Although Chol HaMo'ed is not referred to as a Sabbath,1 since it is referred to as "a holy convocation" and it was a time when the Chagigah sacrifices were brought in the Temple, it is forbidden to perform labor2 during this period, so that these days will not be regarded as ordinary weekdays that are not endowed with holiness at all. A person who performs forbidden labor on these days is given stripes for rebelliousness, for the prohibition is Rabbinic in origin.3
Not all the types of "servile labor" forbidden on a holiday are forbidden on it, for the intent of the prohibition is that the day not be regarded as an ordinary weekday with regard to all matters. Therefore, some labors are permitted on it, and some are forbidden.
חולו של מועד אף על פי שלא נאמר בו שבתון הואיל ונקרא מקרא קדש והרי הוא זמן חגיגה במקדש אסור בעשיית מלאכה כדי שלא יהיה כשאר ימי החול שאין בהן קדושה כלל. והעושה בו מלאכה האסורה מכין אותו מכת מרדות מפני שאיסורו מדברי סופרים. ולא כל מלאכת עבודה אסורה בו כיום טוב שסוף הענין בדברים שנאסרו בו כדי שלא יהיה כיום חול לכל דבר. לפיכך יש מלאכות אסורות בו ויש מלאכות מותרות בו:
These are [the labors that are permitted]: Any labor may be performed if it would result in a great loss if not performed, provided it does not involve strenuous activity.
What is implied? We may irrigate parched land on [Chol Ha]Mo'ed,4but not land that is well-irrigated. For if parched land is not irrigated, the trees on it will be ruined.
When a person irrigates [such land], he should not draw water and irrigate [the land, using water] from a pool or rain water, for this involves strenuous activity.5 He may, however, irrigate it [using water] from a spring:6 whether an existing spring, or a spring that must be uncovered anew. He may extend the spring and irrigate [his land using this water]. The same applies in all similar situations.
ואלו הן. כל מלאכה שאם לא יעשה אותה במועד יהיה שם הפסד הרבה עושין אותה. ובלבד שלא יהיה בה טורח הרבה. כיצד משקין בית השלחין במועד אבל לא בית המשקה. שאם לא ישקה בית השלחין והיא הארץ הצמאה יפסדו בו האילנות שבה. וכשהוא משקה אותה לא ידלה וישקה מן הבריכה או ממי הגשמים מפני שהוא טורח גדול. אבל משקה הוא מן המעין בין שהיה בין שיצא לכתחלה ממשיכו ומשקה בו וכן כל כיוצא בזה:
A person may turn over his olives during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed,7 grind them, press them, fill jugs up with oil, and seal them as he does on weekdays. Whenever the failure to perform a labor would lead to a loss, one may perform the labor in its ordinary way without deviating from one's regular practice.
Similarly, a person may bring in his produce [to protect it] from thieves, provided he does so discreetly.8 A person may remove his flax from soaking so that it will not be spoiled, and one may harvest a vineyard during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed if the time to harvest it has come.9
הופך אדם את זיתיו במועד וטוחן אותן ודורך אותן וממלא החביות וגף אותן כדרך שהוא עושה בחול. כל שיש בו הפסד אם לא נעשה עושהו כדרכו ואינו צריך שינוי. וכן מכניס אדם פירותיו מפני הגנבים ובלבד שיכניסם בצנעה ושולה פשתנו מן המשרה בשביל שלא תאבד. וכן כרם שהגיע זמנו להבצר במועד בוצרין אותו:
It is forbidden for a person to delay the performance of these or similar labors intentionally so that he will be able to perform them during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed when he has free time. Whenever a person ignores his work, leaving it for [Chol Ha]Mo'ed with the intention of performing it then, and actually [begins] to do so, the [Jewish] court must destroy [the fruits of this labor] and/or declare it ownerless, [free to be acquired] by anyone.10
If a person [delayed] his work, with the intention [of performing it on Chol HaMo'ed] and died, we do not punish his son, and cause him a loss. [On the contrary,] we do not prevent the son from performing the labor on [Chol Ha]Mo'ed so that he will not suffer a loss.
ואסור לאדם שיתכוין ויאחר מלאכות אלו וכיוצא בהן ויניחם כדי לעשותן במועד מפני שהוא פנוי. וכל המכוין מלאכתו והניחה למועד ועשאה במועד בית דין מאבדין אותה ומפקירין אותה לכל. ואם כיון מלאכתו ומת אין קונסין בנו אחריו ואין מאבדין אותה ממנו. ואין מונעין הבן מלעשות אותה מלאכה במועד כדי שלא תאבד:
[The following rules apply when] a person must sew a garment or build a structure during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed: If he is an ordinary person and not skilled in the performance of that labor, he may perform it in his ordinary manner. If, however, he is a skilled craftsman, he [must deviate from his ordinary practice, and] perform the labor as an ordinary person would.
What is implied? When sewing, he should sew stitches as a weaver would.11 When building, he should place the stones down, but should not put mortar upon them. One may smooth [plaster over] cracks [in a roof] with a roller, with one's hands and with one's feet as one would do with a trowel.12 The same applies in other similar situations.
מי שצריך לתפור לו בגד או לבנות לו מקום במועד. אם היה הדיוט ואינו מהיר באותה מלאכה הרי זה עושה אותה כדרכו. ואם היה אומן מהיר הרי זה עושה אותה מעשה הדיוט. כיצד בתפירה מכליב ובבנין מניח אבנים ואינו טח בטיט עליהן ושף סדקי הקרקע ומעגילה ביד וברגל כעין שמעגילים במחלצים וכן כל כיוצא בזה:
[The following rule applies when] a person has grain that is still growing in the ground, and he has no other food to eat except this [grain]:13 Although he would not suffer a loss [if he did not harvest the grain], we do not require him to buy what he needs at the marketplace and [wait] until after the festival to harvest.
Instead, he may harvest [the grain] he needs,14 collect it in sheaves, thresh it, winnow it, separate it, and grind it, provided he does not thresh it with oxen.15 For any labor performed [during Chol HaMo'ed] that does not involve a loss must be [performed] in a manner departing from the norm. The same applies in other similar situations.
מי שהיתה לו תבואה מחוברת לקרקע ואין לו מה שיאכל במועד אלא ממנה אע"פ שאין כאן הפסד אין מצריכין אותו לקנות מה שיאכל מן השוק עד שיקצור אחר המועד אלא קוצר ומעמר ודש וזורה ובורר וטוחן מה שהוא צריך. ובלבד שלא ידוש בפרות. שכל דבר שאין בו הפסד צריך לשנות וכן כל כיוצא בזה:
[Food]16 that one desires to pickle that can be eaten during a festival may be pickled [during Chol HaMo'ed]. If, however, the pickled food will not be ready until after the festival, it is forbidden to pickle it [during Chol HaMo'ed].
One may catch as many fish as one can17 during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed and salt them all, for it is possible for him partake of them during the festival if he squeezes them many times by hand until they become soft.
כבשים שיכול לאכול מהן במועד כובשן. ושאינן ראויין אלא לאחר המועד אסור לכבשן. וצד אדם דגים כל שיכול לצוד ומולח הכל במועד שהרי אפשר שיאכל מהן במועד אם יסחוט אותן בידו פעמים רבות עד שיתרככו:
One may set beer to ferment during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed for the sake of the festival. If it is not for the sake of the festival, it is forbidden. This applies both to beer made from dates18 and beer made from barley.
Even if a person has aged beer, he may act with guile and [prepare fresh beer to] drink, for the guile of this act would not be noticeable to an observer.19 The same applies in other similar situations.
מטילין שכר במועד לצורך המועד. ושלא לצורך המועד אסור. אחד שכר תמרים ואחד שכר שעורים. אף על פי שיש לו ישן מערים ושותה מן החדש שאין הערמה זו ניכרת לרואה וכן כל כיוצא בזה:
Whenever labors that are necessary for the festival are performed [during Chol HaMo'ed] by professionals, they must be performed in a private manner.20 What is implied? Hunters, millers, and grape-harvesters, whose intent is to sell their products in the marketplace, must perform these activities in a private manner for the sake of the festival. If these activities are not performed for the sake of the festival, [the products] are forbidden. If they perform these activities for the sake of the festival and the products remain afterwards, they may be used.
כל מלאכות שהן לצורך המועד כשעושין אותן אומניהן עושין בצנעה. כיצד הציידים והטוחנין והבוצרין למכור בשוק הרי אלו עושין בצנעה לצורך המועד. ואם עשה לצורך המועד והותיר הרי זה מותר:
We may perform [any labors that are] necessary for the sake of the community at large during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed.21
What is implied? We may fix breaches in waterworks in the public domain; we may fix the highways and the roads; we may dig cisterns, trenches, and grottos for the public;22 we may dig rivulets so that they will have water to drink; we may store water in cisterns and grottos belonging to the public and may fix the cracks [in their walls];23 we may remove brambles from the roads; and we may measure mikvaot.24 When the amount of water in a mikveh is lacking, we may direct water to it to complete its measure.
עושין כל צרכי הרבים במועד. כיצד מתקנים קלקולי המים שברשות הרבים. ומתקנין את הדרכים ואת הרחובות וחופרים לרבים בורות שיחין ומערות. וכורין להן נהרות כדי שישתו מימיהן וכונסים מים לבורות ומערות של רבים ומתקנין את סדקיהן. ומסירין את הקוצין מן הדרכים ומודדין את המקואות וכל מקוה שנמצא חסר מרגילין לו מים ומשלימין לו שיעורו:
The agents of the court may go out to declare ownerless fields that contain a mixture of species.25 We may redeem captives [taken by gentiles], endowment evaluations,26 entitlements,27 and consecrated articles.28
We may have a woman suspected of adultery drink [the required mixture],29 we may burn a red heifer,30 we may break the neck of a calf,31 we may pierce the ear of a slave,32 and we may purify a leper.33 We may also designate the site of graves whose markings were washed away by rain, so that the priests will not walk there.34 All these are activities necessary for the community at large.
ויוצאין שלוחי בית דין להפקיד את הכלאים. ופודין את השבוים ואת הערכין ואת החרמים ואת ההקדשות. ומשקין את הסוטות. ושורפין את הפרה. ועורפין את העגלה. ורוצעין עבד עברי. ומטהרין את המצורע. ומציינין על הקברות שמיחו גשמים את ציונן כדי שיפרשו מהן הכהנים. שכל אלו צרכי רבים הן:
Similarly, we may judge monetary disputes,35 cases involving the punishment by lashing, and capital cases during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed. When a person does not accept a judgment, a ban of ostracism may be issued against him during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed. Just as cases may be judged during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed, we may write court documents and any similar articles during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed.
