Second Day in Israel

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Guest post by R. Jonathan Cohen

Rabbi Jonathan Cohen is a fellow of the Wexner Kollel Elyon at Yeshiva University. He currently serves as Rabbinic Intern at Congregation Ahavath Torah in Englewood, New Jersey.

An ancient enactment requires Diaspora Jews to observe Yom Tov Sheni, the second day of holiday. Their conduct when they visit Israel for the holiday is a matter of debate. While many classical authorities adopted the position that visitors observe two days of Yom Tov, just as they would in the Diaspora, the Chacham Tzvi is famed for ruling that they need observe only one day. See here for an excellent exposition of this well-known dispute.

Increasingly well-known is the so-called “day-and-a-half” position, whereby some observances of Yom Tov Sheni are observed, especially the prohibition of melacha, while for other purposes the day is treated as a weekday or Chol HaMoed, as the case may be. Confusingly for the would-be visitor, there are a wide range of such “day-and-a-half” positions, each with different conceptual underpinnings and practical ramifications. Some of these positions rule essentially in one direction while being stringent to take into account the other position, while others seek an intrinsic balance on a fundamental basis, ruling that one is required to literally “split the day,” observing the second day for some purposes and not for others.

This position is based on the understanding that essentially Yom Tov Sheni cannot exist in Israel, and therefore elements of the day that depend on the kedushat ha-yom, sanctity of the day, cannot be observed. Therefore weekday prayers are recited and tefillin are worn, as the day is essentially a weekday. Nevertheless, a personal custom to refrain from melacha or chametz does not require the sanctity of Yom Tov Sheni to be observed, and as such is brought by the visitor to Israel as a personal custom, making it therefore binding.

A systematic presentation of the various approaches to this problem has not yet, to my knowledge, been attempted, and thus the chart below is a helpful first step to providing additional clarity to an issue too often left to a chance decision. Of particular interest in the Modern Orthodox community will be the position of Rav Soloveitchik as it is presented by various of his students and in different forums, among others by R. Hershel Schachter here. An important opinion that I have not yet fully investigated is that of R. Kook — various sources identify his position as one day and some form of one-and-a-half days. Additional information is welcome.

In the table below, each approach is briefly described in terms of what the basic halacha or ikkar ha-din is according to that approach combined with additional concerns that the authority in question requires or recommends. Thus, the authority may rule that in areas where a compromise is not possible, such as in prayer, the second day should be treated as a weekday because it is the essential halacha, but that nonetheless one may not be lenient to rely on this with regards to melacha because one must be stringent to consider the second day one of Yom Tov. The various practical ramifications of the conceptual approach taken by the authority are then presented.

For the purpose of further clarification, I have included a column with a brief synopsis regarding the observance of Yom Tov Sheni by Israelis visiting the Diaspora. Note that Chacham Tzvi‘s position on this topic is not listed as he did not write on this subject, and differing interpretations have been offered of his position.

It is my hope that this post will provide a framework for further discussion, and is not intended to be a rigorous or thorough presentation of all the views on the subject.
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About Jonathan Cohen

36 comments

  1. Joe in Australia

    My recollection (I very much regret that I have no time to confirm it this afternoon) is that the present Chabad position was stated by the last Rebbe of Lubavitch. He also stated the Chabad position on the date of Shavuos after crossing the date line: avoid crossing it, but a person who crosses it should follow one’s personal count of sefiras haomer rather than that of the kehilla in which one arrives.

