Even those activities that are permitted on Yom Tov were limited by the Talmudic Sages in a variety of ways to ensure that people would respect the holiness of the day, lest it turn into another day of mundane activities. The passage in Sefer Yeshayahu (58:13) emphasizes the need to limit activities that are overly strenuous or take place in public settings and appear to be in conflict with the spirit of the day, even if they are permitted according to the letter of the law.
The fourth perek of Massekhet Beitza – perek ha-Mevi – deals with these issues. The opening Mishna (29b) rules that a person who needs to transport kadei yayin – jugs of wine – should not carry them in a basket (a sal or a kupa); rather, they should be carried on one’s shoulder. Similarly, someone who needs to move a basket of straw on Yom Tov should not sling it onto his back, but should carry it in his hand. The general principle here is that transporting merchandise, even if it is needed for the holiday, cannot be done in the ordinary manner; rather, it should be carried in an out-of-the-ordinary manner to indicate that this is not everyday business, but is necessary for Yom Tov.
Based on this ruling, in Mahoza, where Rava was the community leader, the following regulations were instituted:
- People who ordinarily carry a heavy burden on their own (b’duhaka) should use a simpler carrying pole (ragla).
- One who ordinarily carries a burden on his shoulders together with a second person should switch to a pole that is carried by hand (akhpa)
- If the hand pole is the normal way of carrying, then the object being carried should be covered with a sudara (scarf).
The Me’iri explains that the sudara, which acts to cover up what is being carried, makes the statement that the mover does not want to publicize the fact that he needs to transport this vessel on Yom Tov.