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Hachanah in a Pesach Certified Hotel

Rabbi Dovid Cohen
Administrative Rabbinical Coordinator of the cRc

February 2008

People prefer to begin their meals or Sedorim as soon as Ma’ariv ends on the eve of Shabbos or Yom Tov. The same is true in a hotel which is certified for Pesach and naturally, the caterer will do anything in his power to keep his customers happy. At the same time, it is the responsibility of the Mashgichim to enforce the halachos which forbid hachanah from one day of Yom Tov or Shabbos to the next.{1} There are a number of methods of dealing with this issue including waiting; marbeh b’shiurim; incomplete hachanah; and non-Jews performing hachanah. Each of these methods is discussed below.

Once sufficient time has passed after shekiah, it becomes the next day, and there is no issue of hachanah. The general cRc policy is that no food preparation may be done until 50 minutes after shekiah on Motzai Shabbos,{2} but the situation in a certified Pesach hotel is somewhat different. On the one hand we must factor in the potential for זלזול יום טוב for such preparations to be done in the presence of a hotel full of Jewish guests, but on the other hand we must also consider that there is a whole tzibbur waiting to eat. [This is different than the general cRc policy, which merely dictates that the even must begin later]. In cases where the hotel locks the ballroom during setup (as is common), Rav Schwartz does not seem concerned with the first factor because there is no way any guests would be aware of the preparations being performed.

He does however, consider the latter factor to be significant, and ruled that as relates to hachanah for a second day of Yom Tov (or Shabbos) the non-Jews may consider the first day to end at the zeman given by Responsa Bnei Tzion.{3} Bnei Tzion (II:16) rules that bein hashmashos ends when the sun is 6 degrees below the horizon;{4} although we do not accept his opinion regarding Jews performing melacha, in our case we may allow non-Jews to perform hachanah once that time passes.

As a way to illustrate this opinion the following chart illustrates the times for Pesach 5768/2008 when non-Jews may perform all forms of hachanah at the two hotels certified for Pesach by the cRc (similar calculations could be made for any other year):


April 19th

April 20th

April 26th


Hachanah begins


Hachanah begins


Hachanah begins

Lake Geneva, WI{5}







Whistler, BC{6}







With these times in mind (and after considering the other leniencies noted below), the caterer may want to speak to the person who oversees the davening, to ask him to arrange a speech, a later start, or slower davening so that the hotel staff will, in fact, have the ballroom ready when davening ends.

What if some or all of the hotel guests accept the last day of Yom Tov “early” (i.e. after plag hamincha)? Can preparations be done before plag for the second day? What about between plag and shekiah? These questions are moot for this year,{7} and will IY”H be dealt with in the future.

Marbeh B’shiurim
Someone who is cooking (or doing other preparations) on Yom Tov for that same day is permitted to have extra food in the pot that will be used for the next day of Yom Tov (or Shabbos) if they meet the following conditions:{8}

  • No extra actions may be done for the second day of Yom Tov.
    • For example, on Yom Tov afternoon, a pan holding 200 stuffed cabbages may be put into the oven even though only 50 of the stuffed cabbages will be eaten that day at the early supper for children or seniors, because the same action will get all 200 stuffed cabbages into the oven. If however, there are 2 pans each holding 100 stuffed cabbages, only one pan may be put into the oven; the second one cannot as that would entail doing an extra action specifically for the second day. Similarly, one would not be permitted to fry extra breaded schnitzel or wrap more stuffed cabbages than might be needed for the first day of Yom Tov, because in these cases each piece of schnitzel or cabbage is prepared separately and requires extra effort.
  • The people involved in these preparations should not verbalize their intention of using some of the food for the second day of Yom Tov.

Incomplete Hachanah
One is required to eat in the Succah on Shemini Atzeres. On the followng night it is still Yom Tov (Simchas Torah), but one eats in the house. Rema 667:1 rules that on Shemini Atzeres afternoon one may not move the tables and benches from the Succah and set them up in the house, as that would be hachanah from one day of Yom Tov to the next.

Chayei Adam{9} suggests that this halacha may be limited to cases where one completes the hachanah by setting the tables up in the house, but one would be permitted to do the incomplete act of merely moving the tables into the house. Chayei Adam cites a number of proofs to this position but severely limits it to cases in which it would be very difficult or impossible to move the tables once the second day of Yom Tov begins. He further requires that the preparations be done early enough in the afternoon that it is not obvious that this hachanah is being done for the next day. [Chayei Adam also rules that one should not rely on this leniency when preparing on Shabbos or Yom Tov for a weekday]. This leniency, including the aforementioned limitations, is cited in Mishnah Berurah 667:5 as being permitted בשעת הדחק .

Theoretically, this leniency would allow the hotel staff to put out the tables, chairs, tablecloths, plates and flatware on the first day of Yom Tov in advance of the second day of Yom Tov as long as they did not actually complete the hachanah by setting the tables. However, we must recall that Chayei Adam and Mishnah Berurah only permitted this form of (incomplete) hachanah in cases of שעת הדחק or where it would be very difficult to do the steps after nightfall. This preparation does not seem to meet those criteria because if the steps were not taken they would only cause the Yom Tov meals to be delayed by a few minutes, which hardly seems to qualify as a שעת הדחק .