  2. Is the “chabad” position (or is it said to be) that of the Ba’al HaTanya?

  3. Jonathan Cohen

    Yes

  4. aside from RAL, what do other israeli rabbonim say? are israelis more likely to say one day and americans two? isn’t there an opinion that if one will be there for all 3 shalosh regalim then to hold one day (i think this was bnei akiva’s position?)

    when i was in yeshivah in israel the rosh yeshivah told the hutznikim that he felt one or two days were both legitimate options and he left it up to us, but he didn’t feel the “one and half” has any merit. (regular israeli yeshivah but american r”y)

  5. what does it mean for chabad “according to many”? iirc shulchan aruch harav says one day. i once mentioned this to the chabad rabbi of my old shul. he told me that he thinks today bochrim hold one day but those with families hold two. the former are more likely to remain, the latter will leave. or something like that. (i think this was also the rationale for the bnei akiva position i mentioned above that one is there for all shalosh regalim observes one day)

  6. The Cahbad position isn’t so simple. The first edition of the Shulchan Aruch Harav makes it clear that visitors to Chu”l hold one day, and brings two opinions whether visitors to E”Y should hold one day or two. The second edition makes it clear that visitors to Chu”l must hold two days, while implying that visitors to E”Y should hold one.
    My understanding is that Chabad takes both positions into account. Hence single people and married people that are traveling with their spouses, follow the practice of the place they are visiting, while married people traveling alone follow the practice of their place of origin. An exception to this is Crown Heights, where all visitors observe two days as they are “by the Rebbe.”
    Chabad psak on this is not monolithic and vertain chabad poskim, such as Rav Landau, hold that visitors to EY should hold two days.

  7. Rabbi David Bar-Hayim also holds that one should act in accordance with the local custom and therefore all Jews in Israel should celebrate only one day of Yom Tov.

  8. Abba’s rantings- that is interesting – your rosh yeshivah’s that 1 1/2 has no merit. It seems to me that 2 days makes less sense ( except that poskim hold it) in that there is no kedushat yom Tov in EY and lo titgodidu. Also, in the time of the beit hamikdash we see in rabbinic literature – forget where- that olim to the beit hamikdash from chul kept one day. But 1 1/2 is confusing to many. Chag kasher.

  9. Abba’s – I would also add the reasoning for keeping two days in ey also appears to be based on logic that seems odd – at least to me.

  10. ruvie: It seems to me that 2 days makes less sense ( except that poskim hold it) in that there is no kedushat yom Tov in EY

    That seems like a whopper of an assumption.

  11. R. Cohen – very helpful chart! Some comments relating to general clarity:

    1) I can see someone glancing at this chart become confused at your terminology regarding isur melachah. For example, does “no melachah” mean there IS an isur melachah or there IS NOT an isur melacha? Obviously those who have learned through the issue a bit will know, but for the general reader this might be helpful.

    2) What does “when possible” mean?

    Chag kasher v’sameach.

  12. Hirhurim- please explain. I didn’t think the statement was controversial – I didn’t mean it that way.

  13. Meaning: not everyone would agree with that statement. It’s not like it’s in the Gemara.

    And regarding lo sisgodedu, there are ways around that. The Mishnah specifically insists that you have to follow your hometown’s minhag in a place where the minhag is different. Do you disagree with that Mishnah?

  14. Hirhurim –
    “not everyone would agree with that statement.” please explain to me how there is kedushat hayom in EY on the second day – the day is holy? – it is where you are not where you come from that creates the holiness.
    ” It’s not like it’s in the Gemara.” – neither is keeping 2 days for those from chul visiting. actually, there is reference to olim coming to the beit hamikdash – no mention of 2 days there either or anything else.
    “Do you disagree with that Mishnah?’ – of course not. but if you are yerushalmi and and read the megillah in the 15th and you are in tel aviv and not returning – do you read as the others do or your minhag on the 15th? many would disagree that the mishnah applies to this case and refers to all minhagim of a community to be transplanted. what about the communities that do not eat salt, sugar and cocoa because they are kitniyiot should that be maintained? not pashut just quoting.

    “there are ways around that” – there are ways around everything – that does make for an intelligent discussion.
    my issue is the logic – that one may go back home to your community and forget or keep 1 day.

  15. ruvie: please explain to me how there is kedushat hayom in EY on the second day – the day is holy? – it is where you are not where you come from that creates the holiness.

