Jewish Festivals (Chagim, Yom Tov)
Introduction to Holidays/Jewish Festivals
Introduction to Holidays/Jewish Festivals/Chagim/Yom Tov
Jewish Festivals are listed in the Torah and are of two types: 
  1. Three pilgrimage festivals (shalosh regalim):
  • Passover,
  • Shavuot, and
  • Sukkot (including Shimini Atzeret).
These festivals were celebrated in ancient times by "appearing before God"--by bringing offerings to the Tabernacle or Temple.
  1. High Holidays
  • The Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashana—“Yom Teru'ain the Torah), and the
  • Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur).
Jewish holidays that were originally one day are now observed as follows:
  • Rosh Hashana--2 days.
  • Yom Kippur--1 day.
  • Shavuot--1 day in Eretz Yisrael or 2 days elsewhere.
  • Passover has festival days at the beginning and end of the holiday and intermediary days of lesser holiness, which are called chol ha'moed. In Eretz Yisrael, Passover lasts for 7 days in total and the first and last days are festival days. Outside of Eretz Yisrael, Passover lasts 8 days and has two festival days at the beginning and two at the end.
  • Sukkot has festival days at the beginning and at the end and intermediary days of lesser holiness, which are called chol ha'moed. In Eretz Yisrael, Sukkot lasts for 8 days and the first and last days are festival days (the last day is Shimini Atzeret). Outside of Eretz Yisrael, Sukkot lasts for 9 days and the first two days and last days are festival days (the 8th day is Shimini Atzeret and the 9th day is Simchat Torah).

Each holiday contributes its own character to Jewish life (Passover--the theme of freedom; Yom Kippur brings atonement, etc.). 

How to celebrate these holidays is detailed in our Oral Law and halacha books. Jewish festivals as practiced today are similar in holiness to Shabbat. As with Shabbat, the Jewish festival has candle lighting, kiddush at two meals, and havdala.   We eat our best food and wear our best clothing on Jewish festivals (we eat our next-best food and wear our next-best clothing on Shabbat!).
The main idea behind eating meals on Jewish festivals is joy (simcha), so you should drink wine and eat meat (only if you enjoy wine and meat).  There is no third meal on Jewish festivals since people used to eat two meals each day (adding a third meal on Shabbat was for enjoyment/oneg).
Any activities or actions permitted on Shabbat are also permitted on the Jewish festivals. Actions that are forbidden on Shabbat are generally also forbidden on Jewish festivals, but there are some leniencies (only if the actions are needed for that festival day).
  • Lighting from an existing flame,
  • Cooking and baking for the Jewish festival day, and
  • Carrying outside the eruv (hotza'a--transferring objects between domains).
Grama (indirectly causing an action) is permitted on Jewish festivals (but not on Shabbat). For example, you may advance or delay a timer that will make a light go on or off in the future (the timer must already be plugged in and operating from before sunset of the festival day).
Note For an action to be considered indirect based on time, there must be at least 2.5 seconds after the first action is done before the resulting action begins to happen.

Psik Reisha Dla Neicha Lei
Psik reisha dla neicha lei is forbidden on Jewish festivals, just as it is on Shabbat.

D'oraita Restrictions
D'oraita restrictions apply world-wide to:
  • First and seventh days of Passover,
  • First and eighth days of Sukkot,
  • First day of Shavuot,
  • Yom Kippur,
  • First day of Rosh Hashana.
Note The same restrictions apply to all other Jewish festival days but are rabbinical.
In general, women are not required to perform the positive, time-dependent commandments. Women and girls are not required to eat any Jewish festival meals except the Passover seder meal (but they are not allowed to fast on those days).
Pre-Jewish Festival Issues
Jewish Festival: Which Day
Jewish Festival: International Dateline
Jewish Festival: Dateline Considerations
If unsure which day to start the Jewish festival because you are near the International Dateline, follow guidelines for Shabbat; see Introduction to Shabbat, IDL, and Region of Safek/Doubt.
Jewish Festival: One Day or Two
Jewish Festival: One Day or Two
Outside of Eretz Yisrael, Jewish festivals are observed for two days instead of one.
Reason In ancient Jerusalem, the Sanhedrin declared the new month based on testimony of at least two witnesses.  Since Jews who lived far from Jerusalem did not find out when the Jewish festivals began until as much as two weeks after the fact, a two-day festival was declared and we continue to observe that two-day holiday outside of Eretz Yisrael.
Situation You are in Eretz Yisrael for any of the Jewish festivals.  You want melacha done for you on the second day of the festival.
What To Do You may ask a resident of Eretz Yisrael to do melacha for you. (You may not ask a non-Jew to do melacha for you!)
Reason It is no longer a Jewish festival for him/her.
Note If you are outside of Eretz Yisrael, you may not ask a resident of Eretz Yisrael (who is visting you) to do melacha for you on the second day of the Jewish festival, even though he/she is no longer observing the festival.
Reason He/she may not do any melacha d'oraita even in private and not even for him/herself.
Jewish Festival: One Day in Eretz Yisrael
To keep one day only of a Jewish festival in Eretz Yisrael, you must live most of year in Eretz Yisrael and fulfill certain other requirements. Consult a rabbi for details.
Jewish Festival: One Day for a Year Plus in Eretz Yisrael
If you are living in Eretz Yisrael for one year and might stay longer, ask a rabbi if you must keep one or two days of the Jewish festival.
Jewish Festivals: Transportation
Non-Jew Driven Vehicle before Dark Starting Jewish Festival
You may continue riding in a car or taxi driven by a non-Jew between sunset and dark (tzeit ha'kochavim) beginning a Jewish festival, even if the vehicle is driven just for you. You:
  • May not do this on Shabbat.
  • Must have already paid before sunset. 
  • May not open a door that will cause a light to turn on or do any other melachot.
  • If you have already traveled outside techum, you may move only 4 amot (85” or 116 cm) away from the vehicle, unless the driver leaves you off in an enclosed domain (any area surrounded by walls or an eruv), in which case you may go anywhere in that domain.
  • If you had not gone outside of techum, you may go anywhere in the domain and you may also go up to 2000 amot (3,542 ft. or 1,080 m) outside of the domain.
Note Since this is a d'oraita case, we use a smaller measurement for ama--21 ¼” (54 cm). 
Jewish Festivals: Leaving the World of Work
Sole or Majority Business Ownership on Jewish Festivals
For sole or majority ownership of a business on Jewish festivals, see Jewish Festivals: Business Ownership.
Refraining from Distracting Work
You may not do any work or get involved in any project that might distract you from preparing for a Jewish festival, beginning from twice the duration of plag ha'mincha.  So allow 2 1/2 halachic hours (sha'ot zmaniyot) before sunset to prepare for the Jewish festival.
Jewish Festivals: Eating Before
Appetite for Jewish Festival Dinner
Do not eat a full meal (meaning, do not eat bread or a lot of mezonot) after halachic midday on the afternoon before a Jewish festival.
Reason To have an appetite for Jewish festival dinner.
Note You may eat other food after halachic midday the afternoon of (before) the Jewish festival but you should not eat foods which are filling.
Eating before Hearing Jewish Festival Evening Kiddush
See Eating from Start of Jewish Festival until Kiddush.
Jewish Festival: Setting the Table
Jewish Festivals: Tablecloth
A tablecloth should cover the table during Jewish festival meals, but you may remove and switch tablecloths. Even if you have a beautiful and valuable table, you should still cover it for Jewish festival (and Shabbat) meals.
Jewish Festivals: When Men Start
Jewish Festivals: When Men Start: Sunset or Bar'chu
Jewish festivals begin for men at sunset or when they say “bar'chu” in ma'ariv, whichever comes first.
Jewish Festivals: When Women Start
Jewish Festivals: When Women Start: Candle-Lighting or Sunset
As for Shabbat, Jewish festivals start for women when they light candles or at sunset, whichever is earlier. 
For more details, see Jewish Festivals: Candles: Lighting with Delay until Sunset.
Jewish Festivals: Candles
Jewish Festivals: Candles: Who Lights
Jewish Festivals: Candles: One Person per Home
Like Shabbat candles, Jewish festival candles should be lit only by one person per home. Priority order: wife; then husband; then children.
It is customary for each married woman to light candles on each festival even though she is not eating in her own home and even though her hostess is already lighting candles. She may light her candles at her hostess's house or at her own home (but if at her own home, she must see the candles are burning after dark if she lights there).
Girls should not be encouraged to light Jewish festival candles except when no parent can.
Single people should light Jewish festival candles in their homes if they will eat there.
Jewish Festivals: Candles: Have Others in Mind
Whoever is lighting the Jewish festival candles should have in mind all other people who will be eating dinner in that home.
Jewish Festivals: Candles: When To Light
Jewish Festivals: Candles: Earliest Time To Light
You may not light Jewish festival (or Shabbat) candles before plag ha'mincha.  The candles must burn until at least dark (tzeit ha'kochavim) and someone must be there to see the light from the candles after dark.
SITUATION  Mincha minyan begins at plag ha'mincha. You cannot light candles at home and still get to mincha minyan on time.
WHAT TO DO You may light a candle without a blessing, just so you can have a flame for after the festival has begun. You go to synagogue and after ma'ariv you return home and light the candles from the flame which was burning from before sunset. If you will not have a flame burning from before sunset, you must say mincha on your own (anytime from half an hour after mid-day until sunset). You will light candles after plag ha'mincha but before sunset and not join the mincha minyan. Women should skip mincha and light candles either 18 minutes before sunset or have a flame burning from before sunset and light candles from that flame once the festival has begun (but she may not light from a new flame or a match).
Jewish Festivals: Candle-Lighting Times
In most countries, candle lighting time is 18 minutes before sunset. In Jerusalem, many people have the custom of lighting candles 40 minutes before sunset.
Jewish Festivals: Candles: Lighting Two Days
The custom is to light candles:
  • Before sunset on the first day of a Jewish festival, and
  • After dark on the Jewish festival's second day (except when the second day coincides with Shabbat!).
Jewish Festivals: Candles: Lighting after Sunset
Men and women may light candles after sunset on Jewish festivals, with these conditions:
  • You may light only from an already-burning flame.
  • You may not light Jewish festival candles after sunset on Friday nor on the evening before Yom Kippur begins.
Jewish Festivals: Candles: Lighting with Delay until Sunset
As on Shabbat, you may say “I am lighting Jewish festival candles but not starting the Jewish festival until sunset” to delay observing the Jewish festival until sunset, but this in only b'diavad.
Note As for Shabbat, women should not routinely start Jewish festivals at sunset since the proper time for women to begin Jewish festivals is at candle lighting (typically 18 minutes before sunset).
Jewish Festivals: Candles: Where To Light
Jewish Festivals: Candles: Dinner Location
As on Shabbat, light Jewish festival candles wherever you will eat dinner that night.
Note If you will be eating away from home, do not light the candles at home unless you will be home for some period of time after dark (in which case you must see the candles burning for at least one minute after dark/tzeit ha'kochavim; otherwise you will have made a bracha l'vatala). This is not the ideal situation, as the ideal is to light where you will eat.
Note You do not need to light candles at all if you are not eating at your own home on the Jewish festival (this applies to men and women, even wives and mothers who normally light at their own home) as long as someone else is lighting candles where you will eat. While the basic halacha is that the hostess lights for everyone, it is a widespread custom for any woman who is--or was--married to light at the hostess's home.
Jewish Festivals: Candles: How Many To Light
Jewish Festivals: Candles: How Many Required To Light
As on Shabbat, wives should light two candles for Jewish festivals, even though we say the blessing over “ner” (“candle” in the singular). Lighting any more than two candles is a universal custom.
Jewish Festivals: Candles: How Many To Light when Eating Elsewhere
A wife lighting Jewish festival candles in a place other than her own home lights only two candles, even if she normally lights more than two candles in her own home. This is a non-binding custom, not a halacha.
Jewish Festivals: Candles: Adding a Candle
Unlike on Shabbat, on Jewish festivals you do not add an extra candle to the number you normally light for the rest of your life if you miss lighting Jewish festival candles.
Jewish Festivals: Candles: How Long To Burn
Jewish Festivals: Candles: How Long Candles Must Burn
As on Shabbat, Jewish festivals candles must burn at least until you have eaten the bread of ha'motzi.
Jewish Festivals: Candles: How To Light
Jewish Festivals: Candles: Lighting before Blessing
On the first day of Jewish festivals, both women and men may say the blessing before lighting the candles, but it is customary for women to light before they say the blessing, as they do on Shabbat.
Jewish Festivals: Yahrzeit Candle
Jewish Festivals: Yahrzeit Candle
Some people have the custom of lighting a yahrzeit candle for a deceased parent on days when yizkor is said: Yom Kippur, last day of Passover; second day of Shavuot; and on Shmini Atzeret.
Jewish Festivals: Mincha Before
Jewish Festivals: What Time Is Mincha
Jewish Festivals: Earliest Mincha
The earliest permissible time to say mincha before a Jewish festival is one-half hour after halachic midday, as with all mincha prayers including before Shabbat.
Note You may begin the second day of any Jewish festival as early as plag ha'mincha. You should ideally say mincha before plag and then say ma'ariv after plag; but if you are praying with a minyan, you may say mincha anytime after plag and then say ma'ariv immediately afterward, just as on Shabbat.
Note However, there is nothing gained by saying mincha early before a Jewish festival:
  • We don't want to start Rosh Hashana (Yom HaDin) early and no one wants to start Yom Kippur early.
  • You may not start either seder until after dark on Passover.
  • You could eat in a sukka before dark on either of the first two days of Sukkot, but you would not fulfill the requirement of eating in a sukka since it was not dark.  
  • Likewise, the first day of Shavuot does not begin until after dark.
  • Since you may not say the blessing on eating in a sukka on Shmini Atzeret (which you would have to do if you eat before dark), there is nothing gained by saying mincha and ma'ariv early on that day, either.
So, as a practical matter, the only days on which saying mincha and ma'ariv early would allow beginning the holiday early are the second day of Shavuot, the second day of Rosh Hashana, and the last days of Passover.

Jewish Festivals: Mincha and Candle Lighting
Saying Mincha after Lighting Jewish Festival Candles
A woman who has already lit Jewish festival candles may not say mincha for the afternoon before a Jewish festival, even if she lit (after plag ha'mincha) long before sunset time, unless she intended not to begin the Jewish festival when she was lighting the candles (and intending to begin later should only be done in urgent situations, not routinely.)
Jewish Festivals: Ma'ariv
Saying Ma'ariv at Plag HaMincha
You may say ma'ariv before the start of a Jewish festival as early as plag ha'mincha (1 1/4 halachic hours before sunset), even if you did not say mincha before plag (unlike on weekdays when you must say mincha before plag in order to say ma'ariv before sunset). 
Answering Kedusha If You Began the Jewish Festival Early
If you began the Jewish festival early and you are at a minyan where they are saying kedusha for mincha before the Jewish festival, you should reply to kedusha.
Jewish Festivals: Meals
Introduction to Jewish Festivals: Meals
Introduction to Jewish Festival "Eating a Meal" Requirements
We are required to eat two meals on Jewish festivals, each preceded by kiddush, one in the evening and one in the morning. For both meals for each Jewish festival day (and all three meals on Shabbat), say ha'motzi over two complete loaves of bread, each of which is at least 1.3 fl. oz. in volume. 
Note Girls and women are not required to eat any meals (that is, including bread or matza) on Jewish festivals except the Passover seder. However, if a woman, or girl at least bat mitzva age, wants to eat bread, she should use two loaves, just as men do. This is halacha, not a custom. Also, girls and women may not fast on any festival day so even if they do not eat bread or matza, they must eat some food.

Source of Saying Jewish Festival Kiddush
Some kiddushes are commanded by the Torah (d'oraita); the others are from Chazal (d'rabanan), as follows:
Kiddush d'Oraita
  • First night of Jewish festivals
  • Night of seventh day of Passover
  • Night of Shmini Atzeret.
Kiddush d'Rabanan
  • First day of Jewish festival
  • Second night of Jewish festival
  • Second day of Jewish festival
  • Seventh day of Passover
  • Eighth night of Passover
  • Eighth day of Passover
  • Shmini Atzeret day
  • Night and day of Simchat Torah.
Source of Jewish Festival Kiddush Location
Saying Jewish festival kiddush at the place where you will eat your meal is a rabbinical (d'rabanan) enactment.
Jewish Festival Kiddush-Meal Quantities: Evening
  • For evening kiddush for a first-night (d'oraita) Jewish festival, a minimum of 4 fl. oz. (119 ml) of wine must be blessed on and at least half must be drunk.
  • For evening kiddush for a second-night (d'rabanan) Jewish festival, a minimum of 3.3 fl. oz. (99 ml) of wine must be blessed on and at least 2.0 fl. oz. must be drunk.
  • For the evening meal, as on the first two Shabbat meals and for all required Jewish festival meals, a minimum of 1.9 fl. oz. (56 ml) of bread must be eaten within four minutes.
Eating Requirements for Jewish Festival Morning Kiddush
There are two separate eating requirements during the daytime. They may be combined (say/hear kiddush and start the main meal right away) but are often done separately (say/hear kiddush and then eat some light foods and beverages; the main meal is eaten later in the day).
Note Since eating and drinking requirements on all morning kiddushes (both Shabbat and Jewish festivals) are d'rabanan, the required beverage amount for morning kiddush is only 3.3 fl. oz. (99 ml) instead of the d'oraita 4 fl. oz. (119 ml) (which is required for kiddushes for Shabbat evening and all first-night Jewish festivals).
  • Morning kiddush requires a halachically legal “meal” with these elements:
    • Blessing on a minimum of 3.3 fl. oz. (99 ml) of wine (or other beverage),
    • Someone's drinking at least half the beverage, followed by
    • Eating at least 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) of some type of mezonot within four minutes. 
      Note If you drink at least 3.3 fl. oz. (99 ml) of wine within 30 seconds, you do not need to eat mezonot.
      Note You do not need to drink the wine or other kiddush beverage to fulfill “establishing a meal.” You may hear kiddush and then simply eat the required amount of bread or mezonot. This applies to Shabbat or Jewish festivals, evening or morning.
  The kiddush “meal” does not have to satiate.
  • The real meal (kovei'a se'uda) requires eating at least 1.9 fl. oz. (56 ml) of bread (or matza during Passover!) within four minutes. It must include enough food to satiate. 
    Note You can simultaneously fulfill the requirement to “establish a meal” and to “eat a meal” by eating one (the same) piece of bread.

Jewish Festivals: Kiddush
Jewish Festivals: Kiddush: Who May Make
Jewish Man or Woman Making Kiddush
Any adult Jew, male or female, may say kiddush for him/herself and, as long as he/she still needs to say kiddush for him/herself, may include any other Jews of any age or gender.
Any Jewish male, 13 years old or older, may say kiddush for anyone else, either gender and any age, even if he has already fulfilled his personal requirement of saying kiddush.
Any Jewish female, 12 years old or older, may say kiddush for any other females but not for men, except that on the 2 Passover seder nights, a Jewish female who is at least 12 years old may even say kiddush for men, if the men are not able to say it for themselves. (Women may also say kiddush for men on Shabbat evening).
Reason Any person who is obligated to fulfill the mitzva of kiddush may say it for another personIt is questionable whether women are obligated to say (or have said for them) Jewish festival morning kiddush.
Jewish Festivals: Kiddush: What To Drink
Ideal Kiddush Beverage: Wine/Grape Juice
Wine (or grape juice) is the ideal and proper beverage for kiddush (and havdala).
Reason It is considered to be a prestigious beverage.
Jewish Festival Night Kiddush Beverage
Wine (or grape juice) is the only drink permissible for Jewish festival (or Friday) evening kiddush. See Challot for Kiddush, below, if you do not have wine or grape juice with which to make Jewish festival (or Shabbat) evening kiddush.
Jewish Festivals: Kiddush: How Much To Pour
Jewish Festivals: Kiddush: Pour Revi'it
As on Shabbat, the minimum volume of kiddush beverage on which you may say Jewish festival kiddush (or havdala) is a revi'it:
  • 4 fl. oz. (119 ml) for d'oraita cases such as the first night of Jewish festivals (or Shabbat evening) kiddush, and
  • 3.3 fl. oz. (99 ml) for d'rabanan cases such Jewish festival lunch and evening/daytime meals on the second Jewish festival day (as well as kiddush for Shabbat lunch).
Jewish Festivals: Kiddush: How High To Fill the Cup
Ideally, fill your kiddush cup to just above the rim, even if the cup is larger than 4 fl. oz. (119 ml). Don't make the cup overflow. 
Note If you did not fill the kiddush cup to the rim, it is still OK.
Jewish Festivals: Kiddush: Diluting Wine
There is no need to dilute wine before drinking it.
Jewish Festivals: Kiddush: If Not Enough Wine
If there is not enough wine (or grape juice) for Jewish festival (or Shabbat) kiddush and havdala:
  • Set aside the first cup for havdala.  Then, if there is one more cup,
  • Use it for the morning kiddush.
Jewish Festivals: Kiddush: Challot for Kiddush
To use two challot for kiddush instead of wine:
  • Wash hands and say al netilat yadayim,
  • Say kiddush but substitute ha'motzi for borei pri ha'gafen; and, as soon as you finish saying kiddush,
  • Eat the bread as normal.
Jewish Festivals: Kiddush: Cup & Wine Bottles
Your Own Kiddush Cup
If you want to drink kiddush wine, you may either hold your own cup of wine (or grape juice) during kiddush or receive wine or grape juice from the kiddush leader's cup.
Kos Pagum
Kos pagum means either:
  1. "Physically damaged or broken drinking utensil”: You may not use such a cup for kiddush l'chatchila. OR
  2. Cup of wine, grape juice, or any beverage that has been drunk from.  This beverage may not be used for a kos shel bracha until at least a small amount more of some beverage has been added.
Uncovered Wine Bottles/Cups
You do not need to close the wine bottle or cover the other wine cups while the first of several people says kiddush, whether on Shabbat or Jewish festivals.
Washing Wine Glass
There is no need to wash a clean wine glass before using it for kiddush.
Jewish Festivals: Kiddush: How Much To Drink
Jewish Festivals: Kiddush: Drinking Cheekful
As on Shabbat, the minimum total volume of Jewish festival kiddush beverage that must be drunk--usually by the kiddush-maker (mevareich) but it may even be several people combined--is a cheekful (m'lo lugmov)—considered to be 2 fl. oz. (59 ml) within 30 seconds.
Note If no one drinks the kiddush beverage, the commandment to say or hear kiddush has not been fulfilled. 
Note Although you must drink at least a cheekful to fulfill kiddush, you must drink at least 4 fl. oz. (119 ml) within 30 seconds in order to say the after-blessing.
Jewish Festivals: Kiddush: When To Speak or Drink
When You May Speak after Kiddush
You may speak, even without having drunk anything yourself, once:
  • The leader (mevareich) has said Jewish festival (or Shabbat) kiddush for other people, and
  • At least 2 fl. oz. (59 ml) of the wine (or other appropriate beverage) over which kiddush was made has been drunk.
When You May Drink after Kiddush
You may drink your own beverage as long as:
  • The leader (mevareich) has said Jewish festival (or Shabbat) kiddush for other people, and
  • At least 2 fl. oz. (59 ml) of the wine (or other appropriate beverage) over which kiddush was made has been drunk.
Jewish Festivals: Kiddush: When To Say Blessing Again
Jewish Festivals: Kiddush: Borei Pri HaGafen after Drinking Kiddush Wine
Jewish Festivals: Kiddush: Drinking Kiddush Wine and then Drinking Later in Meal
If you drank any amount of kiddush wine (or grape juice), you do not say borei pri ha'gafen over wine or grape juice later in the meal (but you may have to say ha'tov v'ha'meitiv if the wine is better than the kiddush wine).
Jewish Festivals: Kiddush: Borei Pri HaGafen after Drinking Kiddush Wine and Hesech Da'at
If you said or heard the blessing borei pri ha'gafen, finished drinking had hesech da'at, and then want to make a new blessing over the remaining wine in the cup, see Borei Pri HaGafen: Saying Again.
Note Although you may say a new borei pri ha'gafen on wine (or grape juice) that you left off drinking and returned to finish after hesech da'at, you may do so only as a simple blessing, not as kiddush (for how to make kiddush on same wine, see next halacha).
Jewish Festivals: Kiddush: Making New Kiddush after Drinking Kiddush Wine
To say borei pri ha'gafen as a new kiddush on the same wine, you must add at least one drop of new wine to the cup, if you have drunk any of the wine directly from that cup.
Jewish Festivals: Kiddush: Borei Pri HaGafen after Not Drinking Kiddush Wine
Jewish Festivals: Borei Pri HaGafen after Not Drinking Kiddush Wine
You must say borei pri ha'gafen if you want to drink wine (or grape juice) after you heard kiddush and then:
  • Spoke without drinking any amount of kiddush beverage, and/or  
  • Spoke before the kiddush leader drank at least 2 fl. oz. (59 ml) of wine (or grape juice) from his cup, and/or
  • Heard someone make kiddush over a she'hakol, even if you drank from that cup.
Jewish Festivals: Kiddush: Standing or Sitting
Kiddush Standing or Sitting
Standing or sitting while drinking wine or other beverage for kiddush (or havdala) is a non-binding custom, not a halacha.
Jewish Festivals: Two Loaves (Lechem Mishneh)
Jewish Festivals: Two Loaves (Lechem Mishneh): What To Use
Bagels for HaMotzi
You may use two bagels for the two loaves (lechem mishneh), even though they are already sliced most of the way through, if you can pick up each bagel by its slightly smaller half and the larger half does not fall off.
Crackers for HaMotzi
The minimum volume of a cracker or crispbread (such as Ryvita or Wasa) that may be used for lechem mishneh is 1 oz. (30 ml).
Other Foods for HaMotzi
You may not substitute other foods for the two loaves (lechem mishneh). You may not, for example, use two apples or two cans of fish.
Jewish Festivals: Two Loaves (Lechem Mishneh): How Much May Be Missing
How Much Challa May Be Missing
Less than 1/48th missing is still considered a whole loaf. So if you only have two challot (or other loaves of bread) for a Jewish festival, you might be able to use one loaf twice:
  • Wash your hands,
  • Say ha'motzi,
  • Cut off a piece that is less than 1/48th of the loaf, and
  • Eat it.
Reason You may consider the remainder of that loaf as still being a full loaf and you may re-use it for your Jewish festival morning meal.
Note If you have pieces of bread or other mezonot, you may:
  • Cut off less than 1/48th of the loaf,
  • Eat the additional pieces of bread to make a total of at least 1.9 fl. oz., and then
  • Re-use the same loaf for Jewish festival morning.

