Dvar Ha'aved on Chol Hamoed

From Halachipedia

Running a Business

  1. It is permitted to work on chol hamoed if there is a dvar ha'aved. Dvar Hamoed means losing capital and not missing an opportunity to make money.[1]
  2. If someone is in danger of losing his job if he doesn't go to work on chol hamoed it is permitted for him to work.
  3. If someone has vacation days that he can take on chol hamoed but would prefer to use them at other times, it is forbidden for him to work on chol hamoed and he should take the vacation days then.
  4. If someone runs a business that has overhead costs, such as rent for office space or salaried workers, who he has to pay whether or not the business is open on chol hamoed, some poskim consider that dvar ha'aved.[2] Other poskim hold that it is not dvar ha'aved.[3]
  5. Losing a customer is considered a dvar ha'aved. Accordingly, if a business thinks that if by closing for chol hamoed it will permanently lose steady customers it is permitted to remain open on chol hamoed. However, unnecessary melacha must be avoided. If an order can wait to be fulfilled until after the moed, melacha to fulfill that order may not be done on the moed.[4] A rabbi should be consulted.

Watering Plants

  1. It is permitted to water plants that need be watered on chol hamoed in order to continue growing. If without water they'll die it is permitted to water them. However, if without water they'll grow but the fruits will just come more slowly or there will be fewer that is not a dvar ha'aved and it is forbidden to water them on the moed.[5]
  2. It is only permitted to water plants with water from the tap or hose directly. That is the modern-day equivalent to water from a spring, which Chazal permitted.[6] However, one may not draw with buckets to water plants even if they would die without the water.[7]
  3. If a plant is also ready to be picked, it is permitted even to draw water to water plants in order to pick them and eat them on the moed.[8] However, it is forbidden to water plants to improve them for after the moed.[9]

Can dvar haaved be done normally on Chol Hamoed?

  1. If there is a concern of a significant loss it is permitted to do melacha for dvar haaved normally without doing a shinuy (something abnormal). However, if there is a very minor concern of a loss it is only permitted to do melacha for dvar haaved with a shinuy.[10]

Can excessive effort be done for dvar haaved?

  1. It is forbidden to do excessive effort (tircha yetera) when doing a dvar haaved.[11]

Can a professional be asked to do melacha for dvar haaved?

  1. It is permitted to do a maaseh uman (professional work) for a dvar ha'aved.[12]

Can it be done in public?

  1. When doing melacha for dvar haaved it is necessary to do the melacha in private if possible. For example, if it can be done at night in a way that less people would see it if done at night it must be done at night.[13]

Intentionally leaving a dvar haaved for the moed

  1. If someone planned to do melacha to save a dvar haaved on the moed it is forbidden for him to do that melacha on the moed. This principle is called mechaven melachto bmoed (trans. planning to do work on the moed). Furthermore, if he does that melacha the rabbis penalized him and make that work ownerless.[14]
  2. If someone planned to do work before the moed but then forgot about it (שכח), or delayed to do it after the moed and thought it wouldn't be lost beforehand and then it became a dvar haaved on the moed (נתעצל והיה סבור), or if an unforeseen circumstance arose that created a dvar haaved that he couldn't deal with before the moed, then it is permitted to do melacha on the moed.[15]
  3. If someone didn't know that he couldn't leave a dvar haaved to be done on the moed (אומר מותר) and only realized on the moed, some poskim don't consider this mechaven melachto bmoed,[16] while most others consider that to be mechaven melachto bmoed and is forbidden.[17]
  4. Someone who is lazy (נתעצל) and didn't deal with the dvar haaved before the moed and didn't intend to do it on the moed, for example he wasn't thinking at all about when he would get around to doing it, according to some poskim he may still do it on the moed.[18] However, some poskim hold that it is forbidden and considered mechaven melachto bmoed.[19]
  5. Someone who thought that it wasn't be a dvar haaved because he could wait until after the moed, and pushed off the dvar haaved (נתעצל והיה סבור) and then forgot isn't considered mechaven melachto bmoed.[20] However, someone who is lazy and knew that it would be a dvar haaved if he doesn't deal with it before or on the moed and pushed it off until right before the moed and then he forget is considered mechaven melachto bmoed according to some poskim. Most poskim are lenient about this case.[21]
  6. Someone who was busy with his work (טרוד בממונו) and didn't have time to deal with the dvar haaved before the moed, according to many poskim isn't considered mechaven melachto bmoed.[22] However, some poskim are strict.[23]
  7. Someone who has a dvar haaved and could hire a worker to do it before the moed, even though he can do it himself later, and doesn't do so is considered mechaven melachto bmoed.[24] However, many poskim disagree and hold that it isn't necessary and it isn't considered mechaven melachto bmoed.[25]
    1. If someone has vacation days when chol hamoed comes around and he doesn’t want to take them on chol hamoed so that he can take a vacation another time, that is considered mechaven melachto bmoed and forbidden. He must use his vacation days for chol hamoed and not work.[26]
    2. If he used up his vacation days and needs to work so as not to jeopardize his job that is permitted.[27]
    3. Is it permitted to take a vacation in the summer, using up some of his vacation days, knowing that if he does so then he won’t have vacation days left for chol hamoed? Some poskim technically allow it but add that it isn’t the proper practice,[28] other poskim forbid this.[29]
  8. If a person is in a state of emotional turmoil (מרירות לבו) and couldn’t deal with the dvar haaved before the moed that isn’t considered mechaven melachto bmoed according to some poskim.[30]
  9. Some poskim hold that an activity that isn't usually done except right before it is necessary can be done on the moed and it isn't considered mechaven melachto bmoed. For example, it isn't necessary to rip toilet paper before chol hamoed.[31]