    Second day of Yom Tov is derabbanan! There is good reason to say that there is no kedushas ha-yom anywhere, in Israel and the Diaspora.

    “It’s not like it’s in the Gemara.” – neither is keeping 2 days for those from chul visiting.

    Which is why there is debate.

    actually, there is reference to olim coming to the beit hamikdash – no mention of 2 days there either or anything else

    An argument from silence is rarely convincing.

    many would disagree that the mishnah applies to this case and refers to all minhagim of a community to be transplanted

    Name one who argues that the Mishnah does not refer to all minhagim. I agree that some do not believe it refers to Yom Tov Sheni, but I dispute that anyone thinks it doesn’t generally refer to all minhagim including kitniyos.

    “there are ways around that” – there are ways around everything – that does make for an intelligent discussion

    The way around it is to do it in private. Not so hard.

  16. Joseph Kaplan

    “actually, there is reference to olim coming to the beit hamikdash – no mention of 2 days there either or anything else

    An argument from silence is rarely convincing.”

    Is there any source that says that when there was a Beit Hamikdash and they were mekadesh al pi hare’iah, that people from beyond the point where the messengers could go who came to Yerushalayim for a regel celebrated a second day yom tov according to any of the shitot in the chart?

  17. “An argument from silence is rarely convincing.” – its a little more than silence. One can say there is no hava amina to even do differently otherwise something would have been recorded to such a practice. Like there were no visitors before the middle ages? It’s more convincing than to say they might have kept 2 days. usually, changes in practice from the community is recorded.

  18. Hirhurim – ” There is good reason to say that there is no kedushas ha-yom anywhere, in Israel and the Diaspora”

    You seem to be moving the goal post. Before you claimed that my statement was a hopper of an assumption. Do poskim really claim that there is no kedushat hayom in chul – so what if it’s derabannan ?

  19. ruvie: One can say there is no hava amina to even do differently otherwise something would have been recorded to such a practice

    And one can say that the obligation to observe the minhag of the place from where you come and plan to return is already discussed in its appropriate place so there is no need to discuss it regarding Yom Tov Sheni.

    You seem to be moving the goal post. Before you claimed that my statement was a hopper of an assumption. Do poskim really claim that there is no kedushat hayom in chul – so what if it’s derabannan ?

    No, the goal posts remain that your assumption that on Yom Tov Sheni there is a kedushas ha-yom in the Diaspora but not in Israel is not a simple and universal assumption. There are other options, which arguably make more sense.

    The idea that Chazal can create a kedushas ha-yom is not obvious.

  20. Hirhurim – ” so there is no need to discuss it regarding Yom Tov Sheni.” – i am not saying you cannot make an argument. it just si shevach. it would be more innovative to say that some jews keep 2 days. to say it was discuss elsewhere via possible categories and minhagim related to which days you observe (as oppose to general minhagim) is let say farfetched-a great non yiddish word that sounds so yiddish- (or a stretch) to why its not recorded in the gemera.

    on disregarding one’s minhagim – i have seen among certain religious folks to do that in certain circumstances. for example, even though the minhag of this certain person is not to wear a talit – parents are polish born – til one gets married he had his children wear a talit upon bar mitzvah. is this a trend that other sees in certain customs?

  21. Jonathan Cohen

    When possible means that one is required to be strict for the other position, eg 2 days, as long as this doesn’t come into conflict with another Halacha like bracha l’vatala.
    The issue of kedushat yom Tov is critical in the presentation of Rav Soloveitchik’s position in Mesota – he suggests that tefilla reflects kedushat yom Tov, but that melacha and perhaps even the mitzvot of the day can exist without kedushat yom Tov.

  22. Hirhurim – “Second day of Yom Tov is derabbanan! There is good reason to say that there is no kedushas ha-yom anywhere, in Israel and the Diaspora.”

    the second day of rosh hashanah in israel has no kedushat hayom? chazal had the right to declare when yom tov occurs as well as adding a month because of weather. its hard to understand that they are in control of declaring kedushat hayom or tosafet hayom.

