- Chol HaMoed
Chol HaMoed, (Hebrew: חול המועד) a Hebrew phrase meaning "weekdays [of] the festival" (literal translation: "sand [of] the occasion"), refers to the intermediate days of Passover and Sukkot. During Chol HaMoed the usual restrictions that apply to the Biblical Jewish holidays are relaxed, but not entirely eliminated. For example, work that would normally be prohibited on the festival would be allowed to prevent financial loss or if the results of the work are needed for the festival itself. Work for public need is also allowed. Many tasks such as laundry washing, hair cutting and shaving are to be avoided except in some circumstances.
Hallel and Mussaf prayers must be said on these days, as on Yom Tov, although on Chol Hamoed of Passover, an abridged form of Hallel is recited. The tachanun prayer is also omitted.
Passover is a seven-day festival (eight in the Diaspora), of which days second through sixth - third through sixth in the Diaspora - are Chol HaMoed. Sukkot is a seven-day festival, of which days second through seventh (third through seventh in the Diaspora) are Chol HaMoed.
On Chol HaMoed there are four aliyot at the Torah reading in synagogue, as opposed to the standard three of weekdays, pointing to the festive nature of Chol HaMoed.
On Chol HaMoed, there are variant customs regarding whether tefillin should be worn. Many streams of Ashkenazi Jews and Yemenite Jews do wear them, while Sephardic Jews, Ashkenazi followers of the Vilna Gaon and Chabad Chassidim do not. In the United States, there is a pretty fair split between those who do and do not wear Tefillin on Chol HaMoed. In Israel however, the Vilna Gaon has a stronger influence and almost all Jews abstain from wearing Tefillin on Chol HaMoed.
Among those who do wear tefillin on Chol HaMoed, some omit the blessings and others recite the blessings, depending on one's ancestral custom. Even those who wear tefillin on Chol HaMoed remove the tefillin before Hallel, out of respect for the festive nature of Chol HaMoed, a festive nature which is especially palpable during the recitation of Hallel. The one exception to this practice is the third day of Pesach, when the Torah reading (which follows Hallel) discusses the mitzvah of tefillin. Because the Torah reading on that particular day especially focuses on the tefillin, those who wear tefillin on Chol HaMoed retain their tefillin during Hallel and only remove the tefillin after the Torah reading is completed and the Torah scroll has been returned to the Ark.
- ^ Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, 530
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