Monday, September 26, 2011

Pre-Yontif Checklist: A Work in Progress

This page is a continual work-in progress. I don't expect that this is exhaustive, but feel free to add your additions to the comments, and I'll them to the master list. These are in no particular order.

Remember that you can transfer fire, but not create new fire. The best way to have an open flame in order to light yom tov candles on the second day of yontif is to use a yartzheit or Catholic candle. In many stores, you will find these large white candles in a glass jar with saint candles. It will just look like a "blank" Saint candle. Avoiding avodah zara is a good idea. You can find a picture of a "blank" candle here. Remember not to extinguish it! (Or place it next to a window or fan!) Also don't place the candle directly below the fire alarm. Think about how you would handle the situation if your fire alarm went off on chag.

Figure out your meal situation. Will you be eating at home or someone else's home? Plan your menus. Have snacks available for between meals.

Figure out your davening situation. If necessary, reserve your seats at the shul of your choice. If you can't afford seats, speak to the rabbi or office as soon as you can.

Grocery shopping. Much cooking can be done on the yontif, but that is beyond our conversation. [Tishrei advice: Buy eggs and a box of matzahs/matzos/matzot for the three eruv tavshilim you have to make this month! Buy a "new fruit" for the shechechyanu on the second day of Rosh Hashanah.]

Do any necessary (or desired) cleaning.

Figure out whether/how you will bathe during the yom tov. This is especially important if you have young children. 

Let the people who matter know when you are unavailable. Tell them at least a week in advance, and then remind them again. Maybe you also want to change your voicemail message and/or email auto-reply.

Pay any bills that will come due during the chag.

Write out all service times, even if you aren't sure you want to go to something.

Check your timers, lights, and alarm clocks. Put your phone on the charger so that it's not dead once the three day chag is over. This is especially important if your phone is your alarm clock!

Run the garbage disposal so that it doesn't get stinky over the next few days. Same with the dishwasher.

Make sure you have enough clean clothes and underwear. This is important; don't forget it.

Set up your eruv tavshilin.

Implement your cooking plan. Prepare your stove/oven, if needed. If you have a non-yontif-friendly stove/oven, plug in your Shabbos plata or set up a blech.

There are a lot of halachic issues here. I suggest spending some time learning the halachot of yom tov. I found Laws of Yom Tov by Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen to be very user-friendly, but it presumes at least an intermediate-level understanding of the laws of Shabbat (and, like all English halacha books, is stringent in its interpretations).


  1. One thing about the stove -- gas stove doesn't necessarily need to be turned on prior to yom tov. Have a Rabbi check just to be sure, but a lot of gas stoves/ovens have a pilot light which means you are simply transferring the fire, so you can turn it on and off during yom tov. Mine is set up this way. If yours isnt, for safety's sake you should still set up a blech(aka the metal plate over the fire, not a plata)!

    1. Originally posted: September 26, 2011 at 11:51 AM

      Oh yes, I was thinking of my electric gas stove :)

  2. Also, don't forgot to ask your rabbi if there are special procedures your host needs to follow when having you for a meal. There are potential issues on Yom Tov when a Jew cooks food that a non-Jew will be eating. (There are also "solutions" to these issues, B"H.)

    1. Originally posted: September 26, 2011 at 3:11 PM

      Anonymous, we hashed that out in a lot of detail somewhere else, but you're right, I should have included that for newer readers.

  3. Absolutely fabulous! I really like it. You amaze me!

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