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Is it permitted to cook on Yom Tov (biblical holidays)?

by Rabbi Shlomo Chein


Library » Holidays » General Information » Forbidden Activities | Subscribe | What is RSS?


Cooking is generally allowed on Rosh Hashanah, Sukkot, Shmini Atzeret/Simchat Torah, Passover and Shavuot, (although all other activities that are forbidden on Shabbat are forbidden on these holidays as well, with the exception of "carrying").

There are certain restrictions to this rule which were enacted in order to maintain the sacredness of the holiday and to assure the day is spent in celebration rather than preparation.

  • We may only cook for what is needed that day. If the holiday leads directly into Shabbat (on which we may not cook), we may cook on Friday for Shabbat, providing we made an Eruv Tavshilin before the onset of the holiday.
  • We may only cook for those who are obligated to celebrate the holiday.
  • We may only light fire from a pre existing flame. It is therefore customary for people to leave a burner on low for the duration of the holiday, or light a number of long burning candles (a.k.a. yahrtzeit candles) consecutively.

Important note: Lighting a fire is part of the process of cooking; extinguishing a fire is not. It is therefore permitted to enlarge a fire, but forbidden to put it out or lower it when we are done cooking. [Electricity is a category of (prohibited work of) its own, and one should consult with his/her local Halachic authority to determine whether s/he can increase the temperature on an electric stove/oven].


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(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
A Biblically mandated early-spring festival celebrating the Jewish exodus from Egypt in the year 1312 BCE.
Pertaining to Jewish Law.
Rosh Hashanah
The Jewish New Year. An early autumn two day holiday marking the creation of Adam and Eve. On this day we hear the blasts of the ram's horn and accept G-d's sovereignty upon ourselves and the world. On Rosh Hashanah we pray that G-d should grant us all a sweet New Year.
A seven day autumn festival commemorating the miracle of the Heavenly Clouds which enveloped the Jews while traveling in the desert for forty years. On this holiday we dwell in makeshift booths and shake the Four Species.
Early summer festival marking the day when the Jews received the Torah at Mount Sinai in the year 2448 (1312 BCE).
Shmini Atzeret
A joyous one-day autumn festival immediately following the holiday of Sukkot. Outside Israel this holiday is celebrated for two days, the second day is known as Simchat Torah.
The (Jewish calendar) anniversary of a person's death.