What is implied? The judges may write an account of the evaluation of [a debtor's property] for his creditor, a statement of the property sold to feed a person's wife and daughters,36 and a bill of chalitzah37 and of miyyun.38 Similarly, we may write any legal document that the judges require to remind them - e.g., a record of the claims of the litigants, or a statement of the concessions they made - e.g., that so and so is acceptable [to testify regarding] my case, that so and so may serve as a judge.39
When a person requires a loan and the lender will not grant him the loan on a verbal commitment alone, it is permitted to have a promissory note written. Similarly, a bill of divorce,40 a bill of marriage, a receipt [for payment of a debt], and a deed [recording a present may be written during Chol HaMo'ed], for all these resemble matters necessary for the community at large.41
ודנים דיני ממונות ודיני מכות ודיני נפשות במועד. ומי שלא קבל עליו הדין משמתין אותו במועד. וכשם שדנין במועד כך כותבין מעשה בית דין וכל הדומה לו. כיצד כותבין הדיינין אגרות שום ששמו לבעל חוב ואגרות שמכרו בהן למזון האשה והבנות. ושטרי חליצה ומיאונין. וכל הדומה להן מדברים שצריכים הדיינין לכותבם כדי שיזכרום. כגון טענות בעלי דינין או דברים שקיבלו עליהן כגון איש פלוני נאמן עלי. איש פלוני ידון לי. מי שרצה ללוות וכו'.מי שצריך ללוות במועד ולא האמינו המלוה בעל פה הרי זה כותב שטר חוב. וכן כותבין גיטין וקידושי נשים ושוברין ומתנות שכל אלו כצרכי רבים הן:
It is forbidden to write [professionally] during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed; this includes even Torah scrolls, tefillin42 and mezuzot. Nor may one check [the letters of a Torah scroll],43 not even a single letter in the scroll kept in the Temple courtyard,44 for this is not a labor that is necessary for the sake of the festival.45
A person may, however, write tefillin or mezuzot for himself, or spin purple cloth for his garment.46 If he has nothing to eat,47 he may write and sell to others for his livelihood.
ואסור לכתוב במועד אפילו ספרים תפילין ומזוזות. ואין מניחין אפילו אות אחת בספר העזרה מפני שזו מלאכה שאינה לצורך המועד. אבל כותב אדם תפילין ומזוזה לעצמו וטווה תכלת לבגדו. ואם אין לו מה יאכל כותב ומוכר לאחרים כדי פרנסתו:
It is permitted to write social correspondence during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed. Similarly, one may make a reckoning of one's budget and costs. For a person does not take much care when writing these matters, and this is thus like the performance of a task by an ordinary person.48
ומותר לכתוב אגרות של שאלת שלום במועד. וכותב חשבונותיו ומחשב יציאותיו. שכתיבות אלו אין אדם נזהר בתקונן מאד ונמצאו כמעשה הדיוט במלאכות:
We may take care of all the needs of a corpse during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed.49 We may cut its hair, wash its shrouds, and make a coffin for it. If there are no boards available, we may bring beams and cut boards from them in a discreet manner inside a building.50 If [the coffin is intended for] an important person, it may be made in the marketplace.51
We may not, however, cut down a tree from the forest to cut boards for a coffin, nor may we quarry out stones to build a grave.
עושין כל צרכי המת במועד. גוזזין שערו ומכבסין כסותו ועושין לו ארון. ואם לא היו להם נסרים מביאין קורות ונוסרין מהם נסרים בצנעה בתוך הבית. ואם היה אדם מפורסם עושין אפילו בשוק. אבל אין כורתין עץ מן היער לנסור ממנו לוחות לארון. ואין חוצבין אבנים לבנות בהן קבר:
We may not inspect leprous blotches during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed,52 lest the person be declared impure and his festival be transformed into a period of mourning.
We may neither marry, nor perform the act of yibbum53 during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed, so that the happiness of the festival will not be obscured by the happiness of the marriage. One may, however, remarry one's divorcee, and one may betroth54 a woman during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed, provided one does not make a feast for the betrothal or the wedding,55 so that no other rejoicing will be combined with the rejoicing of the festival.
אין רואין את הנגעים במועד שמא ימצא טמא ונמצא חגו נהפך לאבל. ואין נושאין נשים ולא מייבמין במועד כדי שלא תשתכח שמחת החג בשמחת הנשואין. אבל מחזיר את גרושתו. ומארסין נשים במועד. ובלבד שלא יעשה סעודת אירוסין. ולא סעודת נישואין. שלא יערב שמחה אחרת בשמחת החג:
We may not cut hair,56 nor may we launder clothes during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed. [This is] a decree, [instituted] lest a person wait until [Chol Ha]Mo'ed and enter the first day of the holiday unkempt.57 Therefore, anyone who was unable to cut his hair or launder his clothes on the day before the commencement of the holiday may launder his clothes and cut his hair during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed.
אין מגלחין ואין מכבסין במועד גזירה שמא ישהה אדם עצמו לתוך המועד ויבוא יום טוב הראשון והוא מנוול. לפיכך כל מי שאי אפשר לו לגלח ולכבס בערב יום טוב הרי זה מותר לכבס ולגלח במועד:
What is implied? The [following] individuals are permitted to cut their hair and launder their clothes during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed: a mourner whose seventh day of mourning falls on [the first day of] a holiday58- or even if [his seventh day] falls on the day before the holiday, but it is a Sabbath, when it is forbidden to cut hair, a person who returns from an overseas journey - provided he did not travel for pleasure, but rather for business purposes and the like - a person who is freed from captivity, or freed from prison,59 a person who was under a ban of ostracism60 that was not lifted until [Chol Ha]Mo'ed, a person who took an oath not to cut his hair, or not to launder his clothes and did not ask a wise man to abrogate his oath61 until [Chol Ha]Mo'ed.62
כיצד אבל שחל שביעי שלו להיות ביום טוב או שחל להיות בערב יום טוב והרי הוא שבת שאי אפשר לגלח והבא ממדינת הים והוא שלא יצא להטייל אלא לסחורה וכיוצא בה. והיוצא מבית השבייה ומבית האסורים. ומי שהיה מנודה ולא התירוהו אלא במועד. ומי שנשבע שלא לגלח ושלא לכבס ולא נשאל לחכם להתיר נדרו אלא במועד הרי אלו מגלחין ומכבסין במועד:
In all the above situations, if any of the persons had the opportunity to cut their hair before the festival but failed to do so, they are forbidden from doing so [during Chol HaMo'ed].
In contrast, when the time for a nazarite or a leper to shave has already arrived,63 whether it arrived during the festival or before the festival, they may shave during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed, even if they had the opportunity [to shave their hair before the holiday], so that they will not delay the offering of their sacrifices. [Similarly,] anyone who terminates a state of ritual impurity and becomes pure is permitted to cut his hair during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed.64
We may cut a child's hair during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed,65 whether he was born during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed or before [Chol Ha]Mo'ed.66
The members of the priestly watch serving in the Temple who completed [their week of service]67 during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed may cut their hair. For the members of the priestly watch may not cut their hair during their week of service.68
וכולן שהיה להן פנאי לגלח קודם הרגל ולא גלחו אסורין. אבל הנזיר והמצורע שהגיע זמן תגלחתן בין בתוך המועד בין קודם הרגל אע"פ שהיה להם פנאי מותרין לגלח במועד שלא ישהו קרבנותיהן. וכל היוצא מטומאתו לטהרתו מותר לגלח במועד. וקטן שנולד בין במועד בין לפני המועד מותר לגלחו במועד. ואנשי משמר ששלמה משמרתן בתוך המועד מותרין לגלח מפני שאנשי משמר אסורין לגלח בשבת שלהן:
It is permitted to cut one's mustache during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed and to cut one's nails,69 even using a utensil.70
A woman may remove the hair from her underarms and her pubic hair by hand, or with a utensil.71 Similarly, she may undergo all cosmetic treatments during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed: [e.g.,] she may paint her eyes, part her hair, apply rouge to her face, and apply lime to her skin72 and the like, provided she can remove it73 during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed.
מותר ליטול שפה בחולו של מועד. וליטול צפרנים ואפילו בכלי. ומעברת האשה שער מבית השחי ומבית הערוה בין ביד בין בכלי. ועושה כל תכשיטיה במועד. כוחלת ופוקסת ומעברת סרק על פניה וטופלת עצמה בסיד וכיוצא בו והוא שתוכל לקפלו במועד:
A zav,74 a zavah,75 a niddah,76 a woman who gave birth,77 and all those who emerge from a state of ritual impurity during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed are permitted to launder their garments.78
A person who has only one garment should79 wash it during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed. Hand towels, barber's towels,80 and bathing towels are permitted to be laundered. Similarly, undergarments81 are permitted to be laundered during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed,82 because they must continually be laundered, even if they were laundered on the day preceding the holiday.
הזבים והזבות והנדות והיולדות וכל העולים מטומאה לטהרה בתוך המועד הרי אלו מותרין לכבס. ומי שאין לו אלא חלוק אחד הרי זה מכבסו במועד. מטפחות הידים ומטפחות הספרים ומטפחות הספג הרי אלו מותרין לכבס במועד. וכן כלי פשתן מותר לכבסן במועד מפני שצריכין כיבוס תמיד אפילו נתכבסו ערב יום טוב:
One may not become involved in commercial enterprise during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed, whether one sells or purchases.83 If, however, the matter is one that involves the loss [of an opportunity] that is not always available after the festival84 - e.g., ships or caravans that have arrived or that are preparing to depart and they are selling their wares cheaply or purchasing dearly - it is permissible to sell and to purchase from them [during Chol HaMo'ed].
We may not purchase buildings, servants, and animals that are not necessary during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed.85
אין עושין סחורה במועד בין למכור בין לקנות. ואם היה דבר האבד שאינו מצוי תמיד לאחר המועד כגון ספינות או שיירות שבאו או שהם מבקשים לצאת ומכרו בזול או לקחו ביוקר הרי זה מותר לקנות או למכור. ואין לוקחין בתים ועבדים ובהמה אלא לצורך המועד:
Merchants selling produce, garments, and utensils may sell them discreetly for the sake of the festival.86 What is implied? If [the merchant's] store opens to a corner or to a lane, he may operate it in his ordinary manner. If it opens into the public thoroughfare, he should open one door and close the other. On the day before Shemini Atzeret,87 one may take out one's produce and adorn the marketplace with it, as an expression of honor for the holiday.
Spice merchants88 may sell their wares in their ordinary manner, in public [during Chol HaMo'ed].
מוכרי פירות כסות וכלים מוכרין בצנעה לצורך המועד. כיצד אם היתה החנות פתוחה לזוית או למבוי פותח כדרכו. ואם היתה פתוחה לרשות הרבים פותח אחת ונועל אחת. וערב יום טוב האחרון של חג הסוכות מוציא ומעטר את השוק בפירות בשביל כבוד יום טוב. מוכרי תבלין מוכרין כדרכן בפרהסיא:
Whatever is forbidden to be done during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed, one may not instruct a gentile to do [on one's behalf].
