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Weekly Halacha

Parshas Bamidbar

By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt

A discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the week. For final rulings, consult your Rav.


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 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.]


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 well.(8)

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)


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 avoided.]

Rabbi Neustadt is Rav at The Young Israel in Cleveland Heights. He may be reached at 216-321-4635 or at


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).

17 Harav Y.Y. Kanievsky (Orchos Rabbeinu, vol. 2, Yom Tov, 6).

18 Harav Y.S. Elyashiv (oral ruling, quoted in Yom Tov in Halachah, pg. 156).

19 Since in almost all cases, once the garbage is out of the house, moving garbage based on the graf shel re'ii leniency is not applicable.

Weekly-Halacha, Copyright © 2002 by Rabbi Neustadt, Dr. Jeffrey Gross and Project Genesis, Inc.

Rabbi Neustadt is the principal of Yavne Teachers' College in Cleveland, Ohio. He is also the Magid Shiur of a daily Mishna Berurah class at Congregation Shomre Shabbos.

The Weekly-Halacha Series is distributed L'zchus Hayeled Doniel Meir ben Hinda. Weekly sponsorships are available--please send email to the moderator, Dr. Jeffrey Gross

The series is distributed by the Harbotzas Torah Division of Congregation Shomre Shabbos, 1801 South Taylor Road, Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118--HaRav Yisroel Grumer, Marah D'Asra



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