Thus, it would appear that Chayei Adam’s leniency has limited application in a hotel setting, but there may still be situations where in fact the Rav HaMachshir would feel it is appropriate.

Non-Jews performing hachanah
A Jew is forbidden from preparing from one day of Yom Tov to the next, whether the preparation involves melacha or just tircha (effort).{10} As with all other prohibitions of Yom Tov, whatever a Jew may not do he may not ask a non-Jew to do for him. Therefore, our initial assumption would be that the same applies to all aspects of the prohibition of hachanah. However Pri Megadim{11} suggests that although one may not tell a non-Jew to do melacha on one day of Yom Tov for the next day, it may be that it is permitted to tell him to perform tircha for the next day.

Some Acharonim{12} suggest that although Pri Megadim does not offer a definitive ruling on this matter (or an explanation as to why it might be true), he truly holds that it is permitted and was merely writing his ruling in his typically humble manner. However, one could challenge this stand because in two other locations Pri Megadim{13} details the logic behind possibly being lenient on this matter and offers a proof that it may not be correct. His repeated discussion of the matter without offering a firm lenient decision supports the assumption that Pri Megadim is truly unsure of how to rule on the matter.

Upon further investigation it turns out that Taz{14} and Magen Avraham,{15} both of whom are cited by Mishnah Berurah, effectively hold that the prohibition of amirah l’akum even applies to cases when the non-Jew is merely performing tircha. These Poskim do not specifically raise the issue discussed above, but both discuss cases of tircha on Shabbos or Yom Tov and assume that a non-Jew may not perform such acts for a Jew.{16} In light of their assumption to this effect, and the fact that even Pri Megadim appears unsure that there is any difference between amirah l’akum on tircha or melacha, it seems prudent not to rely on this lenient rationale. As such, a Jew may not have a non-Jew prepare something on one day of Yom Tov that the Jew will use on the next day of Yom Tov, even if that preparation involves mere tircha and no formal melacha.

Nonetheless, it is well known that there are situations where amirah l’akum does not apply, and two of the cases where one can be lenient about amirah l’akum are especially relevant to a hotel on Yom Tov, as follows:

  • A Jew may not ask a non-Jew to anything for him which the Jew is not allowed to do himself, but a non-Jew may perform melacha (or tircha) ada’tah d’nafshey (for his own personal benefit) even though a Jew has a tangential benefit from the melacha. Therefore, the Jewish caterer cannot tell the non-Jewish hotel staff to have the table set before 7 P.M. for the meal on the second night of Yom Tov, because he is telling them to prepare on one day of Yom Tov for the next. If however, they are told to have the tables set by 10 P.M. and they find it more convenient to set up when they have some free time in the afternoon rather than be rushed after dark, they may do so, as they are doing that unnecessary tircha for their own benefit rather than for the Jews.

Shulchan Aruch{17} rules that a non-Jew may not do melacha adatah d’nafshey on the Jew’s property, because people who see him doing the melacha will think the Jew specifically told him to do it on Shabbos. Rav Schwartz is of the opinion that setting up tables behind locked ballroom doors or doing other preparatory work in the recesses of a hotel kitchen is not included in this halacha, because the hotel does not belong to a Jew and none of the guests will see or know about the melacha which the non-Jews are doing.

  • The prohibition of preparing on one day of Yom Tov for the next day is Rabbinic in nature, and in most cases one may ask a non-Jew to violate a Rabbinic prohibition on Shabbos or Yom Tov if there is some great need, hefsed merubah (large loss), in order to help a sick person, or to help people perform a mitzvah (Shulchan Aruch 307:5). Therefore, if the caterer realizes on the afternoon of the first day of Yom Tov that the food for the evening meal is frozen, he may ask a non-Jew to take it out of the freezer to defrost, because if they do not defrost it until after dark hundreds of people will have to delay their Yom Tov meal for an extended amount of time.{18}

In this context it is noteworthy that Magen Avraham{19} cautions that one must be careful in applying the aforementioned leniency as it cannot be applied to all situations. This is in addition to the potential for abuse in a hotel situation, where people are wont to rationalize all amirah l’akum as being done l’tzorech mitzvah.

In order to prepare for the evening meal of the second night of Yom Tov in a hotel:

  • Non-Jews may set tables during their free time on the afternoon of the first day if doing so is convenient for them, but not to satisfy their Jewish bosses or hotel guests who insist on eating shortly after sunset. They may also take food out of the freezer so it can thaw before evening if it was mistakenly not defrosted before Yom Tov. These leniencies typically do not apply to cooking or warming food.
  • The hotel staff may cook or warm an entire pan of food even if only part of it will be eaten on the first day of Yom Tov and the rest will be used at the evening meal. However, extra effort may not be done for the evening meal, and extra pans of food may not be heated.
  • This year, at the cRc Pesach-certified hotels in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin or Whistler, British Columbia, non-Jews may make any preparations for the evening meal beginning 31 or 37 minutes after sunset.