Jewish Festivals: Two Loaves (Lechem Mishneh): How To Cover
White Challa Cover Above and Below
As on Shabbat, on Jewish festivals you should place a white cover above and another below the challot to remind us of the layers of dew and “mun” in the desert that the Israelites ate for 40 years.
Jewish Festivals: Two Loaves (Lechem Mishneh): How To Wash and Bless
How To Wash for HaMotzi
To view all halachot related to washing for ha'motzi, see HaMotzi: Washing Hands.
Jewish Festivals: Two Loaves: (Lechem Mishneh): What HaMotzi Covers
What HaMotzi Covers
See Which Foods HaMotzi Covers.
Jewish Festivals: Two Loaves (Lechem Mishneh): How To Cut
Mark the Challa
Mark in the bread with a knife where you will cut before ha'motzi
Note It is customary to just make a mark on the challa.  You may cut almost all of the way through, but you must be able to pick up the bread by the small end and have it hold the big end up.
Cut Upper Loaf for Jewish Festivals
For Jewish festivals, cut the upper loaf at night and day.
Jewish Festivals: Two Loaves (Lechem Mishneh): Salt
Why Dip Challa in Salt
Before eating bread (at any time, not just on Shabbat or Jewish festivals), the bread should be dipped in some salt. This makes it taste better and makes it like a sacrifice (which had salt added to it).
Note You may sprinkle salt on the bread instead, but kabbala recommends dipping.
Eating before Kiddush
Eating a Full Meal before Jewish Festival
See Appetite for Jewish Festival Dinner.
Eating from Start of Jewish Festival until Kiddush
Once the Jewish festival begins for you—either at sunset or before (such as if you lit Jewish festival candles)--you may not eat or drink before hearing kiddushWomen and girls may make kiddush soon after lighting candles.
Jewish Festivals: Dinner
Jewish Festivals: Blessing the Children
Jewish Festivals: Blessing the Children
See Blessing the Children/Birkat HaBanim.
Jewish Festivals: Evening Kiddush
Jewish Festivals: Evening Kiddush
To fulfill the two requirements for Jewish festival evening kiddush:
  1. Make Kiddush
    Say, or hear, the three Jewish festival evening kiddush blessings/segments:
    1. Borei pri ha'gafen (if on wine or grape juice—preferred option), OR
      Ha'motzi (on two challot if you have no wine or grape juice, since no chamar medina is allowed for Jewish festival evening kiddush; see Jewish Festivals: Kiddush: Challot for Kiddush) AND
    2. Asher bachar banu mi kol am.... mekadeish Yisrael v'hazmanim, AND
    3. She'hecheyanu on all Jewish festival nights, except the last two nights of Passover.  So say she'hecheyanu on:
      • Both nights of Rosh Hashana (in or outside of Eretz Yisrael),
      • First two nights of Passover (1 night in Eretz Yisrael),
      • Both nights of Shavuot (1 night in Eretz Yisrael),
      • First two nights of Sukkot (1 night in Eretz Yisrael), and
      • Nights of Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah (same day in Eretz Yisrael).
      Note There is never any requirement on an indvidual to drink kiddush wine (except at the Passover seder), but the kiddush wine must be drunk by one or more persons.
      Note A woman who had said she'hecheyanu when she lit the Jewish festival candles does NOT say she'hecheyanu again if she makes kiddush for herself, even when making kiddush at the Passover seder.
      Note There is no need to eat a new fruit after saying she'hecheyanu on the second night of  Shavuot, Passover, or Sukkot. This is not comparable to Rosh Hashana, since the second festival night was instituted due to uncertainty of the actual date of the holiday, while Rosh Hashana is considered to be one single, long day.
  2. Establish a halachic “meal” (kovei'a se'uda).
    For how to establish a halachic meal, see Introduction to Jewish Festival “Eating a Meal” Requirements.
Note For evening kiddush, the custom is to go straight to the meal without delay (with no mezonot or snacking first).  B'di'avad if you snacked, it is still OK.
Note At night on Jewish festivals (or Shabbat), you may not say kiddush at a place where you will not eat your evening meal (even if you will hear or say kiddush again at the place where you will eat the meal).
Jewish Festivals: Day
Jewish Festivals: Day: Prayers
Jewish Festivals: Shacharit: Eating
Jewish Festivals: Shacharit: Eating Before
Eating before Making Jewish Festival Kiddush
As on Shabbat, you may eat non-mezonot and non-bread food before praying Jewish festival shacharit and without making kiddush, in order to avoid hunger or hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
Women and Minimum Prayer before Jewish Festival Kiddush
The minimum prayer that a woman should say on Jewish festival (or Shabbat) morning before saying kiddush and eating some food is birchot ha'shachar.
Eating before Jewish Festival Midday
As on Shabbat, don't fast on Jewish festivals (except Yom Kippur!) past halachic midday.
  • If you will not finish shacharit before halachic midday, you should eat or drink earlier in the day, even before you begin shacharit—water can be sufficient for this purpose.
  • If you will finish shacharit, but not musaf, by halachic midday:
    • Finish shacharit,
    • Make kiddush,
    • Eat some mezonot, and then
    • Return to say musaf.
Jewish Festivals: Shacharit: Eating After
Eating Only after Jewish Festival Kiddush
As on Shabbat, once you have said the amida of Jewish festival shacharit, you may not eat any food until you have said (or heard) kiddush and finished kiddush requirements by either drinking 4 fl. oz. (119 ml) of wine/grape juice or eating at least 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) of mezonot or bread.
Jewish Festival Day: Yizkor
Jewish Festival Day: Reason for Yizkor
Yizkor on Yom Kippur serves as a type of elevation for the souls of dead people.
Jewish Festival Day: When To Say Yizkor
Yizkor is not required to be said at all, but it is the custom in most places. Yizkor is normally said on Yom Kippur (and the final day of Passover, the second day of Shavuot and on Shmini Atzeret), when many people attend the synagogue prayer services.
Yizkor may be said anytime you wish—even when it is not a Jewish festival--and does not require a minyan.
Jewish Festivals: Musaf
Jewish Festivals: Musaf: Additions for Sacrifices
Jewish Festivals: Musaf: Additions for Sacrifices: Sukkot
In the amida of musaf for Sukkot, there is a different line added about the sacrifices for each day.
Jewish Festivals: Musaf: Additions for Sacrifices: Sukkot: Outside Eretz Yisrael
Since two days of Jewish festival are observed outside of Eretz Yisrael, read the lines for the sacrifice for both days that might have been the correct day.
Exception On second day of Sukkot, repeat the same lines said on the first day.
Example On the 4th day of Sukkot (the 2nd day of chol ha'moed), say the lines for the 3rd day and 4th day. On Shimini Atzeret, say only the lines for Shmini Atzeret.
Jewish Festivals: Musaf: Additions for Sacrifices: Sukkot: In Eretz Yisrael
In Eretz Yisrael, read only the line for the actual (correct) day.
Note After the lines about the sacrifices, say u'minchatam v'niskeichem.  If you are outside of Eretz Yisrael, you will need to say u'minchatam v'niskeichem twice:
  • Say the line for the prior day's sacrifices and then say u'minchatam v'niskeichem.
  • Then say the line for the sacrifices for the day you are at and, again, say u'minchatam v'niskeichem.

Jewish Festival Lunch
Jewish Festivals: Daytime Kiddush
Jewish Festivals: Daytime Kiddush
To fulfill the two requirements for Jewish festival daytime kiddush:
  1. Say, or hear, at least #b and #c of these Jewish festival daytime kiddush blessings/segments:
    a) Eileh mo'adei Adonai mikra'ei kodesh asher tikri'u otam b'mo'adam.
    Note It is not a universal custom to say the above sentence.
    b) Va'yidaber Moshe eht mo'adei Adonai el bnei yisrael.
    Note It IS a universal custom to say the above sentence. AND
    c) Borei pri ha'gafen (if on wine or grape juice), OR
    She'hakol nihiyeh bi'dvaro (if on other beverage/chamar medina).
    Note For Jewish festival (or Saturday) lunch and havdala, you may use any beverage (chamar medina) commonly drunk for social purposes (not just for thirst) in the country in which you are saying kiddush (say the blessing she'hakol instead of borei pri ha'gafen where appropriate).
    Note There is never any requirement on an indvidual to drink kiddush wine (except at the Passover seder), but the kiddush wine must be drunk by one or more persons.
  2. Establish a halachic “meal” (kovei'a se'uda).
    You must establish the halachic meal required for kiddush shortly after hearing Jewish festival morning kiddush. See How To Fulfill Eating Jewish Festival Second Meal.
    Note If you make Jewish festival morning kiddush on any beverage except wine or grape juice, you must also eat mezonot or bread to establish the kiddush meal. If you do not want to eat bread or mezonot, only drinking 3.3 fl. oz. (99 ml) of wine or grape juice within 30 seconds will fulfill all of the requirements for kiddushIf you have not fulfilled the requirements for kiddush, you may not eat other foods, such as fruit or fish at a kiddush.
Jewish Festivals: Second Meal
How To Fulfill Eating Jewish Festival Second Meal
You must eat a second meal on Jewish festival (or Shabbat) day with 1.9 fl. oz., or 56 ml, of bread--even if you already said ha'motzi and ate bread at kiddush.
Note There is no essential time limit for eating the second meal, but it must be before you get distracted (hesech da'at). Otherwise, you must hear kiddush again and drink wine (or grape juice) or eat bread/mezonot before eating anything.
Jewish Festivals: Ending
Jewish Festivals: Ending: When They End
Jewish Festivals: When Is
Jewish festivals (and Shabbat) end at “dark”: when three medium-sized stars are visible overhead.
Note When stars appear in the west (these are “large stars”), medium-sized stars should be visible overhead and the Jewish festival (or Shabbat) will be over.
Jewish Festivals: Ending: Before Havdala
Jewish Festivals: Ending: Before Havdala: Baruch HaMavdil
Say baruch ha'mavdil bein kodesh l'chol (without saying God's name!) if:
  • It is already “dark” (you can see three medium-size stars--tzeit ha'kochavim), and
  • You want to end the Jewish festival (and Shabbat) before saying ma'ariv's amida or havdala.
Note Saying this formula allows you to do melacha, but you may not eat or drink until you have said or heard havdala.
Note Men must still say the amida and men and women must say or hear havdala later even if they said baruch ha'mavdil bein kodesh l'chol. For how late you may say havdala after a Jewish festival, see Jewish Festival Havdala at Night or Next Day.
Jewish Festivals: Ending: Before Havdala: Baruch HaMavdil and Birkat HaMazon
Saying Baruch ha'mavdil bein kodesh l'chol after dark at the end of a Jewish festival or of Rosh Hashana does not affect the additions you will then say in birkat ha'mazon.
Situation On a Jewish festival afternoon, you washed your hands, said ha'motzi, and started eating.  It is now dark and the end of the Jewish festival.
What To Do You may say Baruch ha'mavdil bein kodesh l'chol and do melacha, and then
  • Continue to eat your meal, or
  • Say birkat ha'mazon INCLUDING ya'aleh v'yavo and ha'rachaman hu yanchileinu yom she'kulo tov.
Jewish Festivals: Ending: Before Havdala: Ata Chonantanu
As on Shabbat, if you forgot to say ata chonantanu after Jewish festivals, you do not need to repeat the amida.  But, if you then ate food before saying havdala, you must repeat the amida including ata chonantanu.
Jewish Festivals: Ending: Havdala
Jewish Festivals: Ending: Havdala: When To Say
Jewish Festival Havdala at Night or Next Day
Say Jewish festival havdala at night.  If this is impossible, say it the next day but only until sunset on the day after the Jewish festival.
Note This is different from havdala after Shabbat!
Jewish Festivals: Ending: Havdala: Who Must Say/Hear
Men and Women Must Say/Hear Havdala
The following must each hear or say havdala for themselves:
  • Men and boys 13 years old and up, and
  • Women and girls 12 years old and up.
Note As on Shabbat, any male Jew above 13 years old and any female Jew above 12 years old may say Jewish festival havdala for himself/herself and for anyone else.
Note A husband's or father's hearing havdala at synagogue does not cover his family's obligation to hear havdala.  He may say havdala for his wife and children even if he fulfilled his personal havdala requirement at the synagogue. (Men who say havdala for their families normally intend not to be covered by the synagogue's havdala).
Jewish Festivals: Ending: Havdala: What To Use
Jewish Festivals: Ending: Havdala: No Candle or Spices
For Jewish festival havdala, use only wine (or a substitute, chamar medina, beverage); NO candle or spices (unless the Jewish festival also coincided with Shabbat).
Jewish Festivals: Ending: Havdala: Beverage
Wine or grape juice is the preferred beverage for havdala, but you may use any common beverage (chamar medina) that is drunk for social reasons.
Jewish Festivals: Ending: Havdala: Filling the Cup
You must pour at least 4 fl. oz. (119 ml--a revi'it) of wine or other beverage into the havdala cup--this is halacha.  However, to symbolize that we are blessed (siman bracha) with wealth, overfill the cup (non-binding custom).
Note Do not drink the overflow, to show that we are so rich that we do not need the spilled beverage.
Note Do not overfill a cup containing shmita wine!
Jewish Festivals: Ending: Havdala: How Much To Drink
To fulfill the commandment of havdala (or kiddush), the person making kiddush must drink at least 2 fl. oz. (59 ml) within 30 seconds from the kiddush cup. However, drinking at least 4 fl. oz. (119 ml--a revi'it) from the havdala cup within 30 seconds allows you to say bracha achrona.  
Jewish Festivals: Ending: Havdala: Who Drinks the Beverage
For men: No one should drink the havdala beverage except the person saying havdala. This is a non-binding custom, not a halacha.
For women: This custom does NOT apply to women. Women who say havdala for themselves may give their havdala beverage to someone else to drink.
Jewish Festivals: Ending: Havdala: Standing or Sitting
Havdala Standing or Sitting
Sitting or standing while drinking havdala (or kiddush) beverage is a non-binding custom, not a halacha.
Jewish Festivals: Permitted/Forbidden Actions
Jewish Festivals: Acquisitions
Jewish Festivals: Acquisitions
You may not acquire items (kinyan) on Jewish festivals unless they are needed for that Jewish festival or for a mitzva. The classic example is bringing food or wine to a house for Jewish festival lunch, which the house owner acquires on the Jewish festival for the Jewish festival. Other permissible kinyan on Jewish festivals is giving:
  • Siddur, machzor, or chumash to use on that day.
  • Permissible medicine for use on that day. 
On bringing mail or a newspaper into your house on Jewish festivals, see Jewish Festivals: Bringing Mail inside House  and Jewish Festivals: Bringing Newspaper inside House.
Jewish Festivals: Animals
Jewish Festivals: Trapping Animals
You may not trap animals on Jewish festivals.
Jewish Festivals: Releasing Trapped Wild Animal
As on Shabbat, on Jewish festivals you may release a wild animal that is trapped in a trap or cage by opening the door or gate, but you may not move or lift the cage.
Jewish Festivals: Feeding Trapped Wild Animal
You may not feed wild animals on Jewish festivals.  But if you intend to keep the animal, you MUST feed it.
Jewish Festivals: Air Conditioners
Jewish Festivals: Adjusting Air Conditioner Louvers
As on Shabbat, you may adjust air conditioner louvers on Jewish festivals.
Jewish Festivals: Adjusting Air Conditioner Temperatures
On Jewish festivals, you may:
  • Lower the temperature when an air conditioner compressor is running, and
  • Raise the temperature when the compressor is off.
Note You may do so ONLY with an analog control; not with a digital control. 
Reason Grama is permissible on Jewish festivals (but not on Shabbat).
Jewish Festivals: Bathing
Jewish Festivals: Showering
It is forbidden to shower on Jewish festivals.
Jewish Festivals: Blotting Hair
You may blot your hair with a towel on Jewish festivals as long as you don't squeeze or wring out your hair.
Jewish Festivals: Bioluminescence
Jewish Festivals: Creating Bioluminescent Light
You may not create bioluminescent light, as with glowsticks, on Jewish festivals.
Jewish Festivals: Books
Jewish Festivals: Marking Pages in Books
You may mark pages in a book, whether secular or holy, on Jewish festivals by:
  • Putting slips of paper in the book (but only if the slips were torn before the Jewish festival began), or
  • Bending the corners.
Jewish Festivals: Braiding Hair
Jewish Festivals: Braiding Hair
As on Shabbat, you may not braid (or unbraid) hair on Jewish festivals.
Jewish Festivals: Brushing Teeth
Jewish Festivals: Water, Tooth Powder, Toothwashing Liquid
You may use water, tooth powder, and toothwashing liquid on Jewish festivals.  But, to avoid squeezing the toothbrush bristles, you must put the water or toothwashing liquid into your mouth and not on the brush.
Jewish Festivals: Flossing Teeth
You may floss your teeth on Jewish festivals as long as your gums do not bleed.
Jewish Festivals: Cutting Floss
You may not cut floss on Jewish festivals, so it is best to cut the floss before the festival starts. 
Note Even if you did not cut the floss ahead of time, you may still pull out a length of floss and clean your teeth (but be careful not to cut off the floss when you are finished.)
Jewish Festivals: Businesses
Jewish Festivals: Business Ownership
Jewish Festivals: Business Ownership
A business whose sole or major owner is Jewish may not be operated on Jewish festivals (and Shabbat), even by non-Jewish employees. There may be possibilities to allow operation by relinquishing majority control, but the issues are complex and rabbinic guidance is essential.
Jewish Festivals: Internet Business
Jewish Festivals: Internet Business
Running a business that accepts orders and payments over the internet during Jewish festivals (and Shabbat) is complicated. The main issue is collecting payments. A rabbi should be consulted for specific cases.
Jewish Festivals: Selling Tickets for Flights
Jewish Festivals: Selling Tickets for Flights
If you are a travel agent, you may sell airline tickets during a weekday to a Jew who will fly on a Jewish festival (even though Jews are not allowed to fly--except in some emergencies).
Jewish Festivals: Children
Jewish Festivals: Children and Melacha
Jewish Festivals: Children and Melacha
As on Shabbat, you may not have a child, even younger than gil chinuch, do melacha for you on a Jewish festival.
Jewish Festivals: Children's Games
Jewish Festivals: Ball Playing
Jewish Festivals and Ball Playing in Yard or Eruv
Playing ball is not forbidden on Jewish festivals, as long as the Jewish festival does not coincide with Shabbat (in which case, it is not forbidden to play ball in an enclosed private yard, but it is not in the spirit of Jewish festivals or Shabbat).
Jewish Festivals and Retrieving Ball
You may retrieve a ball or other item that has fallen into a bush on a Jewish festival, but only if you can get it without moving the bush.
Jewish Festivals: Card Playing
Jewish Festivals: Cards If No Gambling or Melacha
Playing cards is not forbidden on Jewish festivals as long as you do not gamble or do melacha. As on Shabbat, you may sort a deck of cards into suits.
Note However, playing cards is not in the spirit of Jewish festivals (or Shabbat).
Jewish Festivals: Removing Unwanted Cards
Unlike on Shabbat, on a Jewish festival you may select (boreir) and remove unwanted cards (such as Jokers).
Jewish Festivals: Stickers
Jewish Festivals: Stickers
Children may apply or remove stickers for decoration or “jewelry” if the stickers and earrings are likely to come off in less than 24 hours.
Jewish Festivals: Clothing
Jewish Festivals: Removing Dirt from Clothing
Jewish Festivals: Non-Embedded Dirt
You may remove non-embedded dirt or hair from the surface of clothing on Jewish festivals. You may not remove dust or burrs and anything that penetrates the surface of the garment.
Jewish Festivals: Folding Clothes
Jewish Festivals: Folding Clothes on Existing Crease
Don't fold clothes (including a talit) on an existing crease on Jewish festivals.
Jewish Festivals: Folding Clothes on New Crease
You may fold clothes on Jewish festivals by making a new crease, but only if there is already an existing one on the garment. If there is not a crease from before you used the garment, you may not make one.
Reason This avoids smoothing out clothing (a forbidden action on Jewish festivals and Shabbat).
Jewish Festivals: Removing Tags from Clothing
Jewish Festivals: Removing Tags from Clothing
You may not cut a tag off clothes on Jewish festivals.
Jewish Festivals: Coloring (Tzovei'a)
Introduction to Jewish Festivals: Coloring (Tzovei'a)
Since wool and/or leather was dyed for the Tabernacle in the desert, similar actions are forbidden today on Jewish festivals (and Shabbat). Any action that causes one item or substance to change its color may be forbidden, even if it is not related to dyeing wool or leather.
Jewish Festivals: Coloring (Tzovei'a): Food
You may not add a substance, whether food or other, in order to color food on Jewish festivals (and Shabbat). You may add food to other food even if it will cause the other food to become colored as long as that is not your intention.
Jewish Festivals: Coloring (Tzovei'a): Cloth

You may wipe a stain off of your face or hands onto a cloth or piece of paper if you do it to clean your face or hands on Jewish festivals (and Shabbat), but not if you want to color the cloth or paper.

