Chol HaMoed (Hebrew: חול המועד), a Hebrew phrase meaning "weekdays [of] the festival" (literal translation: "the secular [non-holy] (part of) the occasion"), refers to the intermediate days of Passover and Sukkot. As the name implies, these days mix features of "chol" (weekday or secular) and "moed" (festival).
On Passover, Chol HaMoed consists of the second through sixth days of the holiday (third through sixth in the Diaspora). On Sukkot, Chol HaMoed consists of the second through seventh days (third through seventh in the Diaspora).
Although it has a unique name, Hoshanah Rabbah, the seventh day of Sukkot, is part of Chol HaMoed. Prayer services that day combine some usual practices of Chol HaMoed with practices of both Yom Tov and the High Holy Days.
Chol HaMoed combines features of weekday (Chol) and festival (Moed).
Work. On weekdays during Chol HaMoed the usual restrictions that apply to the Biblical Jewish holidays are relaxed, but not entirely eliminated. For example, work that would normally be prohibited on the festival would be allowed to prevent financial loss or if the results of the work are needed for the festival itself. Work for public need is also allowed. If one has the ability to take vacation from work without financial loss during those days, he or she is normally required to do so. Many tasks such as laundry washing, hair cutting and shaving are to be avoided except in some circumstances.
Prayers. Prayers on weekdays during Chol HaMoed are based on the weekday order of prayers, not the festival order of prayers.
The principal customs of the respective festivals continue throughout the festival:
- Use of matzo and avoidance of products with leavening (chametz) on Passover
- Dwelling in the sukkah (every day) and use of the Four Species (except on Shabbat) on Sukkot
Ya'aleh v'Yavo is added to the Amidah and Birkat HaMazon on these days. Hallel and Mussaf prayers are said on these days, as on Yom Tov, although on Chol Hamoed of Passover, an abridged form of Hallel is recited. Hoshanot are recited on Sukkot. The tachanun prayer is omitted.
On weekdays during Chol HaMoed there are four aliyot at the Torah reading in synagogue, as opposed to the standard three of weekdays, pointing to the festive nature of Chol HaMoed.
On weekdays during Chol HaMoed, there are variant customs regarding whether tefillin should be worn, reflecting the dual nature of the day. Many streams of Ashkenazi Jews and Yemenite Jews do wear them (as on weekdays), while Sephardic Jews, Ashkenazi followers of the Vilna Gaon and Chabad Chassidim do not (as on festivals). Most other Chassidim, or those with Hasidic ancestry, also do not don tefillin during Chol HaMoed, however in some Hasidic communities, such as Sanz, Bobov, and many in Satmar, men who were never married (known as bachurim) do wear tefillin privately before prayer services, however in all Hasidic communities married (or formerly married men) do not wear tefillin during Chol HaMoed. In the United States, and most of the Diaspora, both customs are widely seen in practice. In Israel however, the customs of the Vilna Gaon have a stronger influence, so few Jews in Israel wear Tefillin on Chol HaMoed, and many of those who do only do so privately before public prayer services.
Among those who do wear tefillin on Chol HaMoed, some omit the blessings and others recite the blessings, depending on one's ancestral custom. Even those who wear tefillin on Chol HaMoed remove the tefillin before Hallel, out of respect for the festive nature of Chol HaMoed, a festive nature which is especially palpable during the recitation of Hallel. The one exception to this practice is the third day of Pesach, when the Torah reading (which follows Hallel) discusses the mitzvah of tefillin. Because the Torah reading on that particular day especially focuses on the tefillin, those who wear tefillin on Chol HaMoed retain their tefillin during Hallel and only remove the tefillin after the Torah reading is completed and the Torah scroll has been returned to the Ark.
Shabbat Chol HaMoed
Shabbat Chol HaMoed, a Shabbat that occurs during Chol HaMoed, is observed like any other Shabbat in almost every respect. In particular, the usual restrictions on work apply fully, as on any other Shabbat.
Shabbat Chol Hamoed differs from an "ordinary" Shabbat in the following ways:
- Abbreviated Kabbalat Shabbat
- Ya'aleh v'Yavo (as throughout Chol HaMoed)
- Hallel (as throughout Chol HaMoed)
- According to Ashkenazi custom, reading of Song of Songs on Passover or Ecclesiastes on Sukkot
- Torah Reading: seven aliyot as usual, but the Weekly Torah portion and Haftarah are replaced by readings particular to the Festival
- Musaf for the Festival (as throughout Chol HaMoed) replaces that for an "ordinary" Shabbat
- Hoshanot (as throughout Sukkot, but without using the Four Species)
- Isru chag refers to the day after each of the Three Pilgrimage Festivals.
- Mimouna, a traditional North African Jewish celebration held the day after Passover.
- Pesach Sheni, is exactly one month after 14 Nisan.
- Purim Katan is when during a Jewish leap year Purim is celebrated during Adar II so that the 14th of Adar I is then called Purim Katan.
- Shushan Purim falls on Adar 15 and is the day on which Jews in Jerusalem celebrate Purim.
- Yom Kippur Katan is a practice observed by some Jews on the day preceding each Rosh Chodesh or New-Moon Day.
- Yom tov sheni shel galuyot refers to the observance of an extra day of Jewish holidays outside of the land of Israel.