Yom Tov Sheini & The Chacham Tzvi

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By: Rabbi Ari Enkin

No, no, this post will not address nor debate whether visitors to Israel should observe one day of Yom Tov or two. There’s more than enough literature on that already.[1]

Instead, this post will focus on a very unique aspect of the issue which seems to have gone completely unnoticed.

The source for the debate regarding whether visitors to Israel should observe one day of Yom Tov or two originates in the Mishna. There we learn that one who travels to a new place must observe all the restrictions which are practiced in the place from which one left, as well as the restrictions which are practiced in the place one now finds oneself.[2] Of course, as the Gemara explains, this is true only if one intends to return to the place from which one came. If one intends to remain in the new location permanently, one immediately assumes resident status in the new place and one only observes the restrictions that are practiced there.

Those who rule that visitors to Israel must observe two days of Yom Tov cite this Mishna as their source, arguing that just as a second day of Yom Tov is observed in the place from which one came, so too, it must be observed in the place in which one now finds oneself (i.e. Israel), as well.

The Chacham Tzvi is the leading figure who advocates that visitors to Israel should only observe one day of Yom Tov.[3] He argues that the Mishna’s requirement for one to observe the restrictions of the place one has left is simply not relevant with regards to Yom Tov. He explains that the issue of a second day of Yom Tov is unlike any other custom that the Mishna refers to, because it is something which is inherently subject to a geographical location – the Diaspora. 

To further explain, when the Mishna rules that visitors must observe all of the restrictions normally observed in their home town in their new location, it only refers to customs which are or can be practiced in the new location by the residents of that place. The Mishna’s example of one such custom is that of not performing any work on Erev Pesach. Although in truth there are very few communities which observe this custom today, it is, however, a custom which can theoretically be observed in any community equally, whether in Israel or in the Diaspora. Yom Tov Sheini, however, is something which simply cannot be observed or adopted by the residents of Eretz Yisrael. Therefore, it is not something which was never subject to the ruling of the Mishna.

In other words, what the Chacham Tzvi is essentially saying is that just as there are “mitzvot hateluyot ba’aretz“, mitzvot which are subject to the Land of Israel, there also “mitzvot hateluyot b’chutz la’aretz” mitzvot which are subject to the Diaspora.

[1] To cut to the chase on that issue: If you ask a Chareidi affiliated rabbi, you will be told to keep 2 days of Yom Tov. If you ask a YU [and similar streams] affiliated rabbi, you are likely to be told to keep “a day and a half”, and if you ask a Mizrachi/Bnei Akiva affiliated rabbi, Chabad, and many Sefardi rabbis, you are likely to be told to keep one day. Ask your rabbi what’s right for you.

[2] Pesachim 50a

[3] Chacham Tzvi 167. See also: Shulchan Aruch Harav, OC 496:11. Also of interest: “In recent years, this opinion of the Chacham Tzvi has gained more popularity among the poskim” –Rabbi Herschel Schachter, cited at: http://www.torahweb.org/torah/special/2003/rsch_ytsheini.html

About Ari Enkin

Rabbi Ari N. Enkin, a resident of Ramat Beit Shemesh, is a researcher and writer of contemporary halachic issues. He is the author of the “Dalet Amot of Halacha” series (8 volumes), Rabbinic Director of United with Israel and a RA"M at a number of yeshivot. www.rabbienkin.com


  1. Based on the Chacham Tzvi’s sevara, Israelis visiting chutz la’aretz for Yom Tov should have to keep two days m’ikkar hadin, not just for the sake of conforming to local custom. I have never seen this cited by anyone as a possibility.

  2. What do you mean? This is essentially the Mishna Berura’s view.

    Ari Enkin

  3. HaDarda”i:

    I have known at least one rav who said exactly that when Israelis asked him about what they should do. It’s not unknown, but being on the other side of the question, I simply imagine it’s less relevant to us and so we don’t hear about it as much.

  4. [3] Rav A.Y. Hakohen Kook used to follow this view (see Sifrei Rav Neirah) is the footnote to R’HS’s “recent poskim” quote – imho it’s more a recent sociological rather than psak trend (i.e last 20 years max)

    btw-does anyone “hold” that bzman habayit visitors held 2 days? (and where did they bring karbanot on yom tov sheni :-)?)