Jewish Festivals: Couriers and Packages
Jewish Festivals: Shipment that Arrives on Festival
You may not send a shipment--such as Fedex or another express delivery service--to arrive on Jewish festivals.  However, you may tell the shipper that it is OK with you if it is delivered at night after the festival.
Jewish Festivals: Cut Flowers
Jewish Festivals: Putting Cut Flowers in Water
You may not put cut flowers in a vase or other utensil (with water in it) on Jewish festivals.

Jewish Festivals: Adding Water to Cut Flowers
You may add water to cut flowers in a utensil on Jewish festivals as long as there are no unopened buds that will open on the Jewish festival.
Jewish Festivals: Moving Cut Flowers
You may move cut flowers in a vase or other utensil on Jewish festivals if they were in the vase or utensil since before the Jewish festival started.
Note If there are still some unopened buds on the stems, you may not put the cut flowers into direct sunlight.
Jewish Festivals: Doors
Jewish Festivals: Replacing Doors
You may not replace a door on its hinges and you may not replace a sliding door onto its track on Jewish festivals.
Reason This is due to the melacha of boneh (building).
Jewish Festivals: Electricity
Jewish Festivals: Turning Off Electrical Devices
You may not turn off or disconnect an operating electrical device (such as an alarm, appliance, light, oven, or any machinery) on Jewish festivals, even using a shinui and even if the noise will prevent you from sleeping. You may ask a non-Jew to turn it off, but you may not ask a Jew, not even a child below bar/bat mitzva age.
Note If the device catches on fire, you may call the fire department or unplug it. However, there must be an actual danger or actual fire in order for you to disconnect it yourself.  You may not disconnect the device if there is only a chance that it will catch fire, unless an indirect means (grama) is possible (in which case, it would be permissible; consult a rabbi).
Jewish Festivals: Electric Eyes
On Jewish festivals, when walking into the path of an electric eye:
  • You may walk into one that prevents a door from closing.
  • You may not walk into one that causes the door to open.
Jewish Festivals: Elevators/Escalators
Jewish Festivals: Riding Elevators
You may ride an elevator on Jewish festivals if:
  • The elevator stops at all floors, or
  • A non-Jew pushes the button in order to ride the elevator himself.  But:
    • You may only get off on the floor he or she has stopped at (he or she may not push a button for a different floor for you).
    • You must enter the elevator while the door is already opened but has not yet begun to close (since your presence keeps the door open but does not cause it to open).
Note You may not ride an elevator at all if a Jew pushes the button to any floor.
Jewish Festival: Riding Escalators
You may ride escalators on Jewish festivals if they run constantly and are not controlled by a foot treadle or an electric eye.
Jewish Festivals: Exercise
Jewish Festivals: Strengthening
You may not exercise on Jewish festivals to strengthen your body. You may exercise on Jewish festivals for enjoyment, for socializing, or other fun purposes if:
  • No melacha is involved, and
  • It does not appear to be for healing (refu'a) or health purposes.
You may run on Jewish festivals if you like to run. You may not run on Jewish festivals if you don't like running but would do it to lose weight or to get in shape.
Jewish Festivals: Trapeze
You may swing and fly on a trapeze on Jewish festivals.
Jewish Festivals: Roller Blading
You may roller blade on Jewish festivals.
Jewish Festival: Swimming
You may not swim on Jewish festivals.
Jewish Festival: Weight-Lifting
You may change weights on barbells or on a completely mechanical (no electrical parts; no timers or indicators) weight machine on Jewish festivals but only for enjoyment, not for exercise.
Jewish Festivals: Stretching
You may stretch on Jewish festivals (and Shabbat) to make yourself more comfortable but not if it appears that you are doing it as exercise for health.
Jewish Festivals: Flashlights
Jewish Festivals: Turning On Flashlight
You may not turn a flashlight on or off after sunset at the beginning a Jewish festival (until the holiday is over).
Jewish Festivals: Flashlight On before Festival
If you turn on a flashlight before a Jewish festival starts, you may carry the flashlight with you if you need the light.
Jewish Festivals: Food Preparation
Introduction to Jewish Festivals: Food Preparation
Introduction to Jewish Festivals and Food Preparation
Food preparation forbidden on Jewish festivals includes these forbidden melachot:
  • Preparing soil for planting (choreish)
  • Causing plants to grow (zorei'a)
  • Harvesting (kotzeir)
  • Gathering (mi'ameir)
  • Threshing (dash; such as milking a cow into clean container or squeezing juice for drinking)
  • Winnowing (zoreh)
  • Selecting (boreir) (for exceptions, see Introduction to Jewish Festivals: Selecting/Boreir)
  • Grinding (tochein) (Grinding may be OK with a shinu'i; ask a rabbi for specific cases)
  • Sifting (merakeid).
However, you may do all food preparation necessary for baking or cooking food for that day--from kneading dough (kneading, or lash) to cooking and baking (ofeh) from an existing flame.
Note You may not use electric appliances to knead dough and you may not turn on an electric oven.
Jewish Festivals: Checking for Bugs
Checking Product for Bugs on Jewish Festivals

You may check produce for bugs on Jewish festivals.  You may remove the bug but not by hand.

ExampleYou may rinse a bug off produce.
Note You may not kill bugs on Jewish festivals (or Shabbat). To do something that is certain to kill the bug is forbidden; if might not kill the bug, it is OK.
Jewish Festivals: Cooking
Jewish Festivals: Existing Flame
Jewish Festivals: Cooking from an Existing Flame
You may cook food on all Jewish festivals (except Yom Kippur or when they coincide with Shabbat) as long as the fire, oven, or other cooking appliance:
  • Has been on since before the Jewish festival began, OR
  • Is lit during the Jewish festival from an existing flame, such as from a pilot light or yahrzeit candle lit before the Jewish festival began.
Jewish Festivals: Asking Non-Jew To Turn on a Stove or Oven
Jewish Festivals: Asking Non-Jew To Turn on a Stove or Oven
You may directly ask a non-Jew to turn on a stove or oven for you.
NOTE Be careful about bishul akum problems if a non-Jew will then be cooking food for Jews on that stove or oven.
Jewish Festivals: Adjusting Stove/Oven Temperature Controls
Jewish Festivals: Digital-Display Devices
Digital-Display Ovens and Stoves on Jewish Festivals
You may not adjust digital-display ovens and stoves (and also refrigerators or other electronic devices) on Jewish festivals unless they were designed for Jewish festival use.
Jewish Festivals: Raising/Lowering Flames/Heat
Jewish Festivals: Raising Flames/Heat
On Jewish festivals, you may adjust (analog-only) temperature controls of gas and electric stoves and ovens UP when the heating element is ON, as verified by an indicator light or some other means.
Jewish Festivals: Lowering Flames/Heat
On Jewish festivals, you may adjust (analog-only) temperature controls of gas and electric stoves and ovens DOWN but ONLY to prevent the food's getting overcooked or burnt (not for convenience or to save money). One permitted way to lower a burner temperature is to put a pot of water on the burner and lower the flame so the water does not boil away (but you must use some of the heated water during the holiday!).

Note For an electric stove or oven, you may only adjust the temperature DOWN when the heating element is OFF, as shown by an indicator light.
Note An analog control used on Jewish festivals must allow continuous changes to the temperature:  if an analog control has discreet settings, it may not be used on Jewish festivals!
Jewish Festivals: Cooking on First Day for Second Day
Jewish Festivals: Cooking on First Day for Second Day
You may not cook on the first day of a Jewish festival for the second day. But you may cook enough food for both days in the same pot, even l'chatchila (but not bein ha'shmashot). You must eat at least a normal-sized portion before sunset on the first Jewish festival day.
Jewish Festivals: Eruv Tavshilin
Jewish Festivals: Personal Eruv Tavshilin
One person per household should make an eruv tavshilin in order to allow cooking on a Jewish festival for the next day, if the next day is Shabbat.  The person sets aside something cooked and something baked and says a formula (which can be found in most siddurs).
Note An eruv tavshilin made by one person covers everyone in that household, including guests staying over for that Jewish festival--even if he or she did not intend it to cover anyone else.
Jewish Festivals: Eating Eruv Tavshilin Food
You are not required to eat food set aside for an eruv tavshilin, but the custom is to eat it for se'uda shlishit.
Jewish Festivals: Rabbi's Eruv Tavshilin
If you forgot to make an eruv tavshilin, you may rely on the eruv tavshilin said by the local rabbi only once in your lifetime.
Jewish Festivals: Freezing
Jewish Festivals: Making Ice Cubes
You may fill an ice cube tray on Jewish festivals if you intend to use the ice cubes on the same day.
Jewish Festivals: Grinding
Grinding on Jewish Festivals: How Finely You May Grind
You may not grind, grate, or even finely chop or dice food on Jewish festivals. You may not use a garlic press on Jewish festivals.
The minimum size before violating the melacha of tochein varies by the type of food. The resulting pieces must be somewhat larger than the size you would normally use.
Jewish Festivals: Salting
Jewish Festivals: Salting Food
You may not salt certain foods, whether cooked or raw, on Jewish festivals if the:
  • Foods have a shell, such as corn kernels (on or off of the cob), beans, peas;
  • Salt has not been heated previously (such as during salt processing) and the food you are salting is hot (over 120° F, or 49° C); or
  • Salt will materially change the flavor of the food, especially if it causes a chemical change, as when salting cut or chopped onions or salting tomatoes.
    Note You may dip the tomato or other food into salt using your hand as long as you eat the food immediately afterwards.
Note If the food has oil in it, you may add salt even if the food contains onions or has a shell.
Note Even a thin layer of oil will exempt the salt.
Note You may pour salt into a liquid or a liquid onto salt, but you may not make a saturated salt solution on Jewish festivals.
Jewish Festivals: Selecting/Boreir
Introduction to Jewish Festivals: Selecting/Boreir
Issues of boreir are almost always d'oraita, not d'rabanan, and therefore we are stringent in applying restrictions concerning boreir.
Unlike on Shabbat (when you must remove some good along with the bad so as not to violate the melacha of boreir), on Jewish festivals you may remove the bad from the good if it is easier to take the undesired food from the desired food.

Desired from Undesired
You may select desired food from undesired (or inedible) substances if you follow these two rules:
1. Cannot Use Specialized Separating Utensil
    Don't use a utensil--such as a slotted spoon, peeler, or sieve--that is specialized
    for separating:
  • Food from other food, or
  • Food from other substances.
    Note You may remove dirt from a carrot's surface by scraping the peel with a knife (a tool not specialized for separating food), but not by using a peeler.
    Exception As on Shabbat, an action necessary to eat a food normally (derech achila) does not violate the prohibition of boreir. So you may peel a food that is normally separated from its peel or shell in order to be eaten, as long as you do not use a specialized instrument to do so.
  • You may peel an orange by hand, with or without a knife.
  • You may remove the shells from peanuts by hand.
  • You may remove the shell from a hard-boiled egg by hand.
2. Do This Shortly before You Eat the Food
   Prepare the food soon before it will be eaten.
     Note       You may prepare the food as much in advance as you would normally prepare a meal which you will eat--even as much as several hours.
On Jewish festivals, you may:
  • Remove fish bones from fish while you are eating the fish or just before eating it.
  • Cut open a melon such as a cantaloupe and remove any seeds normally.
Jewish Festivals: Separating Good Food from Bad in Your Mouth
You may separate food inside your mouth while eating, even if you remove the bad from the good, on Jewish festivals (it is not boreir.)
Jewish Festivals: Salt Shaker with Rice
You may not, due to boreir, use a salt shaker into which rice has been added (in order to keep the salt dry).
Jewish Festivals: Lemon Seeds
You may remove lemon seeds (pits) from food, such as after you have squeezed out some lemon juice, but not with a specialized utensil such as a sieve or slotted spoon.
Jewish Festivals: Washing-Draining Food
You may wash and drain olives and other canned fruits and vegetables on Jewish festivals (it is not boreir unless the food in the can is dirty).
Jewish Festivals: Dropping Unwanted Food
When you have food mixed with non-desired substances, you may remove the non-desired ones by picking up the entire mixture and letting the non-desired elements fall away.
Jewish Festivals: Separating Challa
Jewish Festivals: Challa Not Separated before Festival
On Jewish festivals, you may not separate challa from loaves baked before the festival, as follows:
  • In Eretz Yisrael, you may not eat bread from which challa was not separated if required (for more details, see Separating the Challa Portion and Challa Separation) until after the Jewish festival ends and you have separated the challa.
  • Outside Eretz Yisrael, you may:
    • Leave one loaf until after the Jewish festival,
    • Eat as much as you want of the remaining loaves, and then
    • Separate the challa from the loaf after havdala.
Note If the bread was baked on a Jewish festival, you may separate challa on the Jewish festival.
Note This is true even for loaves that came from dough of more than 2.5 lbs of flour.
Jewish Festivals: Squeezing Juice
Jewish Festivals: Squeezing a Lemon
As on Shabbat, on Jewish festivals you may squeeze a lemon (or other fruit) onto solid food—or mostly solid, even wet, food--that you will eat right away, but not into a container or into a liquid.
Jewish Festivals: Fans
Jewish Festivals: Moving a Fan
You may pick up and move a fan on Jewish festivals if you need it elsewhere.
Note You may not plug in the fan or unplug it on Jewish festivals.
Jewish Festivals: Fluids on Skin
Jewish Festivals: Fluids on Skin
For using fluids on skin during Jewish festivals,  see Jewish Festivals: Sunscreen.
Jewish Festivals: Glasses
Jewish Festivals: Eye Glasses
You may wash reading glasses or sunglasses using liquid soap on Jewish festivals.
Jewish Festivals: Grama
Jewish Festivals: Temperature Controls and Grama
On Jewish festivals, “grama” (indirect action) is permissible. For adjusting temperature controls on Jewish festivals, see Jewish Festivals: Adjusting Air Conditioner Temperatures and Jewish Festivals: Adjusting Heater.
Jewish Festivals: Hair/Beards
Jewish Festivals: Hair Brushing
You may brush your hair on a Jewish festival, but only if the brush bristles bend easily. You may not use stiff bristles or combs since they might pull out some hair. 
Note Using a special brush for Jewish festivals (and Shabbat) is recommended but not required.
Jewish Festival: Hair Cuts/Shaving
You may not have your hair cut and you may not shave on Jewish festivals (and Shabbat).
Jewish Festivals: Heaters
Jewish Festivals: Adjusting Heater
On Jewish festivals, you may adjust a heater with an analog thermostat:
  • UP when running, and
  • DOWN or OFF when not running.
Reason This is due to grama, which is permissible on Jewish festivals (but not on Shabbat).
Note You may not adjust a digital thermostat.
Jewish Festivals: Moving Electric Heater
You may pick up and move an electric heater that is ON on Jewish festivals (and Shabbat) only if:
  • You need the heat elsewhere, or
  • You need to use the space where the heater is standing.
Note You may not unplug it.
Jewish Festivals: Moving Flame Heater
Unlike on Shabbat, you may move a kerosene or other heater that has a flame burning on Jewish festivals.
Jewish Festivals: Insects
Jewish Festivals: Insects that May Carry Diseases
You may kill mosquitoes and other insects on Jewish festivals if they carry deadly diseases, which makes the insects a danger (sakana). You may kill insects that might carry diseases even if you do not know for certain.
Jewish Festivals: Biting or Stinging Insects
If insects such as bees or non-diseased mosquitoes don't carry diseases but they bite or sting you, you may kill them on Jewish festivals, as well as trapping them or chasing them away with bug spray. Unlike on Shabbat, on a Jewish festival you may kill insects that are a nuisance, such as gnats or flies. These halachalot apply to all Jewish festivals unless they fall on Shabbat (or are Yom Kippur).
Jewish Festivals: Knots
Jewish Festivals: Permanent Knots
You may not tie permanent knots on Jewish festivals (and Shabbat).
Note A permanent knot is a knot intended to remain tied for at least 24 hours. Any strings you connect on Jewish festivals must be able to easily come undone, such as a bow.
Note Since opinions differ on what constitutes a permanent knot, we do not even tie knots that are intended to be untied, such as a double figure-eight knot.
Jewish Festivals: Double Bows
You may not tie a double bow on Jewish festivals.
Jewish Festivals: LCDs/LEDs
Jewish Festivals: Changing LCD/LED
As on Shabbat, you may not use any item on a Jewish festival that will cause an LCD or LED to form letters or change an LCD display.
Jewish Festivals: Laundry
Introduction to Jewish Festivals: Laundry
You may not wash or hang up wet laundry on Jewish festivals (or Shabbat).  The halachot for drying laundry depend on whether you use a clothesline or a dryer:
Jewish Festivals: Laundry: Clothesline
You may only take down laundry on Jewish festivals if it was dry before sunset at the start of the festival, and only if you don't:
  • Transfer the laundry from one halachic domain to another (hotza'a), or
  • Give the impression that the laundry had been washed on the Jewish festival (mar'it ayin).
If laundry on a clothesline is still wet at sunset before the festival, the laundry is muktza and you may not take it down or use it during the festival. This is different from the case of a dryer.
Reason On the clothes line, there is no certainty that the laundry will dry during the festival (it might rain, it might be cold or cloudy...), so the person may not have in mind that it will dry during the festival.
Jewish Festivals: Laundry: Dryer
Laundry in a dryer (even if it was wet at sunset) that was turned on before sunset beginning the Jewish festival (or Shabbat) is not muktza, even if you do not intend to wear it.  You may remove the dry laundry from the dryer on the Jewish festival as long as no light goes on.
Jewish Festival: Lights
Jewish Festivals: Redirecting Lighting Fixture
You may redirect a light fixture on Jewish festivals, but only by moving it with a stick or other object, not directly with your hand.
Note During Jewish festivals, you may not:
  • Turn this light on or off, or
  • Disconnect its plug or light bulb.
Jewish Festivals: Moving Lighting Fixture
You may directly move a lamp or other light fixture to where you need the light but you may not:
  • Plug or unplug the plug from the wall.
  • Turn the light on or off.
Jewish Festivals: Unplugging Turned-Off Light
You may unplug a turned-off light on Jewish festivals if:
  • You need the space where the lamp is situated, or
  • The cord is in the way and you want to remove it so someone doesn't trip.
Note You may not turn off the light on Jewish festivals.
Jewish Festivals: Mail and Periodicals
Jewish Festivals: Bringing Mail inside House
Do not bring mail inside the house on Jewish festivals, unless it was delivered:
  • Open
Reason Most mail is muktza on Jewish festivals since it cannot be opened or used without doing melacha, AND
  • From within techum Shabbat, AND
  • By a non-Jew. 
Jewish Festivals: Bringing Newspaper inside House
You may bring a newspaper, magazine, or other reading material inside the house on Jewish festivals and read it, UNLESS it was:
  • Printed on Shabbat or a Jewish festival, OR
  • Brought from outside the techum Shabbat, OR
  • Delivered by a Jew.
If any of these conditions apply, you may not move it or use it in any way during the Jewish festival, even if all of the other conditions permit its use. You may use it once the Jewish festival is over.
Note As a policy, you may want to tell delivery services (newspapers, post office, etc.) that you do not need to have the item delivered until after dark.
Reason If delivered on the Jewish festival day, it will not be done at your request and, if it is reading material, you may read the material as long as the other conditions permit it--see above.
Note If you do not know where the reading material came from, you may not use it on the Jewish festival.
Note Although taking possession of the newspaper, magazine, or other reading material is “acquisition” (kinyan), you may do so since you will use it on the Jewish festival.
Jewish Festivals: Makeup
Jewish Festivals: Applying Makeup
Girls and women may not put on any nail polish or makeup on Jewish festivals (and Shabbat), including mascara and lipstick.
Note Regarding makeup that consists only of powder (no oil or liquid ingredients) and that comes off easily, ask your rabbi. Beware of “Shabbat makeup” that stays on longer than normal makeup but is forbidden to be applied on Shabbat or Jewish festivals.
Jewish Festivals: Removing Makeup
Girls and women may remove makeup or nail polish on Jewish festivals (or Shabbat).
Jewish Festivals: Medicines
Introduction to Jewish Festivals: Medicines
Introduction to Jewish Festivals: Medicines
Jewish Festivals: Medicines: When To Take
Medicine generally may not be used on the d'oraita Jewish festival days.

Jewish Festivals: Medicine for Chronic Diseases
You may take medicine on Jewish festivals (whether d'oraita or d'rabanan) for:
  • Chronic diseases, such as Parkinson's disease, or
  • Any disease that affects your entire body.
Jewish Festivals: Medicine for Non-Chronic Diseases
You may take medicine on Jewish festivals for non-chronic illnesses, if skipping one day will prevent cure.  You may not take medicine for non-chronic illnesses if skipping a day will just delay your being cured (unless the disease affects your entire body--in which case, you may take the medicine).