If a person does not have food to eat,89 a person may perform any task that is forbidden during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed or involve himself in any commercial enterprise to earn his livelihood.90
It is permissible for a rich man to hire a poor employee who does not have food to eat to perform tasks that are forbidden during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed, so that the worker will be paid a wage with which he can purchase his sustenance. Similarly, we may purchase articles that are not necessary for the festival, because the seller is in need and lacks food.
כל שאסור לעשותו במועד אינו אומר לנכרי לעשותו. וכל שאסור לעשותו במועד אם אין לו מה יאכל הרי זה עושה כדי פרנסתו. וכן עושה סחורה כדי פרנסתו. ומותר לעשיר לשכור פועל עני שאין לו מה יאכל לעשות מלאכה שהיא אסורה במועד כדי שיטול שכרו להתפרנס בו. וכן לוקחין דברים שאינם לצורך המועד מפני צורך המוכר שאין לו מה שיאכל:
We may hire a worker during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed to perform a task after the festival, provided he does not weigh, measure, or count [the amount of work he must perform] as he would on an ordinary day.
When a gentile has been contracted to perform a task for a Jew,91 [the Jew] should prevent him from performing it during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed. [This applies] even if the gentile [works] outside [the city's] Sabbath limits.92 For the people at large know that this task [is being performed] for the sake of a Jew and they will suspect that he hired the gentile to perform it for him during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed. For not all people are aware of the distinction between a hired laborer and a contractor. Therefore, [lest a mistaken impression arise,] it is forbidden.
שוכרין השכיר על המלאכה במועד לעשותה לאחר המועד ובלבד שלא ישקול ושלא ימדוד ולא ימנה כדרך שהוא עושה בחול. נכרי שקיבל קיבולת מישראל אפילו היה חוץ לתחום אינו מניחו לעשותו במועד. שהכל יודעין שמלאכה זו של ישראל ויחשדו אותו שהוא שכר את הנכרי לעשות לו במועד. שאין הכל יודעין ההפרש שיש בין השכיר ובין הקבלן ולפיכך אסור
As evident from the continuation of the Rambam's statements, here the definition of labor is not - in contrast to the Sabbath and holidays - the 39 labors necessary to build the Sanctuary, but rather labor in the conventional sense: mundane activity that will prevent one from appreciating the festive mood of the holidays.
There are several Talmudic passages (e.g., Jerusalem Talmud, Pesachim 4:1) that quote verses from the Torah prohibiting the performance of work on Chol HaMo'ed. Nevertheless, according to the Rambam (and his position is shared by the Tur, Orach Chayim 530), these verses are merely asmachtot, allusions cited by the Rabbis as support for the decrees they instituted. [Significantly, however, the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah (Mo'ed Katan 1:1) contains an expression that indicates that he conceives of the prohibition against work on Chol HaMo'ed as part of the Oral Tradition given to Moses on Sinai.]
There are, however, other authorities [Yereim (the conclusion of section 304), the Ramban, and the Rashba] who maintain that the prohibition against work on Chol HaMo'ed is Scriptural in origin. The Be'ur Halachah 530 quotes the opinions of many authorities who accept this view.
The difference between these two perspectives is not merely theoretical in nature. One of the basic principles of Torah law is that when there is a doubt with regard to a question of Scriptural law, the more stringent view must be adopted. When, by contrast, there is a doubt with regard to a question of Rabbinic law, the more lenient view may be adopted. If the prohibition against working on Chol HaMo'ed is Scriptural in origin, then the more stringent view must be adopted in cases of doubt. Should, however, the prohibition be Rabbinic in origin, a lenient view may be adopted.
This and the other activities mentioned in this halachah are phases in the process of extracting oil from olives.
The Ra'avad differs with the Rambam on this point and allows the olives to be turned over only if they have been turned over once before. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 538:1) follows the Ra'avad's view.
E.g., at night (Shulchan Aruch, loc. cit.:2). It is necessary to do this in a discreet manner, rather than publicly, for one cannot be sure that thieves will come. Thus, the loss is not inevitable (Maggid Mishneh, citing the Ramban). If, however, it is impossible to bring the produce in discreetly, one may do so in a manner that will attract attention (Ramah).
Rav Moshe HaCohen and others have objected to the Rambam's ruling, maintaining that the court does not have the right to declare a person's property ownerless. He interprets Mo'ed Katan 12b, the source for the Rambam's statement, differently, stating that the passage gives the court license to prevent the person from carrying out the labors that he had postponed, thus causing the produce to be ruined.
The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 538:6) follows the Rambam's ruling. The Ramah adds that if a person performs work with property belonging to others - e.g., a tailor or a scribe - and thus this punishment cannot be administered, he should be placed under a ban of ostracism and/or giving stripes for rebelliousness for working on Chol HaMo'ed.
Our translation is taken from Rav Kappach's edition of the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah (Mo'ed Katan 1:8). Others interpret this term to mean "sew the stitches far apart." The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 541:5) interprets the phrase to mean "like a dog's teeth."
In his notes, the Ramah states that most ordinary people may be regarded as skilled with regard to sewing. Hence, everyone should employ this stringency.
This ruling is based on a narrative in Mo'ed Katan 12b concerning Rav, who harvested his field during Chol HaMo'ed because he did not have any flour. From the Rambam's wording, it appears that he allows this leniency even when the person has financial resources at his disposal; he lacks merely the grain itself.
Rav Moshe HaCohen differs with the Rambam's ruling, stating that if the person possesses money and can buy flour in the marketplace, he is not allowed to harvest his field. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 537:15) quotes the Rambam's decision.
The Mishnah Berurah 537:52 states that one is allowed to perform only that labor which is necessary to provide him with grain for the holiday. He is not allowed to do any more. Nevertheless, in his Sha'ar HaTziyun 537:49, he brings other opinions that would allow a person to do more work if no additional expense is required.
From the Rambam's wording, it appears that the reason it is forbidden to use oxen is that it is necessary to depart from one's ordinary routine. In his Kessef Mishneh, Rav Yosef Karo offers a different rationale - that using oxen will make the matter public knowledge.
The difference between these two views is not only theoretical. According to the Rambam, it would be permitted to use other animals - e.g., horses or donkeys - to thresh, for this would also represent a departure from one's ordinary practice. According to Rav Yosef Karo, this would be forbidden because this would also become public knowledge. The Mishnah Berurah 537:52,53 quotes Rav Yosef Karo's view.
The Shulchan Aruch (loc. cit.) also states that if one is threshing the grain for others as well as for oneself, it is permitted to use oxen.
Mo'ed Katan 11a mentions this concept with regard to pickling fish. The same principle can be applied to pickling vegetables, except that with regard to vegetables the pickling process usually takes longer and the vegetables will not be ready to be eaten during the festival if the pickling process was begun during Chol HaMo'ed. [See Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 533:3) and commentaries.]
I.e., even if one catches far more than one needs for the festival itself. The rationale is that since some fish taste better than others, one can explain that one is continuing to fish to catch an especially tasty fish for the festival (Mishnah Berurah 533:18).
For he can explain to others that he prefers fresh beer over aged beer (Mo'ed Katan 12b). Moreover, the observers may not even know that he possesses aged beer (Mishnah Berurah 533:9).
The Ra'avad objects to the Rambam's ruling, stating that it follows only a minority opinion in Mo'ed Katan 12b. In support of the Rambam, the Or Sameach cites a passage in Shabbat 139b, which follows the same rationale. The Ramah (Orach Chayim 533:1) quotes the Ra'avad's view, while the Mishnah Berurah (loc. cit.) states that one may rely on the Rambam's view.
These and other professionals perform a large amount of work at one time. Therefore, even when such a professional is in fact preparing this work for the purpose of the holiday, an observer might not appreciate this and might think that he is producing work for after the holiday. A private individual, by contrast, does not perform a large amount of such work at one time, and an observer will realize that his intent is for the festival (Mishnah Berurah 533:22.)
Rabbenu Asher (in his gloss on Mo'ed Katan 2a) gives one reason for this leniency: during the year, all the members of the community are involved in their own affairs and do not have the time to concern themselves with the public welfare. On Chol HaMo'ed, when people are freed from their own concerns, they can turn their attention to the needs of the community at large. Another reason is obvious from the quote from the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah cited in the notes on the following halachah.
The Kessef Mishneh emphasizes that this applies to cisterns or waterworks that are not necessarily needed for the holiday itself. Even though they will not be needed until afterwards, they may be fixed during Chol HaMo'ed because they are for the benefit of the public.
To be acceptable for the immersion of a man or woman, a mikveh must contain at least 40 se'ah. In contemporary measure, certain authorities maintain that this figure is equivalent to approximately 250 liters. Shiurei Mikveh mentions many views, concluding that the minimum acceptable figure is 454 liters, and that one should try to reach 921.6 liters. The Chazon Ish cites a figure of 573.3 liters.
It is forbidden to sow two types of produce without adequate distinction in the same field (Leviticus 19:19). This prohibition is called the prohibition of kilayim.
In the beginning of the month of Adar (early spring), the court would send agents to notify farmers about this prohibition. From the fifteenth of Adar, they sent agents out to check if there were kilayim in the fields. Originally, the court's agents would remove the kilayim from the fields. The farmers then became lax, and left this work to the court's agents. Therefore, the Sages declared that whenever kilayim are found in a field, the court's agents should declare the field ownerless. During Chol HaMo'ed Pesach, when the crops bloom, the court would send agents out again (Hilchot Kilayim 2:15-17).
In his Commentary on the Mishnah (Mo'ed Katan 1:2), the Rambam explains the reason why this activity was performed during Chol HaMo'ed: The wages for the court's agents were paid from the Temple treasury (terumat halishcah). Since there was very little other work available during Chol HaMo'ed, it would be easy to find people willing to work for low wages, and thus the Temple treasury would save.
The Hebrew term ערכין is discussed in Leviticus 27:1-8 and Hilchot Arachin VaCharamin, Chapter 1. It involves giving a specific sum to the Temple treasury for a person, depending on a person's age. In some contexts, the term ערכין is also used with regard to fields and animals consecrated to the Temple treasury.
This term is used to refer to the Hebrew חרם, a term implying that a person renounces his ownership of his property and dedicates it either to the Temple treasury or to the priests. (See Leviticus 27:28-29, Numbers 18:14; Hilchot Arachin VaCharamin 6:1.)
A woman suspected of adultery (a sotah) is brought to the Temple and required to drink a mixture of water, dust, and ink from a scroll containing a curse. (See Numbers 5:23-24; Hilchot Sotah, Chapter 3.)
A person who became ritually impure through contact with a human corpse must be purified by having the ashes of a red heifer sprinkled upon him (Numbers, Chapter 19). The slaughter of the red heifer and the preparation of these ashes is described in Hilchot Parah Adumah, Chapter 3.
When a corpse is found outside a populated area and the killer's identity is unknown, Deuteronomy 21:4 specifies a process of atonement that involves decapitating a calf. (See Hilchot Rotzeach, Chapter 9.)
