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Ask the rabbi Shabbat and Holidays Chol Hamoed

Cleaning sheets on Chol Hamoed

Rabbi David SperlingKislev 17, 5774
513
Question
Dear Rabbi I live in a reform elderly mental home in london,uk. if i don’t let the cleaners strip the beds during chol Ha-moed, i will get in trouble. Am I allowed to let them. Gershon Wynschenk
Answer
Shalom, Thank you for your question. You are correct in thinking that it is a problem to laundry during the intermediate days of the festivals (chol ha'moed). However there are many cases when it is allowed. In your case there are two very good reasons why it is permitted to wash the sheets. Firstly there are hygienic considerations. When running an institution one needs to take extra precautions to make sure that the level of hygiene is kept to the highest standards in order to stop the spread of disease or infection. So, even when in a private home one could determine on an individual basis the need to wash the sheets or not depending on how clean they are etc, in an institutional setting the sheets need to washed and changed on a regular basis no matter what the status of each individual's sheets are. All laundry preformed for health reasons is permitted. Secondly, it may well be that your mental home's washing are categorized as "the needs of the community", as it is run for the community at large. Communal needs are also allowed during chol ha'moed. (See Shmirat Shabbat KeHilchatah chapter 66, law 67 and the footnotes there). Because of these reasons you should not worry at all that the cleaners change your sheets – in fact you are allowed to assist them in any way needed. In passing let me say how happy I am to see that you have internet access and apparently use it to visit Torah sites. I hope that our site affords you the chance to grow in your Torah and closeness to Hashem. May you (and all your fellow residents) be blessed with only good, and may you merit to continue to grow in spirit and happiness. Blessings.
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