  23. Jonathan Cohen – “as this doesn’t come into conflict with another Halacha like bracha l’vatala”
    if R’ Gil is correct and there is no kedushat hayom isn’t all the berachot l’vatala?

  24. Oh, please. These are all basic questions that aren’t difficult in any way but take a long time to put into context. See the vast literature on this subject. There’s no slam dunk either way.

  25. Jonathan Cohen

    No – if the position in question thinks two days are necessary from the stand point of basic Halacha then that is not a bracha l’vatala. That would occur if the position held that the basic Halacha is 1 day and wanted to be strict for 2 – then it would be necessary to hear kidding from someone else as there would be a bracha l’vatala problem.

  26. “An argument from silence is rarely convincing.”

    Do you honestly think that on the first day of Pesach the Beit HaMikdash geared up all over again to bring a *second* korban Pesach for all the olei regel from chutz la’aretz? Sounds kind of unfair to all the kohanim to me, unless that was the shift of the kohanim from chu”l. 🙂 Seriously: No.

  27. Inranize a second seder i i934 the JNF asked the Chief Rabbinate of the British Mandate to Organize a second seder in

  28. Jerusalem for tourists. At first Harav Kook ZTZL refused sayinf that he held accordin to Chacham Tzvi and others that chag sheni befarhesia is forbidden. He later relented with one condition- that the orchestra of the Institute of the blind be invited to accompany the chazan during the seder. In this way his view that the basic
    halacha is one day would be upheld and the second seder would be held b’shinui”” showing that in Jerusalem there is really only one day of Yom Tov.

  29. Hirhurim- ” See the vast literature on this subject. There’s no slam dunk either way.” I agree but my original comment was my surprise that abba’s RY would say 1 or 2 days of Yom Tov are ok but 1 1/2 has no merit . I found that hard to be believe from a RY. So my comment was simple that I find 2 days has more issues – less logical when examind- than 1 1/2. I wonder if I am the only one that sees it that way? I am not here to debate the merits of each – yesh ma l’smoch al for each position. Sorry I wasn’t more explicit.

  30. Nachum: Who said anything about a second korban? Did people from chu”l bring a korban Pesach if they didn’t own land in Israel? Regardless, I only meant their private activity.

  31. You mean they didn’t do melacha? OK, so that’s a “half day” right there.

  32. Hirhurim – I know this is off-topic, but we know that not even everyone from Eretz Yisrael brought a korban (in fact, only a rather small minority did). Sad, but unfortunately true. Nothing to do with anything, but I thought I’d point it out.

  33. Jerry, one six-month old lamb could provide a kezayit to hundreds of people.

  34. The positions I found most odd were those where they said – hear from somebody else for second kiddush, second seder and second havdala. Hearing first havdala from somebody else in Israel is easy, just find a bone fide Israeli, who is, according to all opinions, obligated in havdala. And since you are likely to be in Israel visiting somebody, that is likely not to prove difficult. But if you hold that there is a bracha l’vatala problem in saying second kiddush, second seder and/or second havdala – aren’t you possibly into lifnei iver type considerations if you have somebody else do it on your behalf? Especially if you have to chase them down – assuming you and your family have the same posek, then nobody from your family is likely to be able to assist, and chances are, nobody from your community, so it sounds like you would need to go cross community, find some chutznik among a totally different community whose posek holds that you keep two days vadai, and then ask them. Seems like an extraordinary tircha, involving a lot of complex publicity, and I confess I am rather surprised that such a psak would come halacha l’ma’ase from those listed as holding it.

  35. Jonathan Cohen

    I understand the presumption of such a psak to be that the various views on the question listed are basically legitimate, and therefore there are likely to be multiple individuals in the same areas doing different things. Perhaps if there was a lot of tircha involved these poskim would agree, but every situation has to be treated individually, especially when working in the realm of that which is recommended as a stringency but not absolutely required.

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