| Halachah |

It’s Still a Yom Tov!       

If you don’t have enough clean towels and linen, you’re not required to buy new ones and may wash whatever you need for Yom Tov


Prepared for print by Faigy Peritzman

My husband insists we wear Shabbos clothes on Chol Hamoed, but I feel silly, and the kids will ruin theirs. Is this strictly halachah?

It isn’t halachically mandatory to wear Shabbos clothes on Chol Hamoed, but it’s halachically required that Chol Hamoed clothes be clean (as opposed to work clothes, which are often stained). Mishnah Berurah writes that one should wear clothes which are somewhat better or nicer than standard weekday clothes. Still, many communities have a custom to wear Shabbos clothes on Chol Hamoed, and it’s praiseworthy to do so.

Both my husband and I don’t like fleishigs. Wouldn’t it be better for me to serve milchigs on Chol Hamoed so we can enjoy our meals?

You’re not required to eat fleishigs on Chol Hamoed, as the mitzvah of oneg Yom Tov doesn’t apply then. But since the mitzvah of simchas Yom Tov does apply on Chol Hamoed, it’s a mitzvah for those who have simchah from eating fleishigs to do so. If you have more simchah from eating fish or other pareve or dairy foods, then you may fulfill your mitzvah of simchas Yom Tov by eating those foods. The same applies to the concept of drinking wine (or grape juice). If you enjoy it, then it is a mitzvah to drink a revi’is of wine (or grape juice) on Chol Hamoed, at least once a day. If you don’t enjoy it, then the mitzvah of drinking wine isn’t applicable.

During the first days of Yom Tov, the button fell off the new outfit I bought for my daughter. May I sew it back on so she can wear it for the last days as well?

If she has another suitable dress for the last days, then don’t sew the button on Chol Hamoed. If she doesn’t, then sew it on with a shinui — e.g., the button should be sewn loosely, or if the button has four holes, then the thread should be passed through only two of them.

A screw popped out of my bochur’s glasses, and he’s insisting they may not be fixed until after Chol Hamoed. Is he correct?

No, he isn’t. Tightening a screw in a pair of glasses is considered amateur work that is permitted to be done on Chol Hamoed if the glasses are going to be used then.

I’m a big believer in freezing leftovers. Am I allowed to put up my regular-sized pots of food on Chol Hamoed if I’ll probably freeze the leftovers for use after Yom Tov?

You may not cook or bake during Chol Hamoed with the express intention of using only a part for Yom Tov and freezing the rest. But it’s permitted to cook or bake on Chol Hamoed without limit, even though you suspect that not all of the food will be eaten on Yom Tov and some of it may have to be frozen to be used later. You may also cook with the express intention of freezing the rest, if cooking a larger amount will enhance the taste of the cooked food.

If I’m putting up a load of laundry for my baby, can I throw in some of my clothes as well?

In most circumstances you may not. Doing an adult’s laundry on Chol Hamoed is forbidden because Chazal were concerned people will deliberately delay their laundry day to Chol Hamoed, when they have more time, and thus will come into Yom Tov without enough clean clothes. Your clothes may not be laundered on Chol Hamoed, even if you’re doing laundry anyway for your baby.

Sometimes, however, if your clothes became sullied due to child care, and you have no other clothes to wear and can’t afford to purchase new ones, your rav may permit you to wash the minimum you may need, preferably via a non-Jew.

I’m having lots of company for the first and last days of Yom Tov and don’t have enough sets of linen or towels for everyone. May I wash them on Chol Hamoed for the last days’ guests?

As mentioned, the prohibition of doing laundry on Chol Hamoed was enacted to make sure that one comes into Yom Tov with enough clean clothes. Thus, this doesn’t apply to linen and towels for guests you will host over Yom Tov. If you don’t have enough clean towels and linen, you’re not required to buy new ones and may wash whatever you need for Yom Tov.

At the Seder, we spilled a large amount of wine on our best tablecloth. May I wash it if the stain will set in if I wait too long?

If indeed it’s true that the stain will not be able to be removed if it sits for too long, then it’s permitted to wash the tablecloth on Chol Hamoed. But in general, spot cleaning (with a stain remover) should be sufficient, so there’s no need to wash the entire tablecloth.

I managed to finish all my washing before Yom Tov, but didn’t get to iron the white shirts. Is this a problem to do on Chol Hamoed?

Creased clothes that are needed for Yom Tov may be ironed at home. Professional pressing, however, is forbidden.

Is there a problem writing for pleasure, as when playing a game like Boggle or Pictionary?

It’s permitted to write on Chol Hamoed for the purpose of scorekeeping for board games, etc.

I bought my daughter a sweater before Yom Tov and it doesn’t fit her. If I don’t return it during Chol Hamoed, the return window will pass.  May I?

If by waiting until after Chol Hamoed, you won’t be able to return the item at all, then it’s permitted to return it on Chol Hamoed. But if you can return it for store credit, then wait until after Chol Hamoed to do so.

May I go shopping on Chol Hamoed if I’ll miss a sale?

If it’s a type of sale that occurs only rarely, or if the item you wish to buy will not be available after Chol Hamoed, then it’s considered a davar ha’aveid, and it’s permitted to be bought on Chol Hamoed, even if it won’t be used over Yom Tov. Still, one should make every effort to avoid taking advantage of this leniency, in order to protect the sanctity of Chol Hamoed.

If I’m not working on Chol Hamoed, can I check emails to see if anything personal comes up?

It’s permitted to check and respond to personal emails on Chol Hamoed, but unless it’s necessary for Chol Hamoed, those emails may not be printed.   


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 838)

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