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Writing on Chol HaMoed for College

Rabbi David SperlingNisan 24, 5772
1948
Question
Can i write on Chol Hamoed if I’m studying for college and I have a deadline for when I must have finished certain assignments and studying by? I don’t remember things when I haven’t written them down and I’m going to have a test after yom tov.
Answer
Shalom, Generally writing on Chol HaMoed is forbidden, together with most of the other melachot. However, as writing is a non-skilled task (as opposed to calligraphy or the writing of a Sofer Stam who writes mezzuzot etc), there are certain situations where it is permitted. One case where one is allowed to write is to prevent a loss (this is called "dvar ha'aved"). Taking notes so as to prevent losing the knowledge gained while learning is permitted. Also writing your assignments if needed is allowed. However this is only allowed if the work was not especially set aside to do during chol hamoed to take advantage of the holiday vacation time. In such a case the Rabbis "punished" the person who set aside their work especially for the holiday, by forbidding the doing of the labour, even if this will entail taking a loss. But I assume that your work and study schedule is not under your control, and your college sets the deadlines that obligate you to study and work during Chol HaMoed. That being so, you may write and take notes. When writing on Chol HaMoed, some people have a custom to write the letters slightly on a slant, so as to recall that it is a festival. If this is possible (in your own private notes for example) it would be a good idea, but not an obligation. Blessings.
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