08. Holiday Needs

Floors may be washed on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed using a squeegee stick and a rag. However, one may not give the floors an extra-thorough cleaning and polish, because that is skilled labor. Additionally, on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed one should not do the type of cleaning that is generally done only every few weeks (such as cleaning the windows). This is because choosing to do periodic maintenance work on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed makes it looks like he intentionally put it off until then, thus belittling the festival (SA 540:2; SSK 66:47). Similarly, while rugs and carpets may be cleaned and vacuumed, they may not be cleaned extremely thoroughly or be beaten outside, as people do only occasionally.

If furniture breaks, one may do a temporary repair that is easy and inexpert, such as gluing a chair leg into place. The repair may not be done in a professional fashion.

It should be emphasized that the permissibility of cleaning the house and carpets and fixing furniture inexpertly applies only when meeting a festival need. However, if one does not plan to use the house for the rest of the festival, he may not clean and prepare it for after the festival (SA and Rema 541:4-5; MB ad loc. 12).

If a bit of cement is stuck to the floor, and it makes walking more difficult or looks ugly, it may be removed by hand or with an implement in an unskilled way, even if doing so requires physical effort (see above, section 2).

Plants that are watered every few days may be watered with a hose or watering can on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed. This is true whether they are in a planter or a garden, as long as watering them will beautify the home or garden on the festival. Similarly, flowers or twigs may be gathered and used to decorate the house during the festival, because watering plants and picking flowers are unskilled labor (SSK 66:57). Even if the plants won’t contribute anything to the festival, they may be watered if failure to do so would cause them harm. This is considered a case of preventing a loss (see 12:2 below).

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Translated By:
Series Editor: Rabbi Elli Fischer

The Laws of Shabbat (1+2) - Yocheved Cohen
The Laws of Prayer - Atira Ote
The Laws of Women’s Prayer - Atira Ote
The Laws of Pesach - Joshua Wertheimer
The Laws of Zemanim - Moshe Lichtman

Editor: Nechama Unterman