Moed Katan, Chapter Two, Mishnah One



The beginning of chapter one introduces yet another criterion used in determining whether work is permitted on the festival. We have already learned that one should not save work to be done on the festival. Things that can be done before the festival cannot be done during the festival.  Our mishnah deals with a person who intended to do something before the festival but then was not able to.  If he doesn’t do the work during the festival, he will incur a financial loss.


Mishnah One

1)      If one had turned his olives, and mourning or some unforeseen circumstance befell him, or workmen misled him, he may [during the festival] put on the beam for the first time and leave it until after the festival, the words of Rabbi Judah.

2)      Rabbi Yose says: he may pour off [the oil] and complete the process and seal [the jars] in his usual way.



Section one: The mishnah refers to the preparation of olives.  They would put the olives in a large sack so that they would heat up and start to release the oil.  After time they would flip the bag with a special stick so that they would get very soft. This was done prior to pressing them with a large beam.  In our mishnah someone turned his olives over and was planning to put them under the beam before the festival.  However, he was not able to do so due to some unforeseen circumstance. The mishnah gives a couple of examples of such a circumstance. First of all, someone in his family might have died and a mourner is not allowed to work.  Alternatively, he might have had workers who reneged on an agreement to help press his olives.  In any case, Rabbi Judah allows him to begin pressing the olives so that they will not rot, but he does not allow him to complete this process. 

Section two: Rabbi Yose is more lenient.  He allows him to take the oil that comes out of the first pressing and even do the second and third pressing.  He may put the oil in jars and close them up as well.  Rabbi Yose reasons that once he has been allowed to do some of the work, he should be allowed to complete it.