Peninei Halakha

10. Cutting Nails

One whose nails are overgrown should cut them before the festival. However, according to most poskim, if he did not do so, he may cut them be-di’avad during Ḥol Ha-mo’ed. It is permitted as it is considered a bodily need, and bodily needs may be taken care of on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed (Rif; Rambam; Rosh; Smag; SA 534:1). Others are stringent and state that just as the Sages forbade getting haircuts during Ḥol Ha-mo’ed, they also forbade cutting nails. The logic is the same; the Sages wanted to encourage people to look their best before Yom Tov (Smak; Sefer Ha-teruma).

Even though the primary position is the lenient one, the custom in Ashkenazic and some Sephardic communities is to be stringent and not cut nails during Ḥol Ha-mo’ed (Rema 532:1; Kaf Ha-ḥayim ad loc. 4). Even according to the stringent opinion, though, one who cut his nails before the festival may cut them again on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed (MA; MB ad loc. 2; AHS ad loc. 2). If one cuts his nails every Friday, he may cut them on Friday of Ḥol Ha-mo’ed as well, even if he did not cut them before the festival (Naḥalat Shiva 2:57).[5]

[5]. Some apply Rema’s stringency in that case as well, and permit nail-cutting only in the case of a woman who needs to immerse in the mikveh. However, we need not defer to this position, since the majority of Rishonim allow nails to be cut on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed. Even among those who are stringent, many permit it in the cases discussed above (see Kaf Ha-ḥayim 532:5, 7). Furthermore, this is a disagreement about a rabbinic law. Additionally, AHS 532:2 states that if one following Ashkenazic custom was extremely busy before the festival, he may cut his nails on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed if necessary.

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The Laws of Shabbat (1+2) - Yocheved Cohen
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The Laws of Pesach - Joshua Wertheimer
The Laws of Zemanim - Moshe Lichtman

Editor: Nechama Unterman