Cutting nails on Chol Hamoed and on Erev Shabbos Chol Hamoed

Cutting nails during Chol Hamoed?[1]

One may not cut his nails with a knife or scissor [or nail cutter] during Chol Hamoed.[2] This applies to both the hand and toenails.[3]

For the sake of a Mitzvah:[4] It is permitted to cut nails in their regular way [even with scissors[5]] for the sake of a Mitzvah, such as to immerse in a Mikveh.

One who cut his nails on Erev Yom Tov:[6] One who cut his nails on Erev Yom Tov [or in close proximity to Erev Yom Tov to the point there was nothing to cut before Yom Tov[7]] is permitted to cut his nails during Chol Hamoed.[8]

Those permitted to cut hair:[9] All those who are permitted to cut their hair during Chol Hamoed may likewise cut their nails.

Using one’s finger or teeth:[10] It is only forbidden to cut the nails in their normal way which is by using a vessel, such as a nail cutter or knife. It is however permitted to cut one’s nails using one’s teeth or hands. [Some Poskim[11] even allow slightly cutting the end of each nail using a scissor and to then remove the rest of the nail with one’s hands or teeth.]

Q&A

If one cut his nails a few days before Yom Tov and on Erev Yom Tov there was nothing to cut, may he cut them later on during Chol Hmaoed?[12]

Yes.

May one cut his nails if they are causing him pain?[13]

Yes.

May one cut his nails on Erev Shabbos Chol Hamoed, or Erev the last day of Yom Tov?

If one cut his nails on Erev Yom Tov:[14] One who cut his nails on Erev Yom Tov [or in close proximity to Erev Yom Tov to the point there was nothing to cut before Yom Tov[15]] is permitted to cut his nails during Chol Hamoed.[16]

If one did not cut them Erev Yom Tov:[17] Some Poskim[18] rule it is forbidden to cut nails on Erev Shabbos, or Erev Yom Tov of the last days, if he did not cut them on Erev Yom Tov of the first days. Others[19] however rule it is permitted to cut nails on Erev Shabbos [or Erev Yom Tov[20]] if one is accustomed to do so on every Erev Shabbos throughout the year.[21] It is implied from Admur like the former opinion, that it is forbidden to cut them.[22] According to all it is forbidden to cut the nails on Erev Shabbos if he is not accustomed to always do so.

May a Mohel cut his nails for purposes of doing a Milah during Chol Hamoed?[23]

Yes.

May a woman cut her nails in preparation for Mikvah?[24]

Yes.[25]

May a gentile cut one’s nails?[26]

Yes.[27]

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[1] Rama 532:1 in name of Yeish Machmirim and that so is custom; Admur 468:6; See Chol Hamoed Kehilchasa chapter 4

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule it is permitted to cut the nails of either the hands or feet in any way on Chol Hamoed, whether with a scissor [or knife and certainly with one’s hands and teeth-Kaf Hachaim 532:2]. [Michaber ibid; There is a dispute between the Michaber and Rama regarding this matter. The Michaber rules it is permitted to cut the nails of either the hands or feet in any way on Chol Hamoed. However, the Rama brings that there are those who are stringent to prohibit cutting nails during Chol Hamoed and concludes that so is the custom. So rules Admur 468:6]

The Sefardi custom: Some Poskim rule that the Sefardi custom follows the opinion of the Michaber to allow cutting nails during Chol Hamoed. [Shiyurei Knesses Hagedola; Shulchan Gavoa 532:2] Others Poskim rule that certain Sefaradi communities follow the stringency of the Rama. [Ruach Chaim brought in Kaf Hachaim 532:4] Each community is to follow his custom. [Kaf Hachaim 532:4]

[2]The reason: The reason behind this prohibition is in order to prevent one from entering the holiday with uncut nails, and due to the prohibition he will therefore cut them before the holiday. [Levush brought in Kaf Hachaim 532:3]

[3] As is evident from Michaber and Rama ibid

[4] Rama ibid; Semak and Tosafus

[5] Perisha 532:1

[6] M”A 532:1; Chayeh Adam 109:3; M”B 532:2; Kitzur SH”A 104:12; Chol Hamoed Kehilchasa 4:5; Kaf Hachaim 532:7

Other Opinions: The Elya Raba 532:1 rules one may only remove the nails with a knife and not with scissors.

