From the Rav’s Desk: Having a gentile set up the table for the second night of Yom Tov

  1. Question: [Thursday, 25th Elul, 5781]

Our Chabad house is hosting a large number of guests for the meals of both nights of Rosh Hashanah. I know in general it is forbidden for us to do any preparation on the first day of Yom Tov on behalf of the second day. The problem is, if we wait until nighttime, it will tremendously delay the start of our meal, and will keep all of our guests in waiting. May I instruct our Gentile cleaner to already wash all the dishes, and set up all the tables before nighttime in such a case?



Yes, in the above case, it is permitted for you to arrange for a Gentile to clean dishes and set up the table on the first day of Yom Tov on behalf of the second day.

Explanation: Although in general, as accurately stated, it is forbidden to do any work on the first day of Yom Tov on behalf of the second day even if it does not involve any intrinsically forbidden Melacha, and this prohibition applies even by the two days of Rosh Hashanah, nonetheless, the Poskim write that it is permitted to have a Gentile do so on one’s behalf, as the sages did not decree Amira Lenachri in such a case. Now, although Admur 319:18 only permits asking a gentile to do preparation on Shabbos for after Shabbos if it is done in order to prevent loss, which implies that the prohibition of Amira Lenachri applies even regarding non-Melacha related preparations for the next day being that it is a complete rabbinical prohibition. Nonetheless, in this case there’s more room to be lenient even according to Admur being that preparing for the second day of Yom Tov is considered a Mitzvah, and is hence allowed under that basis, as explained in Admur 307:12, and as ruled in Admur 319:18 regarding a case of loss. This is in addition to the fact that there are many Poskim who rule that in a time of need, such as to prevent loss, and for the sake of a Mitzvah, one may be lenient to prepare on the first day of Yom Tov on behalf of the 2nd day, if one completes the preparation with much time left in the day, and the preparation does not involve any Melacha normally forbidden to be done on Yom Tov. Thus, certainly one can be lenient in our case above to do so through Gentile even according to the rulings of Admur.

Sources: The following opinions are lenient to allow asking a Gentile: P”M 503 A”A 1; Kaf Hachaim 503:1; Minchas Yom Tov 101:8; Piskeiy Teshuvos 503:1; Regarding the opinion of Admur: See Admur 307:12; 319:18; Regarding the general prohibition of preparing for the next day see: Admur 503:1-3; Michaber 503:1 regarding Melacha; Rama 667:1; Regarding preparing for the next day in a time of need to prevent delay: Chayeh Adam 153:6; M”B 667:5 regarding wine for the 2nd night of Yom Tov; Kaf Hachaim 503:2; Maharshag 1:61; Piskeiy Teshuvos 302:17; 503:1; Nitei Gavriel “Erev Pesach Shechal Beshabbos” in Teshuvah 4

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