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Thought for the Day: The "Ordinary" Days of Chagim -- Not So Ordinary

Rosh HaShana can fall on a Shabbos and there are places in the davening where whole paragraphs are different.  My machzor had those differences marked as "Shabbos" and "Chol".  I found it a little jarring to think of any aspect of Rosh HaShana as "Chol" (ordinary).  Of course Rosh HaShana is anything but an ordinary day.  Compared to Shabbos, however, it can be called chol.  Something like the dark areas on the sun are "cool" relative to the surrounding area. (Sun spots are only 5,000° F, while the surrounding area is 10,000° F).

That is how we need to view Chol haMo'ed; not regular weekdays, but compared to the intense k'dusha of the surrounding days, the intermediate days can be referred to as "chol"; that is, chol compared to yom tov, but anything but ordinary.  In light of that, I thought it was worth sharing part of the Mishna Brura's introduction to hilchos chol ha'mo'ed. Siman 530, mishna brura there.  I am not coming, chas v'shalom, to pasken halacha l'ma'aseh, only to raise the importance of the issue in our outlook on Chol HaMo'ed.

There are five categories of malacha that are permitted on Chol HaMo'ed:
  1. Malacha that will cause a loss if not done now.
  2. Malacha done for the needs of the mo'ed.
  3. Malacha done by a worker who would not otherwise have enough to provide for basic living expenses.
  4. Malacha done on behalf of the community.
  5. Malacha done for an individual that does not require a craftsman.
There is a malachlokes rishonim whether malachos other than above are forbidden by Chazal, or if really all malacha is forbidden by the Torah, but the Torah gave permission to Chazal to permit these five categories. (The latter is the opinion of the Rema.)


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