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Obtaining goods from a shop on Yom Tov (abridged)
Dedicated in memory of Sarah bas Chaim a”h, mother of Mrs. Leah Starkman, on the occasion of her 11th yahrzeit. May her neshama be elevated in the merit of the study of Torah in her memory.

By Jay and Leah Starkman and family

27 Tamuz 5773 / July 5, 2013

MBY 517:1-4 Obtaining goods from a shop on Yom Tov (abridged) [Quoted from The Laws of Yom Tov by Rav Simcha Bunim Cohen (pp. 157-159)]:

As a safeguard against the possibility that a person might write or erase on Shabbos, the Sages prohibited the performance of certain activities that often lead to writing or erasing. Many of these activities are forbidden on Yom Tov as well, but some of them are permitted… [Ed: See MBY 306:1-14 Forbidden Speech on Shabbos (abridged - parts 1 and 2)]

We will deal here with the areas that are particularly applicable to Yom Tov and those in which there are differences between Shabbos and Yom Tov.

It is forbidden to buy or sell on Shabbos or Yom Tov, even for the sake of a mitzvah. [For example, when Erev Pesach falls on Shabbos, it is forbidden to sell one’s chametz to a gentile on Shabbos. Similarly, it is forbidden to perform a ‘Pidyon Haben’ (the redemption of the firstborn) on Shabbos or Yom Tov, since the redemption is similar to a transaction.] It is likewise forbidden to rent or lease anything on Shabbos or Yom Tov. The reason the Sages prohibited doing transaction on holy days is that the parties to a transaction often make a written record of it.

The prohibition against buying and selling pertains even to items that are needed in honor of Shabbos or Yom Tov. There is, however, a permissible method of obtaining from a store an item that one needs on Shabbos or Yom Tov. The following are the conditions:
a) One may not mention any expression commonly associated with buying or selling. This means that one may not mention that he needs a product of a certain value (e.g. $5 worth of candy) or a certain weight (e.g. a pound of nuts), since value and weight are commonly mentioned in relation to a sale.
b) One may not make any explicit mention of payment.

When these conditions are met, there is no appearance of a sale and one is permitted to take the items he needs. However, as mentioned above, this applies only to items that one needs for Shabbos or Yom Tov use. Furthermore, it goes without saying that a storekeeper may not open his store in the fashion that he does on a regular business day, but may merely enter it to give the client the item he needs for Shabbos or Yom Tov use.

To illustrate: A guest in a hotel may approach the hotel (staff) on Yom Tov and say, “Please give me a large bottle of soda today, and I will come to terms with you after Yom Tov.” However, he may not ask for “a liter” of soda or a “$1 bottle”, nor may he say, “I will pay you after Yom Tov.”

Thank you to our sponsors, the Starkman family.

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