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Melacha Before Havdalah (Klal 8 Siman 23) Hilchos Shabbos – S0239

D'var Halacha
D'var Halacha
Melacha Before Havdalah (Klal 8 Siman 23) Hilchos Shabbos - S0239
  We are beginning siman 23. The Chayei Adam writes that if a person has not said any language of havdalah, they cannot perform any melacha. Once a person recites havdalah in shemoneh esrei (atah chonantanu), they can perform any melacha.   There is an opinion brought in the Shulchan Aruch which says that before one recites a havdalah, they can perform “simple” melachos, but not melachos gemuros, full-blown melachos. The examples given are lighting a candle, which is more minimal and muttar, as opposed to writing, which is more intensive and assur. The Chayei Adam does not pasken in accordance with this opinion. The Shulchan Aruch brings a second opinion, which is that all melachos are assur, and paskens in accordance with that opinion.    In explaining the first opinion, that some melachos will be muttar before havdalah, the Beis Yosef explains that he rejected this opinion from halacha because we do not have a precedent to differentiate between different types of melacha.    The Brisker Rav, in his sefer Griz Al HaRambam (Shabbos 29:5), explains the thought process behind the opinion that some melachos will be muttar before havdalah. He explains that the Rambam writes that “a person cannot eat or drink on Friday Night until making kiddush, and similarly cannot eat, drink or perform melacha until making havdalah”. The Brisker Rav points out that we see from the Rambam that the issur of eating, drinking and melacha on Motzei Shabbos are part of the halachos of havdalah, rather than an extension of the kedusha of Shabbos. Chazal did not want a person performing melacha until making havdalah.  The Gemara says that one cannot do his chafatzav (personal things) before making havdalah. That language is identical to the Gemara in Brachos which states that it is assur to do chafatzav before davening, which the Rambam codifies as the issur to eat, drink or perform melacha before davening. Thus, we see a parallel between the two, and the same way that when it comes to davening, there are certain “lighter” melachos which are muttar to perform before davening, the same would be true before making havdalah. Although we do not pasken in accordance with this opinion, it helps us understand the thought process behind this opinion.   Summary
  • One cannot eat, drink or perform melacha until making a form of havdalah on Motzei Shabbos.

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