Safek Dvar Ha'aved

  1. Safek dvar ha'aved is permitted.[32] The poskim write that if the concern that he'll come to a loss is likely to happen, because of a common occurence, then it is permitted. However, if the concern that he'll come to a loss is unlikely to happen, then it is forbidden.[33]

See Working on Chol Hamoed


  1. Moed Katan 2a, Shulchan Aruch O.C. 537:1. Tiferet Yisrael (Kupat Rochlim 5:5) holds that missing an extremely big opportunity is considered like a dvar ha'aved but that opinion is not accepted by the poskim.
  2. Aruch Hashulchan (YD 380:6, OC 533:3), Divrei Malkiel 2:100, Rav Moshe (Hilchot Chol Hamoed Zichron Shlomo teshuva n. 17), Rav Ovadia (Chazon Ovadia p. 182)
  3. Birkei Yosef 537:2 quoting Maharam Provansal, Rav Shlomo Zalman (Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata ch. 67 fnt. 40), Rav Yakov Kamenetsky (Hilchot Chol Hamoed Zichron Shlomo p. 56 fnt. 33), Minchat Yitzchak 6:52
  4. Hilchot Chol Hamoed Zichron Shlomo p. 56
  5. Moed Katan 2a, 6b, Shulchan Aruch O.C. 537:2
  6. Kaf Hachaim 537:13, Chazon Ish 134:14, Piskei Teshuvot 537:3. Kaf Hachaim writes that a machine which draws water from a spring that doesn't involve a lot of exertion is the equivalent of drawing water from a spring with one's foot which is permitted. Chazon Ish agrees regarding a pump that gets its water from a spring. Piskei Teshuvot applies this to modern day tap water. [Fundamentally, it doesn't matter if the tap water is from a spring or rainwater reservoir because they don't become used up when they're used normally. (Moed Katan 4a, Shulchan Aruch O.C. 537:3)]
  7. Moed Katan 2a, Shulchan Aruch O.C. 537:2
  8. Moed Katan 4a permits water plants to eat them on the moed. This is codified in Shulchan Aruch O.C. 537:4. In this case it is even permitted to draw water which is a tircha since it is for ochel nefesh. Mishna Brurah 537:14 quotes Ritva who adds that it is permitted to draw water for plants to sell for other people to eat them on the moed. That too is considered a need of ochel nefesh. (Note that Ochel Nefesh does not include non-Jews on Chol Hamoed, Chayey Adam 106:11.)
  9. Moed Katan 4a, Shulchan Aruch O.C. 537:4
  10. Rabbenu Gershom 6b s.v. uvsadeh, Shulchan Aruch O.C. 537:13, Mishna Brurah 537:37
  11. Moed Katan 2a, 4a, Shulchan Aruch O.C. 537:2. [Bet Yosef 538:1 suggests that tircha yetera is only asur for dvar haaved if it is attached to the ground. However, this seems to be contradicted by Pesachim 55b and Moed Katan 13b.]
  12. Tosfot (Moed Katan 10a s.v. tofer), Mordechai (m"k n. 844), Maharshach 1:113, Tiferet Yisrael (Kupat Rochlin 5:5)
  13. Shulchan Aruch O.C. 538:2 and Rama. Mishna Brurah 538:12 explains that it should be done in private so that people don't mistakenly learn incorrect leniencies from this precedent. According to Ramban (Piskei Chol Hamoed), tzina (privacy) is only necessary when avoiding a loss of theft but not if the item itself is going to spoil. Ritva understands that this is because when the item itself is spoiling then it is evident why he's working and tzina isn't necessary. However, Maggid Mishna understands the distinction is between whether the item is certainly going to spoil or it is uncertain. If it is certain then it can be done in public, otherwise it needs tzina.
  14. Shulchan Aruch O.C. 538:1. Someone who leaves his melacha for the moed is called Mechaven Melachto Bmoed.
  15. Shulchan Aruch O.C. 538:1
  16. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata ch. 66 fnt. 158)
  17. Maharsham in his footnotes to Orchot Chaim Sapinka 538:1, Chol Hamoed Kehilchato (ch. 2 fnt. 213 p. 82)
  18. Meiri 12b s.v. vsholeh, Levush 538:6, Mishna Brurah (Shaar Hatziyun 540:23), Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 66:41, Chazon Ovadia (p. 186). This also might be implied by Rambam (Yom Tov 7:4).
  19. Chatom Sofer CM 42, Magen Avraham 108:11, Shemirat Hamoed Kehilchato (siman 27). This is also implied by Shulchan Aruch O.C. 538:1.
  20. Shulchan Aruch O.C. 538:1
  21. Even though Chatom Sofer CM 42 is strict about this case, many are lenient like Shulchan Aruch O.C. 108:8 implies. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchato 66:41) rules against the Chatom Sofer that this case isn't mechaven melachto bmoed.
