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Thursday
Apr182019

Can I Take Pictures on Chol Hamoed?

A collection of halachic articles
from Halacha2Go.com and AskTheRav.com on the laws of Chol Hamoed,
by Horav Yosef Yeshaya Braun, Mara D’asra and member of the Crown Heights Beis Din

 

Basic Guidlines

Chazal tell us that the days of Chol Hamoed were given to us primarily to enable us to spend additional time learning Torah, as well as rejoicing and eating special Yom Tov meals. 

Chazal teach us a general rule about the  halachos of Chol Hamoed: the laws of Chol Hamoed are unlike other halachos, where one principle can be derived from other principles in Torah, and categorized in a simple, systematic mannerevery halachah of Chol Hamoed stands on its own.

We will nevertheless attempt to impart some structure to these halachos, and learn a few of them:

It should be noted that poskim tell us that of late, people have begun to be mezalzel, treat lightly, the halachos of Chol Hamoed. Many people focus more on the chol aspect, and they forget the concept of  moed—that Chol Hamoed is, in many ways, almost like yom tov.

As a general principle, the only type of work that is permissible on Chol Hamoed is:

If it is maasei hedyot, a simple activity that can be done by an average layman, and –

1. It is letzorech hamoed, it must be something that is necessary and important for Chol Hamoed itself, or in preparation for Yom Tov.

2. If an activity meets these two conditions, it may be done.

However, it is important to clarify the definition of maasei hedyotMaasei hedyot does not necessarily mean a simple activity that anyone can do. Sometimes such an activity can also be maasei uman, it can also be considered a professional task. For example, halacha tells us that the average woman is considered a professional when it comes to sewing.

Printing

Likewise, many poskim tell us that one should avoid printing on Chol Hamoed, even though printing can be done very easily by anyone by simply pressing the print button on a computer. But since even home computers nowadays produce material on par with professional printing, that fact renders it a maasei uman, according to many poskim, and therefore should be avoided on Chol Hamoed

Writing

Writing by hand (but not calligraphy) when done letzorech hamoed, for important things that we need to keep track of during Chol Hamoed  is permissible, since it is considered maasei hedyot. Still, out of respect for Chol Hamoed, the custom has become that we avoid writing normally, but write with a shinui, in a different manner than usual. (Halacha2go.com #131)

Is it permissible to take pictures/videos on Chol Hamoed? 

The Rebbe maintained that in general terms one may not take pictures on Chol Hamoed. Indeed, many Poskim write that pictures or videos are forbidden on Chol Hamoed due to the Issur of writing.

Some maintain that digital cameras are different. This is far from certain and a matter of debate amongst contemporary Poskim.

There is also the issue of Tircha, doing extra work on Chol Hamoed, even when not a melacha, as well as disgracing Chol Hamoed. Furthermore, saving the first picture on an SD card can be an Issur even according to those who maintain digital pictures aren’t considered writing.

Therefore, in practice, one should only take pictures or videos if it is necessary for Yom Tov itself – Tzorech Hamoed, or if it’s a Davar Haaved, an unusual opportunity which won’t easily repeat itself.

Obviously, pictures and videos are almost always of situations which are happening at the moment. However, the guideline for Davar Haaved is an unusual situation, and not a license to take a large number of shots or from a wide range of angles and/or ranges.

Side note: Chassidim, in particular, should be extra cautious, based on the Rebbe’s harsh words on the matter.*

 

* References and Marei Mekomos are available for this Halacha on the websites: www.Halacha2Go.com and www.AskTheRav.com

Please note that these halachos apply in general situations. In unique circumstances, a different halacha may apply. If you are unsure whether the halacha applies to your particular situation, please consult a Rov.

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