Halacha Date: 18 Tishrei 5780 October 17 2019
The days between the first and seventh days (outside of Israel between the second and eighth days) of the Pesach holiday and the days between the first day of Sukkot and the holiday of Shemini Atzeret (outside of Israel between the second day of Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret) are called “Chol Ha’Mo’ed”- the intermediate days of the holiday. The Torah calls these days “Occasions of Holiness” and we mention this idea in the Mussaf prayer of Chol Ha’Mo’ed as well. It is a Mitzvah to study more Torah than usual on these days, for words of Torah gladden the heart. One may not perform work on these days, so as not to treat these days as any other mundane weekdays which have no sanctity at all. On the other hand, not all forms of work are forbidden on these days, for their sanctity is not as great as Yom Tov; rather, only several forms of work are forbidden. Any work which will be lost and not able to be performed after the holiday if it not performed on Chol Ha’Mo’ed may indeed be performed during these days. Thus, if one knows that if he does not go to work on Chol Ha’Mo’ed, he will be dismissed from his job, he may indeed continue to work during these days.
It is likewise proper to wear nice and clean clothing as well as eat and drink tasty foods and beverages in honor of Chol Ha’Mo’ed. It is a positive Torah commandment to be glad on Chol Ha’Mo’ed. It is preferable, wherever possible for one to make two meals with Matzah a day during Chol Ha’Mo’ed Pesach, once in the morning and once at night. Furthermore, it is a Mitzvah to delight over meat and wine. It is nevertheless not obligatory to eat a bread meal during Chol Ha’Moed. It is likewise a Mitzvah to gladden one’s wife and older daughters during the festival through buying them nice clothing and jewelry based on one’s individual financial means. One should also purchase sweets and goodies for his younger children.
The Talmud Yerushalmi (Mo’ed Katan, Chapter 2, Halacha 3) states: “Rabbi Abba bar Mamal said: If only I had whom to join me and annul the edict of our Sages, I would allow performing work on Chol Ha’Mo’ed, for the reason why work is forbidden on Chol Ha’Mo’ed is in order for the people to eat, drink, and study Torah; now, however, they eat drink, and act frivolously.” Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l deduces from here that the prohibition to act in a frivolous and light-hearted manner on Chol Ha’Mo’ed is more severe than the prohibition to perform work during these days, for the intention of the Torah’s giving festivals to the Jewish nation was in order for them to come closer to Hashem, His Torah, and His Mitzvot.