Author Archives: Jonathan Cohen

Second Day in Israel

R Jonathan Cohen / 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.

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