A discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the
week. For final rulings, consult your Rav.
CARRYING ON YOM TOV:IS IT ALWAYS PERMITTED?
QUESTION: Since it is forbidden to carry on Shabbos, some people install
combination locks on their doors so that they can lock and unlock their
homes without carrying a key. On Yom Tov, however, when it is permitted to
carry under certain circumstances, many people carry their house keys and do
not use their combination locks. Is carrying a house key permitted on Yom
Tov when one has a combination lock?
DISCUSSION: It is forbidden according to all views and could be a violation
of Torah Law. There is a common misconception concerning the Labor of
Carrying on Yom Tov; many people are under the assumption that all carrying
is permitted. In fact, this is not true. To better understand the specifics
of this halachah, we need to distinguish between three different types of
carrying, each with its own set of halachos:
1. Carrying for a positive Yom Tov purpose - permitted
2. Carrying for no purpose - prohibited
3. Carrying for a "preventive" purpose - questionable
CARRYING FOR A POSITIVE YOM TOV PURPOSE PERMITTED(1)
Carrying on Yom Tov is clearly permitted when the object being carried is
needed on Yom Tov; e.g., it is permitted to carry food from one house to
another, to wear a watch, to carry a handkerchief (2) or to carry a raincoat
in case of rain.
It is permitted to take a baby outside for a stroll, to carry a Sefer Torah
or another sefer for the purpose of studying it, to carry a lulav on Sukkos
or a shofar on Rosh Hashanah,(3) or to carry any object which will be used
to fulfill a mitzvah which should be fulfilled that day. It is also
permitted to bring someone a gift, even if the item will not be used on Yom
Tov.(4) All of these are considered positive, constructive purposes, and are
permitted on Yom Tov.(5)
It is important to remember that a "positive Yom Tov need" includes only
what is needed for that same day, which extends only until sunset of that
day. It is strictly forbidden to carry an object which is needed only for
the next day, even if the next day is another day of Yom Tov. It is
forbidden, therefore, to carry home a tallis or a machzor, if the reason for
carrying it is that one is planning to pray in a different shul the next
day. [When the next day is Shabbos and a proper eiruv tavshilin was
prepared, it is permitted to carry on Yom Tov for a Shabbos need.]
CARRYING FOR NO PURPOSE - PROHIBITED
It is strictly forbidden to carry an object that meets no Yom Tov need at
all, such as carrying around a used tissue, a button, or a piece of paper
which is not needed on Yom Tov. If the carrying takes place in a public
domain (reshus ha-rabim) it is Biblically forbidden(6) unless a valid eiruv
(tzuras ha-pesach) was made.(7) [Most poskim hold that an eiruv chatzeiros
is not required for Yom Tov. To satisfy all opinions, it is recommended that
when an eiruv chatzeiros is made for Shabbos, Yom Tov should be included as
Thus before taking the baby carriage for a stroll on Yom Tov, one should
check that only items that are needed [or that one may reasonably assume
will be needed(9) during the walk are in the carriage. Similarly, before
leaving the house for a walk on Yom Tov, one should rid himself of any items
which will not be needed during the walk.(10)
CARRYING FOR A "PREVENTIVE" PURPOSE - QUESTIONABLE
There is a debate among the poskim concerning a third type of carrying, one
which can neither be classified as a "positive, constructive purpose" nor as
having "no purpose" at all. The case in question concerns the permissibility
of carrying the key to a safe containing money [or other non-Yom Tov needs]
since the owner does not feel secure hiding the key in the house. In the
opinion of some poskim(11) this is considered a "positive" Yom Tov need
since were the owner not to carry the key on his person, he would be so
worried throughout Yom Tov that his enjoyment of the holiday would be
marred. Others, however, maintain that since the purpose of carrying the key
is primarily to prevent a loss, the carrying is not a Yom Tov need and is
not permitted.(12) Mishnah Berurah rules that it is proper to be stringent
and not to carry when the purpose of the carrying is to prevent a loss.
Other poskim rely on the more lenient view and allow this type of carrying,
and many people follow the lenient view.(13)
A house key, however, may be carried according to all views, since houses
almost always contain food, clothing and other Yom Tov needs so that one
would feel uneasy about leaving them unlocked. All poskim agree, therefore,
that it is a genuine, positive Yom Tov need to carry a house key.(14) [In
the exceptional case when one's "house" (e.g., a hotel room, or an empty
house that one might occupy as a guest) does not contain anything that he
needs for Yom Tov, the halachah would be comparable to the aforementioned
case about carrying a key to a safe.] But even when all poskim agree that
carrying a house key is a genuine Yom Tov need, carrying a key is permitted
only when no other option is available. If the house can be locked and then
reopened without carrying a key, all poskim would agree that it is
prohibited to carry the key. Carrying under such circumstances falls into
the category of carrying for "no purpose", which is strictly forbidden.(15)
* A homeowner whose house has a combination lock may not carry a house key
on Yom Tov.