Jewish Festivals: Medicines: When To Take: D'Oraita Festival Days
Here are the d'oraita Jewish festivals:
  • First day of Sukkot, Passover, and Shavuot
  • Seventh day of Passover
  • Shmini Atzeret (8th day of Sukkot)
  • Yom Kippur
  • Both days of Rosh Hashana (even though the second day is d'rabanan).
On these days, as well as on d'rabanan Jewish festivals, you:
  • MUST take medicine whenever there is any question of a life-threatening disease or condition.
  • MAY take medicine for a condition that affects the entire body (illness, weakness, etc.). Consult a rabbi if possible.
    ExceptionYou may not smear substances on skin UNLESS the illness is life-threatening, in which case even smearing is permitted.
  • MAY use some medicines if only part of your body is affected by a non-life-threatening disease--consult a rabbi.
Jewish Festivals: Medicines: When To Take: D'Rabanan Festival Days
You make take medicines for any reason on d'rabanan Jewish festivals--even medicines not allowed on the first day of Jewish festivals--except:
  • Medicines that you smear on skin.
  • If the Jewish festival falls on Shabbat (which can only be second day of Shavuot).
Note The d'rabanan Jewish festivals are the second day of Jewish festivals except Rosh Hashana (actually, the second day of Rosh Hashana IS d'rabanan but has the status of d'oraita), plus the last day of Passover and Simchat Torah outside of Eretz Yisrael.

Jewish Festivals: Squeezing, Dabbing, Smearing
As on Shabbat, you may squeeze a tube of cream on Jewish festivals, but you might not be able to use the cream on the Jewish festival for other reasons—consult a rabbi.
Note Smearing creams or ointments is permitted only in life-threatening situations. Otherwise, you may not smear cream on skin on a Jewish festival (or Shabbat) even using a shinu'i such as using the back of your hand or a toe.
Dabbing is permitted, but only when you are permitted to use medicine. 
You may use cream on a Jewish festival (and Shabbat) by dabbing (you may ONLY dab--you may not SMEAR cream) for a bee sting if it will affect the entire body. You may not use cream for a mosquito bite, since it is only a local irritation.
Jewish Festivals: Painkillers
Jewish Festivals: When You May Take a Painkiller
You may take a painkiller on the first day of Jewish festivals if the pain:
  • Affects your entire body, or
  • Keeps you awake.
Note This also becomes the criterion for whether to take the pain killer during the daytime: if the pain you feel during the day would keep you awake if you were trying to sleep.
Note You may take painkillers without any restrictions on the second Jewish festival day (except Rosh Hashana).
Jewish Festivals: Mopping
Jewish Festivals: Mopping
You may squeegee a floor--as is commonly done in Israel--on Jewish festivals (or Shabbat)), but you may not push the water onto earth or plants.
You may mop up a local spill, but only without squeezing out the rag or mop.
Jewish Festivals: Music
Jewish Festivals: Kazoos/Whistles
You may not use a kazoo or a whistle on Jewish festivals, but you may whistle with your mouth.
Jewish Festivals: Listening to Non-Jewish Musicians
You may listen to non-Jewish musicians performing on Jewish festivals if:
  • You do not need a ticket, and
  • They are not playing particularly for Jews.
Jewish Festivals: Nail Cutting
Jewish Festivals: Having Nails Cut
You may not cut your nails or have your nails cut on Jewish festivals (and Shabbat).
Jewish Festivals: Non-Jews (Shabbat Goy)
Jewish Festivals: Asking a Non-Jew To Do Melacha D'Oraita
Although you may not normally tell a non-Jew to do melacha d'oraita on a Jewish festival, even for the purpose of doing a mitzva, the non-Jew is not forbidden from doing melacha if he/she wants to do so.
Note To save a life, even a Jew may do melacha d'oraita.
Jewish Festival: Inviting Non-Jews to Meal
You may not cook food specifically for a non-Jew on a Jewish festival. You may only invite a non-Jew for a meal on a Jewish festival if you inform him or her ahead of time that you will not cook something special for him or her.
Jewish Festivals: Opening/Sealing/Tearing
Jewish Festivals: Bottles
Jewish Festivals: Opening Plastic Bottles
You may completely open plastic bottle caps on plastic bottles on Jewish festivals (even if doing so will leave a plastic ring on the bottle), as long as it is theoretically possible to dispense the liquid without completely separating the cap from its seal.
Reason Since liquid can be poured with the cap still attached, we have not violated the Jewish festival by making a sealed bottle into a “new utensil.”
Note If you will destroy letters that are printed on the cap, you may not open the bottle.
Jewish Festivals: Opening Metal Bottle Caps
You may not open metal bottle caps on Jewish festivals if a metal ring will be left after doing so. You may break that ring or simply open the bottle before the Jewish festival (or simply open the bottle and reclose it such that when you open in again, no metal will be broken).  
Note If you need the contents for a Jewish festival (such as if it is a bottle of wine), you may ask a non-Jew to open the bottle for you.  But if it is wine that is not cooked/mevushal, the wine will become non-kosher once opened and handled by the non-Jew.
Jewish Festivals: Twist-Ties
Jewish Festivals: Non-Permanent Twist-Ties
You may twist or untwist twist ties on Jewish festivals (and Shabbat), but only if you intend them to be a non-permanent seal.
Note If you will (at any time in the future—even long after the Jewish festival is over) remove the twist-tie, it is considered non-permanent.
Jewish Festivals: Pumps
Jewish Festivals: Well Water
You may use water from a well on Jewish festivals (as on Shabbat) via an automatic pump that fills a reservoir once the water level drops. But you may not operate the pump directly and you may not turn the pump on or off.
Jewish Festivals: Refrigerators
Jewish Festivals: Opening Refrigerator Door with LEDs
As on Shabbat, do not open a refrigerator door that has LEDs that illuminate when the door is opened on Jewish festivals.
Jewish Festivals: Room Sensors
Jewish Festivals: Covering Motion Detectors
Situation A motion detector will light up when you move.
What To Do You must cover the detector or turn off the device before the Jewish festival begins.
Jewish Festivals: Walking Past Motion Detectors/Microwave Sensors Situation
Situation You enter a room on a Jewish festival and then find that there is a motion detector that will turn on a light or an LED.
What To Do You should not move until someone else has entered the room and the light has turned on. You may then leave while the light is still on.
Jewish Festivals: Secular Studies
Jewish Festivals: Secular Studies
Studying secular subjects on Jewish festivals is not in the spirit of the Jewish festival, but you may do so.
Jewish Festivals: Soap
Jewish Festivals: Hard Soap
You may not use hard soap on Jewish festivals.
Jewish Festivals: Soap Bubbles
Causing soap bubbles from lather is not a problem on Jewish festivals.
Jewish Festivals: Sponging
Jewish Festivals: Sponging
You may not wash dishes on Jewish festivals with a
  • Sponge (even if it is on a handle), 
  • Dish rag, or 
  • Scrubbing pad (pad that holds water and, when used, the water gets squeezed out).
You may use wide mesh or other items that do not normally hold water.
Jewish Festivals: Sunscreen
Jewish Festivals: Sunscreens
To use a fluid on skin on Jewish festivals, even sunscreen that may be needed to protect damaged skin, the fluid must flow without lumps and not be more viscous than honey at room temperature. Therefore, apply sunscreen only if fluid (but not a cream or thick liquid).
Jewish Festivals: Diluting Sunscreens before Festival
You may dilute sunscreen before Jewish festivals with water or alcohol, but some sunscreens may not become more fluid even with added water or alcohol.
Jewish Festivals: Talking
Jewish Festivals: Talking about Weekday Subjects

You may talk about weekday subjects on Jewish festivals if what you are discussing already happened, but you may not discuss plans to do activities that involve any type of melacha, even d'rabanan.

Jewish Festivals: Taping
Jewish Festivals: Taping Items Together
You may not tape items together, on Jewish festivals, if you intend for them to stay attached for more than 24 hours.
Jewish Festivals: Taping Card to Hotel Door
You may tape a card to a hotel room door on Jewish festivals in order to prevent it from locking you out.
Jewish Festivals: Tearing
Jewish Festivals: Tearing Paper and Plastic Wrap

You may tear paper, plastic, foil, or other wrappers around food in order to eat that food on a Jewish festival.

You may tear plastic and foil (but not paper) around napkins, plasticware, etc., that you need on Jewish festival.

But you may not:

  • Do so if you will inevitably tear through any words or pictures on the package.
  • Use scissors.
Except for wrappers for food or eating utensils, do not tear paper, foil, toilet paper, parchment paper, plastic wrap, paper towels, etc., on a Jewish festival.
Note If there is a perforation, that makes the tearing worse.
Note If you do not have any torn toilet paper, tear it is an unusual way:
  • Tear using the back of your hand.
  • Spread the toilet paper across your knees and then spread your knees apart.
Jewish Festivals: Techum Shabbat
Jewish Festival: Item from outside Techum Shabbat
You may not use, on a Jewish festival, any item that was outside the techum Shabbat when the Jewish festival began--even if a non-Jew brought it to you.
SITUATIONYou arrive on a flight but your luggage is delayed and delivered on Shabbat or a Jewish festival. Or, a package is delivered to you then.
WHAT TO DO  If the airport or delivery warehouse is within techum Shabbat, you may use whatever is brought to you. If the airport or warehouse is outside techum Shabbat, you may not use the items until enough time has passed after Shabbat (or the Jewish festival) for them to have been delivered from the airport or warehouse.

Jewish Festivals: Telephones
Jewish Festivals: Telephones and Time Zones
If a Jewish festival is over where you are, you may speak by phone to non-Jews in a place that is still observing the Jewish festival.
Jewish Festivals: Toilet
Jewish Festivals: Toilet
Flushing a toilet on a Jewish festival is not a violation of transferring from domains.
Reason The pipe is considered too small a space to be a domain.
Note If the water comes from a pump-operated well, such as in rural or remote areas, consult a rabbi.
Jewish Festivals: Trees
Jewish Festivals: Walking between Trees/Bushes
You may walk between bushes or trees on Jewish festivals, even if they are close to each other, and you may use your body to make space for yourself to walk. But you may not push the trunks or branches away using your hand.

Reason The trees are muktza.

Jewish Festivals: Water (Pool)
Jewish Festivals: Dangling Legs
On Jewish festivals (and Shabbat), you may dangle your feet or legs into a pool (or other body) of water up to whatever garment you are wearing. However, you may not let the garment get wet. 

Jewish Festivals: Water Filters
Jewish Festivals: Filtering Potable Water
You may filter plain water using a non-electrical water filter on Jewish Festivals.
Note The water must be potable before filtering.
Chol HaMoed
Introduction to Chol HaMoed
Introduction to Chol HaMoed
The intermediate days of Passover and Sukkot (between the first and last days, which are festival days) are called “chol ha'moed.”  Passover has four chol ha'moed  days outside of Eretz Yisrael and five days in Eretz Yisrael. Sukkot has five chol ha'moed days outside of Israel and six inside Eretz Yisrael.
The restrictions that apply to the Jewish festival days generally do not apply to the chol ha'moed days (see below for exceptions).
Chol HaMoed: Expert Work
Chol HaMoed: No Expert Work
You may not do “expert” or “professional” work of certain types on chol ha'moed, and some types of expert craftsmen/women may not do their trades on chol ha'moed.
  • You may sew or lay bricks or other such labors, but not if you are an expert or professional in those fields and you are doing expert work.
  • Skilled writers and artists may not do their professional writing, calligraphy, or drawing (even for free!) on chol ha'moed. They may not do calligraphy or sofer work (Torah, tefilin, mezuza), but they may write normally.
  • If you are not a professional writer or expert craftsman/artist, you may write on chol ha'moed but the preferred practice is to use a shinu'i --an altered method of writing, such as:
    • Using your other hand,
    • Holding the pen/pencil differently from normal, or 
    • Writing diagonally across the paper.
Chol HaMoed: Shaving and Hair Cuts
Shaving/Hair Cuts and Jewish Festivals
You should not shave or cut your hair on chol ha'moed.
Reason Chazal made a takana so people would do those types of grooming before each holiday and not wait until chol ha'moed.

Chol HaMoed: Exceptions for Shaving
It is best not to shave during chol ha'moed.  You MAY shave if:
  • You normally shave every day, and
  • You shaved before the Jewish festival began.
Note Even if you only shave 2 or 3 times per week instead of every day, it is still considered as if you shave regularly.
Note You may shave during omer if not shaving might cause you to lose your job or otherwise incur financial loss. A large financial loss is subjective to the individual's actual wealth and also to that person's perception of what is a large loss.
Chol HaMoed: Cutting Nails
Chol HaMoed: Cutting Nails
You may not cut your nails (fingernails or toenails) during chol ha'moed.
Exception Women before going to mikva may cut their nails on chol ha'moed.
Chol HaMoed: Laundry
Laundry before Jewish Festivals
You should not do laundry on chol ha'moed.
Reason Due to a takana so people would do their laundry before each holiday and not wait until chol ha'moed.
Note If you had already done the laundry before the Jewish festival began and now no clean clothes remain:
  • You may do laundry for babies and small children (3 years old or less) on chol ha'moed.
  • You may not do laundry for adults.

Rosh Chodesh
Introduction to Rosh Chodesh
Introduction to Rosh Chodesh
Rosh Chodesh, the beginning of the Jewish (lunar) month, is a minor holiday of one or two days, depending on whether the previous month was 29 or 30 days.  When the preceding month is 30 days long, the 30th day becomes the first day of Rosh Chodesh and the second day of Rosh Chodesh is the first day of the succeeding month.
Rosh Chodesh used to be officially declared in Jerusalem each month by the Sanhedrin, based on evidence from at least two witnesses who had seen the new moon in the western sky.  For the past 1700 years or so, the new moon (and the dates for the entire Jewish calendar) have been determined by a formula prescribed by Hillel HaNasi (then head of the Jewish community in Eretz Yisrael). 
Rosh Chodesh: Molad
The molad (first appearance of the new crescent moon somewhere in the world but using Jerusalem time) is an average molad and may be more than 12 hours off the actual time of the moon's first appearance. It varies somewhat from month to month.
Rosh Chodesh: Ya'aleh V'Yavo
Ya'aleh V'Yavo on Rosh Chodesh
If you forgot (or are not sure if you said) ya'aleh v'yavo of:
Rosh Chodesh Ma'ariv 
Don't repeat the amida. This applies to both ma'arivs on a two-day Rosh Chodesh.
Rosh Chodesh Shacharit or Mincha 
  • If you forgot:  Repeat the amida of Rosh Chodesh shacharit or mincha.
  • If you are not sure:  Repeat the amida with the condition that if you had said ya'aleh v'yavo the first time, the second time is a voluntary prayer (tefilat nedava).
Note If Rosh Chodesh falls on Shabbat and you are not certain whether you said ya'aleh v'yavo at shacharit or mincha, you must repeat the amida without a condition.
Rosh Chodesh: Ul'Chaparat Pasha
Shabbat-Rosh Chodesh: Adding Ul'Chaparat Pasha
SITUATION It is Rosh Chodesh in a Jewish leap year.
Add “ul'chaparat pasha” to musaf—from Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan through and including the second month of Adar
REASON This blessing usually contains 12 requests--corresponding to the 12 months--and so in a leap year, we add ul'chaparat pasha for the 13th month.
NOTE Don't say ul'chaparat pasha on Rosh Chodesh Nisan or after that until the next Jewish leap year.
Rosh Hashana
Introduction to Rosh Hashana
Introduction to Rosh Hashana
Rosh Hashana is the beginning of the Jewish calendar year (there are three other dates that begin other aspects of the Jewish year).
Rosh Hashana is observed for two days, which are considered to be one continuous day. In Temple times, a cohen would offer a sacrifice but might not know until the following evening, after the new moon had been seen (or not), whether he had offered the Rosh Hashana offering.
Rosh Hashana focuses on the idea of God as King and of our relationship as Jews to that King.
Rosh Hashana: Greetings
Greetings for the New Year
For greetings for the New Year, say:
  • Ketiva V'Chatima Tova
              From: Rosh Chodesh Elul
              Until:  Eve of (erev) Rosh Hashana (when the holiday begins).
  • L'Shana Tova Tikateiv V'Tichateim
            From:  First night of Rosh Hashana (when the holiday begins)
            Until:   Musaf of the first day of Rosh Hashana.
  • Gmar Chatima Tova
               FromMusaf Rosh Hashana
               Until:   End of Yom Kippur.
  • Gmar Tov
               From: Yom Kippur
               Until:  Musaf Hoshana Rabba.
Rosh Hashana: Prayers
Rosh Hashana: Prayers: What Time To Start
Rosh Hashana: Prayers: What Time To Start: Ma'ariv and Kiddush
Ma'ariv and evening kiddush for Rosh Hashana are not started until after dark.
Rosh Hashana: Prayers: Special Bowing
Rosh Hashana: Prayers: Special Bowing: Musaf
For special bowing during Rosh Hashana musaf, please see Waist-Bowing and Knee-Bowing.
Rosh Hashana: Shofar
Rosh Hashana: How Many Shofar Blasts To Hear
Men are required to hear at least 60 shofar blasts on Rosh Hashana (l'chatchila) in order to fulfill the commandment of hearing shofar:  30 before the musaf amida and 30 afterward.  But they fulfill their requirement (b'di'avad) if they have heard at least 30 on each day of Rosh Hashana
Women only need to hear 30 shofar blasts on each day of Rosh Hashana.
Note Although 100 shofar blasts are blown each day of Rosh Hashana, hearing all 100 is a non-binding custom.  You do not need to hear the first blasts or any other particular set, but you must hear blasts that include:
  • 3 tashrat (teki'a-shevarim-teru'a-teki'a) +
  • 3 tashat (teki'a-shevarim-teki'a) +
  • 3 tarat (teki'a-teru'a-teki'a).  

Interruptions after Shofar Blessing
Once the blessings have been said before (and for) blowing the shofar on Rosh HaShana, no one in the congregation may speak or do any action (hefsek) that will interrupt the entire process of blessings and the series of blowing the shofar. Any speaking that is not related to the shofar blowing or to the prayer service is forbidden.
Woman Blowing Shofar
A woman who knows how, may blow the shofar for herself and for other women but not for men. 
Reason This is because women, who are not required by the Torah to hear shofar but who have universally accepted that custom, may not fulfill the obligation for men, who are required by the Torah to hear the shofar.

Practicing Shofar on Rosh Hashana
You may practice blowing a shofar on Rosh Hashana (unless it coincides with Shabbat!).

