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Do I Put On Tefillin During Chol Hamoed?

Do I Put On Tefillin During Chol Hamoed?

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A little background:

Tefillin are a "sign" of our special relationship with G‑d: "And it shall be to you as a sign upon your hand and as a remembrance between your eyes."1

Shabbat and the major biblical holidays are themselves signs of our covenant with G‑d: "Observe My Shabbats! For it is a sign between Me and you for your generations..."2

We therefore do not don tefillin on Shabbat and major holidays when work is prohibited (Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah. Passover, and Shavuot), as the sign provided by the tefillin is redundant on these days.3

There is a longstanding difference of opinion between halachic authorities whether Chol Hamoed (the semi-festive intermediate days of Passover and Sukkot) is considered a "sign" as well. On one hand, many forms of labor are permitted on these days, and we do not recite the kiddush etc.; on the other hand, many labor restrictions do apply to these days, as well as the prohibition against eating chametz and the obligation to sit in the sukkah, etc.

Consequently, there is a difference of opinion whether tefillin are worn on Chol Hamoed.

Practical application:

Sephardic Jewry, chassidim,4 and certain non-chassidic segments of Ashkenazi Jewry, do not wear tefillin on Chol Hamoed.

Most Ashkenazis, however, do don tefillin on Chol Hamoed. Most do so without reciting the tefillin blessing,5 while others do say the blessing, albeit in an undertone. The tefillin are removed before the recitation of the Hallel, and some remove them even earlier, immediately after the kedushah of the Shacharit Amidah.6

On Chol Hamoed, one should ideally pray in a synagogue whose custom in this area is in concurrence with one's own. If this is not a possibility, there are different opinions as to what one should do. A local rabbi should be consulted for proper protocol in such an instance.

Rabbi Dovid Zaklikowski,
Chabad.org

Footnotes
3.

Furthermore, wearing tefillin on days when it is not required would be a transgression of the prohibition against "adding to the words of the Torah" (Deuteronomy 13:1).

4.

Of particular concern to chassidim is the Zohar's extreme position in opposition to wearing tefillin on Chol Hamoed.

5.

The rule of thumb: if there is doubt regarding the requirement to perform a particular mitzvah, the blessing is not recited.

6.

The chazzan, however, removes them after the Hallel.

Dovid Zaklikowski is a freelance journalist living in Brooklyn. Dovid and his wife Chana Raizel are the proud parents of four: Motti, Meir, Shaina & Moshe Binyomin.
Sefira Ross is a freelance designer and illustrator whose original creations grace many Chabad.org pages. Residing in Seattle, Washington, her days are spent between multitasking illustrations and being a mom.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
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חיים Vienna October 19, 2016

What does Chazal say on this? What are the sources in Chazal for the prohibition of tefillin on Chol ha'Moed? Reply

Dr Freddy D. Maier Moshav Yanuv October 6, 2016

Thanks a lot to Moshe David Tokayer for his explanation about the Gra. I find it most interesting and probably true.
After more than 20 years living in Israel, I, personally, still don tefillin during Chol HaMoed (at home). I presume that it is difficult to get rid of a minhag that I particularly like and that attaches me to my ancestors. Reply

Chabad.org Staff via chabadone.org October 6, 2016

To David Yes, Tefillin are worn during the Ten Days of Repentance (except on Shabbat) Reply

David Caidar Los Angeles, CA. October 3, 2016

Do we put tefillin on days between Rosh Hashanah and yom Kippur?
Reply

Anonymous April 24, 2016

Well said and concise! Thanks for posting! Reply

Moshe David Tokayer Petach Tikva October 7, 2014

Tefillin on Chol HaMoed in Israel Dr. Maier may be correct in that the reason most Ashkenazim do not don tefillin in Israel on Chol HaMoed may have nothing to do with the Sfaradim who were here first and don't don tefillin. I think there is a better and more accurate historical reason. The first Ashkenazic communities in Israel were Chassidic and students of the Gra. Chassidim do not don tefillin during Chol HaMoed. The Gra's shita as well is not to wear tefillin on Chol HaMoed. When other Ashkenazic Jews came to Israel they found a fait accompli. None of the communities in Israel wore tefillin during Chol Hamoed. Reply

