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Weekly Halacha Series
Halachos Series on Hilchos Yom Tov

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Published by
Pirchei Shoshanim

A Project of
The Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Written by

Rabbi Dovid
Ostroff, shlita


These Halachos were shown by Rabbi Ostroff to
HaGaon HaRav Moshe Sternbuch, shlita



Questions for the Week of Parshas Yisro

May one tear toilet paper on Chol Hamoed?

One is permitted to look after ones physical necessities on Chol Hamoed and that includes tearing toilet paper. This falls into the category of necessities of the body.

What else falls into this category?

Chazal compared physical necessities to food and almost all that is permitted to be done to food may be done for physical necessities, as will be explained.

For the ill: anything may be done for an ill person, even when life is not endangered and even for slight discomfort and aches. [1]

One may administer any type of medication even when its purpose is to sustain health.

One may spread cream on hands and face, even when not chapped, to prevent chapping and peeling. [2]

Must cream be applied bshinui?

No, anything administered for body care may be done in the regular manner, without need of a shinui, [3] because it is compared to ochel nefesh. This includes applying cream, administering medication, cutting bandages to size, driving to the pharmacy, writing prescriptions, preparing and grinding various medications.

May one pay a visit to a dentist on Chol Hamoed?

One may visit a dentist to treat toothache or any other discomfort, similar to taking any other medication. [4]

One should not visit an orthodontist on Chol Hamoed because one does not reap immediate relief or benefit on Chol Hamoed from this treatment. Obviously if harm or damage might result from not repairing teeth braces etc. on Chol Hamoed one may attend.

Rav Moshe Feinstein ztzl writes that one may visit a dentist for treatment of even slight ailments, but not for anything else. [5]

May one visit a doctor for an annual checkup on Chol Hamoed?

Rav Moshe Feinstein ztzl writes that it is a zilzul degrades the Moed and must be avoided. This is true even if the doctor will not perform any melachos. [6]

What else is included in body necessities?

One may heat water to wash ones entire body, [7] unlike Yom Tov.

One may brush teeth, use all soaps bar and liquid. [8]

One may brush hair even though hairs will be extracted in the process; make braids and plats. [9]

A woman may apply makeup and lipstick, even though it involves the melacha of memareach [10] smoothing. [11]

May one repair glasses on Chol Hamoed?

Glasses may be repaired on Chol Hamoed, just like any other physical necessity. However, one should not exchange frames on Chol Hamoed because it is a mleches uman (craftsmans work) not necessary for the moed.

Rav Moshe Feinstein writes that one may not repair sunglasses on Chol Hamoed and yet if one is medically required to wear sunglasses they may be repaired. [12]

Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach writes that one may repair a hearing aid because it is also a physical necessity but a telephone should not be repaired, unless needed by the elderly or the sick. He explains that a telephone is not that necessary and does not warrant repair on Chol Hamoed. [13]

May one take a haircut on Chol Hamoed?

Taking a haircut is definitely one of and yet Chazal prohibited taking a haircut, other than in extenuating circumstances. The reason for this is because people are extremely busy erev Yom Tov and one is tempted to say that there is ample time to take a haircut during Chol Hamoed and not take one before Yom Tov.

So whats wrong with that?

One must not begin Yom Tov in a disheveled manner; it shows disrespect to Yom Tov. [14] Consequently the halacha is that it is a mitzvah to take a haircut before Yom Tov. [15] Even if one took a haircut prior to Yom Tov, one may not take another haircut on Yom Tov, because not everyone knows that one took a haircut before and people will mistakenly think that one may take a haircut on Yom Tov. [16]

May one shave on Chol Hamoed?

The Shulchan Aruch prohibits shaving [17] and it is the prevalent custom. Rav Moshe Feinstein [18] discusses this issue at length and many are accustomed to be lenient based on the Nodah Biyhuda. Rav Moshe Feinstein concludes that he is not accustomed to be lenient unless in certain cases or for someone who suffers to an extreme from not shaving. One should ask ones Rav.

[1] SSK 66:20, based on simon 532:2 and MB 5, Chayei Adam clal 110:17.

[2] Based on SSK 66:20.

[3] Simon 546:5 Biur Halacha kol.

[4] See SSK 66 footnote 88.

[5] IgM orach Chaim 3 simon 78.

[6] Cited in SSK 66 footnote 92.

[7] MB simon 531:22.

[8] See SSK 66:21.

[9] SSK ibid.

[10] Pronounced memareiach.

[11] Simon 546:6.

[12] See SSK 66:20 footnote 88.

[13] SSK ibid and tikunim.

[14] MB simon 531:3.

[15] Simon 531:1.

[16] MB simon 531:4.

[17] Simon 531:2, SSK 66:23.

[18] IgM vol. I simon 163.


Food for Thought

May one shave body hair on Chol Hamoed?

May one cut the hair of a child who reached the age of three on Chol Hamoed?

Are there restrictions as to cutting fingernails?

Answers coming BE"H next week.

Vort on the Parsha

Hashem instructed Moshe Rabeinu to tell B'nei Yisroel to make themselves holy "today and tomorrow"(19:10). Rav Sternbuch sees from this that avodas Hashem requires continual effort and one cannot work for one day and rest on one's laurels.


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Note:  The purpose of this series is intended solely for the clarification of the topics discussed and not to render halachic decisions. It is intended to heighten everyone's awareness of important practical questions which do arise on this topic.  One must consult with a proper halachic authority in order to receive p'sak.