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Washing Children’s Clothes

Question:

I have a question regarding laundry on chol hamo’ed. I know that we can wash children’s clothing that is needed for the chag if there’s no replacement. We’re in that position – the kids are growing so quickly that we don’t buy replacements. We wash what they have and their clothes get dirty all the time. When they will outgrow what they have we will buy new clothes. The bottom line is that our children have a small wardrobe and we end up washing their clothes on chol hamo’ed. My question is if we’re washing the children’s clothing on chol hamo’ed (which I know is permitted), can my wife and I add our own clothing to the wash as well?

Answer:

You are correct that children’s clothing can be laundered on chol hamo’ed if there is not a sufficient supply. ((סימן תקל”ד ס”א, ועיין מ”ב סק”ז.
One should not ignore the children’s laundry before Succos planning to wash them during chol hamoed. That would be mechaven melachto bemoed. Deliberately scheduling a melochoh (in this case, laundering) to be performed on chol hamoed is forbidden.
Besides the special gezeiroh prohibiting laundering during chol hamoed (to make certain one’s clothing are fresh and clean for the holiday and one does not enter the holiday unkempt), washing clothing on chol hamoed after applying one of the leniencies associated with chol hamoed. Generally washing clothing for use during Yom Tov would be permitted (ignoring the gezeiroh) since it is a maase hedyot (an activity that does not need special training or proficiency) done letzorech hamoed(needed for chol hamoed or Yom Tov). However, even when the melochoh is permitted on chol hamoed, it is still forbidden to plan to perform that melochoh during chol hamoed if it can be done before the holiday. This is known as mechaven melachto bemoed. If someone was mechaven melachto bemoed, when chol hamoed comes he is forbidden to perform the melochoh that would have otherwise been permissible to do had he not scheduled it for chol hamoed. (מ”ז תקל”ג סק”א) )) The full gezeiroh of washing clothing on chol hamo’ed was not inclusive of garments that soil quickly and are washed frequently. Therefore, items such as dish towels, handkerchiefs, socks and stockings have the samehalachos as children’s clothing. It is not necessary to purchase new clothing for the children in order to have a supply for the whole chag. ((Should a family have sufficient clothing at home for the entire Yom Tov without needing to wash anything but are planning to travel away from their home (and clothing) for the duration of the chag, they do not need to go through great trouble to bring all their clothing. Just like a family who has a limited supply of clothing does not need to buy new clothes and may wash the children’s clothes during chol hamoed, similarly one can pack reasonably and should the children not have enough clothing in their new location, it is permissible to wash their clothes. Going through the tedious effort to shlep suitcases filled with children’s clothing to your destination is not required. (פסקי הלכות של הרב משה פיינשטיין זצ”ל אות ח’ בספר זכרון שלמה) )) Nonetheless, by erev Yom Tov all the children’s clothes should be laundered, so that you minimize the number of loads done on chol hamo’ed. Using this principle, it is also best to wait for a full load of children’s clothes to wash so that you don’t just wash load after load on chol hamo’ed.

The heter for washing children’s clothing is broad enough to include a child’s garment that is dirty even if there is a different garment that could be worn, provided there is a reason to prefer the dirty garment over the clean one. For example, if the dirty garment is nicer or more suitable for an activity planned for Chol Hamoed, one may wash the dirty garment even though there is a clean one available. ((פסקי הלכות של הרב משה פיינשטיין זצ”ל אות י”א בספר זכרון שלמה.))

While the washing machine is going for the kids’ clothes, you might think that you could drop in adult clothing to fill the load, since you are not doing any extra washing. Such an idea is found regarding cooking. If you only need a cup of hot water cooked on Yom Tov, you can add a liter or more of water to the pot since one act of cooking (turning on the fire) is sufficient for both amounts. ((תק”ג ס”ב. )) Washing clothing on Chol Hamoed, however, has a different logic than other melachos on yom tov. The reason for the special gezeiroh is to make certain that one enters the chagwith clean, laundered clothes. ((עמ”ב תקל”ד סק”א. ומה”ט נראה דלא התירו פוסקי זמנינו כיבוס ע”י מכונת כביסה אע”פ דודאי ליכא הטורח שיש בכביסה בזמן התקנה, דאין איסור כיבוס במועד מחמת הטורח אלא כדי שלא יכנס למועד כשהוא מנוול, ובזה אין לחלק בין כביסה ביד לכביסה במכונה. אבל מ”מ אפשר דגדר האיסור הוא כשאר מלאכות בחוה”מ, והיכא דליכא טרחא מעיקרא לא היה בכלל הגזירה, ושמעתי ממו”ר הרב שלמה פישר שליט”א דיש מקום להקל האידנא במכונות כביסה וחזי לאיצטרופי בדאיכא עוד צדדין להקל. ועפ”ז מבוסס מש”כ לקמן בהערה הבא. וגם לפי סברא זו יש לאסור לכבס בגדי גדולים יחד עם בגדי קטנים בחוה”מ, די”ל דגדר האיסור הוא טרחא, אבל היכא דסברת מיעוט טרחא יגרום לבטל כל סבת התקנה לא היו מקילים חז”ל בכה”ג,משא”כ בהערה 4 כביסת בגדי קטנים שרי, ואין כאן ביטול סבת התקנה ולכן יש למעט כמה שיותר בטירחא. )) Therefore, on chol hamo’ed one cannot add adult clothes to a load of children’s clothes that is being washed anyway. ((פסקי הלכות של הרב משה פיינשטיין זצ”ל אות ט’ בספר זכרון שלמה. אמנם אם חושש להפסד המים ואבק הכביסה שילך לאיבוד יש לדון מטעם דבר האבד, אולם לענ”ד אין דוחק העניות בדר”כ גדול עד כדי כך. וכשיקרה דבר כזה ויוכרע שיש כאן היתר של דבר האבד, מ”מ נראה דיאסר ללבש בגד המכובס בחוה”מ דאל”כ חוזרת הגזירה שמא יכנס לרגל מנוול. וע”ע בשש”כ פס”ו ס”ק רנ”א. )) Nevertheless, one is permitted to add to the load all children’s clothing that could conceivably be needed during the chag. ((In fact, it is preferable to fill one load with all the children’s clothing that will likely be needed over the chag, rather than washing the children’s clothing as needed. The logic being that one large load requires less melachoh and less involvement in non-mo’ed activity, than multiple smaller loads.
עשש”כ פס”ו ס”ק רנ”ד, ובפסקי באר משה אות כ”ו בספר זכרון שלמה. ))

Adult clothing is different in that it can only be washed immediately before it is needed and only if there is no alternative

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