In a previous lesson, we learned:
“It is a mitzvah to groom oneself by shaving and haircutting before Yom Tov begins. In order to ensure that we would properly groom ourselves before Yom Tov begins, and not procrastinate until Ch”H when we “have more time”, the Rabbis issued a decree prohibiting shaving and haircutting during Ch”H – even if one failed to do so before - with several exceptions for extenuating circumstances.” (MBY 531:1-8 Shaving and haircutting (do’s and don’t’s)
Ditto for laundry!
As with shaving and haircutting, allowances are made for certain people who are excused from the laundry decree as well: “If the circumstance under which one was unable to shave or cut hair before Yom Tov is revealed, then he is permitted to shave or cut hair during Ch”H.” (Please see previous lesson for further elaboration.) The same would apply for laundry.
In addition, the Rabbis made certain other exceptions unique to the laundering decree. The one which is most applicable today is the heter (permit) to launder the clothing of young children who soil them often and are always in need of clean changes of clothes, even when they started the Yom Tov off with a full wardrobe. In earlier times, when all laundry was done by hand, and every piece of clothing required a separate effort, there was a difference of opinion as to how many pieces may be done at a time for children. The matter has become simplified with the advent of washing-machines, whereby, according to all opinions, one may wash a full load of children’s clothing needed for the festival… However, be advised, as Rabbis Zucker and Francis write in Hilchos Chol Hamoed ‘Zichron Shlomo’, p. 47: “When washing children’s clothing, garments of an adult may not be added to the washing machine.” (Ed. I have heard the same ruling from my Rav, Rav Ilan Feldman Shlit”a in Atlanta - Sorry!) The authors continue: “Since laundering any type of adult article, including underwear, socks or handkerchiefs, is generally prohibited on Ch”H, one should see to it that will have an adequate supply of clothing for the entire festival. If the supply of a particular item does become depleted on Ch”H, usually the only recourse is to purchase whatever is needed for the festival. (If purchasing is difficult or unduly expensive, competent Rabbinic opinion should be sought.)”
The Ch”H Rabbis also write: “In addition to clothing, one may not launder towels, linens, tablecloths or curtains on Ch”H…” (Ed. This is accepted practice as well.)
[Note: The halacha does recognize the needs of a person of meager means who owns only one set of clothing (Heb. ‘Ein lo elah chalok echad’ – lit. He has only one garment.) We will not go into detail regarding that category, but one should ask a shaila to determine if this heter still applies today, or if it is applicable to his situation.]
For this next topic, we get a glimpse at some of the complexities of Hilchos Ch”H.
Picking up an item from the repair shop
Also in this siman, the halacha generally prohibits (in some cases) picking up a repaired item from a craftsman’s shop on Ch”H. This, despite the fact that the work was commissioned, and even completed, before the moed! This prohibition was made because of two considerations:
1) ‘Tircha’ – i.e. the unnecessary exertion required to transport the item, which is not in keeping with the spirit of Ch”H.
2) Suspicion – To the bystander, it may appear as though he actually commission the craftsman to do the work, which, in most cases, would be prohibited as a ‘ma’aseh uman’ / work of an expert.
Under what conditions might this ‘tircha’ prohibition be waived?
1) Tzorech hamoed – For the sake of work needed for the festival, remember?
2) Po-eil she’ein lo mah yochal – i.e. it would be a great service to the craftsman to pay him for his services so that he may buy food for the moed! (See above: MBY 530 Melacha on Chol Hamoed)
Question: Do either of these reasons suffice to permit bringing the item home?
Answer: Maybe, but not automatically. Let’s analyze: According to the first reason (‘tzorech hamoed’), YES – I need to bring the item home in order to use it. However, according to the second reason (i.e. because the craftsman needs the money), the goal is to pay the craftsman, not for me to bring the item home! Therefore, if I can trust him, I am permitted to pay him, but I must leave the item with him as a pikadon (deposited article) until after the moed. Only if I cannot trust him, am I permitted to begin to discuss how to remove the item from his premises without unnecessary ‘tircha’ and without arousing suspicion. (Ed. We will not go through all of the possibilities of that… but we get the general idea!)
More on ‘tircha’ in the next lesson.