Rosh Hashana: Evening Kiddush
Rosh Hashana: Evening Kiddush: Fruit for SheHecheyanu on Second Night
Rosh Hashana: Evening Kiddush: New Fruit for SheHecheyanu on Second Night
Place a “new” fruit--over which you may say she'hecheyanu--at the table for kiddush on the second night of Rosh Hashana.
Reason So the she'hecheyanu of kiddush also covers the fruit. 
Note B'di'avad, still say she'hecheyanu even if you do not have a new fruit.
Rosh Hashana: Symbolic Foods (Simanim)
Rosh Hashana: Symbolic Foods (Simanim): Which Foods
Eating the special symbolic foods (simanim) on Rosh Hashana evening is a universally accepted custom. These may include:
Apple Dipped in Honey
Black-eyed Peas
Fish Head
Rosh Hashana: Symbolic Foods (Simanim): HaMotzi
On Rosh Hashana, before eating the symbolic foods (simanim):
  • Make kiddush,
  • Wash your hands,
  • Say ha'motzi, and
  • Eat bread.
Then eat the symbolic foods (simanim), saying the appropriate blessings (borei pri ha'eitz, borei pri ha'adama) before eating the simanim.
Rosh Hashana: Symbolic Foods (Simanim): God's Name
Situation You made up your own segulot for Rosh Hashana.
What to Do You may say them with God's name or without, in the yehi ratzon.
Rosh Hashana: Challa Customs
Rosh Hashana: Challa Customs: Round Challa
It is a custom to make round challa for Rosh Hashana and other Jewish festivals (except Passover!), unless Rosh Hashana falls on Shabbat.
Rosh Hashana: Challa Customs: Challa Dipped in Honey
Eating challa dipped in honey on Rosh Hashana is a universal custom but is not halacha.
Rosh Hashana: Tashlich
Rosh Hashana: Tashlich: Introduction to Tashlich
Tashlich is a universal custom with force of halacha. Don't feed fish, don't throw crumbs into the water.
Rosh Hashana: Tashlich: When To Say
Ideally, say tashlich on the afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashana (unless that is Shabbat, in which case say it on the second day of Rosh Hashana). You may say it until the end of the day of Hoshana Rabba.
Rosh Hashana: Tashlich: How Much To Say
The minimum amount of the tashlich service to say is the first paragraph (mi eil kamocha).
Rosh Hashana: Tashlich: Where To Say
Tashlich should be said near a running natural stream or a lake but not at a mikva.
Rosh Hashana: End
Rosh Hashana: End: Baruch HaMavdil Bein Kodesh L'Chol and Birkat HaMazon
Saying Baruch ha'mavdil bein kodesh l'chol after dark at the end of Rosh Hashana (as for Jewish festivals) does not affect the additions you will then say in birkat ha'mazon.
Situation You washed your hands, said ha'motzi, began eating your meal on Rosh Hashana afternoon, and it is now dark.
What To Do You may say Baruch ha'mavdil bein kodesh l'chol and do melacha, and then continue to eat your meal or say birkat ha'mazon INCLUDING ya'aleh v'yavo and ha'rachaman hu yichadeish alenu et ha'shana ha'zot l'tova v'livracha.
Ten Days of Repentance
Forgetting Amida Additions for Ten Days of Repentance
If you forget a change or addition to the amida during the 10 Days of Repentance (between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur), the only one for which you must return or repeat the amida is ha'melech ha'kadosh (third blessing).
Yom Kippur
Introduction to Yom Kippur
Introduction to Yom Kippur
Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement. In ancient times, it was more festive than now and unmarried people of both genders would meet and try to find their future spouses.
Yom Kippur is a serious but also a happy day, since all Jews who repent (do teshuva) have their sins forgiven on that day.
Teshuva has four main parts:
  • Charata  Regretting what we have done and feeling bad about it.
  • Vidui  Recognizing and admitting that we have done something wrong.
  •  Kabala  Resolving not to repeat that mistake.
  • Azivat hachet  Being in the same situation as before but avoiding doing the sin.
The Torah tells us that there is an inherent property to Yom Kippur that causes spiritual purification and removes sins.
All Jews can become like angels on Yom Kippur.  In order to imitate angels (which are spiritual beings), we abstain from five activities that are associated with physical beings. We do not wash, anoint our bodies, eat or drink, have intimate relations, or wear leather shoes. To further imitate angels, when we say the shema, we say Baruch shem kevod malchuto l'olam va'ed out loud, as opposed to the rest of the year, when we say it quietly.
For more on fast days, see Fast Days.
Pre-Yom Kippur
Pre-Yom Kippur: Asking Forgiveness
Asking Forgiveness
  • If you know you have offended or otherwise injured someone, ask for forgiveness before Yom Kippur (if doing so will bring up bad feelings from the past, you may not do so--but you might not be forgiven for that injury). 
  • If you may have offended, ask for forgiveness.
  • If you are certain that you did not, don't ask for forgiveness.
  • If you did not ask someone for forgiveness (whom you should have asked) before Yom Kippur, you should do so afterward.
  • If a person wrongs you intentionally, you do not need to forgive him or her unless the person repairs the wrong and is genuinely regretful for having done the evil.
Pre-Yom Kippur: Nullifying Vows (Hatarat Nedarim )
Nullifying Vows (Hatarat Nedarim)
Hatarat nedarim (nullification of vows) should be done before Rosh Hashana (but it may be done any time of the year) in front of three adult male shomer-Shabbat Jews. You may make a condition that you never want to make a vow of any type, but this might not be effective or valid.  The formula may be said in English or any other spoken language.
Pre-Yom Kippur: Kaparot
Kaparot with a chicken or money should be done before Yom Kippur, but you may do it before then or any other time. This is a universal Jewish custom.
Pre-Yom Kippur: Meal (Se'uda HaMafseket)
Meaning of pre-Yom Kippur Meal (Se'uda HaMafseket)
We eat a festive meal for the final meal before Yom Kippur to celebrate that we will be forgiven for our previous sins on Yom Kippur.
Mezuman/Minyan at pre-Yom Kippur Meal (Se'uda HaMafseket)
A mezuman or minyan is permitted at the pre-Yom Kippur meal (se'uda ha'mafseket).
Reason It is a festive meal.
Challa Dipped in Honey for pre-Yom Kippur Meal (Se'uda HaMafseket)
Eating challa dipped in honey is a non-binding custom for the pre-Yom Kippur festive meal (se'uda ha'mafseket).
Pre-Yom Kippur Meal: Shir HaMa'alot
Shir ha'ma'alot should be said before birkat ha'mazon at the final meal (se'uda ha'mafseket) before Yom Kippur (and also at a meal after Yom Kippur ends).
Wishing Easy Fast
You may wish “an easy fast” for Yom Kippur since, although Yom Kippur is supposed to be a day of afflicting our souls, there are degrees of affliction!
Pre-Yom Kippur: Yahrzeit Candle
Pre-Yom Kippur: Yahrzeit Candle
On Yom Kippur, it is a universal custom to light one candle if one or both parents are deceased. Every married couple also lights one candle for themselves and their children (if any).
Yom Kippur
Yom Kippur: When To Start
Yom Kippur: Starting Fast
Yom Kippur fasting starts with candle lighting for women and at least 7 minutes before sunset for men.  
Yom Kippur: Delaying Start Past Candle Lighting
Lighting the candles starts the holiday of Yom Kippur.  If you want to start the holiday later, you must:
  • Make a condition when lighting candles that you are not yet starting the holiday (by saying “I am lighting Yom Kippur candles but not starting Yom Kippur until 7 minutes before sunset”-this may only be done in urgent situations) and
  • Omit the she'hecheyanu blessing at candle lighting.  Men say she'hecheyanu later (in kol nidre).
    Note Women then say she'hecheyanu at least 7 minutes before sunset! (One may not make a condition for she'hecheyanu!)
Note If a woman lit candles for Yom Kippur more than 7 minutes before sunset (as is normally done at 18 or even 40 minutes before sunset), but made a condition (tenai) that she would still eat or do melacha until somewhat later, she must still stop eating and doing melacha by no later than 7 minutes before sunset.
Yom Kippur: What To Wear
Yom Kippur: What To Wear: Leather Shoes
You may not wear leather shoes on Yom Kippur.
Yom Kippur: What To Wear: Kittel for Men
All married men should wear a kittel on Yom Kippur during all prayer services (this is a universal custom). Some men do not wear a kittel during the first year of marriage.
Yom Kippur: If You Must Eat
Yom Kippur: No Kiddush If You Must Eat
If you must eat on Yom Kippur (for health reasons), do not make kiddush and do not use two loaves of bread, even if Yom Kippur coincides with Shabbat.
Yom Kippur: Birkat HaMazon If You Must Eat Bread
If you must eat a meal including at least 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) of bread on Yom Kippur, say birkat ha'mazon afterward. Add ya'aleh v'yavo (and if Yom Kippur coincides with Shabbat, also add retzei).
Yom Kippur: Washing
Yom Kippur: Washing To Remove Tum'a
On Yom Kippur (as on Tish'a b'Av), if you must wash your hands to remove:
  • Tum'a: You may wash your hands only up to the knuckle that connects your fingers to the rest of your hand (thumb: second knuckle; fingers: third knuckle).
  • Dirt from your hand: You may wash wherever the dirt is on your hand.
Yom Kippur: Prayers
Yom Kippur: Torah Reading
Yom Kippur: Torah Reading: Forbidden Relationships
On Yom Kippur, at mincha, we read in the Torah about forbidden relationships to remind ourselves that even on the holiest day of the year, we may be subject to temptations and sins.
Yom Kippur: Bowing
Yom Kippur: Bowing for Musaf Alenu
For how to bow at Yom Kippur Musaf Alenu, see Waist-Bowing and Knee-Bowing.
Yom Kippur: Ending
Yom Kippur: Ending: Havdala

After Yom Kippur, say the full havdala

Note You must light a candle from a flame that was burning since before Yom Kippur began. If you do not have one, skip the blessing on the flame.
If Shabbat coincides with Yom Kippur, you should light the candle from a flame that was burning from before Shabbat began. If you do not have one, you may light a new flame after Shabbat and Yom Kippur are over. Don't say the blessing on spices.

Post-Yom Kippur Meal: Shir HaMa'alot
Shir ha'ma'alot should be said after eating a meal that you began after Yom Kippur ended.
See Fast Days.
Introduction to Sukkot
Introduction to Sukkot
Sukkot means “huts.” The Jewish festival of Sukkot celebrates and commemorates the shelters in which the Israelites lived for 40 years after leaving Egypt.

The main symbols associated with Sukkot are living in a sukka (eating and, when possible, sleeping in the sukka) and the lulav and etrog.
Sukkot is observed at fall harvest time.  When many Jews were feeling wealthy due to their produce, we were commanded to live in temporary shelters--in part, to ward off feelings of arrogance or pride in what we had accomplished in the material world. Instead of thinking or feeling that our hard work or great wisdom has made us wealthy, we are reminded that whatever we have comes from God, and that God will take care of us, even in a flimsy “house.”
The lulav and etrog have many meanings.  Here are two:
Likening to the Human Body
The four components are compared to four parts of the human body:
  • Palm branch: Spine.
  • Myrtle leaves: Human eyes.
  • Willow leaves: Human lips.
  • Etrog: Human heart.
When we hold the four parts of the lulav/etrog together, we are symbolically taking the various components of our bodies together to serve God.
Likening to Types of Jews
The four components are likened to four types of Jews:
  • Etrog smells nice and tastes nice--like a tzadik who is knowledgeable in Torah and does mitzvot;
  • Myrtle smells nice but does not have a good taste--like a person who does mitzvot but is not knowledgeable in Torah;
  • Palm tree (date palm) has a nice tasting fruit but no scent--like someone who has knowledge but lacks mitzvot;
  • Willow does not smell nice nor has a good taste--like a person who has neither.
By holding them together, we show that all types of Jews are to be consider as one nation.
Sukkot: Prayers
Sukkot: Prayers: What Time To Start
Sukkot: Prayers: What Time To Start: Ma'ariv and Kiddush
  • Ma'ariv on both nights of Sukkot may be said from 1 1/4 hours before sunset.
  • Kiddush in the sukka may not be said until after dark on both nights.
Sukka: Being Inside
Sukka: Being Inside: Requirements
There is no requirement to be in a sukka except when eating bread or mezonot, and possibly sleeping in the sukka, but there is some spiritual benefit from being in the sukka at other times.
Sukka: Eating
Sukka: Eating: What To Eat
 There is no requirement to eat any food other than mezonot or bread (and some opinions say also drinking wine) in a sukka.  Eating other foods in a sukka is considered to be saintly behavior (midat chasidut).
Men: Eating Outside the Sukka
Bread: Men may not eat bread or a full meal outside the sukka during Sukkot.
Mezonot: Men may not eat more than 1.9 fl. oz. (56 ml) of mezonot (within four minutes) outside the sukka during Sukkot, but they may eat 1.8 fl. oz. or less, wait nine minutes, and then eat another quantity up to 1.8 fl. oz.
Women: Eating Outside the Sukka
Women and girls may eat bread or mezonot outside of a sukka.  They do not need to eat any meals in the sukka, but if they do, it is a mitzva and they say leisheiv ba'sukka.
Sukka: Eating: Uncomfortable Weather
Except for first night of Sukkot (and also the second night outside of Eretz Yisrael), there is no need to be discomforted at all by rain, cold, or heat. You may eat even bread outside of the sukka without waiting to see if the conditions will become more comfortable. This includes on  Shabbat.
Sukka: Blessings
Sukka: Blessings: When To Say
Do not say the blessing leisheiv ba'sukka except when you will eat bread or mezonot. Even drinking wine is not an exception, so do not say leisheiv ba'sukka even for havdala (unless you will also eat mezonot at the same time).
Note We do say leisheiv ba'sukka at kiddush, but that is in anticipation of eating bread at the meal to follow.
Sukkot: Blessings: SheHecheyanu
First Night: Say she'hecheyanu after saying leisheiv ba'sukka (in kiddush), since she'hecheyanu covers the sukka and the Jewish festival
Second Night: Say she'hecheyanu before leisheiv ba'sukka (since it only covers the Jewish festival itself).
Note There is no blessing on building a sukka; it is covered by the she'hecheyanu in the kiddush.
Sukkot: When To Say Leisheiv BaSukka
When you sit down in a sukka, only say the blessing leisheiv ba'sukka:
  • If you are going to eat at least 1.9 fl. oz. (56 ml, or about 1/4 - 1/5 cup) of bread or mezonot within four minutes, OR
  • Immediately after saying kiddush and before drinking the wine in anticipation of eating mezonot or bread, OR
  • Before eating any food or beverage (except salt or water) when visiting any other person in his/her sukka.
Sukkot: Blessings: Forgetting Leisheiv BaSukka
If you washed hands, said ha'motzi, and ate some bread in a sukka but forgot to say the blessing leisheiv ba'sukka, you may still say that blessing until you have finished your meal; but you should eat at least 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) more of bread (within 4 minutes) after saying leisheiv ba'sukka.
Birkat HaMazon If You Ate Sukka Meals Indoors
If you ate your meal inside the house on Sukkot, you do not need to go to the sukka to say birkat ha'mazon.
Sukka: Sleeping
Sukkot: Sleeping at Someone Else's House
If you sleep at another person's house or sukka during Sukkot, you should consider their sukka as being yours. You do not say the blessing leisheiv ba'sukka except if you eat bread or mezonot there.
Sukka: Building
Sukka: Building or Fixing
Building or Fixing a Sukka on Sukkot
A Jew may fix or build a sukka on chol ha'moed.
A non-Jew may fix or build a sukka on chol ha'moed or even on the Jewish festival days. A Jew may explicitly tell the non-Jew how to accomplish the repairs or the building of the sukka.
Sukka: Shapes
Permitted Sukka Shapes
A sukka may have many sides and may even be circular, but it may not have a pointed top (shaped like a teepee).
Sukka: Dimensions
Sukka: Dimensions: Minimum/Maximum
  • A sukka must have at least three walls, but one of those walls may be as little as 1 tefach wide.
  • A round sukka must extend to at least 270 degrees.
  • Sukka height: More than 10 tefachim (40” or 1 m) high and less than 20 amot (33'4” or 10 m) tall.
  • Minimum sukka width: 7 tefachim x 7 tefachim (28” x 28” or 71.1 cm x 71.1 cm). 
  • Maximum wall-to-ground gap for sukka: walls must be within 3 tefachim, or 10 ½” (27 cm) of the ground.
  • Maximum permissible angle (slope) of a roof on a sukka is less than 45 degrees from horizontal.
  • Schach: Must cover the sukka so that there is more shade than sun when the sun is directly overhead and must have at least enough space between the schach elements for rain to penetrate.
Sukka: Walls
Sukka: Walls: Tree Trunk
You may use the trunk of a tree as part of a sukka, but consult a rabbi about the spacing and curvature of the roots.
Sukka: Walls: Flapping
The walls of a sukka must be able to withstand wind without flapping up from the bottom to more than 10.5 inches above the ground.
Sukka: Walls: Bracing
The sukka does not need to be freestanding. When setting up a sukka, you may brace the walls with rope, boards, against tree or house... in any way you wish. You may not brace or attach supports to the walls on the festival but you may directly ask a non-Jew to do that work for you.
Sukka: Schach
Sukka: Schach: Timing

Sukka: Schach: Timing: Within 30 Days

You must put schach on your sukka within 30 days of Sukkot. If you are using a porch that has slats year round as a roof for your sukka, you must lift up and put back the slats within 30 days of Sukkot.
Sukka: Schach: Materials

You may not use a
kli for sukka schach.

A kli is any item created with the intention of being used as a tool or utensil to make an activity easier.


  • Bamboo if it had been used for any other purpose.

  • Wooden ladder.

  • Walking stick.

A sukka's covering (schach) must consist of non-edible branches, leaves, or other materials of plant origin such as boards. You may use wooden boards (such as 2” x 4”s) to hold up schach, even though lumber is intended to be used for construction.
Boards or tree trunks—whether used as schach or used to hold up schach--must be not more than 15 inches (38 cm) wide. A board--whether used as schach or used to hold up schach--more than 15 inches wide invalidates the area below it and you would have to sit under kosher schach in order to fulfill the mitzva. In the case of a board more than 15 inches wide: If the sukka has only three walls, the board may invalidate the sukka. Consult a rabbi.
You may not use branches whose leaves will dry up in less than 8 days, intending to replace the branches with fresh ones during chol ha'moed; the custom is to use evergreen leaves only if you want to use leaves as schach.
Schach on the sukka must stay by itself without fasteners or connectors, even in a place with normally high wind. Any man-made fasteners--such as plastic, metal, or even hemp cord or rope--will invalidate the schachIf the schach will stay without them, then you may use fasteners or connectors as reinforcements.

Year-Round Structures
You may use a pergola, gazebo, or other type of awning frame or roof structure that exists year-round for a sukka as long as the other conditions (size, slope, materials, timing, etc.) are kosher. You must first remove any permanent roof coverings before putting on the schach.

Note The slope of the sukka roof must be less than 45 degrees from horizontal.

Sukka: Schach: Gap

Sukka: Schach: Gap: What Invalidates

A gap in schach of 10.5 inches by 10.5 inches or larger will not invalidate the entire sukka, but you may not sit under that part of the sukka when eating or saying the blessing leisheiv ba'sukka. A gap of more than 14 inches wide may invalidate the sukka.
Sukka: Schach: Normal Wind (Ru'ach Metzuya)
Ru'ach metzuya is defined as a normal wind for each location and season (this is relevant for schach on Sukkot).
Sukka: Overhangs
Sukka: Overhangs: Vines/Trees
Vines or tree branches that overhang even a small part of a sukka may make it not kosher. A tree that overhangs a large part of the sukka invalidates the portion below the tree and may invalidate an entire side or even more. Consult a rabbi.
Sukka: Overhangs: Wood Structures
You may not normally use a sukka that has any wood structure such as a pergola/gazebo above the schach, but there are exceptions:  ask a rabbi.
Sukka: Overhangs: Balconies

A sukka built under a balcony, even if the balcony is many stories above the sukka, is not kosher.


Only part of a sukka is under the balcony.


To be kosher, the sukka must have a footprint at least 7 by 7 tefachim and must have at least three walls that are not under the balcony.

Note If you have only two walls with the overhanging balcony, consult a rabbi.

Sukka: Overhangs: Women and Children

Women and children of either gender may sit under an invalidated part of the sukka since they are not required to sit in the sukka at all.  However, if they wish to say the blessing leisheiv baSukka, they must sit under a valid part of the sukka while they say the blessing. They must also eat at least 1.9 fl. oz. of bread or mezonot while under the valid part.

Sukka: Car
How To Make a Car into a Sukka
To make a car into a sukka:
  • Open two doors on the same side of the car and put schach on top/across the doors.
  • Make sure the doors reach to within 10 ½ inches (26.7 cm) of the ground or curb (so you might need to park at a curb).
  • Make sure the schach over the doors is at least 40 inches (1 m) above the curb.
Sukka: Intimacy
Sukka: Intimacy
Intercourse is permitted in a sukka.
Sukka: Leaving
Sukka: Leaving: First Night
Sukka: Leaving: First Night: Rain
Rain on the first night of Sukkot is only considered a bad omen in Eretz Yisrael.
Reason It does not normally rain there at that time of year.
Sukka: Leaving: First Night: Rain, Cold, Bees
You may leave the sukka due to extreme cold or heat, rain, or bees. You should not stay in a sukka if it is raining or very cold or will otherwise make people suffer.
If it is raining on the first night of Sukkot and the rain is sporadic, wait until midnight before saying kiddush indoors.
If it is raining on the first night of Sukkot and the forecast predicts rain all evening, you do not need to wait to see if the rain will stop before saying kiddush. Instead:
  • Say kiddush in the sukka (without saying leisheiv ba'sukka), even in the rain.
  • Wash hands and say ha'motzi.
  • Eat at least 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) of bread in the sukka.
  • Go inside the house and finish your meal inside. 
Note You do not need to say birkat ha'mazon in the sukka. If the rain stops, go back outside, say leisheiv, eat at least 1.9 fl. oz. (56 ml) more of bread in the sukka, and finish your meal in the sukka.
Sukka: Shmini Atzeret
Sukka: Shmini Atzeret
Outside Eretz Yisrael, you should eat your meals in the sukka on Shmini Atzeret, but do not make a blessing on the sukka.
Four Species: Lulav and Etrog
Lulav: Beauty
Lulav: If First Day of Sukkot Is Shabbat
You do not need to buy a fancy or expensive lulav and etrog if the first day of Sukkot is Shabbat, since the Torah requirement for the etrog to be beautiful is only on the first day of Sukkot.
Lulav: Sizes
Palm Branch Sizes
Minimum length for lulav (palm branch):  Spine must be at least 16" long, not including the length of the leaves. At least 4" of the spine of the lulav must be above the tops of the willows and myrtles.
Myrtle and Willow Branch Sizes
Each of the myrtle and willow branches must be at least 12 inches long.
Lulav: Choosing
Lulav: Choosing: Condition
A lulav, willow branches, or myrtle branches are only disqualified/pasul if the leaves are so dry that they will crack if you bend them.  Being moldy does not disqualify them.
Lulav: Setting Up
To Set Up a Lulav
To set up a lulav: hold with spine facing you, with three myrtle branches (hadassim) on the right and two willow branches (aravot) on the left.  It is customary to put the myrtle and willow branches into a holder made of palm leaves.
NOTE Before Sukkot begins, open any sealed plastic bags that contain the willow and myrtle branches, as you may not cut them open on the festival days (the first and second days outside of Eretz Yisrael).
Lulav: Borrowing
Lulav: When You May Borrow
You may borrow a lulav on all days of Sukkot except the first day (or first two days outside of Eretz Yisrael). On the first (two) day(s), you may acquire a lulav and etrog by having a friend “give” them to you as a gift, even if you will later “give” them back to your friend, also as a gift.
Note If you intended to use someone else's lulav on the first day of Sukkot, it is considered as if the lulav is yours, even without doing the normal acquisition.
Lulav: Husband and Wife
A man's wife does not own the lulav with him (and a wife's husband does not own her lulav), but it is assumed that each gives their lulav to the other (on the first and second day of Sukkot) as a gift with a condition that the recipient will give the lulav back to the other spouse as a gift once finished.
Lulav: How To Bless
Lulav: Who Should Bless
Lulav: Who Should Bless: Women
Women and girls do not need to bless over or wave the lulav; but if they do, it is a mitzva.
Lulav: Where To Bless
Lulav: Where To Bless: Sukka or Synagogue
Say blessings on the lulav and etrog in the sukka or in synagogue.
Lulav: When To Bless
Lulav: When To Bless: Daytime
Only say the blessing on the lulav during the day.
Lulav: Shabbat
Don't pick up the lulav or say the blessing on Shabbat.
Lulav: Hold, Bless, Shake
Lulav: Hold, Bless, Shake
To fulfill the commandment of lulav and etrog, you must hold them together the way they grow: stems down. But since you fulfill the commandment as soon as you hold the Four Species together this way, you must first pick up the etrog inverted (stem up) and then say the blessing, as follows:
  • Hold the lulav with the spine facing you and the myrtle on the right, willows on the left, and the etrog with the pitom (opposite the stem) down;
  • Say the blessings for the lulav;
  • Turn the etrog right side up (stem-side down) and hold the lulav and etrog together; and
  • Shake the Four Species together.  
Note Waving (or shaking) the lulav is a universally accepted custom with the force of halacha. We show that God is present in all directions by waving the lulav in the four compass directions, plus up and down. There are various customs of the sequence in which to wave the lulav. One common sequence is east; south; west; north; up; down. Wave the Four Species three times in each direction.
Note Although the lulav's spine should face you as you hold it, you have still fulfilled the requirement of lulav if the spine was facing away or if the willows and myrtles are on the incorrect sides of the lulav.
Lulav: Hallel at Home or in Synagogue
Ideally, take your lulav and etrog to synagogue and say hallel with the minyanB'di'avad, it is OK to say hallel and the blessings and wave the lulav at home.
Lulav: How To Wave During Hallel
Wave the lulav in all six directions each time when saying Hodu l'Adonai… and, later, Ana Adonaiand again in the final Hodu in Hallel:
  • Hold together the lulav and etrog during the entire procedure, pitom up, etrog in left hand.
  • At each word in Hodu l'Adonai and at each syllable in Ana Adonai, shake the lulav/etrog together three times, advancing through the sequence of east, south, west, north, up, down.
For Hodu l'Adonai:
  • At Hodu, shake three times to the east;
  • At l'Adonai, don't shake but hold the lulav and etrog up while standing straight;
  • At ki, shake three times to the south, etc..
For Ana Adonai,
  • At “A,” shake three times to the east;
  • At “na, shake three times to the south;
  • At Adonai, stand straight and hold the lulav and etrog up;
  • At “ho,” shake three times to the west;
  • At “shi,” shake three times to the north, etc.
Lulav: Storing
Lulav: Storing: Replacing into Water
You may put the myrtle and willow branches into water after using them only if they were in water before the Sukkot holiday began. You may not add water on Shabbat, but you may on the other Jewish festival days. You may change the water only on chol ha'moed.
Lulav: Disposing
Lulav: Disposing
You may dispose of a lulav in any way that is not degrading. So, you may drop it into a field or put it on a lawn--unless animals might eat it or step on it or if it will be subject to poor treatment before it decays.  Don't dispose of a lulav or etrog directly into the garbage. Burn, bury, or wrap them in a bag or one layer of plastic and you may throw it into normal garbage.
Hoshanot: Joining
Hoshanot were done in the Temple in Jerusalem and the community is required to do hoshanot. Individuals are not required to join, but it is the proper practice to join if holding a lulav and etrog.
Hoshana Rabba
Hoshana Rabba: Hoshanot
Hoshana Rabba: Hoshanot: Main Observance
The main observance of hoshanot is wrapping five willow branches in a palm leaf and beating them.
Hoshana Rabba: Hoshanot: Lulav Willow Branches
You may use the willow branches (aravot) from a lulav for hoshanot, but you must add three more to the two already on the lulav.
Shmini Atzeret
Introduction to Shmini Atzeret/Simchat Torah
In Eretz Yisrael, Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah are observed on the same day. Outside of Eretz Yisrael, Simchat Torah is the second day of what becomes a two-day festival.

