Back to top

(773) 465-3900


EZcRc Login

[email protected]


Inviting Non-Jews for a Yom Tov Meal

Rabbi Yisroel Langer, cRc Dayan

On Yom Tov one is permitted to perform various melachos such as cooking, grinding, kneading etc. for the purpose of eating food on Yom Tov. However, these activities are only permitted if their purpose is to benefit a Jew. It is strictly forbidden to cook or do any melachos on behalf of a non-Jew. (Note:  a mumar l’challel Shabbos b’farhesya is treated the same as a non-Jew for all the halachos mentioned in this article except if he falls into the category of a tinok shenishbah M.B. 512 sk 2.)

Out of concern that one may forget and cook for a non-Jew, Chazal forbade us to even invite a non-Jew to eat at our home over Yom Tov.
This prohibition applies even if all the food is prepared prior to Yom Tov, as the Jew may realize on Yom Tov that there is not enough food. This scenario may result in the Jew cooking something for the non-Jew on Yom Tov (M.B.  512 s.k.3). With regards to sending a non-Jew food on Yom Tov, the matter is more lenient. In this situation Chazal were less concerned that one will feel pressured to cook extra food for him since he isn’t a guest at one’s house. Therefore, any food that was already cooked for one’s own family may be sent to the non-Jew’s home (M.B. s.k. 5). (See M.B. s.k. 6 for a discussion of whether one may do ribui shiurim for a non-Jew in this situation). If there is no Eruv, only a non-Jew may carry the food to the non-Jew’s home.

One who has non-Jewish cleaning help would be allowed to have her partake of the Yom Tov meal. The reason is that since she isn’t an “invited guest,” one does not feel pressured to cook for her. (Note: the heter of ribui shiurim may be employed when cooking for her, which means that one may put a larger pot of food on the fire than one needs to feed his own family. If there is already a pot of food on the fire and one would like to add to the pot, he may do so only if the food in question is meat and there is other food in the house available to offer to the cleaning lady – see M.B. 512, sk 12.)

If non–Jewish company came uninvited it would be permitted to allow them to partake of one’s seudah provided that they “surprised” you after the seudah had been prepared (M.B. ibid sk 10 and Sha’ar Hatziyun 20). Additionally, one can’t urge or pressure them to stay (Taz quoted by M.B. ibid).

According to the strict halachah one would be allowed to have a non-Jewish guest on Shabbos, as one is not allowed to cook on Shabbos for anybody. (See Taz O.C. 512 sk 6 who quotes Pirkei D’ R. Eliezer that unless one has a real need [such as a non-Jew who is interested in converting] it would be best not to have any non-Jewish company for any meal.) However, in a situation in which Shabbos falls out on the second day of Yom Tov or the day following Yom Tov then one would not be allowed to invite a non-Jew for that Shabbos, since the preparations for those meals are made on Yom Tov (assuming an eruv tavshilin was made). In that case we are concerned that the Jew will cook on Yom Tov for the non-Jew’s Shabbos meal (Harav Dovid zucker shlita and Harav Shmuel Fuerst shlita).

One would not be allowed to invite a non-Jew who wishes to become a ger and would like to participate in the Yom Tov seudah of a Jewish family. The potential convert may show up uninvited after the meal has been fully prepared. Hagaon R’ Yoseph Shalom Elyashiv zt”l (quoted in Ashrei Ish O.C., Volume 3, ch. 3:8) offers an alternative. Before Yom Tov, one can have the non-Jew acquire any food that he may eat over Yom Tov. Doing so ensures that he isn’t considered an invited guest at the Jew’s house – he is only eating his own food. (This solution would not allow you to cook for this non–Jew on Yom Tov; it would just allow you to invite him.)

Another solution offered by R’ Elyashiv zt”l  that if one discovers during a Yom Tov meal that one of his invited guests is not Jewish, he may swear that he will not cook for the non-Jewish guest. This would be sufficient to satisfy Chazal’s concern that you might cook for him (ibid 9).

Published in Parsha Encounters, Tazria 5776