Priests are forbidden to contract the impurity that stems from a human corpse. One of the ways of contracting such impurity is by standing over a grave. For this reason, graves would be marked with lime. During the rainy season, the lime might wash off. (See Hilchot Tum'at Meit 8:9.)
The Jewish court does not summon litigants during Nisan and Tishrei (Hilchot Sanhedrin 25:9). Nevertheless, should they come on their own accord, sessions may be held during Chol HaMo'ed (ibid., 11:1, 13:5)
This refers to a legal record of the sale of property from a deceased person's estate to provide for the support of his wife and daughters, or alternatively, a similar record required when a person goes on a journey and leaves his wife without support. (See Hilchot Ishut, Chapters 18 and 19.)
A childless widow is required to marry her deceased husband's brother. She is released from this obligation through a ritual act referred to as chalitzah. (See Deuteronomy 25:7-10.) After this ritual is performed, the court composes a legal record for the woman. See Hilchot Yibbum UChalitzah 4:29.
When a girl's father dies before she reaches the age of majority, our Sages gave her the opportunity to marry on a conditional basis. If upon attaining the age of majority, or beforehand, she no longer desires to continue her marriage, she does not require a formal divorce. All she need do is state her desire to terminate the marriage. Should she do this, a legal record is composed and granted to her. (See Hilchot Gerushin, Chapter 11.)
Although the Torah and the Sages disqualified certain individuals from serving as witnesses or judges, a litigant may, nevertheless, agree to allow such an individual to serve in this capacity (Hilchot Sanhedrin, Chapter 7). The judges may desire to have a written record of the commitment the litigant made.
Rashi (Mo'ed Katan 18b) states that this leniency is granted because the person desires to depart on a journey, implying that if that is not the case, a bill of divorce may not be composed. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 545:5) quotes the law without qualification, reflecting the Rambam's position. Note, however, Mishnah Berurah 545:20.
Although these are all personal matters, since they represent the ongoing needs of a community they are considered to involve the interest of the community at large (Mishnah Berurah 545:20). The Ra'avad differs and maintains that the reason is that the person may suffer a loss if these documents are not composed.
The Kessef Mishneh interprets this ruling as an indication that the Rambam maintains that one should not wear tefillin on Chol HaMo'ed. Significantly, in his gloss on Hilchot Tefillin 4:10, the Kessef Mishneh focuses on the latter half of this halachah and interprets it as an indication that one must wear tefillin at this time. (See the notes on that halachah for a more detailed discussion of this matter.)
This refers to an instance in which there is a scroll available for the communal Torah readings. If there is no scroll available, a Torah scroll may be checked and corrected (Kessef Mishneh; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 545:2). Following this line of thinking, all texts that are required to be studied on the holiday may be written.
The Jerusalem Talmud (Sanhedrin 2:6) relates that since a Torah scroll must be checked for accuracy against an existing scroll, a scroll was kept in the Temple Courtyard for that purpose. (See Hilchot Sefer Torah 7:2.)
There is a difference of opinion among the Rabbis with regard to texts that are needed for the community at large, but are not required for the festival itself. From the Rambam's wording, it is clear that he would forbid writing such texts. There are, however, more lenient opinions, and they are favored by the Ramah (loc. cit.:1).
According to the Rambam, there is no difference between writing tefillin and mezuzot, and other professions. Only when the wages he earns are required for his livelihood is he allowed to work.
The Ramah (loc. cit.:3) expresses a more lenient view. Since writing tefillin is a mitzvah, it is allowed on Chol HaMo'ed, provided the profits from one's work will enable one to celebrate the holiday in a more lavish manner.
The Rambam is explaining that since one is not performing a skilled task, there is no prohibition against this labor. The Ra'avad and Rav Moshe HaCohen differ with the Rambam's rationale and maintain that one is allowed to write social correspondence on Chol HaMo'ed because it is possible that after Chol HaMo'ed, one will have difficulty finding a person with whom to send the letter. One may keep one's accounts, because this is necessary in order to be able to know how much to spend on the holiday.
Although most Sephardic authorities (including the Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 545:5) follow the Rambam's view, the Ashkenazic authorities tend towards the Ra'avad's explanation and forbid writing on Chol HaMo'ed unless a loss is involved. The Ramah thus states that it is customary not to write on Chol HaMo'ed. Nevertheless, the Mishnah Berurah 545:35 states that the more lenient view is generally followed. When writing on Chol HaMo'ed, many do so in a slightly irregular manner, thus adding more halachic weight to the lenient position.
For if the deceased's identity is well known, everyone will realize that the boards are for his coffin. In later generations, the Ashkenazic custom was to cut the boards and make the coffin in the courtyard of the synagogue. For most people in a community are aware of a person's death and the fact that the work is carried out in the synagogue courtyard indicates that it is not being performed for a private matter (Hagahot Maimoniot). (See also Mishnah Berurah 547:20.)
Although leprosy conveys ritual impurity, that status must be established through the inspection of the suspect portion of the body by a priest. (See Leviticus 13:2.) For the reason explained by the Rambam, the priest should delay his inspection until after the conclusion of the holiday.
As the passage in Leviticus continues, there are times when a person who is suspected of having leprosy must undergo a second (or third) inspection, and carrying out this inspection may be to his benefit. In the Mishnah (Mo'ed Katan 1:5), there is a difference of opinion concerning whether these inspections are carried out during Chol HaMo'ed. Rabbi Meir maintains that they are. If the ruling is lenient, it is delivered; if it is stringent, it is withheld. The Sages maintain that no inspections are carried out during Chol HaMo'ed. Although it appears that the Rambam accepts their view, other opinions explain that he follows Rabbi Meir's view.
Significantly, in Hilchot Tum'at Tzara'at 9:7, the Rambam states, "We inspect leprous blotches every day, with the exception of the Sabbath and yom tov." The latter term does not usually include Chol HaMo'ed.
(We have translated tzara'at as leprosy for this is the common practice. In fact, the Biblical condition described by this Hebrew term differs from the disease known as leprosy today.)
Torah law defines matrimony as a two-stage process involving betrothal (erusin) and marriage (nisuin). Betrothal establishes the husband-and-wife bond. From that time onward, a woman may not marry anyone else, but neither may the couple live together. Marriage, by contrast, signals the consummation of this relationship, the beginning of the couple's life as a single unit. Today, the common Jewish practice is to complete both stages of the wedding bond in a single ceremony under the wedding canopy.
A mourner is forbidden to cut his hair or launder his clothes. Indeed, the prohibition against cutting hair continues throughout the thirty days of mourning (Hilchot Eivel 6:2). On this basis, the commentaries question the Rambam's statements. And although the commencement of a holiday nullifies the need to keep the prohibitions of the thirty days of mourning, this is true only when a person has observed a full seven days of mourning before the commencement of the holiday (Ibid. 10:5-6).
For this reason, the Kessef Mishneh and the Radbaz (Vol. VI, Responsum 2164) interpret the leniency mentioned by the Rambam here as referring only to laundering. In his Shulchan Aruch, when mentioning the leniencies regarding cutting hair, Rav Yosef Karo makes no mention of a mourner.
The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 531:4) states that this applies even when a person had been imprisoned by Jews who would have allowed him to cut his hair before the holiday. Since he was upset because of his imprisonment, he did not desire to cut his hair (Mishnah Berurah 531:9).
The authority of a wise man to abrogate an oath is discussed in Hilchot Sh'vuot, Chapter 6.
From the wording of the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah (Mo'ed Katan 3:1), it would appear that this leniency applies only when one did not have the opportunity of approaching a wise man with this request before Chol HaMo'ed. Accordingly, if one had such an opportunity, it would appear that the vow cannot be abrogated until after the holiday. See Mishnah Berurah 531:11.
The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 531:3) mentions that a person who was prevented from cutting his hair or laundering his clothes by forces beyond his control - e.g., he was detained by contractual negotiations, or he was sick - is not given the opportunity to perform these activities during Chol HaMo'ed. The Mishnah Berurah 531:5 mentions the reason for this stringency: In these instances, the factor holding the person back from cutting his hair or laundering his clothes is not publicly known. In contrast, in all the instances mentioned by the Rambam, the reason why the person did not cut his hair or launder his clothes is common knowledge.
After completing the term of his vow, a nazarite must shave his head and bring several sacrifices (Numbers 6:18; Hilchot Nezirut 8:2-3). Similarly, as part of his purification process a leper must shave off all the hair of his body twice (Leviticus 14:8-9; Hilchot Tum'at Tzara'at 11:1-2).
A person who is impure may not take part in the festive sacrifices of the Temple. Therefore, it is possible that he did not prepare himself for the holiday. Some also cite Sefer HaMitzvot (Positive Commandment 112), which states that every person who is ritually impure must inform others about his state and make this evident from his physical appearance. One of the ways of doing this would be not to cut one's hair (Rambam La'Am).
From the Rambam's wording, it appears that he is speaking about an extremely young infant. Nevertheless, the Pri Megadim interprets this as referring to any child under Bar Mitzvah age. (See Mishnah Berurah 531:16.)
The prophet Samuel and King David divided the priests into 24 watches, which rotated in the performance of the Temple service. Each watch would serve in the Temple for a week at a time. (See Hilchot Klei HaMikdash 4:3.)
This prohibition was instituted for a reason similar to the prohibition against cutting one's hair during Chol HaMo'ed: By preventing the priests from cutting their hair during the week they served in the Temple, the Sages insured that they came to the Temple with their hair already cut (Hilchot Bi'at HaMikdash 1:12).
Although the Shulchan Aruch (ibid.) quotes the Rambam's ruling, the Ramah states that it is customary not to cut nails with a utensil during Chol HaMo'ed. [Significantly, the Rambam's ruling with regard to Chol HaMo'ed differs from his ruling regarding the mourning rites (Hilchot Eivel 5:2).]
A male with a condition resembling gonorrhea, which causes a discharge from his organ other than semen or urine. Such a discharge renders him ritually impure. (See Leviticus 15:2-3; Hilchot Mechusarei Kapparah, Chapter 2.)
In the era when all the aspects of the laws of ritual impurity were observed, those who were ritually impure could not participate in the festive celebrations as others could. Therefore, they were not required to launder their clothes. Moreover, at times, these garments were themselves impure and required ritual immersion and laundering.
The Shulchan Aruch does not mention these laws. Although there are certain dimensions of the ritual impurity associated with a zavah, a niddah, and a woman who gives birth that are observed in the present era - e.g., the prohibitions against intimacy - since we are all ritually impure, these individuals' state of impurity does not preclude them from joining in our festive celebrations. Hence, they must prepare their garments before the commencement of the holiday.
Our translation is based on the notes of Rav Kappach, who interprets this ruling as not merely a leniency allowing the person to launder his garment during Chol HaMo'ed, but as a charge obligating him to do so, so that he will not wear a soiled garment during the festival season.
