A New “Peninei Halacha” Book
A number of people have encouraged me to address the importance of regulating Jewish family values in law, warn of the dangers of approving ‘brit ha’zugiut’ (civil marriage) in law, and to propose an alternative solution. However, since I am not na?ve enough to think the problem can be solved with the writing of one newspaper column, I will postpone discussing this important issue for the time being, and instead, inform my dear readers that, with the help of the Almighty, I have merited completing work on ‘Hilchot Mo’adim’ (Laws of the Festivals) in the series of Jewish Law books “Peninei Halacha”, and in the coming days, the book will be published.
‘Chag Pesach’ (Passover) is quickly approaching – we are already within the thirty day period before the festival, when there is a special mitzvah to learn ‘hilchot Pesach’ (laws of Passover). Therefore, owing to the fondness of the issue, I will elucidate one halacha which is clarified in greater detail in the book.
Basis for the Decree of ‘Yom Tov Sheni shel Galyiot’
From Torah law, every one of the six days of ‘Yom Tov’ (festivals of Biblical origin) are celebrated for the duration of one day only; the date is dependent on the Hebrew month, which is determined according to the lunar cycle. The length of the cycle is slightly more than twenty-nine and a half-days, and consequently, some months are “full” (30 days), while others are “missing” (29 days). It is a mitzvah from the Torah for people who saw the new moon in evening of the thirtieth day after the ‘molad’ (the time at which the New Moon is “born”), to come and testify about it before the ‘Beit Din’ (Rabbinical court), and based on their testimony, ‘Beit Din’ sanctifies the month. If witnesses did not come, Rosh Chodesh (first of the month) was postponed till the following day, and consequently, the date of the upcoming festival was postponed by one day.
Since all Jews needed to know when the month was sanctified, and when the festivals would fall out, immediately after ‘Beit Din’ sanctified the month, messengers were sent out all over the Land of Israel to inform the people when the new month was sanctified (Rosh Hashana 21b). However, the messengers were not able to reach all the Jews living outside of Israel before the festival, therefore, the early Prophets instituted that Jews living outside of Israel celebrate each festival for the duration of two days on account of ‘safek’ (doubt). This was the custom of the Prophets Yehezkel and Daniel, and possibly, already from the times of Yehoshua bin Nun, Jews living outside of the Land of Israel observed two days of ‘Yom Tov’ on account of the ‘safek’ (Responsa of Rav Hai Gaon, ‘Otzer Ha’Gaonim’, Yom Tov 4:2).
Transition from ‘Beit Din’ Sanctification to the Calendar
Even after the destruction of the Second Temple, the ‘Beit Din’ in the Land of Israel continued to sanctify months and intercalate the years. But over time the decrees of the Romans increased, and quite often, these decrees were aimed directly against the Rabbis and the mitzvah of ‘kiddush ha’chodesh’ (sanctifying the new month), until towards the end of the Amoriac era, in the final days of Abaye and Rava, the religious authority of the time, Hillel II, came to the conclusion that it was impossible to continue ‘semichat chachamim’ (ordination of Rabbis), and ‘kiddush chodashim’ by the ‘Beit Din HaGadol’ (Sanhedrin) inEretz Yisrael. And since he had the authority, seeing as he had inherited the presidency of the ‘beit din’, one generation after the other, from Rebbe Yehudah HaNasi, he and his court calculated the months and years, and sanctified them till the end of time. And thus, from the Jewish year 4119 from Creation (359 CE), the Jewish nation began to count the months according to calculations of the Hebrew calendar instituted by theNasi Hillel II (Peninei Halacha: Z’manim 1, Chap.1, halacha 3, footnote 3).
