10 – The Mitzvot of Ḥol Ha-mo’ed

01. Ḥol Ha-mo’ed

The festivals of Pesaḥ and Sukkot begin and end with a day of Yom Tov (two days in the Diaspora). In between is Ḥol Ha-mo’ed. Pesaḥ is a week long (eight days in the Diaspora), including five days of Ḥol Ha-mo’ed (four in the Diaspora). The combination of Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret is eight days long (nine in the Diaspora), including six days of Ḥol Ha-mo’ed (five in the Diaspora). Thus we read about Pesaḥ: “And on the fifteenth day of that month is the Lord’s Feast of Unleavened Bread. You shall eat unleavened bread for seven days. On the first day you shall celebrate a sacred occasion: you shall not do any melakha of labor. Seven days you shall make offerings by fire to the Lord. The seventh day shall be a sacred occasion: you shall not do any melakha of labor” (Vayikra 23:6-8). It is similarly written regarding Sukkot: “Say to the Israelite people: On the fifteenth day of this seventh month there shall be the Feast of Booths to the Lord, [to last] seven days. The first day shall be a sacred occasion: you shall not do any melakha of labor; seven days you shall bring offerings by fire to the Lord. On the eighth day you shall observe a sacred occasion and bring an offering by fire to the Lord; it is a solemn gathering: you shall not do any melakha of labor” (Vayikra 23:34-36).

Ḥol Ha-mo’ed has an in-between status. On one hand, it is ḥol (weekday); on the other hand, it is mo’ed (festival). Therefore, it is referred to as Ḥol Ha-mo’ed, the “weekday of the festival.” These days are included as part of the festival, and there is a Torah obligation of simḥa on them. Furthermore, festival offerings are offered on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed, just as they are on Yom Tov. It is only by including these days that Pesaḥ and Sukkot can be said to last seven days. On Ḥol Ha-mo’ed Pesaḥ, eating ḥametz is prohibited; on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed Sukkot, sitting in the sukka is a mitzva. These observances are the same as those of Yom Tov. The days of Ḥol Ha-mo’ed are included in the festivals that the Torah calls “sacred occasions” (mikra’ei kodesh), as we read: “Those are the set times of the Lord that you shall celebrate as sacred occasions, bringing offerings by fire to the Lord – burnt offerings, meal offerings, sacrifices, and libations – on each day what is proper to it” (Vayikra 23:37). Accordingly, the Musaf service of Ḥol Ha-mo’ed includes the phrase: “this day of sacred occasion” (SA 490:3; MB ad loc. 6).

On the other hand, when the Torah relates to the festivals in more detail, it emphasizes that the first and last days are sacred occasions during which melekhet avoda is forbidden. By implication, the days of Ḥol Ha-mo’ed are not sacred occasions with respect to melakha. Therefore, it is permissible to undertake melakha that is for the sake of the festival or that is necessary to avert a loss. Since these days have an aspect of ḥol, we recite havdala between Yom Tov and Ḥol Ha-mo’ed, and include the phrase “Who distinguishes between the sacred and the mundane” (2:11 above).

In this chapter we will explore the mitzvot of Ḥol Ha-mo’ed, and then in the following two chapters we will explain in more detail the laws pertaining to doing melakha on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed. Chapter 11 will deal with the Ḥol Ha-mo’ed laws that are relevant to everyone in their daily lives, and chapter 12 will address the various circumstances that may justify working on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed.

02. Prayers

The prayers recited on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed reflect its status as a mixture of kodesh and ḥol. At Shaḥarit, Minḥa, and Ma’ariv, we recite the weekday prayers, mentioning the festival only in Ya’aleh Ve-yavo during the Amida. One who forgets Ya’aleh Ve-yavo but realizes it before finishing the Amida returns to the beginning of Retzei, recites Ya’aleh Ve-yavo, and continues through the end of the Amida. However, if he does not realize his omission until he has finished the Amida (even if he has not yet taken the three steps backwards), he must repeat the Amida from the beginning so as to include Ya’aleh Ve-yavo (SA 490:2).

Hallel immediately follows the conclusion of the Shaḥarit Amida. On Ḥol Ha-mo’ed Sukkot we recite the entire Hallel, while on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed Pesaḥ we recite “half-Hallel,” as explained above (2:7).