The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 534:2) states that although this is the law, it is customary to be stringent and forbid this. The Mishnah Berurah 534:14, however, mentions certain leniencies - e.g., having them laundered by a gentile. At present when laundering clothes has become a much easier process, the Rabbis have granted greater leniency.
The Magen Avraham 539:1 explains that the rationale for this prohibition is that commercial activity involves much effort, and this runs contrary to the atmosphere desired by the Sages for Chol HaMo'ed.
As the Maggid Mishneh mentions, there is a difference of opinion among the Rabbis whether the loss of opportunity mentioned refers to a loss the person will suffer - he will either have to pay more for an article that he needs or will not be able to sell an article that he wishes to sell - or if it includes also the opportunity to realize a greater profit. In his Beit Yosef (Orach Chayim 539), Rav Yosef Karo explains that the majority of the Rabbis follow the more lenient view, and he rules accordingly in his Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 539:5).
The Rabbis also ruled with regard to a situation that does not involve a departure from the norm - i.e., as opposed to the instance mentioned by the Rambam, no special situation like visiting merchants arose - but the situation is nevertheless such that were the person not to sell his goods during Chol HaMo'ed, he would not profit to the same degree as if he sold them afterwards. In such a situation, the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 539:4) rules that one may sell the goods during Chol HaMo'ed, provided that he uses a portion of the profit he makes to enhance his celebration of the festival. Moreover, the Shulchan Aruch restricts this license to a person of moderate means. If the person is affluent and would celebrate the festival amply regardless, he is not allowed to sell his goods during Chol HaMo'ed, unless he will be forced to sell them for less than the principal afterwards.
The laws regarding the sale of these entities are more stringent than those involving other items, because the sale of these entities becomes public knowledge quickly.
The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 539:10) also mentions that these entities may be sold if their sale is necessary for the livelihood of the seller (as mentioned in Halachah 24). The Mishnah Berurah 539:40 adds that one may buy such entities from a gentile. (With regard to the purchase of land from a gentile in Eretz Yisrael, see Hilchot Shabbat 6:11) Others discuss whether it is permissible to buy such an entity during Chol HaMo'ed, if it is likely that a similar entity will not be available after Chol HaMo'ed.
All three items mentioned by the Rambam refer to articles that can be stored, and it is thus not directly obvious that one is purchasing the article for use during Chol HaMo'ed (Mishnah Berurah 539:34). If produce will not last beyond the festival, it may be sold during Chol HaMo'ed with no restrictions.
Shemini Atzeret, in contrast to the last days of Pesach, is considered a holiday in its own right. Therefore, it is proper to adorn the marketplace with produce in its honor. Although this expression of honor is not allowed with regard to the last days of Pesach, it is permitted to sell one's wares openly, without any restrictions, on the day preceding those holidays (Mishnah Berurah 539:37).
There are two interpretations of the expression "does not have food to eat." The Magen Avraham 542:1 understands this simply; a person may not hire himself to perform labor unless he has no food whatsoever to eat. The Eliyahu Rabba, however, maintains that this refers to a person who possesses the minimum necessary for subsistence, but lacks the means to celebrate the festival in an ample way. As indicated by the Sha'ar HaTziyun 542:12, it appears that the authorities follow the more stringent view. Neither view, however, requires a person to pawn his household goods to purchase food instead of working to earn his livelihood.
See also the Mishnah Berurah 542:7, which states that even according to the more lenient views, an effort should be made to perform the labor discreetly. For an observer may not realize that the person performing the labor is doing so out of necessity.
See the Mishnah Berurah 542:8, which states that it is preferable for a person to sell merchandise instead of working during Chol Hamo'ed. Also, as reflected in the Sha'ar HaTziyun (loc. cit.), even the more stringent views that prevent a person from hiring himself out as a laborer if he possesses his minimum necessities grant him the leniency of selling merchandise in order to celebrate the festival in comfort.
The Maggid Mishneh states that this applies only to a building project that all know belongs to a Jew. It is, however, permissible for a gentile to take work home and perform it on a Jew's behalf if he is hired as a contractor and not as a laborer. This conception is also borne out by the ruling of the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 543:2).
In this regard, the laws regarding Chol HaMo'ed are more stringent than those applying to the Sabbath and the holidays. Since on the Sabbath and the holidays it is forbidden to go beyond the city's Sabbath limits, the gentile's performance of the task will not become public knowledge. On Chol HaMo'ed, by contrast, there are no restrictions on travel, and it is possible that many people will become aware of the gentile's activities (Maggid Mishneh). (See also Hilchot Shabbat 6:14-15.)
Shevitat Yom Tov - Chapter Eight
When streams flow from a pond, it is permitted to irrigate parched land from them during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed, provided they do not cease flowing.1 Similarly, it is permissible to irrigate [fields] from a pool through which an irrigation ditch flows.2
Similarly, if a pool [was created from water] dripping from parched land, one may irrigate another portion of parched land from it, provided the stream that irrigated the first portion of parched land has not ceased flowing.
נהרות המושכין מן האגמים מותר להשקות מהן בית השלחין במועד והוא שלא פסקו. וכן הבריכות שאמת המים עוברת ביניהן מותר להשקות מהן. וכן בריכה שנטפה מבית השלחין ועדיין היא נוטפת מותר להשקות ממנה בית השלחין אחרת. והוא שלא פסק המעין המשקה בית השלחין העליונה:
When half a row of crops is located on low land and half on higher land, one should not draw water from the lower land to irrigate the higher land, for this involves very strenuous activity.
It is permitted to draw water to irrigate vegetables so that they will be fit to be eaten3 during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed.4 If, however, [one does not desire to use them until after Chol HaMo'ed, irrigating them] to improve their quality is forbidden.5
ערוגה שחציה נמוך וחציה גבוה לא ידלה ממקום נמוך להשקות מקום גבוה מפני שהוא טורח גדול. ומותר לדלות מים להשקות הירקות כדי לאכלן במועד. ואם בשביל ליפותן אסור:
One should not dig a pit at the roots of a grapevine to collect water. If such pits have already been dug, and they have become impaired, one may fix them during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed. Similarly, one may fix an irrigation ditch that has become impaired6 during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed.
What is implied? If the ditch was only one handbreadth deep, one may dig until it is six handbreadths deep.7 If it was two handbreadths deep, one may dig until it is seven.8
One may cause water to flow from one tree to another,9 provided one does not irrigate the entire field.10 If the field has already been watered, it is permitted to irrigate the entire field.11 One may sprinkle a field during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed. For all these activities do not involve very strenuous effort.
אין עושין עוגיות בעיקרי הגפנים כדי שיתמלאו מים. ואם היו עשויות ונתקלקלו הרי זה מתקנם במועד. וכן אמת המים שנתקלקלה מתקנין אותה במועד. כיצד היתה עמוקה טפח חופר בה עד ששה. היתה עמוקה טפחיים מעמיקה עד שבעה. ומושכין את המים מאילן לאילן ובלבד שלא ישקה את כל השדה. ואם היתה שדה לחה מותר להשקות את כולה ומרביצין את השדה במועד. שכל הדברים האלו אין בהן טורח יותר:
When plants have not been watered before [the beginning of] the festival, they should not be watered during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed, for [in this situation] they require much water, and this will lead to strenuous effort.12
It is permitted to change [the direction of] a river from one place to another and to open a river that has been dammed. [The following rules apply to] cisterns, trenches, and grottos that belong to a private individual:13 If he needs them,14 they may be cleaned and their breaches sealed. One may not, however, dig new ones.15 One may cause water to flow into them, even when one has no [immediate] need for them. One may make a small pool [for soaking flax]16 during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed.17
זרעים שלא שתו מלפני המועד לא ישקה במועד מפני שהן צריכין מים רבים ויבא לידי טורח יותר. ומותר להסב את הנהר ממקום למקום ולפתוח נהר שנסתם. בורות שיחין ומערות של יחיד אם היה צריך להם חוטטין אותן ושפין את סדקיהם אבל אין חופרין אותן לכתחילה. וכונסים לתוכה מים אע"פ שאינו צריך להן. ועושין נברכת במועד:
Mice which damage trees may be snared during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed. In an orchard, one may snare them in one's ordinary fashion. What is implied? One may dig a hole and hang a net.
If an unplowed field18 is located close to an orchard, one may snare the mice in the unplowed field using a technique that departs from one's ordinary practice,19 so that they do not enter the orchard and ruin it. What is meant by snaring them using a different technique? [Instead of digging a hole,] one should implant a shaft in the ground and strike it with a hatchet. Afterwards, one should remove it, leaving a hole in its place.
עכברים שהן מפסידין את האילנות צדין אותן במועד. בשדה האילן צד כדרכו. כיצד חופר ותולה המצודה. ואם היה שדה לבן סמוך לשדה האילן צדין אותן בשדה הלבן בשינוי כדי שלא יכנסו לשדה האילן ויחריבוה. וכיצד צד בשינוי נועץ שפוד בארץ ומכה בקורדום ואחר כך מנתקו ונמצא מקומו גומא:
When the wall to a garden falls, one may build it as would an amateur,20 put up a divider of reeds, bullrushes, or the like. Similarly, if one erects a guardrail for one's roof, one should build it as would an amateur.21
When, by contrast, the wall to a courtyard falls, one may rebuild it in an ordinary manner.22 If it is deteriorating [and likely to fall], one should tear it down because of the danger and rebuild it in an ordinary manner.
כותל גנה שנפל בונהו מעשה הדיוט או גודר אותו בקנים וגומא וכיוצא בהן. וכן אם עשה מעקה לגג בונה אותו מעשה הדיוט. אבל כותל חצר שנפל בונהו כדרכו. ואם היה גוהה סותרו מפני הסכנה ובונהו כדרכו:
A person may build a bench23 to sit on or to sleep on. If a hinge, a drainpipe,24 a lintel, a lock, or a key becomes broken, one may fix it during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed in an ordinary manner.25 [This ruling applies] whether they are made of iron or of wood - [the rationale is that] this [could result in] a great loss. For if a person leaves the entrance to his house open and the doors broken, he will lose everything within the house. As explained previously,26 whenever [the failure to perform a task will result] in a loss, one need not deviate from one's ordinary practice.
בונה אדם איצטבא לישב או לישן עליה. הציר והצינור והקורה והמנעול והמפתח שנשברו מתקנן במועד כדרכו בין בשל ברזל בין בשל עץ. שזה הפסד גדול הוא שאם יניח הפתח פתוח ודלתות שבורות נמצא מאבד כל מה שבבית. וכבר בארנו כל שיש בו הפסד אינו צריך שינוי:
One may not dig a grave [during Chol HaMo'ed] so that it will be ready for a person should he die; nor may one build a structure for this purpose.27 If [a grave] is already prepared, one may modify it during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed. What is implied? One may increase or decrease its size, so that it will be ready when it is necessary to bury [the intended] in it.