  5. Rav Tukatchinsky says in Ir Hakodesh V’hamikdash 3:19 that historically visitors to Israel kept only one day.

    ssssshhhhhhhhh. 😉

    Ari Enkin

  6. I have heard in the name of a RZ Gadol (can’t confirm that he said it, so I don’t want to lend his authority to it) – that the sevara mentioned above by Dedardei should be correct. However, the CZ never spoke about going the other way (two days for an Israeli in Chu”l), and so it’s not done.

  7. 1) There is no such category. Yom tov sheni in our time is a Rabbinic enactment codifying an earlier minhag. The Chacham Tzvi’s point was that the earlier minhag that was codified depended not on your place of residence but on where you were for yom tov, which determined whether the messengers reached there and you knew whether the previous month was 29 or 30 days.

    2) The Rav ZT”L paskened that an Israeli visiting outside Israel for yom tov should observe two days even to the extent of saying the brachot at a second seder.

  8. Mike-

    Although what you say is factually correct, there does not seem to be a contradiciton to suggest the idea of “mitzvot hateluyot b’chutz la’aretz”. This is especially true according to the view that Yom Tov Sheini is a mitzva derabanon, and not a minhag. (We follow this view l’chumra). He makes it clear that it is a geographical issue IN ADDITON to the ‘messengers’ issue.

    So the only correction that might be called for is that perhaps it can be called “Mitzvot derabanon hateluyot b’chutz la’aretz”.

    Ari Enkin

  9. r’ enkin – a little historical perspective of halacha is needed here. i believe the first time this issue was brought up is in the sheiltot of the beit yosef when people from outside of israel ask him if they can daven a second day yom tov when is israel – best of my recollection ..i do not have my sources while traveling). he answered yes. i am not sure whether he gave his reasons – do not recall – but everyone since understood his decision based on the mishnah you quoted.

    its not clear- actually i think there is no proof – from the mishnah or gemera than anyone kept 2 days when they went to israel – post destruction.
    actually, i believe there is a meforesh gemera (can’y recall where) that says that oleh leregel from chutz laeretz kept only one day during the time of the temple.

  10. Ruvie-

    Thanks for that. And indeed, the Gemara seems to indicate that only one day of Yom Tov was kept by the olim.

    Ari Enkin

  11. Ruvie,
    I thought it was the other way around, that he only spoke about ben eretz yisrael going chutz (but I don’t remember where).

  12. “Yom Tov Sheini, however, is something which simply cannot be observed or adopted by the residents of Eretz Yisrael. Therefore, it is not something which was never subject to the ruling of the Mishna”

    chazal created a kedushat yayom for the second day under the rubric of minhag avotainu beyadeinu. therefore, the second day of yom tov outside of israel has a holiness – but only outside of israel. this cannot be imported(kedushat yayom) – even if you are visiting – to the land of israel. that is the reason why the concept of a second day in israel can never happen to residents of the the land (why there is 1 1/2 day by some ) see the the reshimot of rav heshy reichman on the rav in the the masecta of sukah towards the end the the sefer discussing reb chaim’s opinion on this matter. i think the mishnah is irrelevant and has nothing to do with the way you quoted here – your sentence doesn’t make sense unless its explained.

    as joel rich correctly pointed out(i think) its not the rabbis who are more lenient (i am referring to pulpit rabbis) its the people who look at the issue and decided to keep one day based on the sources and guidance from non pulpit rabbis (in some cases)… 30 years ago i believe many kept 2 days. today maybe 10% of the mo world does. outside of rabbi adler in teaneckm (lookstein at kj) i do not of know of any rabbis that say publicly to keep one day. i am happy that starting to tonight i will be keeping one day since there a lot to be somech on.

  13. sorry – the 1 1/2 days is for people visiting israel – chag samaech

  14. It’s interesting that R. Yitzchak Ya’akov Weisz in his Shu”t Minchat Yitzchak 10:10 (in a responsum favouring the approach of R. Joel Teitelbaum to oppose the celebration of Yom Ha’atzma’ut or Yom Yerushala’yim) observes that the Yom Tov Sheni milchamtah shel Torah and the Yom Ha’atzma’ut/Yom Yerushala’yim milchamtah shel Torah have become flip-sides of the same coin. In other words, Bichasdei HKB”H, the improved political situation of the Jewish People and the founding of the State of Israel (leading to a major ingathering of the Jewish Diaspora) has created a major halakhic quandry on the one hand how to deal with Yom Tov Sheni and on the other hand whether to create new holidays to celebrate the founding of the State. It is also interesting to note that there is a halakhic source suggesting that if all of Israeli Jewry wanted, it could accept upon itself to observe Yom Tov Sheni. [See R. Simchah Rabinowitz, Piskei Teshuvot on Mishnah Beruah Chelek Chamishi, discussing the concept of “Isru Chag” in Orach Chaim no. 429.] Thus, I have been hypothesizing that maybe a future Sanhedrin could harmonize all practices by moving Yom Ha’atzma’ut and Yom Yerushalayim to the Yom Tov Sheni of the already existing Shalosh Regalim, and thus all Jews will all be observing the same holidays. [It would be similar to Rabbi Abahu’s ordinance recorded by the gemara in Rosh Hashanah 34a regarding everyone blowing Tashra”t, Tash”at, Tara”t.] One should keep in mind that in the current situation – Yom Ha’atzma’ut is only observed on the original day of 5 Iyar in 25% of situations. In 3/4 cases, Yom Ha’atzama’ut is deferred to a different day. So maybe it could be deferred altogether to Yom Tov Sheni by a Sanhedrin.