We begin mentioning rain in the second paragraph of the musaf amida of Shmini Atzeret and continue until the first day of Passover.
Universal Customs
The universal custom is to complete the reading of the Torah and to begin reading it again on Simchat Torah. Dancing and singing with the Torah scrolls is also a universal custom.
Shmini Atzeret/Simchat Torah: What Time To Start: Ma'ariv and Kiddush
Ma'ariv on Shmini Atzeret and on Simchat Torah may be said from 1 1/4 hours before sunset. Kiddush must be said after dark.
Shmini Atzeret: Eating in Sukka
For whether to eat in your sukka on Shmini Atzeret, see Sukka: Shmini Atzeret.
Introduction to Passover
Introduction to Passover
Introduction to Passover: Passover Names

Passover celebrates the seven or eight days starting with the 14th of Nisan, when God took the Israelites out of Egypt about 3300 years ago. The holiday has several names:
  • Chag HaPesach--Holiday of "Skipping Over" (reflecting that God passed over the Jewish homes and did not kill the first-born sons, unlike those of the Egyptians);
  • Chag HaAviv--Festival of Spring (the Jewish calendar is based on the moon and is adjusted to the solar cycle so that Passover always comes in the spring);
  • Chag HaMatzot--Holiday of Unleavened Bread; and
  • Zman Cheiruteinu--Time of our Freedom.

Introduction to Passover: Passover Observance

Passover observance includes removal of chametz, the Passover sacrifice and its reminders, and the Passover seder:


Chametz Gamur and Ta'arovet Chametz

The Five Grains, once fermented into items such as bread or beer, are genuine chametz (chametz gamur) and are forbidden on Passover by the Torah (d'oraita).  Ta'arovet chametz (a mixture containing chametz) includes foods such as breakfast cereal and are also forbidden on Passover.

Rules for Chametz

  • You may not own or see (your own) chametz during the entire period of Passover.
  • You may not benefit in any way from chametz during Passover, whether it belongs to a Jew or to a non-Jew. If the chametz was owned by a Jew during Passover, you may not benefit from that chametz even after the holiday has ended.

What To Do with Chametz

Ideally, any chametz should be used up before Passover, given to a non-Jew, or destroyed. But if the chametz has significant value, the custom is to sell that chametz to a non-Jew. You do not need to sell kitniyot, but you must sell any genuine chametz and any mixtures of chametz (ta'arovet chametz).

Passover and Nullification by 1/60th

During the year, 1/60th or less of an undesired substance is considered to be inconsequential and nullified by the other substances. But on Passover, any amount of leaven mixed in food is forbidden.
However, the chametz in food acquired before Passover can be nullified before Passover, but ONLY if:
  • It is 1/60th or less of the total volume of food,
  • The food is liquid mixed in other liquid, or solid in other solid, AND 
  • The chametz/non-chametz elements cannot be easily separated from each other.

Four Steps To Eliminating Chametz

There are four means of eliminating chametz:
  • Bedika: Searching
    You try to find any chametz.
  • Bitul:  Verbal and Intentional Nullification
    Since you may have overlooked some chametz during bedika, declare that any chametz in your possession is not important to you and has no value.
  • Bi'ur: Burning
    By burning and therefore destroying the chametz, we fulfill the Torah
    commandment of “tashbitu” (making it cease to exist).
  • Mechira: Selling
    By changing the ownership, we no longer own chametz on Passover and we create the opportunity to re-acquire the chametz after Passover has ended if the non-Jewish buyer agrees.

Chametz Symbolism

Fermented grains represent (among other things) arrogance and pride:  the puffing up of fermented grains is symbolic of people puffing up themselves. In Judaism, one way to get rid of a bad personal trait is to utterly destroy it and so we symbolically remove and destroy any fermented grain foods from our houses and ownership.

Destroying chametz is not a violation of “do not destroy” (bal tashchit) since it is done to perform a commandment.

What Are Kitniyot

Kitniyot are foods that look similar to the five chametz grains or that could be ground into a flour that could look like flour from those grains, such as beans, peanuts, rice, corn, mustard seeds, and other food plants that are grown near the Five Grains.

What To Do with Kitniyot

Kitniyot may not be used on Passover but do not need to be sold or removed from one's ownership. Kitniyot should be stored away from kosher for Passover food.

Passover Sacrifice

In Temple times, the Passover sacrifice was to be eaten with one's family and possibly with neighbors, depending on the number of people present. The only two instances of kareit (being cut off spiritually) for not doing a positive commandment are for not doing a brit mila and not bringing a Passover offering (in Temple times).


The Passover seder (order) was prescribed in ancient times as a means for helping all Jews, of all ages and both genders, to re-experience the transition from having been slaves to becoming free and from having ascended from idol worshippers to being monotheistic.

Passover: Cooking and Eating Utensils
Passover: Special Pots
You may not use cooking utensils on Passover that have been used for cooking chametz during the year unless they have been kashered. For details, click kashrus/kk-passover-kashering.htm">here.
You do not need to sell the chametz that is on the utensils unless it totals more than 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup).
Passover: Kitniyot in Passover Utensil
Situation Kitniyot were cooked in a Passover utensil. 
Situation 1 The kitniyot's volume was less than 50% of the volume of food cooked in that utensil. 
Status The food may be eaten and the utensil may be used on Passover (no need to kasher). 

Situation 2 The kitniyot's volume was more than 50% of the volume of the food cooked in that utensil.
Status The food is not permitted to be eaten. 

Situation 2a The kitniyot's volume was more than 50% of the volume of the food cooked in that utensil, and the total volume of the food cooked (kitniyot + non-kitniyot) was less than the normal volume of food which is cooked in that utensil.
Status The utensil may be used even without kashering, as long as you wait at least 24 hours after the utensil has been cleaned. 

Situation 2b The kitniyot's volume was more than 50% of the volume of the utensil itself and more than 50% of the normal volume of food cooked in it.
Status You may not eat the food (until after Passover) and must kasher the utensil after waiting 24 hours. 
NOTE You may only kasher a utensil on chol ha'moed but NOT on the festival days themselves. 
Passover: Foods and Soaps
Passover: Food Items
Cumin is not used on Passover due to its similarity to kitniyot.  This is a custom.
Flour (raw)
Raw flour is suspected of being chametz and therefore may not be owned during Passover.
Frozen Vegetables
Frozen vegetables, such as spinach or broccoli, may not be used on Passover unless certified as kosher for Passover.
Matza (Oat)
There is no question that oat matza properly made and supervised according to Jewish law is kosher for eating on Passover.
Matza (Unopened)
Kosher for Passover matza in unopened packages stays kosher for Passover and may be used in subsequent years.
Quinoa is not chametz because it does not ferment without adding yeast and it is not one of the original Five Grains.
Plain seltzer (with no additives other than water and carbon dioxide) that has been produced before Passover does not need kosher supervision.
If produced during Passover, it might need kosher supervision.
Water (Plain)
Plain water (in the USA) never needs kosher supervision, not even for Passover.
Yeast is not normally chametz but may not be used on Passover.
Passover: Soap/Toiletries
Dish Soap
Dish soap made from kosher ingredients but without Passover supervision may still be a problem on Passover due to possible alcoholic ingredients.
Chametz Soap
You may not use (including you may not ingest even tiny amounts of) soap that contains chametz on Passover. But since it is not fit for a dog to eat, you do not need to sell it. 
You do not need a new toothbrush for Passover as long as it is clean.
Toothpaste for Passover
Toothpaste does not need to be specially made kosher for Passover
Laundry Starch
You may use non-chametz starch on clothing during Passover but not on tablecloths, napkins, or other items that might contact food.
Reason The starch might be kitniyot.
Passover: How To Prepare
Passover: Getting Rid of Chametz
Passover: Cleaning
Passover: Preparing for the Search
Clean the house before searching for chametz.  Mark off the cleaned areas as you work. (This is just a suggestion, not a requirement!)
Passover: What Chametz To Remove
You must remove significant chametz when cleaning for Passover.  But you do not need to remove small crumbs unless they may be inadvertently eaten during Passover--if they are on a kitchen counter, a table, etc.
Note It is the custom to remove all chametz from the house.
Passover: When You Do Not Need To Clean
You do not need to clean your house if you will:
  • Leave your house 30 days or more before Passover, and
  • Will not return to your house until after Passover has ended, and
  • Have sold your chametz before the holiday begins.
Passover: Searching for Chametz (Bedikat Chametz)
Passover Chametz Search: Who May Search
One member of each house must search for any chametz (bedikat chametz) on behalf of the entire household. This may be a man, woman, or even a minor child, as long as he or she is sufficiently responsible to conduct the search in all of the details.
Passover Chametz Search: When To Search
Search your house for any leavened food or crumbs the night before first seder night. If the first seder begins Saturday night, you must search for chametz on Thursday night.
Passover Chametz Search: Where To Search
You must look for chametz (leavened foods) in any place where food might have been carried. If you have small children, you must search your entire house. However, you do not need to search in any place where no food was brought, nor in any closets that will be locked during Passover and the leavened food in them sold.
Passover Chametz Search: Whether To Search
If you are staying in someone else's house for Passover and the owner is away for the holiday, you must do bedikat chametz for the house--even if the owner has not been there for more than 30 days and even if you will not be eating in that house. The same rule applies for any place that you have rented for any part of Passover and that does not have a resident owner who has done the bedika there.
Exception If you are staying in a hotel or other accommodation that is thoroughly cleaned before Passover, you do not need to do bedika chametz.
Passover Chametz Search: Putting Out Chametz To Find
Before beginning the official chametz search, put out 10 pieces of chametz wrapped to prevent crumbs from falling off.
Note The entire procedure of putting out chametz is a non-binding custom.
Passover Chametz Search: Which Blessing To Say
Before searching for chametz, say the blessing al bi'ur chametz.
Passover Chametz Search: How To Search
While the search for chametz is traditionally done by candlelight, you may use a flashlight. You should not use a normal room light.
Reason The idea is to use a directional light source, which will highlight any chametz.
Passover: Nullifying Chametz
Passover: Nullifying Chametz: Which Language for Kol Chamira
The kol chamira formula, in Aramaic, is said to nullify any leaven that was missed during the search. If you do not understand the Aramaic, you should also read the translation in English (or whatever your own language is).
Passover: Nullifying Chametz: Who Says Kol Chamira
Everyone at bedikat chametz, including guests who will be there for the holiday, says the kol chamira formula for nullifying any chametz that they own.
Note A similar nullification is said the next morning (morning of the day before Passover), when the chametz from the search is burned.
Passover: Burning Chametz
Passover: Burning Chametz: What To Do with Chametz
If you own any chametz, you must burn some of it in order to fulfill the commandment of burning chametz: this is a mitzva from the Torah
Note If you have too much chametz to conveniently burn, you may throw some of the chametz into the garbage (but not into your own garbage can, only a public one--where permitted).
You must throw the chametz into the garbage before you burn the remainder. You may, alternatively, throw the chametz into a public area or pond (if permitted by the owner or by law).
Passover: Burning Chametz: Wife Covered by Husband
At the burning of the chametz before Passover, a wife is covered by her husband's saying kol chamira and burning chametz, unless she has chametz of her own.
Passover: Burning Chametz: Husband Covered by Wife
It is preferable for a husband to say kol chamira.  However, he is covered by his wife's saying kol chamira, as long as he has asked his wife to do so.
Note If the wife burns the chametz, she should inform her husband at the time she actually burns the chametz (she may inform him by phone and does not have to do so in person).
Passover: Selling Chametz
Passover: Selling Chametz: Different Countries for You and Your Chametz
If you live in one country and go to another country for Passover, you must sell your chametz so that the chametz in each country is sold and re-acquired at the correct time based on where you are located but also on where your chametz is. Consult a rabbi.
Passover: Selling Chametz: Selling by Mail
Appointing the rabbi (if the rabbi agrees!) as an agent to sell your chametz does not require an acquisition and may be effected through the mail.
Passover: Selling Chametz: Selling Animals and their Food
You must sell dog (or other animal) food, if it contains any chametz, for Passover to a non-Jew. 
Note You may sell your dog (or other animal) to a non-Jew for Passover (in order to allow the animal to eat chametz on Passover), but not to the same person to whom you sold the food.
Passover: Acquiring Chametz during Passover
Passover: Getting Rid of Chametz: Acquiring Chametz during Passover
If you inadvertantly buy chametz on Passover, you must burn it.
If chametz was brought to you, such as by mail delivery service, DON'T accept it. Consider it as ownerless/hefker. You may not bring it into your house or yard. If it is still there after Passover has ended, you may take it for yourself.
Note If  you inadvertantly bought kitniyot during Passover, just put it away until Passover has ended and then you may eat it.
Passover: Kashering
Passover: Dishes and Pots
See Passover: Special Pots.
For more details on kashering for Passover from the Star-K, click here.
NOTE On Passover, gender and chametz status DO get transferred through a stream of hot liquid back into the pouring container.
Passover: When To Finish Kashering
When kashering an oven or utensils for Passover, you may kasher:
  • By Libun
  Anytime, including on chol ha'moed (but not on Jewish festivals or Shabbat).
  • By Hag'ala
  Until one hour before halachic midday on Passover eve (but b'di'avad it is OK until
  just before sunset of Passover eve).
Passover: Kashering Pots and Utensils To Change from Milk to Meat (or vice versa)
You may make certain utensils kosher for Passover if they were chametz or non-kosher. For a list of materials that can be kashered, see the sections entitled "Items/Materials that Can Be Kashered" and "Items/Materials that Cannot Be Kashered" here: Introduction to Food Nullification: Utensils (Kashering).
Note You may not change utensils that are already kosher directly from milk to meat or meat to milk. Rather, you must:
  • First make the utensil non-kosher (or chametz), and then
  • Kasher it.
Once kashered, the utensil will usually be neutral/pareve as far as gender and you may choose to make it dairy or meat.

Passover: Kashering an Oven
To kasher an oven for Passover:
  • Clean it completely, including any hard deposits, and
  • Heat the oven for 40 minutes at its highest temperature.
Passover: Kashering an Oven: Cleaning
To determine whether an oven is clean: 
If there are black or brown spots, scratch them:
  • If the substance crumbles, the spots are OK.
  • If the spots do not crumble, consider the oven NOT clean.
Note If you use the oven's self-clean cycle, you do not need to remove the hard deposits from the oven before kashering.
If the oven is not self-cleaning, you must remove (clean off or burn off) any deposits on the walls, racks, and window. If the stains or deposits do not come off after two cycles of using a strong oven cleaner such as Easy Off, the oven is considered sufficiently clean. Weaker oven cleaners that do not remove deposits may not be relied on.
Passover: Kashering an Oven: Temperature
The order of preference for the heat settings is
  • Self-cleaning (if possible) on the self-cleaning cycle.
  • Next choice is broil or the highest heat setting.
For more details on kashering for Passover, see
Passover Eve: What To Stop Doing When
Passover Eve: When To Stop Eating Matza
When To Stop Eating Matza
You may not eat matza after daybreak on the day before the Passover seder: about 13 hours before sunset of the first seder night.
Passover Eve: When To Stop Eating/Owning Chametz/Kitniyot
When To Stop Eating/Possessing Chametz
After the fourth halachic hour on the eve of Passover:
  • You may not eat chametz or kitniyot.
  • You may not eat non-chametz food cooked in a chametz utensil. 
By the fifth halachic hour on the eve of Passover:
The chametz must be burned.
Note A halachic hour is a local daytime hour calculated by dividing the total number of daylight hours by 12.
Passover Eve: When To Stop Expert Work
Expert Work after Noon before Seder Night
You may not do any types of expert or professional work after halachic midday before the first Passover seder.  These types of prohibited work are whatever would be prohibited on chol ha'moed.
Note You may tell or ask a non-Jew to do such work.
Passover Eve: When To Stop Shaving
When To Stop Shaving
You should not shave or get a haircut on the afternoon before Passover unless a non-Jew shaves you or cuts your hair.
Passover Night(s)
Passover Night(s): Ma'ariv
Timing of Ma'ariv on Seder Night(s)
  • Ma'ariv on the first night of Passover may begin at sunset.  But since the seder may not be started until after dark, the custom is to begin ma'ariv a little before dark.
  • The second seder may also not be started until after dark.  Ma'ariv on the second night of Passover may be said from plag ha'mincha, 1 1/4 hours before sunset.
  • Ma'ariv on the seventh and eighth days of Passover may be started as early as plag ha'mincha, 1 1/4 hours before sunset.
Hallel after Ma'ariv
People who have the custom of saying hallel after ma'ariv on the first night of Passover also say hallel on the second night (outside of Eretz Yisrael).
HaMapil on Passover
On the first two nights of Passover, before going to sleep, just say shema and the ha'mapil blessing.
Reason The first night (two nights outside of Eretz Yisrael) is considered to have special Divine protection, so we omit the extra paragraphs in the final parts of the prayer.
Passover Night(s): Eating Matza
When Eating Matza Is Obligatory
The only time when matza must be eaten to fulfill the commandment of eating matza is on seder night(s). There may be a mitzva to also eat matza on the other days of Passover (but there are conflicting opinions about that).
However, men must eat matza in order to fulfill the commandment of eating two meals a day on each of the festival days.
Passover: Seder
Seder: Principles
Seder: Purpose
It is praiseworthy to tell the story of Passover even if you know all the details and interpretations (as did the great rabbis of the Talmud), because of the principle of “in order to remember” (lema'an tizkor): that we should remember everything God did for us when taking us out of Egypt.
The Three Discussion Points
The most important part of the seder is discussing:
  • Passover offering (Pesach),
  • Unleavened bread (matza), and
  • Bitter herbs (maror).
These three segments should be read from the Passover hagada in the Hebrew.  If anyone does not understand the Hebrew, these paragraphs and the concepts they express must be explained in whatever language he or she can understand.
Children at the Seder
Children are an integral part of the sederWe try to get children to ask questions and then we teach them the answers.  The Torah says to do this!
Acknowledging God's Miracles
We acknowledge God's miracles in sending the plagues against the Egyptians and their gods and in taking the Children of Israel out of slavery and Egypt.
Telling Our History
We tell our history beginning with Jacob (Yaakov) and Laban (Lavan) and on to slavery and, finally, to achieving freedom.
Seder: Practices
Seder: Practices: Halachot
Leaning to the Left
Every male (13 years old and above) at the seder is required by halacha to lean to the left side while:
  • Drinking each of the four cups of wine.
  • Eating matza for each of these mitzvot: motzi, matza, koreich, afikoman.
Ideally, lean onto something to your left, such as a chair or couch. A pillow is nice but optional.
Note Women and girls are not required to lean at any time during the meal.
Seder: Practices: Customs
Seder Customs
Here are some seder customs:
  1. Have someone else pour the water over your hands for washing before karpas.
  2. Have someone else pour your wine for you.
Seder Plate
Five Foods of the Seder Plate
Seder plate consists of five foods: 

Shank Bone
Shank bone, meat, or a neck represents the Passover lamb offering.
Note Any part of any kosher animal or bird may be used for this purpose except liver. You may even use roasted lamb, but you may not eat it.

Egg represents the holiday offering (chagiga).

Bitter Herbs
Bitter herbs (maror), such as romaine, horseradish, or endive, represent the bitterness of slavery.

Charoset (sweet mixture of nuts and fruits) reminds us of the mortar the Jews used to build the Egyptian storage cities.

Vegetable such as parsley or potato (karpas). The vegetable does not represent anything and is there to motivate the children to ask questions.
Seder: Three Matzas
Introduction to Three Matzas (Matzot)
The seder table also has a stack of three matzas (matzot), representing, among other meanings:
  • Cohen-Levi-Yisrael:  The three divisions of Jews
  • Abraham-Isaac-Jacob:  The three forefathers
These matzot are used later in the seder for the steps of Motzi and Matza (top and middle matzas); the middle matza becomes the “Afikoman.”
Seder: Steps
Kadeish: Four Cups of Wine
Kadeish: Making Kiddush
Passover Kiddush
Passover, like all Jewish festivals, is differentiated from weekdays by saying kiddush.
Everyone Must Drink at Seder
At the Passover seder, all Jews above the age of bar mitzva or bat mitzva (including women--unlike on other Jewish festivals) must drink wine for kiddush and for the other three times in the seder when the borei pri ha'gafen blessing is said.
Note On the other Jewish festivals, only one person needs to drink the wine when kiddush is said, and that will cover and fulfill everyone else's requirement for that kiddush.
Note Only children and people who will get sick if they drink alcohol are permitted to drink grape juice at seder.
Alcohol Content of Seder Wine
You may dilute the seder wine to a minimum of 4\% alcohol.
Red Wine or White for Seder
If you have equally good red wine and white wine, the red is preferred for the four cups at the seder. If your white wine is better or if you prefer white wine, use that.
Drinking More

You may drink more wine between the first and second cups, between the second and third cups, but not between the third and fourth cups.