אין חופרין קבר להיות מוכן למת שימות ואין בונין אותו. אבל אם היה עשוי הרי זה מתקנו במועד. כיצד מוסיף במדתו או מקצר ממדתו כדי שיהיה נכון לעת שיקבר בו:
We may not move a corpse or bones from one grave to another - neither from a more esteemed grave to one of lesser esteem, nor from one of lesser esteem to one of greater esteem. [Indeed,] it is always forbidden to do so, even on ordinary weekdays,28 unless one moves the corpse to an ancestral plot.29 [In such an instance,] on ordinary days, one may move the corpse [even] from an esteemed grave to one of lesser esteem.30
אין מפנין את המת ולא את העצמות מקבר לקבר ולא ממכובד לבזוי ולא מבזוי למכובד. ואסור לעשות כן לעולם בשאר הימים אלא אם כן היה מפנהו בתוך שלו מפנהו בשאר הימים אפילו ממכובד לבזוי:
We may not remove worms from trees, nor apply waste to saplings,31 nor may we prune trees.32 We may, however, apply oil to trees and their fruit.33
We may dig flax, for it is fit to use as a cover [for produce]34 during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed. We may harvest hops, because they are fit for use in making beer during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed.35 The same laws apply to other similar situations.
אין מתליעין את האילנות ולא מזהימין את הנטיעות ולא מגזמין. אבל סכין את האילנות ואת הפירות שבהן בשמן ועוקרין את הפשתה מפני שהיא ראויה לחפוף בה במועד. וקוצרין את הכשות מפני שהיא ראויה להטילה לשכר במועד וכן כל כיוצא בזה:
We may not bring sheep to pasture [on a field] so that they will fertilize the land [with their manure], for in this way one is enriching one's field during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed. If the sheep come to the field on their own accord,36 it is permitted [to allow them to remain].
We may not help them [enter the field], nor may we entrust them to a shepherd37 who will cause [the herd of] sheep to proceed [from place to place within the field].38 If [a shepherd] is hired on a weekly basis, on a monthly basis, on a yearly basis, or on a seven-year basis [to fertilize one's fields by pasturing sheep within them], one may help them enter the field.39 One may also hire40 a shepherd [on such a basis during Chol HaMo'ed] to cause [the herd of] sheep to proceed from place to place.
One may move manure in a courtyard to the side.41 If [the manure accumulates to the extent that] the courtyard becomes like a barn, one may take the manure out to the waste heap.
אין מכנסין את הצאן לדיר כדי שיזבלו את הקרקע. שהרי הוא מדייר שדהו במועד. ואם באו מאליהן מותר. ואין מסייעין אותן ואין מוסרין להן שומר לנער את הצאן. היה שכיר שבת שכיר חדש שכיר שנה שכיר שבוע מסייעין אותן ושוכרין שומר לנער את צאנם ממקום למקום כדי שיזבלו כל השדה. הזבל שבחצר מסלקין אותו לצדדין. ואם נעשה חצר כרפת בקר מוציאין אותו לאשפה:
[The following rules apply when a person] levels the surface of the earth [in his field]: If his intent is to prepare a place to store a mound of grain or to thresh there, it is permitted. If his intent is to till his land, it is forbidden.42
Similarly, if a person gathers wood from his field because he needs the wood, it is permitted. If his purpose is to improve the land, it is forbidden. Similarly, when a person opens [a dam, letting] water into his garden, if his intent is that fish will enter,43 it is permitted. If [his intent is] to irrigate the land, it is forbidden.
By the same token, when one trims branches from a date palm, if one's intent is to feed them to an animal, it is permitted. If one's intent is to cultivate the tree, it is forbidden. From the person's deeds, the nature of his intent becomes obvious.44
המשוה פני הקרקע אם מתכוין לתקן מקום שיעמיד בו כרי של תבואה או שידוש בו מותר. ואם נתכוון לעבודת הארץ אסור. וכן המלקט עצים מתוך שדהו אם לצורך עצים מותר ואם לתקן הקרקע אסור. וכן הפותק מים לגנה אם נתכוון שיכנסו הדגים מותר ואם להשקות הארץ אסור. וכן הקוצץ חריות מן הדקל אם נתכוון להאכיל לבהמה מותר ואם נתכוון לעבודת האילן אסור. וממעשיו יוכר לאי זה דבר הוא מתכוון:
If it is possible that an oven or a range45 will dry and [food] can be baked within it during the festival, it may be fashioned [during Chol HaMo'ed].46 If not, it may not be fashioned.
One may place an upper layer of mortar on an oven or a range whether or not [it will dry].47 Similarly, one may tie the cords of a bed.48 One may clean a mill, open the hole made in its center, set it up, and build a water conduit for a mill.49
תנור וכירים שאפשר שייבשו ויאפה בהן במועד עושין ואם לאו אין עושין אותן. ובין כך ובין כך בונין על חרש של תנור ועל הכירה הטפילה שלהן ומסרגין את המטות. ונוקרין את הריחים ופותחים להן עין ומעמידין אותן ובונין אמת המים של ריחים:
We may seal a jug with tar so that the wine [it contains] will not spoil.50 Similarly, we may seal a bottle with tar, since this does not involve strenuous activity. We may seal the mouth of a jug of beer so that it will not spoil.
We may cover figs [that have been left to dry] with straw so that they will not deteriorate.51 One may soften a garment by hand [after laundering it],52 because this does not involve professional expertise. One may not tie the cuffs [of a garment], because this involves a professional activity. The same principles apply in all similar situations.
זופתין את החבית כדי שלא יפסד היין. וזופתין את הבקבוק מפני שאין בו טורח. וסותמין פי החבית של שכר כדי שלא תפסד. ומחפין את הקציעות בקש כדי שלא יאבדו. ומרככין את הבגדים בידים. מפני שהוא מעשה הדיוט. אבל אין עושין קשרי בית הידים מפני שהוא מעשה אומן וכן כל כיוצא בזה:
We may cut the nails of a donkey that works in a mill53 and we may build a feeding-trough for an animal.54 It is permitted to cut the nails of a horse upon which one rides and to comb its hair so that it will look attractive.
We may not mate animals during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed,55 but we may let their blood. We do not prevent them from receiving any medical treatment.
Any food or drink that is not usually eaten by healthy people and is taken only for therapeutic purposes may be eaten or drunk during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed.56
קוצצין צפורני חמור של ריחים ובונין אבוס לבהמה. וסוס שירכב עליו מותר ליטול צפרניו ולסרקו כדי ליפותו. ואין מרביעין בהמה במועד. אבל מקיזין לה דם. ואין מונעין ממנה רפואה. וכל מאכלות ומשקים שאינן מאכל בריאים אלא לרפואה מותר לאדם לאכלן ולשתותן במועד:
We may not move from [a dwelling in] one courtyard to [one in] another courtyard during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed - neither from an unpleasant one to a pleasant one, nor from a pleasant one to an unpleasant one.57 We may, however, move from house to house within the same courtyard.
We may bring articles that will be used during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed from the premises of the craftsman [who made them] - e.g., pillows, blankets, and cups. But articles that are not necessary for the sake of the festival may not be brought [during Chol HaMo'ed]58 - e.g., [we may not bring] a plow from an ironmonger or wool from a dyer.
If the craftsman has nothing to eat, we may pay him and leave the articles in his care.59 If one does not trust him, we may deposit them in the house next to his. If we fear that they might be stolen, we may move them to another courtyard, but we should not bring them home unless [this can be done] in a discreet manner.60
אין מפנין מחצר לחצר במועד. ולא מכעורה לנאה ולא מנאה לכעורה. אבל מפנה הוא מבית לבית באותה חצר. ומביאין כלים שהן לצורך המועד מבית האומן. כגון כרים וכסתות וצלוחיות. אבל כלים שאינן לצורך המועד כגון מחרישה מן הלוטש או צמר מבית הצבע אין מביאין. ואם אין לאומן מה יאכל נותן לו שכרו ומניחן אצלו. ואם אינו מאמינו מניחן בבית הסמוך לו ואם חושש להם שמא יגנבו מפנן לחצר אחרת אבל לא יביא לביתו אלא בצנעה:
It is forbidden to perform labor61 on the day before a holiday from mid-afternoon62 onward, as this is forbidden on Friday [afternoons].63
If a person ever performs work during this time, he will never see a sign of blessing from it. We should rebuke him, and force him to stop against his will. He should not, however, be punished with stripes for rebelliousness,64 nor should he placed under a ban of ostracism.
There is an exception: after midday on Pesach afternoon. A person who works at that time should be placed under a ban of ostracism. Needless to say, if he was not placed under a ban of ostracism, he should be given stripes for rebelliousness.65 For the fourteenth of Nisan differs from the day preceding other holidays, because at that time the festive offering is brought and [the Paschal offering] is slaughtered.66
אסור לעשות מלאכה בערבי ימים טובים מן המנחה ולמעלה כמו ערבי שבתות. וכל העושה מלאכה בהן אינו רואה סימן ברכה לעולם. וגוערין בו ומבטלין אותו בעל כרחו. אבל אין מכין אותו מכת מרדות. ואין צריך לומר שאין מנדין אותו. חוץ מערב הפסח אחר חצות שהעושה בו מלאכה אחר חצות מנדין אותו. ואין צריך לומר שמכין אותו מכת מרדות אם לא נדוהו. לפי שיום ארבעה עשר בניסן אינו כשאר ערבי ימים טובים מפני שיש בו חגיגה ושחיטת קרבן:
Therefore, the performance of labor on the fourteenth of Nisan is forbidden by Rabbinical decree67, as on Chol HaMo'ed. [The rulings pertaining to the fourteenth of Nisan] are, however, more lenient than [those pertaining to] Chol HaMo'ed.68
Moreover, it is forbidden to perform labor on [the fourteenth of Nisan] only from midday onward, for this is the time when the sacrifice is offered. From sunrise69 until noon, [the practice] is dependent on [local] custom. In places where it is customary to perform labor, one may. In places where it is not customary to perform labor, one may not.70
לפיכך יום ארבעה עשר בניסן אסור בעשיית מלאכה מדברי סופרים כמו חולו של מועד. והוא קל מחולו של מועד. ואינו אסור אלא מחצי היום ולמעלה שהוא זמן השחיטה. אבל מהנץ החמה עד חצי היום תלוי במנהג. מקום שנהגו לעשות עושין מקום שנהגו שלא לעשות אין עושין:
Even in a place where it is customary to perform labor, one should not begin the performance of a task on the fourteenth [of Nisan], even though one could complete it before noon.
There are, however, three exceptions to this principle: tailors, barbers, and launderers. With regard to other craftsmen, if they began before the fourteenth, they may finish before noon.71 [The rationale for this distinction is that] the people at large do not have a great need for other labors [for the sake of the holiday].
