Laws & Customs of Chol Hamoed-Summary

  1. The purpose of Chol Hamoed:
  • Torah learning: The entire purpose of Chol Hamoed is for the sake of the Jewish people dedicating themselves towards Torah learning. Throughout the year we are involved in mundane work in efforts to sustain our family and contribute to society. The week of Chol Hamoed was given for the sake of taking a vacation from all the above activities and for a Jew to focus on his relationship with G-d in Torah study.
    • Women: This obligation applies to both men and women.
    • Day and night: This obligation to learn Torah applies by both day and night.
    • Years that the first day of Yom Tov falls on Shabbos: In years that Yom Tov falls on Shabbos and there is hence no Shabbos in-between the days of Chol Hamoed, one is especially obligated to spend his time learning Torah. The full week of Chol Hamoed weekdays is there for this purpose.
    • Chol Hamoed trips: From the above its understood that one should not use up his entire Chol Hamoed with going on field trips, sightseeing, and other outdoor activities which remove one from his true purpose of Torah study during this time. [Nonetheless, those with children at home may designate a day or two for an outing, emphasizing that the main purpose of Chol Hamoed is not the trips but rather the Torah study. There is no greater example that a father can set for his children who are now home from school, than to sit at home and study Torah. Some are accustomed due to the above reason, to take their children on the various outings prior to, or post, Chol Hamoed, and use the entire time of Chol Hamoed for Torah learning, as intended.]

Simchas Yom Tov

  1. The Mitzvah of Simcha:
  • It is a Biblical positive command and obligation for one to rejoice and be of happy spirit throughout all days of Yom Tov, including Chol Hamoed, with exception to Rosh Hashanah. This obligation applies to oneself, his wife, his children and his entire household [even non relatives ].
  1. How does one rejoice himself and his family?
  • Men: Men [includes oneself and his adult male household members] are obligated to drink wine [every day of Yom Tov and Chol Hamoed] in order to fulfill their Mitzvah of Simcha. One who does not drink wine does not fulfill the command. In addition to drinking wine, there is also a [Biblical] Mitzvah, although not an obligation, to eat meat and other delicacies. [One who increases in eating other delicacies and doing other matters of joy is as well considered to be fulfilling the Biblical command, although he is not obligated in doing so.]
  • Women: One is to buy his wife [and adult female children and other adult female household members] jewelry or clothing in accordance to his affordability.] If one cannot afford to purchase clothing or jewelry then he is to purchase them new shoes in order to fulfill this Mitzvah. ]
  • Children: One is to distribute nuts to his young [children and other young members of his household]. [Today this can be fulfilled through giving children chocolate and other candies and treats that they enjoy.]
  1. The meals of Chol Hamoed:
  • How many meals is one to have per day? One is not obligated to eat any specific amount of meals on Chol Hamoed, so long as he does not fast. [Nevertheless, initially it is a Mitzvah for one to have a meal with bread.  One is to eat bread twice on Chol Hamoed, once by day and once by night.]
  • Eating before midday: One may not fast past midday on Chol Hamoed. One must thus eat or drink something prior to midday.
  • Bread: One is not obligated to eat specifically bread on Chol Hamoed, and it suffices even if he eats mere fruits. Nevertheless, initially it is a Mitzvah for one to have a meal with bread on Chol Hamoed, [once by day and once by night, as stated above].
  1. Celebrating a joyous occasion during the festival:
  • One is not to rejoice other joyous occasions during the festival days in order so the joy of the festival remains distinct.
  • Getting married: Remarrying divorcee: It is permitted for one to remarry one’s ex-wife on Chol Hamoed.  [Some Poskim however rule that one may not hold a celebratory feast for such an occasion. Other Poskim however rule it is permitted. One may certainly be lenient to hold a feast on the next day.  It is questionable whether one may re-perform a Kedushin ceremony during the Moed, if the original Kedushin was invalid. ]
  • May one celebrate a Bris Mila during Chol Hamoed? Yes.
  • May one celebrate a Pidyon Haben during Chol Hamoed? Yes.
  • May one celebrate a Bar Mitzvah during Chol Hamoed? Yes and so is the widespread custom.
  • May one get engaged during Chol Hamoed? Yes.
  • May one celebrate a Lechaim/Vort during Chol Hamoed? Yes
  • May one celebrate a Siyum Mesechta during Chol Hamoed? Yes.
  • May one celebrate a Chanukas Habayis during Chol Hamoed?
  • May one celebrate an Upsherenish during Chol Hamoed?