The Sages ordained that relevant Torah portions be read on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed. On each day of Pesaḥ we read a section of the Torah that mentions the festival, while on each day of Sukkot we read about the festival offerings as detailed in Bamidbar. Four people are called up to the Torah. This number expresses the in-between status of Ḥol Ha-mo’ed: on a regular weekday three people are called up, on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed four, and on Yom Tov five (Megilla 21a).

Just as one prays Musaf on Yom Tov, so he prays it on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed, because Musaf is in lieu of the additional offerings of the festival, and in this respect Ḥol Ha-mo’ed and Yom Tov are the same.

On Shabbat of Ḥol Ha-mo’ed, the prayers of Ma’ariv, Shaḥarit, and Minḥa are identical to those of a regular Shabbat, with the addition of Ya’aleh Ve-yavo in the Amida. However, the Amida for Musaf is that of the festival, with insertions for Shabbat; we mention Shabbat before the festival, as the sanctity of Shabbat takes precedence over the sanctity of festivals. Thus the berakha concludes: “Who sanctifies Shabbat, Israel, and the seasons.”

The Rishonim disagree about whether tefilin should be worn on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed. As is well known, on Shabbat and festivals it is forbidden to put on tefilin, because tefilin are a sign of the connection between God and the Jewish people. Since Shabbat and Yom Tov are likewise considered signs (“otot”), putting on tefilin then is an affront to the status of these holy days. As for Ḥol Ha-mo’ed, some say that since some melakhot are permitted then, it is not considered a sign, and therefore a man must put on tefilin then (Rosh; Rema). Many practiced this way in most Ashkenazic communities. Others maintain though that since ḥametz is prohibited on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed Pesaḥ and sukka is mandatory on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed Sukkot, Ḥol Ha-mo’ed indeed functions as a sign of the connection between God and the Jews. Accordingly, in order to avoid belittling Ḥol Ha-mo’ed by implying that it is not a sign, one may not wear tefilin on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed (Rashba; SA 32:2). This was the practice in Sephardic communities and some Ashkenazic communities. Today, in the Diaspora each community should continue following its custom. However, in Eretz Yisrael, the widespread custom of all communities is to refrain from putting on tefilin on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed. Everyone who makes aliya must adopt this custom of Eretz Yisrael.[1]


[1]. Among the Ashkenazim who put on tefilin on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed, some recited the berakha (Rosh), some did not (Maharil), and still others recited the berakha quietly so as to avoid disputes (Rema). The Vilna Gaon did not wear tefilin on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed at all. Many later authorities favored putting on tefilin without a berakha, since a berakha is not recited in a case of doubt (Taz; Pri Megadim; Maḥatzit Ha-shekel; Derekh Ha-ḥayim; Ḥayei Adam; MB 32:8). Sephardim do not put on tefilin on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed following Behag, Raavad, Ramban, and Rashba. This is also the opinion of Beit Yosef (OḤ 32:2) based on Zohar. This was the practice of Arizal, as well as of many Eastern European ḥasidim. The disagreement about tefilin is independent of the disagreement about whether melakha on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed is a Torah prohibition or a rabbinic one. For example, Behag states that the prohibition is rabbinic, and also that wearing tefilin on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed is prohibited, while Ritva maintains that the prohibition is biblical, and also that one must put on tefilin on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed (MK 19a; See Ḥazon Ovadia, pp. 160-161). In Eretz Yisrael, no one puts on tefilin on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed. Even those who made aliya from Ashkenazic countries accepted the custom of Arizal and the Vilna Gaon. Since it is proper that everyone in a given synagogue should follow the same practice (Artzot Ha-ḥayim; MB 32:8), all attendees should be instructed not to put on tefilin on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed.

03. Rejoicing, Festive Meals, and Clothing

There is a mitzva for everyone to enjoy Ḥol Ha-mo’ed with their family and household members, as we read (Devarim 16:14): “You shall rejoice in your festival with your son and daughter, your male and female slave, the Levite, the stranger, the orphan, and the widow in your communities” (MT, Laws of Yom Tov 6:17).

This mitzva of simḥa should be expressed through food and clothing, as these are the means generally used to express joy. Additionally, since Ḥol Ha-mo’ed is a sacred occasion in a certain sense (see section 1 above), one should sanctify it with “food, drink, and clean clothing” (Sifra, Emor 12:4).