ואפילו במקום שנהגו לעשות לא יתחיל בתחלה לעשות מלאכה בארבעה עשר אע"פ שהוא יכול לגמרה קודם חצות. אלא שלש אומניות בלבד הן שמתחילין בהם במקום שנהגו לעשות ועושין עד חצות. ואלו הן החייטין. והספרין. והכובסין. אבל שאר אומניות אם התחיל בהן קודם ארבעה עשר הוא שיגמור עד חצות שאין העם צריכין לשאר אומניות צורך הרבה:
When a person journeys from a place where it is customary to perform [labor on the fourteenth] to a place where it is not customary to perform [labor], he should not perform [labor] in a settled region,72 lest [this cause] strife.73 He may, however, perform labor in the desert.74
When a person journeys from a place where it is not customary to perform [labor on the fourteenth] to a place where it is customary to perform [labor], he should not perform [labor at all].75 To a person [who journeys], we apply the stringencies observed in the place that he left and those observed in the place where he arrives.76
Even though [he is prohibited to perform work], he should not make it appear to [the local people] that he is idle because of a prohibition.77 For a person should never deviate [from local custom], lest strife arise.
Similarly, a person who intends to return to his place should follow the customs of the inhabitants of his place, whether stringent or lenient. He should not, however, be seen [conducting himself contrary to the local custom] by the inhabitants of the place where he is located, lest strife arise.78
ההולך ממקום שעושין למקום שאין עושין לא יעשה ביישוב מפני המחלוקת אבל עושה הוא במדבר. וההולך ממקום שאין עושין למקום שעושין לא יעשה. נותנין עליו חומרי מקום שיצא משם וחומרי מקום שהלך לשם. ואע"פ כן לא יתראה בפניהם שהוא בטל מפני האסור. לעולם אל ישנה אדם מפני המחלוקת. וכן מי שדעתו לחזור למקומו נוהג כאנשי מקומו בין להקל בין להחמיר. והוא שלא יתראה בפני אנשי המקום שהוא בו מפני המחלוקת:
[In contrast to Chol HaMo'ed,] we may bring articles to and from the homes of craftsmen on the fourteenth of Nisan after midday, even though they are not needed for the festival.79 We may rake manure from under the feet of livestock and take it out to the dung heap.80
We may make a nest for chickens. When a chicken that sat on eggs for three days or more dies,81 we may place another chicken on the eggs on the fourteenth [of Nisan], so that they will not spoil.82 During [Chol Ha]Mo'ed, by contrast, we may not place [a chicken on the eggs]. If [a chicken] leaves the eggs on which it is sitting during [Chol Ha]Mo'ed, one may return it to its place.
מוליכין ומביאין כלים מבית האומן בארבעה עשר אחר חצות אע"פ שאינן לצורך המועד. וגורפין זבל מתחת רגלי בהמה ומוציאים אותו לאשפה. ומושיבין שובכין לתרנגולים. תרנגולת שישבה על הביצים שלשה ימים או יתר ומתה מושיבין אחרת תחתיה בארבעה עשר כדי שלא יפסדו הביצים. ובמועד אין מושיבין. אבל אם ברחה במועד מעל הביצים מחזירין אותה למקומה: סליקו להו הלכות שביתת יום טוב
This halachah is based on the principle discussed in Chapter 7, Halachah 2, which states: "When a person irrigates [such land], he should not draw water and irrigate [the land, using water] from a pool or rain water, for this involves strenuous activity. He may, however, irrigate it [using water] from a spring." In all the instances mentioned in this halachah, the water is free-flowing. Hence, there is no need to fear that the person will draw the water using buckets.
If, however, an irrigation ditch does not pass through these pools, it is forbidden to use their water during Chol HaMo'ed, for the person will have to refill them by bringing water from a far-removed place. The strenuous activity this involves is not appropriate for the festive spirit of Chol HaMo'ed.
The Kessef Mishneh explains that this applies even when the pool has enough water in it so that one would not have to draw water by hand throughout Chol HaMo'ed. This stringency was instituted to allow for a uniform ruling.
As mentioned in Chapter 7, Halachah 2, it is permitted to irrigate parched land during Chol HaMo'ed, because excessive effort is not involved. In this instance, however, excessive effort is involved. Therefore, it is forbidden to draw water for vegetables. If, however, the vegetables are necessary for use during the holiday, this activity is permitted (Maggid Mishneh).
The Hebrew word for irrigation ditch אמה also means "cubit." A cubit is six handbreadths high. The fact that the ditch is a handbreadth deep is significant enough to enable the person to be allowed to dig it to its full depth.
The Kessef Mishneh cites this as an expression of a principle of greater scope: Even when the failure to perform a labor will result in significant loss, labor that involves strenuous activity is not performed during Chol HaMo'ed.
Even when the person needs to dig a well because he lacks drinking water and would prefer to take water from a private well rather than carry water from a distant place. Needless to say, if the person has no water whatsoever to drink, he may dig a well during Chol HaMo'ed.
Our translation is based on the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah (Mo'ed Katan 1:6). The Ra'avad and Rabbenu Asher interpret the Hebrew term as referring to a pit similar to a grave, and hence forbid digging it unless a person has already died.
Rabbenu Yitzchak Alfasi, Rabbenu Asher, and others allow one to snare mice in the ordinary manner in this instance as well. In his Kessef Mishneh and Beit Yosef (Orach Chayim 537), Rav Yosef Karo explains that the difference between these two rulings depends on a difference of opinion regarding the correct version of the text of Mo'ed Katan 6b. Although he quotes both views in his Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 537:13), it appears that Rav Karo favors the more lenient ruling.
In his Commentary on the Mishnah (Mo'ed Katan 1:4, based on Mo'ed Katan 7a), the Rambam explains that this means that one may pile the stones one on top of the other, without placing mortar between them. One is not allowed to build it in an ordinary manner, because building involves professional craftsmanship, and there is not a possibility of great loss should others enter one's garden (Mishnah Berurah 440:1-2).
Note the Be'ur Halachah, which cites the Ritba's commentary interpreting this as referring to a guardrail on a roof upon which people do not frequently walk. If the roof is used frequently, one should construct a guardrail and fulfill the mitzvah of the Torah (Deuteronomy 22:8). The Be'ur Halachah notes, however, that none of the other commentaries make such a distinction.
The Ramban states that this leniency is permitted only when one constructs the bench as would an amateur; it is forbidden to build it in a professional manner. This conception is accepted by the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 540:6).
Our translation is based on Rav Kappach's edition of the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah (Mo'ed Katan 1:10). Rashi (Mo'ed Katan 11a), Rav David Arameah and the Mishnah Berurah 540:11 interpret the Hebrew term as referring to an attachment for the hinge.
The restrictions mentioned in this halachah stem from the fact that it is speaking about digging a grave for a person before his death. When the person has already died, there are no restrictions at all, as stated in Chapter 7, Halachah 15. The Ma'aseh Rokeach explains that the present halachah is speaking about a place where the cemetery is located on rocky terrain, and digging or building a grave takes several days.
See Hilchot Eivel 14:15; Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De'ah 363:1. In the latter source, other reasons why one may disinter a corpse are also mentioned, including a) to re-inter it in Eretz Yisrael, b) because water might destroy it, or c) because it was buried initially with the intent that it be moved.
In his Commentary on the Mishnah (Sh'vi'it 2:5), the Rambam explains that oil would be applied to trees and their fruit so that they would ripen more quickly. For this reason, this is permitted during Chol HaMo'ed, for it enables one to have fruit for the festival.
Based on the wording of the Shulchan Aruch (loc. cit.), the Mishnah Berurah 537:49 states that it is forbidden to hire a shepherd for this purpose during Chol HaMo'ed. (See also the Kessef Mishneh, where Rav Yosef Karo explains that the Rambam's interpretation of Mo'ed Katan 12a differs from that of Rashi and the other Ashkenazic authorities.)
In this and the following instances, the permitted intent involves preparing food for oneself or one's beast that may be used during the festival. The forbidden intent involves performing a task that is not necessary for the festival and which will not necessarily lead to a loss if it is not performed.
See Hilchot Zechiyah UMatanah 2:5-8, where the Rambam illustrates how the person's deeds reveal his intent. For example, when a person removes both thin twigs and larger logs, it is obvious that he desires to clean his field. If he removes only larger logs, we may assume that his intent is to gather firewood. If he opens a dam, but does not leave a place for water to flow out, he intends to water his field. If he also opens an outlet for the water, we may assume that his intent is to catch fish.
Although these activities are forbidden on the Sabbath (Hilchot Shabbat, Chapter 21). Moreover, one may perform any labors necessary to prepare drugs or medicines during Chol HaMo'ed (Mishnah Berurah 532:5).
The Ra'avad (based on the Jerusalem Talmud, Mo'ed Katan 2:4) states that one may move from a rented apartment into one's own home during Chol HaMo'ed, even if the rented apartment is more pleasant than one's own home, because it is comfortable for a person to dwell in his own home. The Maggid Mishneh states that the Rambam does not mention this ruling because it conflicts with the statements of the Babylonian Talmud. Generally, when there is a difference of opinion between the Babylonian Talmud and the Jerusalem Talmud, the rulings of the former are followed.
The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 535:2) mentions the Ra'avad's opinion with the preface "There are those who say...." The Ramah (loc. cit.:1) mentions that if one lives in a dangerous neighborhood, one may move during Chol HaMo'ed. The Mishnah Berurah 535:7 states that leniency may also be granted to allow a person to move from a non-Jewish neighborhood to a Jewish one.
This prohibition applies even when the articles were finished before the commencement of the festival. The Mishnah Berurah 534:16 mentions two reasons for this prohibition: a) because bringing these articles involves strenuous effort, b) because an observer might think that the person intended that they be repaired during Chol HaMo'ed.
The Mishnah Berurah 534:17 explains that we may pay the craftsman whether or not he has food to eat. He interprets the wording as meaning that even when he has nothing to eat, and it is therefore necessary to pay him, we may not take the article from him.
"It is not appropriate that a person should be involved in his everyday tasks while his sacrifice is being offered" (Jerusalem Talmud, Pesachim 4:1).
Although at present the Temple is destroyed and it is impossible to bring the Paschal sacrifice, the original decree is still in force and it is forbidden to perform labor at this time (Maggid Mishneh).
The Ramah (Orach Chayim 468:3) states that the Ashkenazic custom is not to perform labor before noon on this day. Nevertheless, subsequent authorities have not accepted this as a universal ruling, and maintain that everything is dependent on local custom.
The Rambam's ruling is based on his interpretation of the Mishnah (Pesachim 4:7) as applying in a place where it is customary to perform labor on the fourteenth. Others (the Ra'avad and Rabbenu Asher) interpret the Mishnah as applying in a place where it is customary not to perform labor on the fourteenth.
This interpretation leads to a more lenient ruling: In a place where it is customary to perform labor, all labor may be performed on the fourteenth of Nisan. In a place where it is not customary to perform labor, any labor that was begun before the fourteenth and is intended for the sake of the holiday may be completed before dawn. The three labors mentioned may be begun on the fourteenth of Nisan if they are performed for the sake of the holiday, provided they can be completed before noon. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 468:5) quotes the Rambam's ruling, while the Ramah follows the more lenient approach.
