Extended Video: Chol Hamoed

#131 Extended Video: Chol Hamoed 

Please remember to make an eruv tavshilin today, erev Sukos, and  also on Hoshana Rabba, erev Shemini Atzeres. Chazal tell us that the days of Chol Hamoed were given to us primarily to enable us to spend additional time learning Torah, as well as rejoicing and eating special Yom Tov meals.  Chazal teach us a general rule about the  halachos of Chol Hamoed: "Akuros hein ve’ein lemeidos zu mizu”, the laws of Chol Hamoed are unlike other halachos, where one principle can be derived from other principles in Torah, and categorized in a simple, systematic manner; every halachah of Chol Hamoed stands on its own. We will nevertheless attempt to impart some structure to these halachos, and learn a few of them. It should be  noted that poskim tell us that of late, people have begun to be mezalzel, treat lightly, the halachos of Chol Hamoed. Many people focus more on the chol aspect, and they forget the concept of  moed—that Chol Hamoed is, in many ways, almost like yom tov. As a general principle, the only type of work that is permissible on Chol Hamoed is 1) if it is maasei hedyot, a simple activity that can be done by an average layman, and 2) it is letzorech hamoed, it must be something that is necessary and important for Chol Hamoed itself, or in preparation for Yom Tov. If an activity meets these two conditions, it may be done. However, it is important to clarify the definition of maasei hedyot. Maasei hedyot does not necessarily mean a simple activity that anyone can do. Sometimes such an activity can also be maasei uman, it can also be considered a professional task. For example, halacha tells us that the average woman is considered professional when it comes to sewing. Likewise, many poskim tell us that one should avoid printing on Chol Hamoed, even though printing can be done very easily by anyone by simply pressing the print button on a computer. But since even home computers nowadays produce material on par with professional  printing, that fact renders it a maasei uman, according to many poskim, and therefore should be avoided on Chol Hamoed.  Writing by hand (but not calligraphy) when done letzorech hamoed, for important things that we need to keep track of during Chol Hamoed  is permissible, since it is considered maasei hedyot. Still, out of respect for Chol Hamoed, the custom has become that we avoid writing normally, but write with a shinui, in a different manner than usual.


Practical Halacha: One minute a day. By Horav Yosef Yeshaya Braun, shlita, Mara D'asra and member of the Badatz of Crown Heights.