Of the eight days of Passover, the first two and the last two are “yom tov” (festival days). The middle four days are called chol hamoed–“weekdays of the festival,” also called “the intermediate days.” (In Israel, where Passover is observed for seven days, the first and last days are yom tov, and the middle five days are chol hamoed).
The yom tov days are days of rest, during which all creative work is forbidden, as it is on the Shabbat, with the exception of certain types of work associated with food preparation (e.g., cooking and “carrying”). On chol hamoed the prohibition of work is less stringent–work whose avoidance would result in “significant loss” is permitted (except when chol hamoed is also Shabbat, when all work is forbidden).
The “Yaale V’yavo” prayer is included in all prayers and Grace After Meals. Hallel (partial) and Musaf are recited following the Shacharit (morning) prayers. It is the Chabad custom not to put on tefillin during the “intermediate days”.
Click here for a more detailed treatment of the laws of Chol Hamoed.
Click here for a summary of the Passover Torah readings.
Tomorrow is the third day of the Omer Count. Since, on the Jewish calendar, the day begins at nightfall of the previous evening, we count the omer for tomorrow’s date tonight, after nightfall: “Today is three days to the Omer.” (If you miss the count tonight, you can count the omer all day tomorrow, but without the preceding blessing).
The 49-day “Counting of the Omer” retraces our ancestors’ seven-week spiritual journey from the Exodus to Sinai. Each evening we recite a special blessing and count the days and weeks that have passed since the Omer; the 50th day is Shavuot, the festival celebrating the Giving of the Torah at Sinai.
Tonight’s Sefirah: Tifferet sheb’Chessed — “Harmony in Kindness”
The teachings of Kabbalah explain that there are seven “Divine Attributes” — Sefirot — that G-d assumes through which to relate to our existence: Chessed, Gevurah, Tifferet, Netzach, Hod, Yesod and Malchut (“Love”, “Strength”, “Beauty”, “Victory”, “Splendor”, “Foundation” and “Sovereignty”). In the human being, created in the “image of G-d,” the seven sefirot are mirrored in the seven “emotional attributes” of the human soul: Kindness, Restraint, Harmony, Ambition, Humility, Connection and Receptiveness. Each of the seven attributes contain elements of all seven–i.e., “Kindness in Kindness”, “Restraint in Kindness”, “Harmony in Kindness”, etc.–making for a total of forty-nine traits. The 49-day Omer Count is thus a 49-step process of self-refinement, with each day devoted to the “rectification” and perfection of one the forty-nine “sefirot.”