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If I am teaching myself a foreign language as a leisure activity, may I write in a workbook on chol hamoed, for the purpose of retaining my knowledge? If I haven't begun, may I start the new language if it involves writing?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

The halacha is much more lenient about computer use. R' Dovid Zucker and R' Moshe Francis permit it completely in their ArtScroll sefer on the subject (though they mention potential issues with printing). Unless you're trying to learn to write a new alphabet (e.g. Chinese), you could avoid questions by doing the worksheets on the computer.

Hebrew may have room for leniency as well if you are doing limudei kodesh. The halacha allows one to write chiddushei torah. So I asked before Chol HaMoed about writing translations of difficult words in a sefer I was learning, and was told that's OK. CYLOR.

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According to Rama in Siman 545 - We are Maikel with writing on Chol HaMoed as it is not a Maasei Uman. However as YDK pointed out the Pri Megadim says explicitly that this Halacha does not apply to a Yachid. See also more notes on bottom.

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Gershon, that Rema implies that since it's maase hedyot, tzorchei rabim is mutar even if it's not tzorchei moed. The Pri Megadim says explicitly that this halacha does not apply to a yachid. – YDK Oct 22 '10 at 3:22
There's a machlokes how to read that Rema. According to the Taz, the Rema is assuring. The Magen Avraham adds the word lehachmir "lishanos" and would permit sheilas shalom with a shinui (essentially relying on the mechaber). I guess what you're saying is that the Rema allows our writing if you do a shinui. – YDK Oct 22 '10 at 4:51
Also, we must point out that we haven't answered Moshe's question- is partially forgetting a language that one is learning for interest called a davar haAveid? – YDK Oct 22 '10 at 4:55

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