My Dear Haham,

I was intrigued by your reply to a recent question regarding use of digital stove top settings on yom tob. Your reply was as follows:

“That whole concept of only taking from an existing flame is completely misunderstood. I can elaborate at a later date. Please remind me after the Pesach madness. In the interim, you can use the electronic oven buttons and a hotel room key. Everyone does it anyway. lol”

I have probably adhered to the most stringent interpretation of this halaha. Please explain the misconception referred to in your answer at your convenience.

Warm regards,


One thought on “Taking from an Existing Flame”
  1. Thank you. I’m glad that you brought it up.

    There is a concept as Nolad with reference to muktza-type rules on Shabbat and Yom Tov.

    Many people are confused with regards to the idea that on Yom Tov even though we use fire and transfer from one wick to another, we are not supposed to be Molid Aish, I.e. we can’t strike a match or light a fire from scratch.
    People often confuse molid aish with nolad. There’s no connection.

    So what is this new unexplained prohibition of molid aish, lighting a new fire on Yom tov?

    There is somewhat of a machloket (debate) amongst the Rishonim, but in Shulchan Aruch and the consensus is that it is forbidden just the same as Machshirei Ochel Nefesh. That concept is that even though you can make things on Yom tov and do melachot that you cannot do on Shabbat, certain things that can be done before Yom tov, should be done before. The chachamim didn’t want the holidays to become a full fledged workday.
    In those days, they always had some fire going. They hardly made new fires from scratch. They cooked with fire, bathed with fire, heated the house with fire. There was no need on Yom tov to start a whole new fire. If you’ve ever gone camping and needed to make a fire from scratch without a match or a lighter, you know it is not a simple thing. The chachamim did not want you making a fire from scratch. It was unnecessary extra work.

    The Halacha of Machshirei Ochel Nefesh has specific caveats and rules. Included in that is an exception that if it could not be done before Yom tov, it’s allowed on Yom tov. Additionally, if it was done before Yom Tov and it got undone on Yom tov, it is okay to then redo it on Yom tov. This goes for all Machshirei Ochel Nefesh.

    If your lights go out or your fire goes out, you can relight them on Yom tov.

    So, in our scenario, if you are using an electrically controlled stove, it isn’t something that can be properly done before the Yom tov. The door key can’t be done before Yom tov. It isn’t the same as having a small fire running in the background.

    In order to understand this more, you would need to now go back to the Halachah in Shulchan Aruch and get more clarity, now that you can see it in a different light.

    Here’s another example. People want to use a match or a lighter to light a cigarette. Not everyone has a safe place on their porch or front lawn to leave a lit candle all through the Yom tov. Today’s society calls for the person to go outside to smoke. Therefore, there’s no reason he/ she cannot light a cigarette with a match or a lighter, since this was not something that can properly be done in advance within a normal process.

    This will certainly be considered controversial, but that’s because hardly anyone looked into this and they just assume that you can’t and that’s it.

    The laws of Machshirei Ochel Nefesh are in Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 495:1.
    For a quick source for the connection between lighting a fire and Machshirei Ochel Nefesh, see Mishnah Berurah 502:1
    There’s a lot more you can see, but once you look at those two sources, you’ll already see what I’m saying.

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