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Preface

During Shabbat, Orthodox Jewish practice is to avoid turning lights on or off. Perhaps turning lights on or off is a form of melacha. On Chol Ha'moed, melacha is sometimes, but not always, permitted.

Background

During Chol Ha'moed, it's definitely allowed to shut a light off if it'll help you sleep. And I assume it's also allowed to shut lights off in the evening, since a gradually-darkening environment may help the body to prepare for sleep. Finally, I assume it's probably also fine to shut off a shul's lights, since many shuls have huge expensive banks of bright fluorescent lights.

But I wonder if you can shut off your house's indoor lights during the daytime, to save electricity.

Maybe, if you left all your house's incandescent lights on all day during all of Chol Ha'moed, it would cause a significant financial loss. Or maybe not. I dunno.

Perhaps instantaneous melachot might be treated differently than long, laborious melachot. (See this source, which may be citing this book. Also see this source; I thank mbloch for finding it.)

A friend of mine in Israel suggests that, if it's okay to do a melacha on Ḥol Ha'moed (e.g. turning a light on), perhaps it's implicitly allowed to do the reverse (e.g. shutting the light off).

My questions

In the end:

A) Is it allowed to shut off your house's indoor lights during the daytime of Chol Ha'moed, to save electricity?

B) [Edit:] And, if so, why is it allowed?

  • It says "In general, the Melachos that are forbidden on Shabbos are forbidden on Chol-Hamoed except when they are being done for the sake of the Chag (Chol- Hamoed/Yom-Tov)". I read/observe - "EVERYTHING that one benefits immediately on HM and can't be done after HM is permitted". – Al Berko Oct 21 at 17:04
  • @AlBerko If you believe that this question is a duplicate of an existing question, then I encourage you to vote to close as a duplicate. – Isaac Moses Oct 23 at 20:41
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There are 5 categories of work permitted on Chol Hamoed (from this book on Chol Hamoed laws)

  1. Work needed for the festival (tzorech hamoed)
  2. Work needed to prepare food
  3. Work that must be done to fulfill community needs
  4. Work that must be done to avoid loss or damage
  5. Work performed by a laborer who lacks food to eat

It seems to me that turning off lights to save electricity belongs to either the first or fourth category, or both. The first appears most relevant and is explicitly mentioned by at least one source

[...] “Tzorech HaMoed” (for Moed's sake), meaning work that enhances the joy of Chol HaMoed. Examples of activities that are permitted if they are performed in order to enhance the enjoyment of Chol HaMoed include driving, turning lights on and off (which according to the Chayei Adam was never prohibited on Chol HaMoed in the first place) [...] (taken from JewishPress.com)

I also note that shulchanaruchharav.com mentions

Havarah/fire is permitted on Chol Hamoed even for no need, as it is merely Rabbinical on Yom Tov and does not involve any time to perform. [Beir Moshe ibid; Chol Hamoed Kehilchaso ibid]

As such there is no issue in shutting off your house's indoor lights to save electricity.

But as always consult your rabbi before implementing anything you learn here.

  • 1
    I don't understand. Your source clearly does not say it is permitted full stop. Maybe the Chayei Adam thinks that? But we should check his wording inside – Double AA Oct 20 at 4:30
  • I have removed the language on "full stop" (which was in a comment). As such the comment above is not so clear anymore. I think the two sources I brought now stand on their own – mbloch Oct 23 at 7:44
  • Besides, turning OOF is always a מלאכה שאינו צריכה לגופו making it a non-D'Oraisay at the best of times. – Danny Schoemann Oct 23 at 13:16

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