  15. I should have mentioned that a book which inspired this hypothesis of mine is Benetivot Ha-halakhah II by R. J. David Bleich (pp. 28-29), where the author suggests (based on Radbaz and Chatam Sofer) that what we now call “Yom Tov Sheni Shel Galu’yot” will in the messianic era be celebrated as “Yom Tov Sheni Shel Ge’uli’yot”.

  16. I always thought of it in terms of the Mikdash as well- if you were oleh regel from chutz laaretz and actually were there to see the Sanhedrin declare Rosh Chodesh, why would you have to keep two days?

  17. Shalom-

    Indeed, you touch on something I will tackle some time, but Im not sure your reasoning is correct (Ill have to check the Piskei Teshuvot) — yes the chazon ish kept an 8th day of Pesach (didnt eat chametz) and didnt do melacha d’oraisa on YT sheini.

    But like I said, I dont think it is because of a YT sheini in Israel, but rather, of a lesser known piece of history that not everyone in EY kepy one day Yom Tov in ancient times relating to the messengers. Yup. Some kept 2 days!!

    I’ll get to it soon……

    Gut yom tov to you. ;-0

    Ari Enkin

  18. shalom – ” has created a major halakhic quandry on the one hand how to deal with Yom Tov Sheni ”

    there is no quandry for people moving and living in israel – its simple – one day. the only issue is for people visiting. secondly, this has nothing to do with the status of the state of israel and the creation of holidays associated with it- two different issues.

  19. lets not forget that some authorities hold that eilat is chutz laeretz and suggest that one has to keep 2 days there.

  20. Ruvie-

    The State of Israel does indeed have an effect on YT sheini — Eilat for example! One of the support-proofs to keep 1 day in Eilat is b/c it is part of the continues sovereing state of Israel.

    Rav Aviner has tons on this….

    Ari Enkin

  21. r’ enkim – “correction” i think would be the wrong word – exception is better. the issue may be on places that where never part of israel proper (tons of stuff as you said on that) or places that were in israel proper but messengers could not get there on time (i am not sure if anyone would hold to keep 2 days in the golan or rosh hanikrah) but i think any place that is considered part of the sovereignty of the state would be one day regardless (but being an am haaretz i am not up on this part of issue of 1/2 tom tov).

  22. lawrence kaplan

    Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach paskens that any place under Israali sovereignty keeps one day. Amir Mashiach in his new book on RSZA has an interesting comparison between the two versions of the teshuvah.

  23. Shachar Ha'amim

    Lawrence – in any possible “arrangement” whereby certain Jews might find themselves living in E”Y but not under Israeli sovereignty (e.g. residents of the old city of Jerusalem under Olmert’s plan) it is difficult to imagine that they would then keep 2 days. How ridiculous would it be for Jews in Eilat to keep one day while Jews who live meters from the makom hamikdash would keep 2 days b/c it is under UN sovereignty?!?!

    one aspect of the whole discussion that seems to be absent is whether or not it is ASSUR to keep 2 days of Y”T in E”Y. Aside from the many other reasons that this might be so, it is difficult to comprehend how one can keep 2 days of YT b/c one has in mind to do something that is normatively (excepting certain limited exceptions that don’t necessarily apply to all travelers to E”Y today) assur – that is to leave E”Y (in some formulations – without intention to return ASAP)?!? Rav AY Kook’s formulation of the 2nd day YT issue often revolved around his view that one should – as he put it often – sign up for residency and stay here.

  24. FWIW, RSZA has an extensive discussion of the Chacham Tzvi’s shita in one of the volumes of Shulchan Shlomoh.

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