The Chol Hamoed Davening

  1. Shemoneh Esrei-Yaaleh Veyavo:
  • One Davens a regular weekday Shemoneh Esrei for Maariv, Shacharis and Mincha, although adding Yaaleh Veyavo to the prayer. If one forgot to recite Yaaleh Veyavo in Shemoneh Esrei he must repeat the prayer. This applies even by Maariv.
  • Forgot Yaaleh Veyavo but remembered prior to finishing Shemoneh Esrei: If prior to finishing Shemoneh Esrei one remembered that he did not say Ya’aleh Veyavo, [then if he is holding prior to saying the name of Hashem in the concluding blessing of Visechezena then he should say it as soon as he remembers and continue afterwards from Visechezena.  If, however, he remembered only after he already said Hashem’s name in the concluding blessing of Visechezenu then some Poskim  rule he is to conclude the blessing with Lamdeini Chukecha and then go back and recite Ya’aleh Veyavo and then repeat from Visechezena.] If he remembered after concluding the blessing of Visechezena, but prior to Modim, then he is to say it there [and continue afterwards with Modim]. If, however, he only remembered after he already began saying Modim then he must return to Ritzei and recite from there with Ya’aleh Veyavo.  If he only remembered after he already finished Shemoneh Esrei then he must return to the beginning of Shemoneh Esrei. [This applies even if he remembered after reciting the second Yehi Ratzon, prior to taking three steps. ] If, however, he remembered prior to reading the second Yehi Ratzon  then he is to return to Ritzei.  [If he is accustomed to add prayers after the second Yehi Ratzon, then if he remembers prior to concluding these prayers he is to return to Ritzei. ]
  • In doubt if said Ya’aleh Veyavo: If one is in doubt as to whether he recited Ya’aleh Veyavo then some Poskim rule he fulfills his obligation and is not required to return to Ritzei or repeat Shemoneh Esrei. Others however rule that it has the same law as one who did not say Ya’aleh Veyavo and he must hence return to Ritzei or repeat Shemoneh Esrei. Practically, one is to complete the Shemoneh Esrei and repeat Shemoneh Esrei as a Nidavah. 
  • If one remembered only after he already Davened Musaf: If one had already Davened Musaf and only then realized he had forgotten to say Ya’aleh Viyavo in Shemoneh Esrei of Shacharis, he does not need to repeat Shemoneh Esrei.
  1. Hallel:
  • Sukkos: Throughout the eight/nine days of Sukkos and Shemini Atzeres, one is required to recite the complete Hallel with a blessing. See Chapter 2 Halacha 7 for the full details of this matter!
  • A Chassidic Perspective: The reason we say the complete Hallel on each day of Sukkos in contrast to Pesach: On Sukkos, the G-dly revelation is able to be internally felt on each day of the holiday, and thus there is an abundance of joy on each day which is expressed in the daily completion of Hallel. This ability to internalize and feel the revelation is only available after the giving of the Torah. However, on Pesach which took place before the giving of the Torah, we were unable to internalize the revelation, and thus the joy is not exorbitant enough to justify the completion of Hallel. However, on the first day of Pesach the complete Hallel is recited as we were removed from the 49 gates of impurity and there is no greater joy than this.
  1. The order of the Davening after Hallel:
  • After Hallel, Hoshanos is performed as explained in Chapter 2 Halacha 6. After Hoshanos, the Chazan recites Kaddish Shaleim which is then followed by Shir Shel Yom, Kerias Hatorah, Ashreiy, Uva Letziyon, and Musaf.
  1. Musaf:
  • The Musaf of Chol Hamoed follows the same dialect as Musaf of Yom Tov of the 1st day of Sukkos, with exception that when the Musaf sacrifice is mentioned in the prayer, one recites the particular sacrifice of that day. The reason for this is because the Musaf sacrifices of each day of Sukkos were different than the previous day, decreasing the number of bull offerings by one each day.
  1. The six Zechiros:
  • One is to recite the six Zechiros after the prayers.

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