General Yom Tov Halachot
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Preparation for Yom Tov 30 Days in Advance
- Thirty days before Sukkot or Pesach one should start learning the halachot of Sukkot or Pesach respectively. For Shavuot, many rabbis hold that it isn't necessary to prepare for 30 days, and preparing from Rosh Chodesh Sivan is sufficient.
- Some rishonim understand this concept one should actually learn, teach his family members, and teach in public the laws of the upcoming holiday. Other rishonim say that it isn't necessary to stop one's regular learning to learn the halacha of the upcoming holiday; rather if a question about the halacha's of that holiday is posed one should give it precedence and answer it completely. Ashkenazim hold like the first opinion, while Sephardim hold like the second.
- All agree that on the holiday itself one should learn the halachot of that holiday. The minhag is not to be so careful to ensure that there are lectures of the halacha of the holiday even on the holiday itself and some question this.
- The minhag to teach the laws for the upcoming holidays on Shabbat Hagadol and Shabbat Shuva. Some say that this is a fulfillment of the concept to teach the laws of Pesach and Sukkot within 30 days of the upcoming holiday. Therefore, it is important that these drashot include halacha.
Erev Yom Tov
- It is a mitzvah to take a hair cut on Erev Yom Tov or close to Yom Tov so that one's hair still looks nice. It is always permitted to cut one's hair on Erev Yom Tov even after midday except for Erev Pesach when one shouldn't cut one's hair after midday, chatzot.
- It's forbidden to make a festive meal on Erev Yom Tov which one wouldn't normally have during the week.
- One shouldn't have a meal after the end of the ninth hour in the day just like on Erev Shabbat. When Shabbat falls out on Erev Yom Tov one should have Seudat Shelishit before the beginning of the tenth hour and if one didn't have it beforehand one can still have it but one should try to only eat a Kbeytzah of bread and not an elaborate meal to save an appetite for Yom Tov. See Not eating on Erev Shabbat.
- One shouldn't work after mincha time on Erev Yom Tov just like on Friday. See the details here: Working on Friday Afternoon.
Kavod and Oneg Yom Tov
Meals of Yom Tov
- One should have Lechem Mishneh (two loaves of bread) for the two meals of Yom Tov. See Lechem Mishneh.
- Although the main obligation of aliya laregel during the times of the Beit Hamikdash was to bring korbanot, there is still a mitzvah nowadays to visit Yerushalayim and particularly the Kotel Hamaaravi.
- In Gemara Pesachim 6a, the rabbis hold that one should begin to learn Hilchot Pesach thirty days in advance of Pesach, whereas Rabban Shimon Ben Gamliel holds that this idea only begins 2 weeks before Pesach. The rabbis learn this idea from Moshe who taught the laws of Pesach Sheni thirty days in advance which was the first Pesach. Shulchan Aruch O.C. 429:1 rules like the opinion of the rabbis. Mishna Brurah 429:1 writes that according to Rashi, Tosfot, and the Gra the same is true of other Yamim Tovim such as Sukkot, however, according to the Bet Yosef there is only a thirty day period in reference to Pesach.
- Gra, Mishna Brurah 429:1, Kaf HaChayim on Shulchan Arukh Orach Chayim 429:2:1
- Biur Halacha 429:1 citing the opinion of Rashi, Tosfot Megillah 4a, Shiltot, Bahag all understand the concept of the gemara to be an injunctive to learn and teach the laws of the upcoming holidays 30 days in advance. Biur Halacha claims that the opinion of the Ran and Rashba are a minority opinion.
- Ran Pesachim 2b s.v. shoalin, Rashba Megillah 4a s.v. shoalin, Meor Yisrael Pesachim 6a citing Maharam Chalavah and Ritva Megillah 4a.
- Biur Halacha 429:1 rules in favor of the Rashi and Tosfot against the Ran. This is reiterated in Mishna Brurah 429:2.
- Chazon Ovadyah (Pesach pg 1) explains that the halacha in Gemara Pesachim 6a is relevant in regards to the laws established in Tosefta Sanhedrin 7:5 which state that a person should ask relevant questions and a relevant question has precedence over the irrelevant questions. Meor Yisrael Pesachim 6a also notes how this opinion of the Ran and Rashba isn't a lone opinion.
- Gemara Megillah 32b states that one should learn the halachot of Sukkot on Sukkot. Mishna Brurah 429:1 quotes this as halacha.
- Shaar Hatziyun 429:5 writes that the achronim who defended the minhag to neglect this directive of chazal to teach the laws of the upcoming and current holiday is based on the fact that we read about the holiday on the holiday in the Kriyat Hatorah. The Shaar Hatziyun dismisses this suggestion considering that the mitzvah is to learn the halacha of the upcoming and current holiday and learning the pesukim isn't the halacha. Kaf HaChayim on Shulchan Arukh Orach Chayim 429:4:1 quotes the Graz 429:4 who defends the minhag differently; since all of the halachot are easily found in sefarim it isn't necessary to give lectures on it, therefore the lectures can be about themes of the day.
- Mishna Brurah 429:2, Kaf HaChayim on Shulchan Arukh Orach Chayim 429:3:1
- Shulchan Aruch O.C. 531:1 writes that it is a mitzvah to take a hair cut on Erev Yom Tov. din.org.il explains that this applies to Sukkot, Pesach, and Shavuot. Piskei Teshuvot quotes the Pri Megadim who says that as long as one cuts one's hair within 30 days of Yom Tov that is considered as though one's hair is cut and isn't too long. He concludes that it all depends on the time and place as to when one's hair is still considered short.
- Mishna Brurah 531:1, Shulchan Aruch O.C. 468:1
- Rama 529:1, Mishna Brurah 249:8
- Rama O.C. 529:1, Halacha Brurah 249:12
- Kaf Hachaim 251:1
- Mishna Brurah 249:8
- Rama 529:1, Mishna Brurah 529:9
- Sh"t Yechave Daat 1:25, Sh"t Kol Mevaser 2:10. see also Rabbi Yosef Kalinsky and Igrot Moshe YD 3:122