity, he may connect the boiler to a timer so that it remains activated only for the amount of time necessary.

Unlike on Shabbat, on Yom Tov the hot water tap may be turned on, even if the water is boiling hot, and even if the heating element is working. This is because on Yom Tov there is no prohibition on cooking. However, one may not turn on an electric boiler on Yom Tov because doing so is considered lighting a fire. As we have already seen, it is forbidden to light a new fire on Yom Tov (Peninei Halakha: Moadim 5:10).

Soap and Hair Conditioner

It is permissible to use liquid soap on Shabbat and Yom Tov. But as far as bar or a thick liquid soap is concerned, many people are accustomed to be stringent and not use them, but those who wish to be lenient have an opinion to rely on (Peninei Halakha: Shabbat 14:6).

It is permitted to wash one's hair very gently with shampoo and conditioner (liquid). This is provided that there is no certainty that shampooing will pull out hair. Even if hair is found in the shower afterwards, as long as one washed his hair gently, there is no certainty that the shampooing caused the hair to be pulled out, because these hairs may have been removed from their source beforehand, and subsequently, were washed away with the water. However, if it is clear that shampooing will pull out even one strand of hair – it is forbidden to wash one's hair.

For a woman with long hair who is used to combing it after washing, it is proper for her not to wash her hair on Shabbat or Yom Tov, so that she will not err afterwards and transgress the Torah prohibition of brushing or combing (Peninei Halakha: Shabbat 14:3). A woman who feels a great need to wash her hair and is certain not to err after shampooing by combing her hair, is permitted to do so on Yom Tov as well.

It is also necessary to be careful while washing one's hair or beard not to squeeze the hair, for such squeezing is forbidden as part of the melacha of 'dash' (threshing), because it removes from the hair water and soap that could be used for further washing. But one can dry his hair with a towel because since he has no interest in the water wrung from the hair and absorbed by the towel, there is no prohibition of sechita (Peninei Halakha: Shabbat 14:8).

The Prohibition of Preparing from the First Day of Rosh Hashanah to the Second Day
One should be careful not to do any preparatory actions from the first day of Yom Tov of Rosh Hashanah to the second day, because the first day of Yom Tov is a Torah ordinance, while the second day is from Divrei Chachamim (rabbinical status). Therefore, it is forbidden to cook or heat food, or to set the table from the first day of Yom Tov to the second day (S.A., O.C. 503:1).

Likewise, it is forbidden to wash the dirty dishes used on the first day in order to use them on the second day; rather, only after tzeit ha'chochavim (emergence of the stars, or nightfall) which this year is at 7:00 P.M., it is permitted to prepare food and heat it up, wash the dishes, and set the table for the second Yom Tov evening meal. 

This is the reason why, in practice, the second night meal is postponed for at least an hour after tzeit ha'chochavim. Some rabbis are accustomed to extend their second night's sermon so that in the meantime, the food will be sufficiently warmed up.

Food should not be removed from the freezer on the first day to be eaten at the second night's meal. In a sha'at dachak (extenuating circumstance), when waiting for the first day of Yom Tov to end will cause grievance and a significant delay of the meal, it is permissible to take the food out during the day (Peninei Halakha: Moadim 2:2, footnote 12).

Candle Lighting on the Second Night
It is proper to light the candles of the second Yom Tov after tzeit ha'chochavim, so as not to prepare from the first day of Yom Tov to the second day. A woman who lights bein ha'shmashot (the time between sunset and tzeit ha'chochavim) has an opinion to rely on, since at that time there is also a certain amount of honor and enjoyment from the candles. Since it is forbidden to kindle a new fire on Yom Tov, a candle should be prepared before the holiday that will remain lit for more than twenty-four hours from which one can light candles on the second night. If one did not prepare such a candle, he should seek assistance from neighbors who have a lit candle.

One may force the candles into the candlesticks even though this may shave off a bit of the candles. It is also permitted to use a knife to remove wax left in the candlestick, if it is getting in the way of putting in the new candles. Similarly, if one uses tea lights or votive candles, he may pry the little metal discs left over from the previous night out of the glass cup. If one uses floating wicks, they may be inserted into the cork disks that hold them. However, one using regular candles may not melt the bottoms to make them stay in the candlestick. Similarly, it is forbidden to cut the bottoms or sand them in order to stick the candles into the candlesticks (Peninei Halakha: Moadim 2:2).

Eruv Tavshilin
This year we are blessed in that Rosh Hashanah and Shabbat are linked, and thereby, we ascend from the sanctity of Yom Tov to that of Shabbat. Our Sages enacted that before Yom Tov we place an eruv tavshilin, and by doing so, we are reminded of the honor of Yom Tov and the honor of Shabbat.

By means of the eruv tavshilin we are permitted to make on Yom Tov any preparation that is required for Shabbat. This includes cooking and heating food for Shabbat, washing dishes used during Yom Tov before Shabbat, and to prepare the candles for the lighting of the Shabbat candles. As for the preparation of food, one must make sure that the dishes prepared for Shabbat are ready before sunset, so that in principle, food prepared on Yom Tov can also be eaten on Yom Tov by guests who may arrive.

Shabbat Candle Lighting
It is permitted to prepare candles for Shabbat as one prepares them for the second day of Yom Tov, and one is permitted to light the Shabbat candles from a lit flame. To do so, one must prepare a candle that will be lit throughout Yom Tov, and if the candle burned out, one should seek assistance from neighbors who have a lit candle.

One must be very careful to light Shabbat candles before sunset according to the times appearing on calendars since unlike on Yom Tov, on Shabbat it is forbidden to light a candle, and even before sunset, one should accept the Shabbat, and begin avoiding all Shabbat prohibitions.
 

This article appears in the 'Besheva' newspaper and was translated from Hebrew. Other interesting, informative, and thought-provoking articles by Rabbi Melamed can be found at: http://en.yhb.org.il