Therefore, it is a mitzva to have two proper meals on each day of Ḥol Ha-mo’ed and to serve bread as well as food that people enjoy. It is also a mitzva to drink a revi’it (roughly 2.5 oz or 75 ml) of wine, which brings joy. The mitzva can be fulfilled with other alcoholic beverages, but wine is the best, as it is the finest beverage. One who enjoys eating meat should preferably eat meat or poultry during these meals. All who honor and glorify the festivals, spending generously to enjoy them with food and drink for the sake of heaven, will receive double reward (Arizal). One who finds it difficult to eat two meat meals a day may skip the meat at one of the meals but should make sure to have other food he enjoys. It is customary to cover the table with a tablecloth throughout Ḥol Ha-mo’ed, as one does on Yom Tov (AHS 530:4).

Since the days of Ḥol Ha-mo’ed are not actually Yom Tov, having a meal with bread then is a mitzva but not an obligation. One who does not want to eat bread during these meals is not required to do so. Similarly, one who does not want to have extra food or to drink wine is not required to do so. Nevertheless, his meals on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed still must be superior to his weekday meals. If he eats the same way on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed as he does during the week, he is denigrating the festival, and the Sages have stated: “One who belittles Ḥol Ha-mo’ed has no portion in the World to Come” (Pirkei Avot 3:11, following Rashi and R. Ovadia of Bertinoro).

Since there is no obligation to eat bread at the Ḥol Ha-mo’ed meals, one who ate bread but forgot to include Ya’aleh Ve-yavo in Birkat Ha-mazon need not repeat it. The basic principle is that a day on which there is no obligation to eat bread, one who forgets to invoke the day need not repeat Birkat Ha-mazon (SA 188:7; 2:6 above).

On Ḥol Ha-mo’ed, there is a mitzva to wear nice clothing that brings one joy. Especially meticulous people wear Shabbat clothes on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed, but this is not obligatory. However, it is obligatory that there be a noticeable difference between the clothes worn on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed and those worn during the week.[2]

Included in the mitzva of simḥa is doing enjoyable things such as singing, dancing, and tiyulim (outings). Each person should do what makes him happy (1:13 above).


[2]. Rambam states that the mitzva to rejoice applies to Ḥol Ha-mo’ed just as it applies to Yom Tov (MT, Laws of Yom Tov 6:17). SAH 529:5 adds that the mitzvot of kavod and oneg are not applicable since Ḥol Ha-mo’ed is not considered a sacred occasion. However, in Mekhilta De-Rashbi (Bo, 9) we find that Ḥol Ha-mo’ed is indeed considered a sacred occasion, and thus there is a mitzva to sanctify it through food, drink, and clean clothes. SHT 530:4 explains that Ḥol Ha-mo’ed has an in-between status: on one hand, it does not have the same level of work prohibition as Yom Tov, and therefore there is no obligation to eat bread at its meals. Accordingly, if one forgot to recite Ya’aleh Ve-yavo in Birkat Ha-mazon on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed, he need not repeat it (SA 188:7). On the other hand, since Ḥol Ha-mo’ed is a sacred occasion in a certain sense, there is a mitzva to eat bread at its meals and honor it by wearing nice clothes. See Peninei Halakha: Pesaḥ 12:1, where we cite the opinion that there is a mitzva to recite “ha-motzi” and eat matza twice a day on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed Pesaḥ. Some extrapolate from this that there is a similar mitzva to recite “ha-motzi” and eat bread twice a day on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed Sukkot (MB 639:24).

04. Weddings

Getting married on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed is forbidden, as we do not mix two joyful occasions together. There is already a commandment to rejoice on the festival, as we read: “You shall rejoice in your festival” (Devarim 16:14). It would dilute the joy of the festival if we combined it with the joy of another celebration. Newlyweds are so focused on enjoying each other’s company that they would likely neglect the festival. Additionally, the tremendous amount of work involved in organizing a wedding and setting up a household would likely detract from the joy of the festival. Furthermore, the Sages were concerned that if marrying on the festival were permitted, couples would push off getting married until the festival and thus delay fulfilling the mitzva to be fruitful and multiply. A festival wedding would be doubly appealing: more people would likely be able to participate in the celebration, and the couple could save money by combining the festival meal and the wedding meal (MK 8b).

