Yom Tov Activities: M-P


Bringing Mail inside House

Do not bring mail inside the house on Jewish festivals, unless it was delivered:


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.

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.


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.

Removing Makeup

Girls and women may remove makeup or nail polish on Jewish festivals (or Shabbat).


When To Take

Medicine generally may not be used on the d'oraita Jewish festival days.

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.

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).

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.

EXCEPTION: You 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.

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.

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.

EXAMPLE: 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.


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).


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.



You may not use a kazoo or a whistle on Jewish festivals, but you may whistle with your mouth.

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.


You may not cut your nails or have your nails cut on Jewish festivals (and Shabbat).


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.

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.


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.

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.

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.


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.

Copyright 2015 Richard B. Aiken. Halacha L’Maaseh appears courtesy of www.practicalhalacha.com Visit their website for more information.