  22. Hilchot Chag Bchag 14:15, Chol Hamoed Kehilchato (2:98 Hasafot Vtikunim p. 455) based on Yad Yosef 26. This is also implied by Magen Avraham 108:11 and Chatom Sofer CM 42 who compared chol hamoed to tashlumin and regarding tashlumin Shulchan Aruch O.C. 108:8 writes that it considered beyond his control if he was busy because of dealing with his money. Gra 108:8 brings a proof for this from Moed Katan 14a that someone who was looking for a lost item is called ones for chol hamoed. Similarly, Levush 538:6 writes that if someone forgot, was lazy, or made a bad assessment of whether he needed to do melacha, it isn't considered mechaven melachto bmoed. Mishna Brurah (Shaar Hatzion 540:23) seems to agree. Chazon Ovadia p. 186 is lenient for the person who was lazy to deal with the dvar haaved before the moed and delayed.
  23. Shulchan Aruch O.C. 538:1 implies that someone lazy is called mechaven melachto bmoed unless he also made a bad assessment of when the item would become lost. Magen Avraham 108:11 and Chatom Sofer (CM 42) imply this as well that only someone who forgot, made a bad assessment, or had an unforeseen circumstance is not considered mechaven melachto bmoed. However, someone who was just lazy is called mechaven melachto bmoed. Shemirat Hamoed Khilchato (siman 27) shows that Ritva 11b and Rosh 2:1 are strict, while Rambam (Yom Tov 7:4) and Nemukei Yosef 6b are lenient. Rashi (Moed Katan kyad yad 11a s..v. ubilvad, 12b s.v. ubilvad, Gittin 44b s.v. vkulan, Bechorot 34b s.v. vkulan) also seems to be lenient.
  24. Chazon Ish OC 135 s.v. Rosh Second Perek, Rav Shlomo Zalman (Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchato ch. 66 fnt. 153). Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchato quotes Eshel Avraham 539 who seems to disagree. However, Ritva (11b s.v. oh) clearly disagrees with Chazon Ish (or the Rosh that he's based on).
  25. Hilchot Chol Hamoed Zichron Shlomo (Biurim siman 8) quoting Rav Yakov Kamenetsky and Rav Moshe Feinstein
  26. Hilchot Chol Hamoed Zichron Shlomo (Biurim 8) quoting Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky
  27. Hilchot Chol Hamoed Zichron Shlomo (Biurim 8)
  28. Hilchot Chol Hamoed Zichron Shlomo (biurim 8) quoting Rav Moshe Feinstein and Rav Yakov Kamenetsky. Rav Mordechai Willig (Chol Hamoed Shiur 19 min 10-15) permits it as long as there's some reason why they want to take the vacation in the summer and not over chol hamoed.
  29. Debretziner (Hilchot Chol Hamoed Zichron Shlomo biurim 8). Similarly, according to Chazon Ish (135 s.v. Rosh second perek)'s inference in the Rosh, this should be forbidden. It is considered planned for the moed if he could have hired someone to do the work for him and he didn't. So too, here he could have worked himself in the summer and if he doesn't is like planning the melacha for the moed. [However, Ritva 11b seems to be against that Rosh.]
  30. Rosh (Moed Katan 2:1)
  31. Chut Shani (Chol Hamoed ch. 4 fnt. 1 p. 196), Shemirat Hamoed Kehilchato p. 393. The explanation is that isn't like an activity that a person had to take care of once and he delays it for the moed. However, here people usually delay to rip toilet paper until they need it, so it isn't considered like he intentionally planned to work on the moed. Shemirat Hamoed Kehilchato brings a proof from Rama 541:1 that it is permitted to spin wicks on chol hamoed and technically it isn't necessary to do so beforehand.
  32. Maharshach 1:113. His two proofs are the Rashba writes that it is permitted to write down one's finances so that a person doesn't forget them and come to a loss. Also, Raavad writes that it is permitted to write a letter and send it on the moed because perhaps after the moed there won't be anyone to deliver the mail available. Mabit 1:27 agrees. Magen Avraham 537 codifies this. Chazon Ish 134:14 agrees. However, Machasit Hashekel, Pri Megadim, and Levushei Srad on 537 write that according to the opinion that melacha on chol hamoed is from the Torah safek dvar ha'aved is forbidden. Chayey Adam 106:5 writes that safek dvar ha'aved should be done by a non-Jew.
  33. Biur Halacha 537:1 s.v. dvar, Hilchot Chol Hamoed Zichron Shlomo p. 51