Not only are first marriages prohibited on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed, but so are second marriages, as they too involve great joy. However, a divorced couple who decide to remarry each other may do so on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed, as their marriage does not involve such great joy (SA 546:1-2).

One may get married the day before a festival and recite Sheva Berakhot at the festive meals, because in such a case, the joy of the festival is primary, and the joy of the Sheva Berakhot does not detract from it but rather reinforces it (SA 546:3).

The festive meals accompanying a brit mila or pidyon ha-ben can be held on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed (SA 546:4). The joy associated with these events is not great enough for us to be concerned about its overshadowing the joy of the festival.

An engagement party may be held during the festival, although some maintain that the refreshments must be light, meaning a full meal may not be served (Taz 546:2). One who is lenient and serves a meal has an opinion to rely upon (MB 546:2).

05. Avoiding Distress

When someone passes away on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed, it is permissible to take care of all burial needs. This includes sewing the shrouds and digging the grave, when necessary (SA 547:10; 12:11 below). However, eulogies are not delivered on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed, since there is a Torah obligation to rejoice then. For this reason, one should make sure not to indulge in excessive crying and mourning (MK 27a; SA 547:1).

If the deceased is a Torah scholar, eulogies are delivered at the funeral, as the honor due to Torah overrides the joy of the festival (MK 27b; SA YD 401:5). Some maintain that nowadays nobody has mastered the entire Torah, and thus even Torah scholars should not be eulogized on the festival (MA; MB 547:12). In practice, the custom is to eulogize a great Torah scholar who is well known as an educator (marbitz Torah) or halakhic authority (moreh hora’ah la-rabim), but to make the eulogies shorter than they otherwise would have been.

According to Shulḥan Arukh, even on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed, relatives who are obligated to mourn tear their clothes during the funeral (SA 547:6). Nevertheless, many people (both Sephardim and Ashkenazim) tear only for their parents, not for other relatives (Rema ad loc.; Kaf Ha-ḥayim ad loc. 30).

After the funeral, the mourners resume wearing their festival clothes. They do not begin mourning practices, since the joy of the festival defers the mourning. Only after the festival do the relatives sit shiva. Even though the mourners do not sit shiva on the festival, their close friends come to visit and comfort them (SA 548:6).

The Sages ordained that on a festival, a Kohen should not examine someone with symptoms of tzara’at, because if the Kohen determines that the person is impure, it would ruin his festival. Rather, the examination should take place after the festival (MK 7a; MT, Laws of Yom Tov 7:16).

Fasting is forbidden on the festival, even personal fasts that one might undertake as atonement for his sins (SAH 288:3; MB 529:1).

As described above, on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed we should avoid anything that causes distress, even mitzvot such as delivering eulogies and examining tzara’at. How much more so must we be careful to avoid conversations likely to cause distress. This includes speaking about loved ones who have passed on, or about aggravating subjects (Ru’aḥ Ḥayim 529:4).

06. Studying Torah

There is a mitzva to study Torah on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed, as God gave the festivals to the Jews so that they could study Torah in peace and joy. This is the same reason that work is prohibited on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed, as Sefer Ha-ḥinukh (§323) states: “For the days of Ḥol Ha-mo’ed were not established for working, but rather for rejoicing before God, that is, for gathering together in study halls and listening to beautiful expositions of the holy books.” Furthermore, the Sages state (San. 99a): “Anyone who is capable of studying Torah but does not do so is in the category of those who have ‘spurned the word of the Lord and violated His commandment’ (Bamidbar 15:31).”

As we have seen (1:5-6 above), on Shabbat and festivals one must divide his time between God and himself – “half the time eating and drinking, and half the time in the beit midrash” (Pesaḥim 68b). If this is the case even on Yom Tov, when it is a mitzva to have large leisurely meals, it is certainly true of Ḥol Ha-mo’ed – one must dedicate at least half his day to Torah study. This is also why the Sages forbade commerce on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed even though it is not an absolute melakha. Business dealings are time-consuming and worrisome, and thus likely to detract from festival joy and Torah study (AHS 539:4).

