Ochel nefesh supposedly refers to the permissibility during Yom Tov of doing melachos that "cause personal pleasure."

"Personal"? Really?

No, of course not; it's after all the rabbis who decide what "personal pleasure" is, or is supposed to be. (@Msh210 notes: "I don't think it means 'pleasure to your person'. I think it means 'pleasure of the person (body)' as opposed to intellectual or other pleasure.") However, do one's own tastes and responses enter the halachic picture at all? That is, if something--let's say, taking a bath--gave me great pleasure, but involved doing a melacha during Yom Tov, could there be any halachic justification for doing it even if it is not on the official list? Inversely, if I hated a particular food, would I be allowed to prepare it for myself during Yom Tov in the name of ochel nefesh?

For the sake of argument, let's assume we are talking about rabbinically-defined melachos rather than Biblical ones.

Related (please don't judge harshly; this is a real problem for me): How to have an easier time with Yom Tov?

Related: Borer and Grinding on Yom Tov - and other Melachoth that are Ochel Nefesh

  • 1
    Try searching for the terms Shaveh LeKhol Nefesh. You'll likely see this discussed in the context of smoking on YT.
    – Double AA
    Apr 22, 2016 at 5:58
  • @DoubleAA But does that actually involve a melacha?
    – SAH
    Apr 22, 2016 at 6:05
  • Smoking? Certainly. Burning fire.
    – Double AA
    Apr 22, 2016 at 6:21
  • 1
    This is a good question. In general halakha reflects the need of all people, not individual needs. When something shave lekol nefesh (important to most people) is permitted (e.g., using water heated for food on yom tov for other uses, see second part here), the fact one person might have different preferences is not taken into account
    – mbloch
    Jan 24, 2019 at 4:37


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