1 See Shulchan Aruch 503.

2 At a one-time event in a hotel, the cRc allows non-food preparation to take place at any time – even on Shabbos.Although Rabbi Eisenbach notes that even at a one-time event the setup is done under certification to assure that only kosher flatware and dishes are used, the decision as to when to setup is completely in the hotel’s hands (adatah d’nafshey, as will be explained below), and therefore they may setup on Shabbos. On the other hand, at a hotel certified for the entire Yom Tov, the needs of the (Jewish) guests at the preceding and coming meals are major factors in the decision as to when setup should occur, and therefore the setup must be within the guidelines of hachanah.

3 Responsa B’nei Tzion, by Rabbi Dovid Spira, contains two volumes, the first of which was printed while the author lived in Eretz Yisroel, and the second was printed when he was temporarily living in New York. The teshuvah on this topic (II:16) spans close to 60 pages and includes tables of crucial zemanim for the entire year for the equator, and latitudes of 20, 32, 41, 52, 60, and 75 degrees north. [The inside cover page says that the second volume was printed in 5716/1956 but the teshuvah on this topic carries the date of 5 Av 5717].

4 B’nei Tzion’s opinion is based on a number of assumptions (a) the halacha follows Gr”a and others that the ¾ mil of bein hashmashos is measured from sunset, (b) the ¾ mil shiur is a measure of darkness on the day of the equinox at the equator, (c) the time of bein hashmashos changes based on the day of the year and one’s latitude, and (d) the aforementioned level of darkness occurs when the sun is about 3¾ degrees below the horizon, but one should be machmir and assume it happens when the sun is 6 degrees below the horizon. The numerous halachic and mathematical issues with this position are beyond the scope of this document.

5 The latitude and longitude for Lake Geneva, Wisconsin is approximately 42° 36′ N and 88° 24′ W. The altitude is approximately 900 feet, and the negligible difference which that makes in the zemanim was ignored.

6 The latitude and longitude for Whistler, British Columbia is approximately 50° 6′ N and 122° 57′ W. The altitude is approximately 2,200 feet, and one minute was added to the time when hachanah may begin to (over)compensate for the fact that the calculations of sunset assume the location is at sea level.

7 This year, the last night of Yom Tov is on Motzai Shabbos such that all cooking for the evening seudah will have to be done after havdalah, which makes it unlikely that anyone will accept the last day of Yom Tov “early” as they would basically have nothing to eat. Of course, one may not accept Yom Tov early on the Seder nights since the Seder must begin after nightfall (Shulchan Aruch 472:1 and Mishnah Berurah 472:4), and there is no issue of hachanah if people accept Shevii shel Pesach early.

8 Shulchan Aruch & Rema 503:1-2.

9 Chayei Adam 153:6, based on Magen Avraham 667:3 and other sources.

10 See Shulchan Aruch 503:1 and Mishnah Berurah 503:1. The Poskim refer to preparations which do not involve melacha as being טירחא שלא לצורך (work or effort for no reason), and we will use that terminology for this discussion.

11 Pri Megadim, Introduction to A.A. 503.

12 Maharsham (Da’as Torah 444:1 ד”ה וע”ע , and in his additions to Orchos Chaim 444:3). See also Teshuvos V’Hanhagos I:223, who assumes (without citing Pri Megadim or any other sources) that amirah l’akum does not apply to tircha.

13 Pri Megadim (M.Z.) 500:4 says that a source suggesting that amirah l’akum might only apply to melachos is SMa”G cited at the end of Beis Yosef 244, who says that the prohibition of amirah l’akum is based on Mechilta’s interpretation of the posuk (Shemos 12:16) כל מלאכה לא יֵעָשֶה בהם , which implies that melacha may not be done for a Jew by anyone. Accordingly, amirah l’akum might only apply to melacha and not to unnecessary tircha on Yom Tov. On the other hand, in Pri Megadim (A.A.) 500:13 he rules that amirah l’akum for a tircha is not permitted (except in cases of hefsed merubah where any shvus d’shvus would be permitted, as will be discussed below) and suggests a possible proof to that from Rema 322:6. (He also notes that this would be against the aforementioned suggestion that one may be lenient).

14 Taz 313:10, cited in Mishnah Berurah 313:56; Pri Megadim on this Taz does not discuss the issue dealt with in the text.

15 Magen Abraham 510:13, cited in Mishnah Berurah 510:23 & 319:62. Pri Megadim on Magen Avraham references Magen Avraham 307:7 (who discusses the circumstances when one is allowed to ask a non-Jew to perform a forbidden act), which gives some indication that Pri Megadim agrees with Magen Avraham’s assumption that amirah l’akum for tircha is no different than amirah l’akum for melacha.

16 In each of their rulings, they note that a non-Jew may not perform the act under discussion unless the situation qualifies as one where amirah l’akum is generally permitted (and some of those exceptions are discussed in the coming text).

17 Shulchan Aruch 252:2 as explained by Mishnah Berurah 252:17.

18 It would appear that this case would also qualify as an incomplete hachanah discussed in the previous text.

19 Magen Avraham 307:7 cited in Mishnah Berurah 307:21.