We calculated above (1:6 n. 2) that in order to dedicate half a day to God, one must dedicate about nine hours to Torah and prayer on Shabbat and holidays, and at a minimum six hours to Torah. Thus, on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed, when the prayers take less time, one should dedicate more than six hours to Torah study, in order to reach a total of nine hours dedicated to God.

According to the Yerushalmi, “R. Abba bar Mamal said: If only someone would be willing to join with me, I would permit melakha on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed! The only reason to prohibit melakha then is so that people will eat, drink, rejoice, and study Torah – but instead people eat, drink, and act frivolously” (y. MK 2:3). We see that wasting time which could have been used for Torah study on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed is even worse than doing melakha then (Kol Bo §60).

Along these lines, our Sages expound upon the verse: “These are My fixed times (mo’adai)” (Vayikra 23:2). “When you keep the commandments and sanctify the festivals by gathering the nation together in places of worship in order to study Torah, then God says, ‘These are My times.’ Otherwise God says, ‘These are not My times but yours.’” Compare R. Akiva’s response to a certain heretic, who challenged him by asking: “Why do you keep the festivals? Does it not say (Yeshayahu 1:14), ‘Your new moons and fixed seasons fill Me with loathing’?” R. Akiva responded: “If our intention is only to pleasure our bodies, then these are not God’s times but our times. It is then that God says He is filled with loathing. However, if the festivals are dedicated to divine worship and Torah study, they are not hated but loved and precious” (Bamidbar Rabba 21:25 as paraphrased by Shlah, Masekhet Sukka, Ner Mitzva §35).

  1. Moshe ben Makhir writes:

A person should not say, “Since I cannot do melakha on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed, I will eat, drink, go on outings, and enjoy myself,” because this is not the purpose of the festivals. God forbid that anyone would believe it is! Rather, the truth is that the festivals were given to the Jews only in order to free them from their work, allowing them to study Torah undisturbed. These are auspicious days for Torah study, when study is blessed with success. Therefore, one must not lose them to food, drink, sleep, and outings. Rather, each person should stay put, and focus on studying whatever area of Torah God has given him a talent for – whether it is Tanakh, Mishna, or Gemara. He should eat food that is good and tasty, drink as appropriate, and sleep a bit. All of this gives oneg to his body. Afterward, for the rest of his day he should give oneg to his neglected soul, which is like a prisoner in exile. No one cares about the soul and its purpose, as they are all too busy pandering to the evil inclination and the lowly desires of the pitiful body…. There is extra sanctity on all the days of the festival…. It makes no sense that the holy days of Ḥol Ha-mo’ed would be given us so we could eat, drink, and treat them like regular weekdays. One who does treat them in this way has been struck with madness, and in the future will be called to account for desecrating these holy and special days. (Seder Ha-yom, Inyan Ḥol Ha-mo’ed)

Outings do have a place on the festival. As we saw, the Sages permit carrying on Yom Tov as part of an outing in the public domain (6:2 above). Similarly, if one wishes to take a trip on horseback, he may prepare with unskilled labor: trimming the horse’s hooves, and fixing the saddle and bridle (SA 536:1; 11:15 below). However, the permissibility is limited to short outings, which contribute to festival joy and are not exhausting or burdensome. They certainly should not come at the expense of the half of every day that must be dedicated to Torah study.

In order to visit Jerusalem, the city of holiness and of the Temple, or in order to visit one’s rabbi, a long journey may be undertaken (1:16-17 above), even if this means that one will not be able to dedicate half of that day to Torah. It would seem that doing these mitzvot includes both halves: the travel is the half “for you,” while the mitzva it facilitates is the half “for God.” After all, being present in God’s courtyard and visiting one’s rabbi are serious and important preparations for Torah study.

07. The Spiritual Significance of Ḥol Ha-mo’ed

Ḥol Ha-mo’ed is unique. At first glance, it would seem that after attaining an elevated state on Yom Tov, we should maintain it for the entirety of the festival. Nevertheless, after the first day(s) of Yom Tov we observe Ḥol Ha-mo’ed, and only at the conclusion of the festival do we return to the elevated state of Yom Tov. I will offer a brief explanation of the significance of this, based on the wonderful explanations of R. Natan, the disciple of R. Nachman of Breslov.