Robert New York October 6, 2014

At the Kotel I went to the Kotel during Passover last year, and I was asked not to put on Tefillin. Reply

Freddy D Maier November 2, 2012

tefilin in Chol HaMoed I still think that in Israel we do not have minhag hamakom, the custom of the place, and we follow minhag avot, the custom of our fathers.
If we follow what Moshe David Tokayer explained, the Ashkenazim changing their custom on the 18th century (very interesting Moshe, indeed), we would assume that everybody would follow Sefaradic customs. No tefilin on Chol HaMoed, Selichot during one month instead of only one week like the Ashkenazi custom (right Moshe?). I think that with Moshe Tokayer's theory it would be like that, except that Ashkenazim in Israel do the Selichot according to their custom and not that of their country.
If there is a custom of the country it should be for all observances,not just on a selective basis..
Many Ashkenazim, put the tefilin at home during Chol HaMoed and I do the same, consult with your local rabbi as to what you should do. Reply

ich Miami, FL November 1, 2012

tefilin Where in the Torah does it say when to wear and not to wear tefilin? Reply

Moshe David Tokayer Petach Tikva, Center February 5, 2012

Tefillin in Israel on Chol Hamoed When Ashkenazim came to Israel in the 18th century, they found an existing Sfaradic community. The Sfaradic community did not put on tefillin on Chol HaMoed and the Ashkenazim who came changed their minhag to conform to minhag hamakom. This is the reason that even Ashkenazim who put on tefillin outside of Israel do not do so in Israel if they intend to settle here. If they are only visiting then they put on tefillin in private. Reply

levi brooklyn, ny April 21, 2011

zahar the holy Zohar uses some very strong expressions on those who wear tefilin on chol hamoed ... Reply

Jeremy Toronto April 21, 2011

Tefillin What is the Chabad custom? To put on Tefillin during chol hamoed or not? Reply

Dr. Freddy Maier Yanuv, Israel April 17, 2011

Minhagim 3 years later, I can add some more information. There are two minhagim (customs). Minhag abot (family tradition) and Minhag haMakom (national tradition). In certain countries (e.g. Turkey) we have a Minhag HaMakom that is the Sepharadic way. Anybody living in Turkey has to follow this Minhag. In Israel there is no Minhag HaMakom but many differen t Minhagim.....therefore, we have to follow Minhag Abot. Therefore, in Chol HaMoed I always put them and if I go to a Synagogue where it is not the minhag (most of them...) I just put the Tefillin at home before going to the synagogue to fulfill the Minhag Abot. Reply

Dr. Freddy David Maier, PhD Kokhav Yair, Israel April 17, 2009

Tefillin in Israel I am in Israel and I do put the Tefilin during Chol HaMoed as we did in my family for centuries as Ashkenazis from Palatina region in Germany.
I think that it is not correct to simply generalize like Moshe Tokayer did....
If and when I am with a minyan of French or German Ashkenazis we enjoy putting the Tefillin on Chol HaMoed. When I cannot and join a Sefaradi or a Ashkenazi Sfard community, I do like them and don't put them. Reply

Gisele Brooklyn, NY April 19, 2007

Thanks for printing my original ques. here It helps for all men to know why some refrain from putting on Tefilin on all Chol Hamoeds and to understand better one's family's tradition on this very issue. Thanks for addressing it for all to benefit from it. Reply

Moshe David Tokayer April 16, 2007

In Israel no one puts on Tefillin during Chol HaMoed including non-chassidic Ashkenazim Reply

Rabbi Yitzchak Kolakowski Richmond, VA April 12, 2007

tefillin on Chol HaMoed The Divrei Chaim of Sanz, zya, encouraged single men to put on tefillin at home without a blessing. The Satmar Rebbe, zy"a, also taught the same thing, if there was not an established minhag not to wear them. However, all Chassidim agree that someone who is married should not wear tefillin because the shtreimel is in place of tefillin (even though there are other times when both a shtreimel and tefillin are worn, like purim and for simchos) Reply

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