* If there is someone in the house who is readily available to open the
door, a key may not be carried.
* One who wears his house key on a Shabbos belt or tie clip on Shabbos
should do so on Yom Tov as well.
* If on Shabbos one hides his key under a mat, etc., he must do so on Yom
Tov as well.
* Many poskim hold that it is only permitted to carry the key that is needed
for opening the entrance door to the house. If there are other keys on the
same ring, they must be removed from the key ring before going outside.(16)
QUESTION: Is it permitted on Yom Tov to carry garbage out of the house? Is
it permitted to transfer garbage from the backyard or garage to the front of
the house so that it can be picked up by the Sanitation Department?
DISCUSSION: Some poskim consider the removal of trash from the house a
legitimate Yom Tov need, since leaving it in the house causes unpleasantness
which detracts from the enjoyment of Yom Tov.(17) According to this opinion,
when the garbage cannot be removed to an enclosed area it may be taken
outside. Other poskim hold that this is not considered carrying for a
"positive purpose," since one has no "need" for the garbage. In their
opinion, this is similar to carrying for a "preventive purpose" which we
discussed earlier, since the main reason for removing the trash is to
prevent a foul odor or to create space for additional garbage.(18) In the
previous discussion concerning a house key, we concluded that it is
questionable whether this type of carrying is permitted, but that many
conduct themselves in accordance with the lenient opinion. In this case,
contemporary poskim agree that if the garbage smells and it cannot be
removed to an enclosed area, it is permitted to carry the trash outside.
But all poskim would agree that it is forbidden to transfer garbage which
is already outside of the house [in the garage or back yard] to the lawn in
front of the house in order for it to be picked up by the Sanitation
Department. Surely, this serves no Yom Tov need whatsoever and is not
permitted on Yom Tov. [In addition to the prohibition against carrying,
there is also the issue of handling muktzeh,(19) so clearly this should be
Rabbi Neustadt is Rav at The Young Israel in Cleveland Heights. He may be
reached at 216-321-4635 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
1 Some poskim hold that medications should not be carried, since that is not
considered a universal need (shaveh l'chol nefesh). While others are
lenient, it is best to employ a shinui when carrying medications on Yom Tov;
Harav S.Z. Auerbach (Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah 33, note 90).
2 Even two handkerchiefs may be carried as long as both are in one pocket.
If they are in two separate pockets they may not be carried unless both will
be needed; Harav S.Z. Auerbach (Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah 19, note 7;
Harav Y.S. Elyashiv (Mevakshei Torah, Yom Tov, pg. 269).
3 The custom follows the opinion of most poskim who permit carrying a lulav
or a shofar for women [or minors] who want to shake the lulav or hear the
shofar, even though women [and minors] are not obligated to fulfill these
mitzvos; Shulchan Aruch Harav 589:2; Igros Moshe O.C. 3:94; Az Nidberu
13:38. A minority opinion forbids carrying for this purpose; Sha'arei
Teshuvah 589:1 quoting Sha'agas Aryeh 106.
4 Mishnah Berurah 516:12,14.
5 This is permitted even if one could have just as easily carried the object
before Yom Tov; Mishnah Berurah 498:10.
6 Sha'ar ha-Tziyun 618:5.
7 For this reason, the city eiruv should be checked before Yom Tov just as
it is checked before Shabbos.
8 Mishnah Berurah 528:1.
9 Based on Mishnah Berurah 618:10.
10 Minchas Yom Tov 98:126.
11 Rama O.C. 618:1.
12 Taz 618:1; Shulchan Aruch Harav 618:1.
13 Aruch ha-Shulchan 618:3; Minchas Yom Tov 98:125. Chayei Adam 96:1 rules
that a ba'al nefesh should be stringent.
14 Mishnah Berurah 618:5. But this is only permitted for food or other Yom
Tov needs for that day only. One who is leaving the house and will only come
back that night [which is halachically the "next day"] or the next day,
cannot rely on this; Harav Y.S. Elyashiv (Mevakshei Torah, Yom Tov, pg.
267). Harav S.Z. Auerbach, however, permits this since it is "today's need"
to leave the house and the house cannot be left open; thus the key is needed
for today, not for the next day (Minchas Shelomo 2:35-9).
15 Shulchan Aruch Harav 618:1.
16 Igros Moshe O.C. 5:35; Harav S.Z. Auerbach (quoted in Shemiras Shabbos
K'hilchasah 33, note 92); Hilchos ha-Moadim 5:9. Other poskim, however, are
more lenient and allow carrying the entire ring of keys; See Minchas
Yitzchak 8:30; Harav Y.S. Elyashiv (Mevakshei Torah, Yom Tov, pg. 268);
Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah 19, note 14; Teshuvos v'Hanhagos 1:348. Car
keys, however, are considered severe muktzeh and may not be carried; Harav
S.Z. Auerbach (Tikunim u'Miluim 20, note 254).