Kadeish: Four Cups, Four Roles
Four Cups, Four Roles
Each of the four cups has a different role:
  • First Cup: Kiddush to sanctify the holiday.
  • Second Cup: Sanctifying the hagada.
  • Third Cup: Sanctifying Birkat ha'mazon.
  • Fourth Cup: Sanctifying Hallel.
Kadeish: Four Cups, Four Expressions
Four Cups, Four Expressions
The four cups of wine relate to the four expressions God used when telling what he would do to bring the Israelites out of Egypt:
  • V'hotzeiti   I will send them out.
  • V'hitzalti    I will save them.
  • V'ga'alti     I will redeem them.
  • V'lakachti  I will take them.
Kadeish: Fifth Cup
Fifth Cup
The fifth cup of wine at seder, for Eliyahu (Elijah) the prophet, symbolizes v'heiveiti--“I will bring them.”
Reason In the future, everyone will drink five cups of seder wine. (Some say the term v'heiveiti is not part of the redemption and some say it is a stage that has not happened yet.)
The cup of Eliyahu (which is not intended to be drunk by Eliyahu) should be used for kiddush the next morning. Various customs dictate when to fill Eliyahu's cup; it may be filled anytime from the beginning of the seder.
Kadeish: How Much To Fill and Drink
Four Cups: Minimum Quantity To Fulfill Mitzva
Minimum wine to fulfill the seder mitzva:
  • Each person must drink four cups of wine at the seder;
  • Each cup must hold at least 4 fl. oz. (119 ml);
  • For each blessing on the wine, you must drink at least 2 fl. oz. (59 ml) within 30 seconds of when you begin to drink each cup.
Majority of the Cup/Rov Kos
The seder is the only time in the year that you must drink most of your cup (rov kos) of kiddush wine. (For kiddush on Shabbat and Jewish festivals, you need drink only 2 fl. oz., or 59 ml).  So if you have a cup larger than 4 fl. oz. (119 ml), you may have to drink a lot of wine--more than half of each cup for four cups! 
Note You may drink other liquids between the first and second cups of wine at the seder, but it is not recommended.
Kadeish: Leaning To Left
Leaning To Left while Drinking Four Cups
Every male at the seder is required to lean to the left side while drinking each cup of wine.
U'rchatz: Wash Hands (No blessing)
U'rchatz (No blessing)
Wash hands from a cup of water but do not say a blessing on washing.
Reason We are about to eat food that is wet and Jews may not eat wet food if their hands have spiritual impurity (tum'a).
Karpas: Eat the Vegetable
Karpas Blessing
Dip the karpas in the salt water and say the blessing borei pri ha'adama; keep in mind that this blessing will also apply to the bitter herbs you will eat later in the seder.
How Much Karpas To Eat
Eating any amount of karpas fulfills the mitzva of eating karpas at seder, but you may not eat more than 0.6 fl. oz. (17 ml, or 1/12 cup).
Yachatz: Break the Matza
Breaking the Middle Matza
Break the middle of the three matzas and hide the larger part.
Reason As with most of the actions we do at the seder, this is to evoke curiosity in children. It also represents the idea that poor people can't afford a whole loaf of bread or might save some food for the next day.
Magid: Tell the Story
Four Questions
The Four Questions are actually only one question and that question is:

Why is this night different from all other nights?
Seder in Bnei Brak
The teachers in Bnai Brak were so engrossed in telling the Passover story that they did not notice that it was after sunrise.
Reason They may have been in a windowless room since they were risking their lives by celebrating Passover, against Roman law.
Like 70 Years Old
Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya says he is “like 70 years old” because even though he was only 18 years old, his hair turned white overnight as if God approved his appointment as Sanhedrin head.
Four Sons
Only three of the Four Sons' questions are mentioned in the Torah (which all related to the Passover sacrifice), since the fourth (smallest) child cannot ask questions. Regarding this child, the hagada says, "Aht p'tach lo" (in the feminine).
Reason  The mother is supposed to be a child's primary teacher while the child is young.
There is a difference in attitude between the wise son and the evil son: The wise son says "Eloheinu" (OUR God); he is asking a question and seeking and answer. The evil son makes a statement (sort of a rhetorical question), instead of asking a question for which he seeks an answer.
Why is there a “wise” (chacham) son and not a “righteous” (tzadik) son, which would be the logical counterpart to the “evil” (rasha) son? 
We don't know who is a tzadik. We cannot be sure by external appearance or even by seeing certain behaviors. We can tell who is a chacham by hearing him speak or by discussing Torah with him.
Yet, regardless of the sons' level of observance, it is a commandment to teach them about going out of Egypt.
Calculating the End (of Slavery)
God told Avraham (Abraham) that his children would be living in “lands not their own” and would be enslaved for 400 years, Yet the Torah states that the Israelites were in Egypt for 210 years.  So we say God “calculated the end” (chisheiv et ha'keitz) of the enslavement: He started the counting from the birth of Avraham's son, Yitzchak (Isaac), until the Exodus (a total of 400 years), as follows:
Time from Birth of Avraham's Son to Going Down to Egypt
  • Yaakov (Jacob) was born when Yitzchak was 60 years old.
  • Yaakov told Par'o (Pharoah) (when he and the rest of his family entered Egypt) that he was 130 years old.
  • 60 + 130= 190 years before going down to Egypt
Time in Egypt
210 years in Egypt
Time from Birth of Avraham's Son to Exodus
  190 Before going down to Egypt
+ 210 In Egypt
= 400 years from Yitzchak's birth to the Exodus.
Note Yitzchak and Yaakov did not yet “own” Eretz Yisrael. Since the Israelites were not given Eretz Yisrael until after the Exodus, Avraham's offspring were living in “lands not their own” for 400 years.
V'Hi She'Amda and Lefichach
When we lift up our wine cups at v'hi she'amda and at lefichach, we cover the matza.
Reason So the matza won't feel “embarrassed,” since bread/matza is more important than wine.
Let Us Deal Cleverly (Hava Nitchakma)
Hava nitchakma (let us deal cleverly) was an attempt at a clever way to keep the Israelites as slaves.
Reason The Egyptians were afraid the Israelites might join the Egyptians' enemies in a war.
Ten Plagues
Each of the plagues was against one of the Egyptian gods, to show that they were actually powerless.
Spilling Drops of Wine
We spill 10 drops of wine when reading the list of plagues.
Reason Wine symbolizes happiness and so we drink less wine to show that we are sad that the Egyptians suffered.
In "the plague of the first-borns" (makat bechorot), did the first-borns suffer by dying or did their families suffer more?
In Rabbi Yehuda's abbreviations of the ten plagues, d'tzach-adash-b'achav, the abbreviation ends with the Hebrew letter “vet” for bechorot (first-borns), implying that it was the families who suffered, since if it ended with a “mem” for makat bechorot, it would have been the first-borns who suffered.
In dayenu, we say that at each level of what God did for us, it would have been enough. Since we didn't get the Torah until one of the last stages, this seems incorrect, since of what value is money, wandering in the desert, and all of the other details if we don't have the Torah?
The answer is that we need to be grateful to God for each miracle that we received, and that at each stage, we owe praise and thanks to God.
Also, in one sense, we already had the Torah (in some version, even though not in the form in which Moses/Moshe wrote it later).
Pesach, Matza, and Maror
Pesach, matza, and maror should be read and explained with special attention.
Reason They are the main parts of the seder and of the commandment to have a seder.
In Every Generation
The hagada tells us that in every generation, a person must see himself as if he had personally gone out of Egypt.  If so, why didn't our Sages suggest how to visualize or recreate the experience?
It is not possible to actually see ourselves as having left slavery. Rather, we should feel our obligation to do the mitzvot (commandments) as the Israelites felt when they left Egypt, as they switched from being slaves to serving Hashem. We can be freed (b'nei chorin) from physical or spiritual slavery.
Why Matza and Not Bread

Question: Why didn't the Israelites bake bread (the Torah says that they did not have time for the dough to rise)? They knew 14 days ahead of time (on Rosh Chodesh Nisan) that they would be leaving, and they knew it would be middle of night (since God said that is when they would leave).
Answer: The Israelites did not do anything to prepare, except what God told them to do: the Passover offering and putting blood on their doorposts.

Rachtza: Wash Hands (With a blessing)
How To Wash Your Hands for Rachtza
To wash hands for rachtza:
  • Fill the washing cup with at least 3.3 fl. oz. (99 ml) of water.
  • Pour enough water (may be as little as 1.3 fl. oz.--39 ml, or 1/6 cup) from the washing cup to completely cover your entire first hand (either hand may be first, but it is the custom to wash your right hand first).
  • Pour enough water to completely cover the second hand.
You do not need to pour more than once per hand and you do not need to break up the revi'it into more than one pour for each hand.
Handwashing Blessing
Say the blessing on washing hands, ending in al netilat yadayim.
Motzi Matza: Bless on/Eat Matza
Matza: Why
Matza: Meaning
Matza represents:
  • Food of poor people, and
  • The unleavened bread that the Israelites ate when leaving Egypt.
Note A pun reflects this dual meaning of poor bread plus the story of leaving Egypt, since “lechem oni” may mean “bread of poor people” or “bread of (many) answers.”
Matza: What Kind
When Shmura Matza Is Necessary
The only time you must use shmura matza is for the four commandments of motzi, matza, koreich, and afikoman.
Note You may use any other kosher for Passover matza, even for the rest of seder. There is no need for using shmura matza for the other days of Passover.
Hand Shmura Matza or Machine Shmura Matza
Hand shmura matza has some advantage in that it was made with the intention of being for a mitzva, but machine shmura matza has the advantage of being less likely to become chametz since it is automated and not touched by human hands.
Matza: How Much
How Much Matza To Eat
Motzi, Matza
For motzi and matza together, you must eat at least 1.9 fl. oz. (56 ml) of matza within a 4-minute period from when you begin eating.

For afikoman, you must eat another 1.9 fl. oz of matzab'di'avad, at least 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) is sufficient. 
Note This amount is about 1/2 of a machine shmura matza, or 1/3 of a hand shmura matza
Note If your mouth is too dry to eat that quickly, you may drink water with the matza.
Motzi/Matza: Blessings
Why Two Blessings over Matza
We say two blessings over the matza: ha'motzi lechem min ha'aretz and al achilat matza.
Reason The blessing on motzi is one of enjoyment (nehenin); the blessing on matza is a blessing on a commandment (mitzva).
How To Do Motzi and Matza
The seder leader says the blessing “ha'motzi” while holding the three (which are now 2 1/2) shmura matzas, drops the bottom one, and says the next blessing, al achilat matza.  Everyone takes a small piece from the two top matzas and eats it, along with enough additional shmura matza to fulfill the minimum requirement.
Maror: Eat Bitter Vegetable
Maror: What To Eat
The ideal bitter vegetable for maror at the Passover seder is horseradish. Horseradish for maror:
  • Must be fresh enough to be sharp.
  • Should be ground (if ground ahead of time, it must be stored in a covered container until the seder).
  • Must not have liquid (horseradish with beets added is not suitable for use as maror).
Note Many people have the custom to use romaine lettuce for maror (be careful to check for bugs on the romaine).
Maror: How Much To Eat
The minimum amount to fulfill the mitzva of eating maror at seder is 0.65 fl. oz. (19 ml), or about the volume of 1/3 of an egg.
Note If you choose to use romaine instead of horseradish for maror, the minimum amount is about 2-3 stems (depending on their size), or enough leaves if crushed to make up 0.65 fl. oz.
Note It is even better to eat at least 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup).
Maror: How To Eat It
Say the blessing “al achilat maror.”
Dip the maror into the charoset and shake off all but a little bit of the charoset.
Do not lean when eating the maror.
Note The blessing for maror was included in the borei pri ha'adama blessing, which was said on the karpas earlier in the seder.
Koreich: Eat the Sandwich
Koreich: How Much Matza To Eat
You need eat only 0.95 fl. oz. (28 ml) of matza within four minutes of beginning to eat it to fulfill the commandment of koreich.
Koreich: How Much Maror To Eat
For koreich, use the same amount of maror as for the maror commandment. See Maror: How Much To Eat.
How To Eat Koreich
To eat the koreich:
  • Put some bitter herbs on the matza.
  • Lean to the left when eating the koreich.
Shulchan Oreich: Eat the Festival Meal
Lamb and Other Meat at Seder
Don't eat roasted meat of any kind at the seder, including roasted poultry.
Reason So it will not be confused with the Passover offering.
Note You may eat lamb as long as it is not roasted.
What Constitutes Non-Roasted Meat at Seder?
Meat is not considered to be roasted if, when the baking began, there was at least 1/4" of liquid in the cooking utensil with the meat.
Tzafun: Hidden (Afikoman)
When To Finish Afikoman
You should ideally finish afikoman by midnight at the Passover seder, but you may eat it later than midnight if you have not finished (or even started!) your meal by then. 

Eating or Drinking after Afikoman
After eating the afikoman on Passover, you may not eat again until daybreak, but you will still drink two more cups of wine and you may drink water anytime through the night.
Bareich: Say Birkat HaMazon
Forgetting Afikoman
If you said birkat ha'mazon at the seder but had forgotten to eat the afikoman, you must:
  • Wash your hands,
  • Say ha'motzi,
  • Eat at least 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) of matza,
  • Say birkat ha'mazon again, and then
  • Drink the third cup of wine.
Opening the Door/ Sh’foch Chamatcha
Sh'foch Chamatcha
Open the door at this point.
Reason To show our trust in God to protect us, since the first night of Passover is called a night of watching (leil shimurim), when God provides special protection for the Jewish people. 
Note You should open the door unless you are in an unsafe neighborhood. If the neighborhood is dangerous, it may be forbidden by Jewish law to live there at any time.
Hallel: Saying Hallel Psalms
Hallel Divided at Seder
At the seder, hallel is divided into two parts. The first two psalms, read before the meal, deal with the exodus from Egypt. The remaining psalms, read after the meal, concern other miracles and the future of the Jewish nation.
Hallel at Night at Passover Seder
There are many opinions as to why we read hallel at night: most are related either to praising God for saving the Jewish people or to accompanying the Passover sacrifice in the Temple in Jerusalem.
Nirtza: Accepted
Acceptance of Seder and Commandments
We hope that God accepts our seder and all of the commandments that we have done on this night.
Passover: Chol HaMoed and Ending Day(s)
Passover: Chol HaMoed and Ending Day(s): Prayers and Blessings
Passover: Chol HaMoed and Ending Day(s): Blessings for Matza Brei
Matza Brei Blessing
The blessing on matza brei is mezonot, as long as the pieces of matza are smaller than 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) each. If even one of the pieces is larger than 1.3 fl. oz., wash your hands and say ha'motzi before eating it.
Passover: Ending Day(s): SheHecheyanu
Passover: Ending Day(s): SheHecheyanu
Do not say she'hecheyanu when lighting candles or saying kiddush on the last two days of Passover outside of Eretz Yisrael or the last day of Passover in Eretz Yisrael.
Note These are the only Jewish festival days on which she'hecheyanu is not said.
Passover: Chol HaMoed and Ending Day(s): Hallel
Shortened Hallel on Seventh Day of Passover
We omit parts of two of hallel's psalms on chol ha'moed and the seventh (and eighth) day(s) of Passover.
Reason The Egyptians drowned on the seventh day. We thus dampen our celebration of God's saving us because we feel sorry that people had to die, even though they were evil.
Note Since chol ha'moed is less important than the final days of Passover, we diminish hallel on chol ha'moed by omitting the same passages.
When You May Buy Chametz Food Again
Store Owned by Jew Who Owned Chametz
You may buy chametz food from a store owned by a Jew who owned chametz during Passover as long as two weeks or more have passed since Passover ended.
Reason It is assumed that the old chametz has already been sold by then.
Note If you are certain that chametz in the store was there at any time during Passover, you may not buy it.
Store Owned by Someone Who Did Not Own Chametz
You may buy chametz from a store owned by non-Jews (or by Jews who did not own chametz during Passover) as soon as the holiday has ended.
Introduction to Omer
Introduction to Omer
Omer is counted for 49 days, from the second day of Passover to the day before ShavuotOmer connects the two holidays both physically and spiritually.  In Biblical times, an omer (a specific measure of volume) of barley was brought as an offering to the Temple in Jerusalem on the second day of Passover.  Once the barley offering had been brought, all grain changed status from “chadash” to “yashan” and could be eaten.
Due to tragedies that occurred during the omer period, especially the death of 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva during the second century, we observe a semi-mourning period during 33 days of the 49 days of the omer.
Omer: Counting
Halacha and Custom in Counting Omer
The only halacha of “counting the omer” is to say the blessing and then count the omer.  Anything else is custom. 
"Counting the Omer" Blessing
The blessing over counting the omer is “al sefirat ha'omer.”
How To Count Omer before Dark
The ideal time and way to count the omer is to wait until dark, stand up, say the blessing, and then count the omer for that day.
SITUATION You want to count the omer before dark (as is often done in synagogues at the end of ma'ariv).
STATUSSince the correct practice is to count the omer after dark, you should:
  • Count again with a blessing sometime after dark, or else 
  • Count during the following day (but before sunset) without a blessing.
WHAT TO DO  Do the counting without saying the blessing and make a condition (mentally or verbally, either is OK) that if you remember to count the omer again after dark, the first time you counted, does not count (!) Then, if you do remember after dark, say the blessing and count the omer for that day a second time.

If You Forget To Count Omer at Night
Situation You forgot to count omer at night.
What To Do
  • Count the next morning/daytime without a blessing. Then,
  • Resume saying the blessing the subsequent night.
If You Do Not Count Omer before Next Day Sunset
Situation You forgot to count omer at night and didn't count the following day before dark.
What To Do Do not say the omer blessing any more that year, but do continue to count the omer without the blessing.
Omer Period
Omer Period: How To Determine
Methods of Counting the Omer Period
The mourning period during the counting of the omer (sefirat ha'omer) lasts for 33 days, but there are three ways to count them:
  1. Second night of Passover until Lag ba'Omer (33rd day of counting the omer).
  2. Rosh Chodesh Iyar until the third day before Shavuot (excludes Lag ba'Omer).
  3. Second day of Iyar until Shavuot.
You may change your observance from year to year, if necessary.
Omer Period: Who Counts
Women and Girls Counting Omer
Women and girls are not required to count the omer. But if they do, they say the blessing (if appropriate) and it is a mitzva for them.
Boy Who Becomes Bar Mitzva during Omer
A boy becomes bar mitzva during the omer.  He has been counting the omer and has said the omer blessing without missing a day.
What To Do
He continues counting as he had been doing.
Note Boys should be counting the omer with a blessing from before they become bar mitzva, so there should not be any break.
Omer Period: Restrictions
Omer Period: Forbidden Activities
Forbidden Activities During Omer Period
These are forbidden during the chosen omer period:
  • Haircuts
  • Shaving
  • Listening to any music, even pre-recorded
  • Getting married.
Omer Period: Permitted Activities
Buying Clothes Allowed during Omer
You may buy and wear new clothes during sefirat ha'omer.
Cutting Nails Allowed during Omer
You may cut your nails during sefirat ha'omer.
Saying SheHecheyanu Allowed during Omer
You may say she'hecheyanu during sefirat ha'omer.  
Swimming Allowed during Omer
You may swim during sefirat ha'omer.
Pesach Sheni
Significance of Pesach Sheini
Only significance of Pesach Sheini now: No tachanun is said.
Introduction to Shavuot
Introduction to Shavuot
Shavuot (Yom HaBikurim in the Torah) celebrates and commemorates the giving of the Ten Commandments to the Israelites at Mt. Sinai.
Beginning with the second night of Passover, the Israelites who left Egypt underwent 49 days of spiritual improvement and purification until they were ready to receive the Torah from God (Shavuot ends this 49-day “omer” period).  We can undergo a similar process of spiritual development each year during these 49 days (how to do that is beyond the scope of this website). According to our tradition, the Israelites in Egypt had sunk to the 49th level of spiritual impurity (tum'a). The Israelites had to raise themselves in 49 daily stages to be worthy of receiving the Torah.  Several books and siddurs portray the 49 days of the omer as corresponding to the Seven Sefirot embedded in the seven weeks.  This awareness can help us work on and maximize the power inherent in each day of the omer to fix that particular sefira in ourselves. We thus relive this transition from slavery to freedom and the service of God each year as we try to perfect our midot (personal characteristics) to again be worthy of receiving the Torah on Shavuot.

Symbolism of the Shavuot Offering
In the Temple in Jerusalem, the only communal sacrifice of leavened bread was on Shavuot. Leavening in dough is compared to arrogance in humans (people puff themselves up to look more important than they actually are). During Passover we destroy, and refrain from eating, leaven--just as we try to destroy/remove arrogance from our personalities. After Passover, we continue to work on our personal traits (midot) until we reach Shavuot, when we celebrate receiving the Torah.  At Shavuot, we Jews have a right to feel important, since we are spiritually elevated by virtue of having been given the Torah.
Shavuot: Universal Customs
The universal custom is to eat at least one dairy food during Shavuot.
Possible reason  At the time the Israelites received the Torah, they did not have any kosher meat (they had not been required to eat kosher until then) and so the only food they were permitted to eat was dairy food.
Another universal custom is to stay awake all night (if possible) studying Torah.
Shavuot: Symbols
Unlike other Jewish festivals, Shavuot has no concrete symbols and no specific unique commandments/mitzvot, other than sacrifices that were brought in the Temple in Jerusalem.
Shavuot: Prayer Services
Shavuot: Timing of Ma'ariv
On the first night of Shavuot, ma'ariv may not be started until dark. On the second night, ma'ariv may be said from 1 1/4 hours before sunset.
Isru Chag
Isru Chag: Tachanun and Eulogies
Do not say tachanun or give eulogies on isru chag (day after a Jewish festival ends).
Jewish Festival Checklist
Preparing for Jewish Festivals
Here are some suggestions (they are NOT halachot!) of what to prepare in advance of Jewish festivals. Add or delete to suit your needs!
Candle Lighting
  • Check candle lighting time
  • Set the candles in their holders (and have matches nearby)
Set the Table
Set the table, including the challa and its cover
Kitchen Preparation
  • Sharpen knives
  • Tear paper towels
  • Refrigerator: Turn off or unscrew lights; disconnect any LEDs or fans
  • Turn on blechstove, oven, etc., for whatever you will need
  • Set up hot water urn
  • Turn off stove, oven, if needed
Food Preparation
  • Thaw frozen meat, fish, and other food that might take hours to defrost before being cooked
  • Cook whatever can be cooked ahead of time
  • Squeeze lemons; do any other boreir-type preparations
  • Chill wine
  • Open bottles and cans that will be needed on the Jewish festival
  • Make beds
  • Sweep or vacuum
  • Dump garbage
  • Do laundry
  • Empty pockets of muktza
  • For men, set out Jewish festival talit
Check that nothing you will need is beneath a muktza item
Personal Care
  • Cut hair and nails, if needed
  • For men, shave or trim beard and mustache, if needed
  • Tear dental floss
  • Tear toilet paper or put out tissues in bathrooms
  • Open any new boxes of tissues
  • Set heat or air conditioning
  • Turn on or off lights, or set timers for them
  • If desired, turn off or disconnect:
  • Alarms 
  • Cellphones and phones
  • Computers
  • Microwave detectors
  • Other electronics
Rabbinic Holidays
Introduction to Chanuka
Introduction to Chanuka
Chanuka commemorates the miracle of God's saving the Jews during the time of the Greek empire. The Greeks wanted to destroy Judaism and Jewish practices and have the Jews follow the Greek culture and religion. A small group of Jews defeated the Greek army, which was the world's greatest military force at the time. Contrast Chanuka with Purim (on Purim, the Jews' physical lives were in danger while on Chanuka, their religion was being threatened).
Chanuka: Background
Chanuka: Main Miracle
The main miracle of Chanuka was in defeating the Greeks; the oil's burning for eight days was secondary.
Chanuka: Why Eight Days
Eight days were required for the people who had contact with dead people to become ritually pure in order to make new olive oil.
Chanuka: Why Asher Kidshanu
Chazal have the authority to make laws, so we say “Who sanctified us with His mitzvot and commanded us” (asher kidshanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu) for Chanuka blessings and other purposes that Chazal instituted after the Torah was given.
Chanuka: Customs
Chanuka: Customs: Foods
It is a non-binding custom to eat potato pancakes (latkes) on Chanuka; in Israel, it is also a non-binding custom to eat jelly-filled doughnuts (sufganiot).
Chanuka: Candles
Chanuka Candles: Meaning
Chanuka: Candles: Meaning
The reason for lighting Chanuka candles is to publicize the Chanuka miracle (pirsumei nisa).
Chanuka: Candles: What To Light
Chanuka: Candles: What To Light: Menora Shape
All eight candle holders of a chanuka menora must be on the same level. The menora itself may be curved horizontally.
The shamash must be slightly raised or lowered or to the side of the menora or in the center, as long as it clearly is not part of the other eight candles.
Note You may put oil lights directly onto a windowsill or other level surface, but candles must be in or on some type of holder.
Chanuka: Candles: How Many To Light
Chanuka: Candles: One per House
The basic commandment is for one Chanuka candle to be lit per house per night. The extra candles (matching the number of days in Chanuka) and having every male light his own menora is an enhancement and a custom.
Note Having every male in the family light his own Chanuka candles is a universally accepted but non-binding custom among Ashkenazi Jews.
Chanuka: Candles: One Shamash per Area
You only need one service (shamash) candle for any amount of Chanuka candles/oil lamps (menorot) in the same area.

