Each year hundreds of college students turn to OU-JLIC Torah Educators for answers to halachic questions.  


Question: I want to cook fresh food on yom tov for the yom tov meals in my dormitory kitchen as my family does at home. University housing, however, prohibits us from leaving our ovens unattended if they are left on. I am therefore unable to turn on my oven before yom tov and leave it on over the duration of yom tov. What can I do?

Answer: It is extremely important that we follow the University’s regulations concerning this matter. In this circumstance, one is permitted to ask a non-Jew to turn on one’s oven or burners when needed for cooking. The reason for this is that the prohibition against starting a fire on yom tov is rabbinic is nature. The prohibition against asking a non-Jew to do something forbidden to a Jew on yom tov is also rabbinic in nature. Two rabbinic prohibitions together are classified as a shevut deshevut which is permitted bemakom mitzvah (when done for the purpose of a mitzvah) like cooking for a yom tov meal. Please keep in mind that this ruling applies on yom tov only; creating a fire on Shabbat is prohibited by the Torah and the leniency thus does not apply.

But, you may ask, how does this solve the problem if the non-Jew is only being asked to turn on the flame? How do you turn off the flame so that the oven is not left unattended?

It is permissible to ask a non-Jew to extinguish a flame for yom tov purposes as well. This includes if a room is too hot because of the fire, but does not cover turning off a flame simply to conserve fuel. In the case of the dorm, one could argue that security/safety is a legitimate yom tov concern. We set up a system at Penn whereby you request a non-Jew to turn on your oven and they then show up at a designated time to turn the oven off without you asking them (which avoids the problem)

Rabbi Yaakov Taubes, OU-JLIC Torah Educator at University of Pennsylvania


Question: My professor regularly records her lectures and posts them to a class website. This year, many Yamim Tovim fall out during the week. Is it okay for me to listen after yom tov to a class that was recorded on yom tov?

Answer: Yes, you can listen to a class recorded on yom tov after yom tov. While some variations of this question are more complicated, a recording made for the general benefit of the class may be listened to after yom tov.

Rabbi Noam Friedman, OU-JLIC Torah Educator at Columbia University/Barnard College


Question: I purchased a parking pass for the semester. Am I permitted to give it to a friend on a day I am not coming to school to use so they do not have to pay for parking that day?

Answer: If the terms of the parking pass state explicitly that this pass is to be used by the purchaser only and it is not transferable, then one cannot share their pass with their friend. They could lend their car to their friend for the day to use or else they could include them on the pass and in which case it becomes a carpool parking pass which allows for multiple vehicles and various owners.

Rabbi Aaron Greenberg, OU-JLIC Canada Director