[7] Aruch Hashulchan 532:2

[8] The reason for this allowance is because even regarding a haircut there are Poskim which allow it to be done on Chol Hamoed if one cut his hair on Erev Yom Tov. Thus regarding cutting nails which is itself disputed whether it is at all forbidden during Chol Hamoed, one may thus certainly be lenient if he cut his nails on Erev Yom Tov. [M”A 532:1; P”M 532 A”A 1]

[9] M”A 532:1; M”B 532:2

[10] Elya Raba 532:2; Peri Megadim 532 M”Z 1; M”B 532:2; Kaf Hachaim 532:9

It is not considered repulsive to cut one’s nails using his teeth. [Moed Katan 18a, brought in Kaf Hachaim 532:9]

[11] Shvus Yaakov 3:100 regarding a mourner; Chol Hamoed Kihilchasa 4:3

[12] Aruch Hashulchan 532:2

[13] Chol Hamoed Kehilchaso Miluim to p. 154; Piskeiy Teshuvos 532:2

[14] M”A 532:1; Chayeh Adam 109:3; M”B 532:2; Kitzur SH”A 104:12; Chol Hamoed Kehilchasa 4:5; Kaf Hachaim 532:7

Other Opinions: The Elya Raba 532:1 rules one may only remove the nails with a knife and not with scissors.

[15] Aruch Hashulchan 532:2

[16]The reason: The reason for this allowance is because even regarding a haircut there are Poskim who allow it to be done on Chol Hamoed if one cut his hair on Erev Yom Tov. Thus, regarding cutting nails, which is itself disputed whether it is at all forbidden during Chol Hamoed, one may certainly be lenient if he cut his nails on Erev Yom Tov. [M”A 532:1; P”M 532 A”A 1]

[17] See Shaareiy Teshuvah 468:1; Kaf Hachaim 532:5

[18] Shvus Yaakov 1:17, brought in Shaareiy Teshuvah 468:1; Koveitz Mibeis Levi 1:47 that so is the custom; Piskeiy Teshuvos 532:1

[19] Nachalas Shiva 2:57, brought in Beir Heiytiv 532; Shulchan Gavoa 532:2; Chol Hamoed Kihilchasa 4:6; Kaf Hachaim 532:5 concludes one who is lenient has upon whom to rely; Aruch Hashulchan 532:2 rules that if one did not cut the nails on Erev Yom Tov due to reasons that were beyond his control, then he may cut it during Chol Hamoed.

[20] Chol Hamoed Kihilchasa 4:6

[21] As it is permitted to cut nails for the sake of a Mitzvah and cutting them on Erev Shabbos in honor of Shabbos is a Mitzvah. [ibid]

[22] So is implied from Admur 468:6 from the fact he forbids cutting the nails on Erev Pesach past Chatzos even though it is Erev Yom Tov. See Shvus Yaakov ibid. It is thus a wonderment that Chol Hamoed Kihilchasa 4:6 rules plainly that it is allowed despite this clear ruling of Admur.

[23] SSH”K 29:27

[24] Rama 532:1; Kitzur 104:12

[25] As it is being done for the sake of a Mitzvah

[26] Beis Yaakov 40 brought in Kaf Hachaim 532:8; See Admur 340:2

[27] As the assistance which the Jew does to help the gentile cut the nails is considered Halachicly irrelevant. [See Admur 340:2; Now although Admur there writes it was only permitted to give this type of assistance for the sake of a Mitzvah seemingly here one may be lenient as it is anyways only a custom of which there is a dispute regarding its prohibition.]

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