Chanuka: Candles: Who Should Light
Chanuka: Candles: Who May Light
Anyone in the household who has reached bar or bat mitzva age can light Chanuka candles, thereby fulfilling the halachic requirement that one candle per household per night must be lit.
Chanuka: Candles: Light for Yourself
Light Chanuka candles for yourself, even if there are no other people around. If there are other people asleep in the house who have not fulfilled the mitzva of lighting Chanuka candles, you should wake them so they can see the candles. Do not wake children below gil chinuch.
Chanuka: Candles: Obligation for Women To Light
Women, like men, are required to light Chanuka candles or have them lit for them.
Note It was not traditionally customary for women and girls to light when men were present. The custom is that in a house in which the husband lights Chanuka candles, the wife does not also light. However, a wife is required to light if her husband is not present, and girls (above 12 years old) are required to light if no men are present.
Chanuka: Candles: Wife May Light for Husband
A wife may light Chanuka candles for her husband if he is not home.
Note If your wife lit for you and you return late at night, you do not need to light for yourself.
Chanuka: Candles: Where To Light
Chanuka: Candles: Light in Own Home, Except...
Light Chanuka candles in your own house, unless you are not in the city in which you live.
Note Even though the menora is for publicizing the miracle, Chazal set the observance to take place in each person's home (and not in groups at one home with several families together).
Chanuka: Candles: Place Anywhere
You may place Chanuka candles anywhere (but they should be lit wherever you are staying). Outside of Eretz Yisrael, it is customary to place them by a window, ideally facing the street.
Note Consult a rabbi as to whether candles should be lit inside an aquarium or other box as is sometimes done in Israel, since the candles should not be lit in a place where the wind would blow them out if not for the box around them.
Chanuka: Candles: When To Light
Chanuka: Candles: Light After Dark
Chanuka candles should be lit after dark (except on Fridays).
Note You may light chanuka candles as much as 1 ¼ hours before dark (not 1 ¼ hours before sunset!) but the ideal and proper time is after dark.
Note Although eating a snack, working, and other activities are permitted before lighting the candles, nothing should be done that might make you forget to light the candles, and it is best to light the candles as soon as possible.
Chanuka: Candles: Latest Time To Light
Latest time to light Chanuka candles: 102 minutes before sunrise (so they will burn for 30 minutes before daybreak).
Chanuka: Candles: If You Fell Asleep before Lighting
Wake up sometime during the night and light the Chanuka candles if you fell asleep before dark.
Chanuka: Candles: How Long Must Burn
Chanuka: Candles: Must Burn 30 Minutes
Chanuka candles must burn for at least 30 minutes after dark.
Chanuka: Candles: Relighting Candle That Burned Out
A Chanuka candle (or candles) that is expected to burn for at least 30 minutes does not need to be replaced or relit, even if it burns out in less than 30 minutes.
Chanuka: Candles: Relighting Candle that Blew Out
You do not need to relight Chanuka candles that blew out after having burned for less than 30 minutes after dark, if they had been lit in a place where they would not be expected to have blown out.
If they were lit in a windy or drafty place, you must relight them in a different place and say the blessings again.
Chanuka: Candles: What You May Do While…
Chanuka: Candles: Do Not Use Light
You may not use light from Chanuka candles for any purpose (do not read by them; do not light other candles from them, except from the shamash).
Chanuka: Candles: No Work While Candles Burning
Do not do any “work” while the Chanuka candles are burning.
Reason In order to show that we are not using the candles for any other purpose.
Note “Work” may include some housework but usually means skilled labor done by professionals that may not be done on chol ha'moed and that requires light to do it.
Chanuka: Candles: How To Light
Chanuka Candles: Light Left to Right; Add Right to Left
Light Chanuka candles from left to right, as you face it, not as it will be seen from outside the window. Add the new candle from right to left.  For example, on the first night, put the candle on the extreme right of the menora.
To set up and light Chanuka candles:
  • Set up the candles starting from the right side of the menora.
  • Light the shamash candle and hold it while you say the blessings:
    • Lehadlik ner shel Chanuka.
    • She'asa nisim l'avoteinu ba'yamim ha'heim ba'zman ha'zeh.
    • (And on the first night, add) She'hecheyanu.
  • Light the left-most candle first and proceed to the next candle on the right, and so on.
  • Once you have lit the first candle each night, say ha'neirot hallalu (this is a halacha).
Note Once the menora has been lit, you may not turn or move it, even to the window.
Note Saying Ma'oz Tzur is a widespread custom but is not required.
Chanuka: Candles: Lighting on Friday
On Friday of Chanuka, light Shabbat candles after Chanuka candles; at least one Chanuka candle must burn until at least 30 minutes after dark.
If a man forgets to light the Chanuka candles, he may still light them until sunset or until he says Mizmor shir l'yom haShabbat, whichever comes earlier. 
But women start Shabbat when they light the Shabbat candles and so they may not light Chanuka candles after lighting Shabbat candles.
Chanuka: Candles: SheHecheyanu on Later Days
Say she'hecheyanu the first time you light Chanuka candles each year:
  • Even if your first time is the second or subsequent nights.
  • Even if someone lit for you the previous night.
Chanuka: Synagogue Menora
Chanuka: Synagogue Menora: Where

A Chanuka menora in a synagogue should be set up at the front of the synagogue, oriented east-west, and lit while standing on the south side and facing north (the person lighting will be facing toward the inside of the synagogue).

Chanuka: Synagogue Menora: How Long To Burn
The Chanuka candles in synagogue do not need to burn for 30 minutes after dark or even for any 30-minute period but that is the ideal minimum duration for burning.
Chanuka: Synagogue Menora: SheHecheyanu in Synagogue
If you light the Chanuka menora in the synagogue on the first night of Chanuka, say she'hecheyanu in synagogue. When you go home, if you light only for yourself, do not say she'hecheyanu again. However, if you light for your wife or for any adults including children above the age of bar or bat mitzva, say she'hecheyanu again.
Chanuka: Hallel
Chanuka: Hallel on Rosh Chodesh
When Chanuka coincides with Rosh Chodesh, say full hallel (as is done on all days of Chanuka, instead of the "half-hallel" that is said on Rosh Chodesh).
Fast Days
Introduction to Fast Days
Introduction to Fast Days
Introduction to Fast Days
The purpose of Jewish fast days is to make us reflect on our behavior and improve it by:
  • Eliminating negative actions and thoughts, and
  • Taking more care in our observance of the commandments.
God told the Jewish people on many occasions that He did not want their pointless sacrifices or fast days but rather wanted the Jews to improve their behavior. If people fast but still have reprehensible behavior, the people have missed the point and purpose of bringing sacrifices and having fast days.
All fast days may be circumvented for health reasons. Consult a rabbi.

Fast days come in several varieties:
  • Major fast days: Yom Kippur and the Ninth of Av (Tish'a B'Av). 
  • Minor fast days: There are four minor fast days; see below.
  • Fast for First-Born
  • Individual Fasts

The Major Fasts
Yom Kippur and the Ninth of Av begin before sunset and are both slightly longer than 24 hours. Yom Kippur is a festive day while, on the Ninth of Av, Jews mourn for the destruction of both Jerusalem Temples (the first was destroyed by Babylonians; the second, by the Romans). On both fasts, it is forbidden to:
  • Eat or drink.
  • Wear leather shoes (but you may wear any other clothing made of leather).
  • Bathe (or even to wash anything more than fingers; you may not use a deodorant--not even a spray type--since it is similar to washing).
  • Have marital relations.
  • Use cosmetics or body scents.

The Minor Fasts
The four minor fasts begin 72 minutes before local sunrise. They technically end at dark but functionally end after ma'ariv (and for the Fast of Esther, after hearing the megila). Unlike most times in the Jewish calendar, this 72 minutes is normal time and NOT based on the current length of the day (sha'a zmanit):
  • Fast of Esther (Ta'anit Esther): Day preceding Purim (or sometimes earlier).
  • Fast of Gedalia (Tzom Gedalia): Usually the day after Rosh Hashana.
  • Tenth of Tevet (Asara b' Tevet):
  • Seventeenth of Tamuz (Shiv'asar b'Tamuz): Beginning of the Three Weeks of semi-mourning beforeTish'a b'Av.
On all fast days, eating and drinking are forbidden. The Tenth of Tevet and the Seventeenth of Tamuz additionally have the same restrictions as the Nine Days. So you may wash or bathe on the Fast of Esther and on Tzom Gedalia but not on the Tenth of Tevet and the Seventeenth of Tamuz. (See Nine Days: Restrictions).
Note On a fast day that has been delayed for Shabbat, there may be leniencies for:
  • The mohel, sandak, and father of a baby getting a brit mila to eat after mincha.
  • Pregnant or nursing women (this leniency applies to eating throughout the day).
Fast for First Born
Fast for first-born males 13 years old and older, on the day before Passover. This includes first-born cohanim and Levites (levi'im). The fast begins 72 normal minutes before sunrise and ends with kiddush at the seder. However, the widespread custom is to attend a siyum on the day before the first seder so that the first-born men do not need to fast on that day.
Personal Fasts
Fast by a groom and bride on their wedding day is an example of personal fasts. This fast begins 72 normal minutes before sunrise and ends with drinking wine under the chuppa.
Fast Days: Timing
Fast Days: When They Start
Fasts that Start 72 Minutes before Sunrise
All fasts start 72 minutes (normal time) before sunrise except for the Ninth of Av and Yom Kippur.  These include:
  • 17th of Tamuz
  • 10th of Tevet
  • Tzom Gedalia
  • Fast of Esther
  • Fast by a groom and bride on their wedding day
  • Fast for first-born males on the day before Passover. This includes first-born cohanim and Levites (levi'im).
Note Unlike most times in the Jewish calendar, this 72 minutes is normal time and NOT based on the current length of the day (sha'a zmanit).
Fast Days and Crossing International Dateline
Your fast-day times are determined by where you ARE, not where you started traveling or where you are heading. This means that when you reach sunset (plus enough time for the sky to get dark), your fast is over. 
Fast Days: Practices
Fast Days: Teeth Brushing
Fast Days: Brushing Teeth without Water
You may brush your teeth on Yom Kippur and all other fast days without water and without toothpaste(You may not use water to brush your teeth even on Tenth of Tevet and 17th of Tamuz.)
Fast Days: Flossing on Fast Days
You may floss your teeth on Yom Kippur as long as your gums don't bleed and on other fast days even if they do bleed.
Fast Days: Eating
Fast Days: Tasting Food
You may not taste food (even a minimal amount) on a fast day, even if you are cooking for the end of the fast, such as on Tish'a b'Av.
Fast Days: Health Difficulties
You may eat or drink as necessary on the fasts of the Tenth of Tevet, 17th of Tamuz, and Tzom Gedalia if you are sick, faint, or dehydrated, but only enough to resolve your health difficulty.  Consult a rabbi.
Fast Day: Forgetting
If you forgot and broke your fast on any fast day, you may not continue eating after you remember that you should be fasting.
Fast Days: Prayers
Fast Day: Sim Shalom
Say “sim shalom” instead of “shalom rav at mincha on a fast day, even if you are not fasting at mincha.
Tzom Gedalia: Katveinu
On Tzom Gedalia, when saying avinu malkeinu, say "katveinu" and not "zachreinu."
Tenth of Tevet: Friday
When Tenth of Tevet occurs on a Friday, you may not start Shabbat early in order to cut short the fast.  That is, you may not eat until dark, as is normally the case.
On a fast day, if you are not fasting:
Do not say aneinu.
Do say Sim shalom.
If at least six of the men in a mincha minyan on a fast day are fasting, read the Torah portion Va'yechal (Exodus 32: 11-14). If fewer than six are fasting, omit it.
Three Weeks/Tish'a B'Av
Three Weeks: Three Stages of Mourning
Seventeenth of Tamuz to Tish'a B'Av: Three Stages of Mourning
Before Tish'a b'Av we are in a type of mourning so the laws are similar to mourning for a parent. There are three stages:
The “Three Weeks”: The least severe stage starts three weeks preceding the Ninth of Av
The “Nine Days”:  The next-most severe stage begins on Rosh Chodesh Av.
“Week” of Tish'a b'AvThe most severe mourning is during the “week” of Tish'a b'Av (beginning after Shabbat preceding Tish'a b'Av).
Three Weeks: Restrictions
Three Weeks: Restrictions
Forbidden during the Three Weeks :
  • Saying she'hecheyanu;
  • Shaving;
  • Haircuts;
  • Listening to music (even recorded);
  • Getting married.
Three Weeks: Moving into New Dwelling
You may move into a new home or apartment, whether owning or renting, during the Three Weeks before Tish'a b'Av. Ideally, you should not move into a new place during the Nine Days but if necessary, it is permitted.
Three Weeks: Swimming
If you are swimming for:
  • Pleasure, you may swim during the Three Weeks but not during the Nine Days.
  • Exercise (you don't particularly enjoy swimming or you are not doing it for fun or to cool off), you may be permitted to swim even during the Nine Days. Consult a rabbi.
Three Weeks: Socializing
Activities for socializing are not prohibited during the Three Weeks before Rosh Chodesh Av (but the activities might be prohibited for other reasons such as if they are dangerous).
Three Weeks: Risky Activities
Three Weeks: Dangerous Activities
We are discouraged from doing dangerous activities during the Three Weeks before and including Tish'a b'Av.  But since it is forbidden to do dangerous activities anyway, there are few relevant activities that are forbidden. Some people do not travel during this time but it is not forbidden to do so. Non-urgent surgery should be scheduled for after this period.
First Nine Days of Av
Nine Days: Restrictions
Restrictions during the Nine Days before Tish'a b'Av are the same as for Three Weeks, plus:
  • You may not eat meat or drink wine.
    1. You may drink wine on Shabbat (but not on Rosh Chodesh Av or erev Shabbat.)
    2. You may drink wine for havdala (but ideally give the wine or grape juice to a child between ages 6 and 10).  
    3. You may eat meat or drink wine at a brit, siyum, or pidyon ha'ben.
  • You may not wear freshly laundered clothes, or wear or buy new clothes.
  NOTE You may wear clean socks and underwear. Ideally, throw them on the floor
  first but, b'di'avad, it is OK to wear them even if you did not.
  • You may not wash yourself for pleasure.
    Note Showering or bathing to clean one's soiled body is permitted (except on Tish'a b'Av).  So you may bathe or shower during the Nine Days if you are dirty, sweaty, or smelly.
  • You may not do any activities that involve luxury.
  • You may not say she'hecheyanu except on Shabbat.
    Note Therefore you should not buy new fruits or new items that you will enjoy during the Nine Days.  But if you DO eat a new fruit or buy something new, you must say she'hecheyanu anyway.
Nine Days: Court Cases
Try not to be involved in a court case opposing a non-Jew during the Nine Days.
Reason The Nine Days are considered to be an inauspicious time for Jews.  But if you cannot avoid it, it is not forbidden and you may proceed.
Nine Days: Kiddush Levana
If you are not likely to see the moon on any of the days from the 10th to the 14th of Av, you may say kiddush levana during the Nine Days.
Nine Days: New Projects or Investments
You should not start new projects or make investments during the Nine Days if they can be delayed without incurring a loss.
Reason The Nine Days are considered to be an inauspicious time for Jews.
Nine Days: Painting Your House
You may not paint your house during the Nine Days. Ask a rabbi for possible exceptions.
Nine Days: Swimming
For laws on swimming during the Nine Days, see Three Weeks: Swimming.
Tish’a B’Av
Tish'a B'Av: Pre-Fast Meal
You may say birkat ha'mazon with a mezuman or with a minyan during the Nine Days.  But you may not do so at the meal preceding Tish'a b'Av (se'uda ha'mafseket).
Reason Only bread dipped in ashes and a hard-boiled egg should be eaten and that is not a meal for socializing or togetherness.
Tish'a B'Av: On Saturday Night
When Tish'a B'Av begins on Saturday night, the custom is as follows:
  • Say baruch ha'mavdil when Shabbat ends. 
  • Say the blessing on the candle after ma'ariv.
  • Do not say the remainder of havdala at all. Instead:
    • Wait until Sunday night, after the fast is over, and then
    • Say only the blessing on the wine and the paragraph of ha'mavdil blessings.
Note You will not say the blessings on the spices for havdala for that week.
Tish'a B'Av: Flying
You should not fly on Tish'a b'Av, even if you are flying to Israel to make aliya.
Tish'a B'Av: Hand Washing
On Tish'a B'Av, as on Yom Kippur, if you must wash your hands to remove:
  • Tum'a, you may wash your hands only up to the knuckle that connects your fingers to the rest of your hand (thumb: second knuckle; fingers: third knuckle).
  • Dirt from your hand, you may wash wherever the dirt is on your hand.
Tish'a B'Av: Teeth Brushing
On Tish'a b'Av, you may not brush your teeth using water.  You may use a dry toothbrush. You may floss your teeth.
Tish'a B'Av: Tefilin
Tish'a b'Av is similar to the day of burial of a person and so tefilin are not worn in the morning. The afternoon has a lower level of mourning and so tefilin (and talit gadol) are worn at mincha.
Tish'a B'Av: What To Do until 12 Noon
Activities for Tish'a B'Av until halachic midday:
  • Thinking: Until halachic midday, you should do things and think about things that will keep you in bad spirits or will make you sad.
  • Sitting: You may not sit on any kind of seat that is higher than 12 inches (30 cm) above the floor or ground until after halachic midday.
Tish'a B'Av: What To Do after 12 Noon
After halachic midday on Tish'a B'Av, you may do any activities except the five activities forbidden on Tish'a B'Av (washing, anointing, eating/drinking, marital intercourse, wearing leather shoes) or the Nine Days.  But you may not greet anyone, or reply to someone else's greeting to you, including saying “hello,” “good morning,” “how are you,” etc., until after dark.
Introduction to Purim
Introduction to Purim
Purim commemorates the saving of the Jews in the Persian Empire from Haman's plan to wipe them out completely. The story is a classic example of how God intervenes in human history in a hidden manner. The essential element was that the Jews were saved from physical destruction/death (contrast with Chanuka, where the Jews were not being threatened with physical death but with the destruction of their religious beliefs and practices).
  • Giving charity to poor people.
  • Giving gifts of ready-to-eat food to friends.
    Reason To promote friendship and a feeling of community.
  • Reading the megila of Esther at night and the next day.
  • Eating a festive meal.
  • Giving three half-dollars (or whatever the local unit of coin currency is where you live) to charity in commemoration of the half-shekel, which was given by all Jews to the Temple when it stood in Jerusalem.
    Note This is not actually an observance of Purim, but it has become traditional to give the 3 half-dollars on Purim.
Widespread Customs
  • Dressing up in costumes.
  • Making noise during the reading of Haman's (and his wife's) name in the megila, in order to wipe out their names.
  • Drinking more wine than normal.
  Note    Jewish women are required to fulfill all of the commandments of the holiday, just as men are, since the women were also saved.
Purim: Ad Dlo Yada
Getting Drunk Ad Dlo Yada
The idea of getting drunk ad dlo yada is that, even when optimal mental functions are impaired by alcohol, a person's essence is on such a high spiritual level that he or she can see God's hand in the actions of the evil Haman just as in the actions of the good Mordechai.
Note Jews should never get drunk, even on Purim, but they should drink a little more than they normally would.
Purim: Commandments
Purim: Commandments
There are four mitzvot for Purim:
1. Shalach Manot (Gifts of food to promote friendship)
Send to one person at least two readily edible foods that will be appreciated by the recipient. Sending gifts of food (mishlo'ach manot) must be done on Purim day. The earliest time to send mishlo'ach manot is after hearing the morning megila reading (so that the commandment of giving gifts to friends is also covered by the blessing of she'hecheyanu over the megila).

2. Gifts to Poor People
Give some money to at least two poor people or to a fund designated to give to poor Jews on Purim. The earliest time in the day to give gifts to the poor on Purim is daybreak.

3. Hearing the Megila Twice (evening and morning)
  • If you miss hearing a word or even syllable of the megila on Purim, say it to yourself and then catch up to the reader.
  • If you are not near a minyan and do not have a megila scroll, you should read the megila from a book.  But you will not have fulfilled the commandment of reading the megila and so you do not say any of the blessings.
4. Eating at a Purim se'uda.
  • The minimum amount to eat and drink for a Purim meal is at least 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) of bread, any amount of meat (if you enjoy meat), and some wine (any amount more than you normally drink).
  • The earliest time you may eat the Purim meal is from daybreak; the latest time you must begin is before sunset.  You must eat at least 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) of bread and some wine (and meat if you enjoy it) before sunset. You may continue your meal after sunset as long as you ate the bread before sunset.