In this instance as well, the ruling applies to a person who intends to return to his original locale. If he does not intend to return, he is not bound by the stringencies observed there (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 468:9).
This is a general principle applying not only on the fourteenth of Nisan, but to the entire year, provided the person intends to settle permanently in the city.
This principle does not, however, apply in most contemporary Jewish communities, because they were settled by people with different customs, and a fixed practice was never adopted for the city at large. Accordingly, in such an instance, a person should follow the customs of his ancestral home (Orach Mishpat, Responsum 17).
There are many idle people in the public thoroughfare who do not perform labor. He should conduct himself like one of these individuals and not like a person who refrains from performing labor because of a prohibition (Pesachim 51b).
These are also principles whose scope extends beyond the particular laws of the fourteenth of Nisan (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 468:14; Mishnah Berurah 468:22). Shulchan Aruch HaRav goes further and explains that if it is impossible for the person not to perform work without calling attention to his actions, he should perform the work, because maintaining peaceful social relations overrides the importance of preserving the customs of one's native land.
Shulchan Aruch HaRav (loc. cit.) interprets the Rambam's decision as forbidding the placing a chicken on eggs at the outset on the fourteenth of Nisan. The Mishnah Berurah 468:36, however, mentions opinions that advise leniency in a case of need.
Chametz U'Matzah - Chapter One
Anyone who intentionally eats an olive's size [כזית, or more] of chametz on Pesach from the beginning of the night of the fifteenth [of Nisan] until the conclusion of the day of the twenty-first [of Nisan] is liable for כרת, as [Exodus 12:15] states: "Whoever eats leaven... will have his soul cut off."
[Should one eat this amount of chametz] unintentionally, one is liable to bring a fixed sin offering [as atonement].
[The above applies] equally to one who eats chametz and one who converts it into a liquid and drinks it.
כל האוכל כזית חמץ בפסח מתחלת ליל חמשה עשר עד סוף יום אחד ועשרים בניסן במזיד חייב כרת שנאמר כי כל אוכל חמץ ונכרתה. בשוגג חייב קרבן חטאת קבועה. אחד האוכל ואחד הממחה ושותה:
On Pesach, it is forbidden to derive any benefit from chametz, as [Exodus 13:3] states: "Do not eat (לא יאכל) chametz"; i.e., it is not permitted [to be used to derive benefit that leads to] eating.
A person who leaves chametz within his property on Pesach, even though he does not eat it, transgresses two prohibitions: [Exodus 13:7] states: "No leavening agent may be seen in all your territory" and [Exodus 12:19] states: "No leavening agent may be found in your homes."
[Though the prohibitions stated in these verses apply to שאור,] it is the same prohibition which forbids both חמץ (leaven) and שאור (a leavening agent).
החמץ בפסח אסור בהנייה שנאמר לא יאכל חמץ לא יהא בו היתר אכילה. והמניח חמץ ברשותו בפסח אע"פ שלא אכלו עובר בשני לאוין שנאמר לא יראה לך שאור בכל גבולך ונאמר שאור לא ימצא בבתיכם. ואיסור החמץ ואיסור השאור שבו מחמיצין אחד הוא:
[A violator] is not lashed for [transgressing the prohibitions] not to have [chametz] seen [in his possession] and not to have [chametz] found [in his possession] unless he purchased chametz on Pesach or [caused flour] to become leavened, and thus committed a deed.
However, if he possessed chametz before Pesach, and when Pesach came he did not destroy it and left it in his possession, even though he transgresses two prohibitions, according to the Torah, he is not lashed, for he did not perform a deed. [Nevertheless,] he is given "stripes for being rebellious."
אינו לוקה משום לא יראה ולא ימצא אלא א"כ קנה חמץ בפסח או חימצו כדי שיעשה בו מעשה. אבל אם היה לו חמץ קודם הפסח ובא הפסח ולא ביערו אלא הניחו ברשותו אף על פי שעבר על שני לאוין אינו לוקה מן התורה מפני שלא עשה בו מעשה. ומכין אותו מכת מרדות:
It is prohibited to ever benefit from chametz [that a Jew] possessed during Pesach. This prohibition is a penalty instituted by the Sages. Since the person transgressed [the prohibitions against chametz] being found and being seen [in his possession], they prohibited its use.
[The above applies] even if he inadvertently left [the chametz in his possession during Pesach] or was forced to do so. [These stringencies were instituted] lest a person leave chametz in his possession during Pesach in order to benefit from it after Pesach.
חמץ שעבר עליו הפסח אסור בהנייה לעולם. ודבר זה קנס הוא מדברי סופרים מפני שעבר על בל יראה ובל ימצא אסרוהו. אפילו הניחו בשגגה או באונס. כדי שלא יניח אדם חמץ ברשותו בפסח כדי שיהנה בו אחר הפסח:
If, on Pesach, even the slightest amount of chametz becomes mixed together with another substance, either of its kind or not of its kind, [the entire mixture] is forbidden.
Though it is forbidden to benefit from chametz which a Jew possessed on Pesach, if it became mixed with another substance, whether of its kind or not of its kind, it is permitted to be eaten after Pesach. [The Sages] only penalized and forbade [the use of] chametz itself. A mixture [containing chametz possessed on Pesach] is permitted to be eaten after Pesach.
חמץ שנתערב בדבר אחר תוך הפסח בין במינו בין שלא במינו הרי זה אוסר בכל שהוא. וחמץ של ישראל שעבר עליו הפסח אף על פי שהוא אסור בהנייה אם נתערב בין במינו בין שלא במינו הרי זה מותר לאכלו אחר הפסח. שלא קנסו ואסרו אלא בחמץ עצמו אבל התערובת מותר באכילה לאחר הפסח:
One is liable for כרת only for eating chametz itself. However, a person who eats a mixture containing chametz--for example, Babylonian kotach, Median beer, or similar mixtures which contain chametz--[is punished by] lashes and is not liable for כרת [for this involves the transgression of a different commandment], as [Exodus 12:20] states: "Do not eat any leaven."
When does the above apply? When the person consumed an olive size of chametz [while eating] from the mixture within the time it takes to eat three eggs or less. Then, he is obligated for lashes by the Torah. However, if he does not consume an olive size of chametz from the mixture in less time than it takes to eat three eggs, even though such eating is forbidden, he is not [punished by] lashing. Rather, he is given "stripes for being rebellious."
אין חייבין כרת אלא על אכילת עצמו של חמץ אבל עירוב חמץ כגון כותח הבבלי ושכר המדי וכל הדומה להן מדברים שהחמץ מעורב בהן אם אכלן בפסח לוקה ואין בו כרת שנאמר כל מחמצת לא תאכלו. במה דברים אמורים בשאכל כזית חמץ בתוך התערובת בכדי אכילת שלש ביצים הוא שלוקה מן התורה. אבל אם אין בתערובת כזית בכדי אכילת שלש ביצים אף על פי שאסור לו לאכול אם אכל אינו לוקה אלא מכין אותו מכת מרדות:
Eating even the slightest amount of chametz itself on Pesach is forbidden by the Torah as [Exodus 13:3] states: "Do not eat [leaven]." Nevertheless, [a person who eats chametz] is not liable for כרת, nor must he bring a sacrifice for anything less than the specified measure, which is the size of an olive.
A person who intentionally violates the prohibition and eats less than an olive size of chametz is given "stripes for being rebellious."
האוכל מן החמץ עצמו בפסח כל שהוא הרי זה אסור מן התורה שנאמר לא יאכל. ואף על פי כן אינו חייב כרת או קרבן אלא על כשיעור שהוא כזית. והאוכל פחות מכזית במזיד מכין אותו מכת מרדות:
It is forbidden to eat chametz on the day of the fourteenth [of Nisan] from noon onward--i.e., from the beginning of the seventh hour of the day. Any person who eats chametz during this time is punished by lashes according to Torah law, as [Deuteronomy 16:3] states: "Do not eat any leaven with it "; i.e., together with the Paschal sacrifice.
Based on the oral tradition, we received the interpretation of that statement as: Do not eat any chametz during the time which is fit to slaughter the Paschal sacrifice, that being the afternoon--i.e., after midday.
אסור לאכול חמץ ביום ארבעה עשר מחצות היום ולמעלה שהוא מתחלת שעה שביעית ביום. וכל האוכל בזמן הזה לוקה מן התורה שנאמר לא תאכל עליו חמץ, כלומר על קרבן הפסח. כך למדו מפי השמועה בפירוש דבר זה לא תאכל חמץ משעה שראויה לשחיטת הפסח שהוא בין הערבים והוא חצי היום:
The Sages forbade the eating of chametz from the beginning of the sixth hour in order to prevent infringement upon a Torah commandment. Thus, from the beginning of the sixth hour, it is forbidden to eat or benefit from chametz, based on Rabbinic law. During the rest of the day, from the seventh hour on, eating chametz is forbidden because of the Torah law.
During the fifth hour of the day, we do not eat chametz, lest the day be cloudy and we err between the fifth and six hours. However, there is no prohibition against benefiting from chametz during the fifth hour.
Therefore, Terumah and the breads of the thanksgiving offering which are chametz are left in a tentative status because of their holiness. They are neither eaten nor burned until the beginning of the sixth hour. Then, the entire quantity [of chametz] is burned.
ואסרו חכמים לאכול חמץ מתחלת שעה ששית כדי שלא יגע באיסור תורה. ומתחלת שעה ששית יהיה החמץ אסור באכילה ובהנייה כל שעה ששית מדברי סופרים ושאר היום משביעית ולמעלה מן התורה. שעה חמישית אין אוכלין בה חמץ גזרה משום יום המעונן שמא יטעה בין חמישית לששית. ואינו אסור בהנייה בשעה חמישית. לפיכך תולין בה תרומה ולחם תודה וכיוצא בהן מחמץ שהוא קדש לא אוכלין ולא שורפין עד שתגיע שעה ששית ושורפין הכל:
Thus, you have learned that it is permitted to eat chametz on the day of the fourteenth [of Nisan] until the end of the fourth hour. During the fifth hour, [chametz] is not eaten, but benefit may be derived from it. A person who eats chametz during the sixth hour is [punished by] "stripes for being rebellious." One who eats during the seventh hour is lashed.
הא למדת שמותר לאכול חמץ ביום ארבעה עשר עד סוף שעה רביעית. ואין אוכלין בשעה חמישית אבל נהנין בו. והאוכל בשעה ששית מכין אותו מכת מרדות. והאוכל מתחלת שעה שביעית לוקה
Published and copyright by Moznaim Publications, all rights reserved.
To purchase this book or the entire series, please click here.
The text on this page contains sacred literature. Please do not deface or discard.
Moznaim is the publisher of the Nehardaa Shas, a new, state-of-the-art edition of the Talmud and all major commentaries in 20 volumes. Click here to purchase or email the publisher at firstname.lastname@example.org