17. Moving Items When It Requires Effort

The Sages prohibited doing anything very labor-intensive in public that is not necessary for the festival, even when there is no technical melakha involved, in order to encourage people to enjoy the festival and avoid belittling it. Therefore, the Sages forbade moving furniture and other items from one house to another (MK 13a). It is permissible only if the two homes are next door to one another and the moving does not involve carrying things through the street, because moving items for such a short distance does not involve much effort and can be accomplished discreetly. Similarly, furniture and other items may be moved from one apartment to another in the same building (SA 535:1; Levush ad loc. 1; MB ad loc. 6). Moving the contents of an entire household is still prohibited, since that is very labor-intensive.[10]

What if individual items need to be moved for festival needs – such as tables, chairs, and fans for a meal, or cots or mattresses for guests to sleep on? If it is reasonable to assume that people seeing the moving will realize that it is for festival needs, it is permitted, but if their natural assumption would be that the moving is being done for weekday needs (such as when moving a cupboard), it is prohibited (SA 535:1; MB ad loc. 4).

If yeshiva students are visiting the yeshiva dorm during their Ḥol Ha-mo’ed break and intend to return home shortly, they may not take advantage of their visit in order to bring linens and books to the dorms, which they will make use of only upon their return to yeshiva after the festival. However, if on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed they have the help of one who has a car, while after the festival they would have to rent a car, this is considered a case of preventing a loss, so they may transport the items on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed (SA 538:3).

The Sages prohibit picking up items such as clothing or furniture from a professional unless they are necessary for the festival. First, transporting them is both inconvenient and unnecessary for the festival. Second, when people see one doing so, they might think he requested that the professional fix the items during the festival.[11]

However, when these items are necessary for the festival, one may pick them up. Therefore, he may pick up chairs needed for a meal, a blanket for warmth on the festival, and even a refrigerator for storing food or an oven for cooking on the festival. (It is also permitted to take the items to be repaired, as we explained above in section 4.)

The Sages forbade taking garbage from one’s courtyard to the central garbage dump, because it was both very physically demanding and unnecessary. However, if so much garbage accumulated that it was dirtying the yard, they permitted removing it and taking it to the communal dump (Pesaḥim 55b; SA 535:3). Nowadays, when yards are small and garbage is plentiful, it is necessary to have garbage pickups over Ḥol Ha-mo’ed. This is included in festival needs as well as communal needs (below 12:9).


[10]. The Yerushalmi states that if a person has the chance on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed to move from a home he is renting to a smaller place that he owns, he may move even though the new place is on a different block, as living in one’s own home is a pleasure and contributes to festival joy (y. MK 2:4; SA 535:2). It would seem, though, that this permission was limited to times when people had few possessions and generally lived in one room. Today, when a family has a great deal of furniture and possessions to move, moving is very labor-intensive. Therefore, it is prohibited to move on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed, even into a home of one’s own, and even within the same building. For it is hard to think of something more joy-sapping and festival-belittling than moving. If delaying the move will lead to a very great loss, a halakhic authority should be consulted. In any case, if one could have moved before the festival but did not make the effort to do so, then even if he will suffer a great loss, it is not permitted.

[11]. If the professional does not have food for the festival, one should pay him for his work, but leave the items with him until after the festival. If one is afraid to leave the items there out of concern that the professional might sell them to someone else, he may take the items to the home of a friend who lives near the professional. If this is not possible, he may pick them up and take them to his home as discreetly as possible (MK 13a; SA 534:3).

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