The Ba’al Shem Tov offers an analogy. When we begin to teach a child to walk, we help him out. Later, we let him try to stand and walk on his own. At first he falls, but eventually he succeeds. Similarly, at the beginning of a person’s spiritual ascent, heaven provides him with a great illumination, beyond his true level. Afterward, it is removed, and he falls. He must now work hard to hold on to what he has and resist any temptations. By doing so, he comes to earn the great illumination. This time he will not fall, because now he deserves it.

Based on this, we can understand what Ḥol Ha-mo’ed is all about. At the beginning of the festival God enlightens us with a great illumination – beyond what we deserve. When Yom Tov ends, He removes the light. Our job is to strengthen ourselves during Ḥol Ha-mo’ed, by studying Torah and enjoying the festival. With this strength, we earn the additional Yom Tov at the festival’s conclusion. Since we have prepared ourselves during Ḥol Ha-mo’ed, we are on a higher level. This idea accords with the statement of the Sages that the level which the Jews attained on the seventh day of Pesaḥ at the splitting of the Red Sea was greater than the level they had attained on the first day of Pesaḥ at the slaying of the Egyptian firstborn. Additionally, the Sages state that a maidservant at the sea saw things that Yeshayahu and Yeḥezkel were unable to see (Mekhilta, Beshalaḥ). At the end of Sukkot as well, there is extra joy when we celebrate Shemini Atzeret. This fits with the statement of the Sages (Sukka 55b) that for the first seven days of Sukkot, our rejoicing with God is shared with all the nations, while on Shemini Atzeret God celebrates with us alone (Likutei Halakhot, Ḥol Ha-mo’ed 1:1 and 2:1).

Another purpose is served by the spiritual descent from Yom Tov to Ḥol Ha-mo’ed. It allows for the uplifting of weaker souls, for whom the sanctity of Yom Tov is too overwhelming. Since Ḥol Ha-mo’ed is closer to a weekday, they can ascend during this time with the help of the mitzvot observed then: studying Torah, enjoying the festival, strengthening relationships with friends, and giving charity. An indication of our spiritual mission on Ḥol Ha-mo’ed can be seen in the type of melakha permitted then – melakha to avoid a loss. This alludes to the idea that these days are set aside to elevate lost souls. Melakha for the sake of the festival is permitted as well, which hints that through Ḥol Ha-mo’ed we can understand the meaning of the festivals and thus achieve the ability to absorb the great light of the last day(s) of Yom Tov (ibid., 3:4; 3:6; 4:3; 4:6).

There is yet another purpose to the days of Ḥol Ha-mo’ed. Since they have an aspect of weekday, their sanctity extends to, and is revealed in, the weekdays. It is important to note that the holier the day, the more recognizable the divine overflow, and the more sweeping the prohibition of melakha. In contrast, the farther one gets from divine bounty, the harder he must work and the more he must suffer to earn a living (as restitution for Adam’s sin). Our mission is to reveal God’s word in everything we do. By doing so, we begin a gradual process that will free us from the burden of making a living and enable us to work in a relaxed, joyful way for the sake of heaven (see 3:1 above).

Shabbat is the foundation of the sanctity of time. Its sanctity is eternal, going back all the way to the six days of creation. Therefore, it is forbidden to do any melakha on Shabbat. The Jews are commanded to extend this sanctity. First, the holiness extends to the days of Yom Tov, which are weekdays sanctified by the Jewish people and thus transformed into holy days (as explained in 1:3 above). Since the days of Yom Tov are sanctified by the Jews, it is permitted to engage in melakha necessary to provide Jews with food (okhel nefesh). However, this still leaves weekdays distant from holiness. For this reason, God gave us the days of Ḥol Ha-mo’ed, which are “intermediate days” when some work is permitted and some is prohibited. Through the work that we do then for the sake of heaven, holiness is extended to all the work we need to do during the weekdays throughout the year. This is the main sense of “repairing the world”; even work for a livelihood must also be for the sake of heaven – to repair the world and improve it, to increase charity, and to set aside time for Torah study. In this way we repair all 39 types of labor, so that they will no longer be associated with the sin and punishment that make people subordinate themselves to materialism. Rather, they will be sanctified to establish a dwelling and home for the presence of the Shekhina (Likutei Halakhot, Ḥol Ha-mo’ed 4:8).

Contents