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Pesach - Chol HaMoed


According to the Talmud, during Chol HaMoed, the general rule is that “melacha” [lit. work]. And while there remains a dispute as to whether or not this prohibition is Biblical or rabbinic [Talmud Chagiga 18a and Moed Katan 29a; Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 530:1], all authorities agree that work that is prohibited on the festivals is also prohibited on the intermediate days unless one of five following exemptions are present:

1. Work, if not done, will lead to a significant financial loss. (The precise definition of financial loss varies from society to society and person to person [Mishna Berura 544:6].)

2. Work done to produce food for the sake of either the intermediate days or the holidays (including lighting fires, harvesting plants or turning on lights).

3. Work where the action is of benefit to many people.

4. Work done by a non-professional for the sake of the holiday. Therefore, one may turn on a light during Chol HaMoed to read, or turn on the radio to listen to recreational music for pleasure [Shulchan Aruch, Orech Chayim 545:1].

5. Work done by a poor person to earn money to buy food or other necessities. (It is preferable to do such work, rather than accept charity [Pri Megadim, Orech Chayim, Eshel Avraham 542]) It is preferable that such work be done in a private, rather than public.

Obviously, what is prohibited and what is permitted depends on motives, intent and ease of activity — and in this sense the concept of prohibited work on Chol HaMoed differs from the notion of prohibited work on Shabbat and Yom Tov. However, what is important to remember is that Chol HaMoed, is a Moed [lit. holiday] and as such deserves, as much as possible, some modifications to our regular weekday routine.

Fri, April 19 2024 11 Nisan 5784