The Ordinance of ‘Yom Tov Sheni’
At that same time a question arose: Since all the Jews living outside of the Land of Israel had access to the calendar, and consequently, there was no longer a worry they would err in their calculations, maybe they could observe only one day of ‘Yom Tov’ like the Jews living in Eretz Yisrael? The Rabbis of Eretz Yisraelsent a directive to the Babylonian Jews: Be careful to continue the custom of your forefathers, lest the ‘malchut’ (non-Jewish monarchy) order decrees and disrupt the calculations, and by observing the minhagof ‘Yom Tov Sheni’, they would not come to err (Beitza 4b). Rabbi Hai Gaon explains that in addition to the fear of the decrees of the ‘malchut’, the fundamental reason for continuing the custom in ‘chutz la’aretz’ (outside of Israel) is because the Prophets decreed that ‘Yom Tov’ would always be observed two days in ‘galut’ (Diaspora), and no ‘beit din’ can revoke their orders, because no one knows all of reasons for their decrees. Moreover, only a ‘beit din’ greater in wisdom and size can revoke their orders (‘Otzar HaGaonim’ Yom Tov, 4:2).
As is true in the entire Torah, the halachic side is compatible to the ‘ruchani’ (spiritual) side; since ‘kedusha’ (holiness) is more revealed in the Land of Israel, consequently the ‘chagim’ (festivals) in Eretz Yisrael are able to be revealed in one day, as the Torah commands. However, those in ‘chutz la’aretz’ are farther away from the revelation of ‘kedusha’, and therefore, in order to absorb the spiritual “lights” of the ‘chagim’, two days are required, as the Rabbis ordained. This is analogous to a flashlight: When held close to an object, its’ light is strong and concentrated in a small spot, but when the flashlight illuminates an object in the distance, its light is weakened, and dispersed over a large area. Thus, the “lights” of the ‘chagim’ are revealed in Eretz Yisrael in one, concentrated and focused day, while in ‘chutz la’aretz’ the “lights” of the festivals are weaker and spread out over two days (Derech Mitzvotecha, 114:1).
Laws of ‘Yom Tov Sheni’
‘Yom Tov Sheni’ is equivalent to ‘Yom Tov Rishon’ in all its halachot, for everything the Rabbis instituted, is similar to what the Torah commanded. Thus, all the prohibitions that apply to ‘Yom Tov Rishon’, includingRabbinical prohibitions, also apply to ‘Yom Tov Sheni’. Likewise, all the prayers on ‘Yom Tov Sheni’ are the same as ‘Yom Tov Rishon’. Also, ‘kiddush’ is recited over wine, and the blessing ‘Shehechiyanu” is recited just like ‘Yom Tov Rishon’ (Shulchan Aruch 661:1). On Pesach, ‘Leyl HaSeder’ is conducted twice – along with all its commandments and blessings. And although, seemingly, there is room to argue that since we observe ‘Yom Tov Sheni’ on account of ‘safek’, in regards to all the blessings, which are of Rabbinicalordinance, one should not recite the blessings, because we have a general rule ‘safek berachot l’hakel’ (when we are not sure whether to make a beracha or not, we refrain form making it), nevertheless, the Rabbisinstructed to recite the blessings, because if blessings are not recited on ‘Yom Tov Sheni’ as they are on ‘Yom Tov Rishon’, people will come to despise ‘Yom Tov Sheni’ (Shabbat 23a).
An Israeli Spending the Festival Outside of Israel
The Rabbis said that someone who leaves Eretz Yisrael but intends to return, is considered a ‘ben Eretz Yisrael’ (literally, a ‘son of the Land of Israel’), and therefore, if one spends the festival outside of ‘techum Shabbat’ from a Jewish community (the distance one is allowed to walk on Shabbat and Yom Tov outside of the city limits, approximately .598 miles, or 3161.74 ft.), he does not observe ‘Yom Tov shel Galyiot’, and is permitted to do all ‘melachot’ (thirty-nine categories of activity prohibited on Shabbat), on it. However, if one is in a Jewish community or within its ‘techum Shabbat’, he must act as they do, as not to appear inconsistent with their custom (Pesachim 50a; Shulchan Aruch 491:3).
Consequently, while within the ‘techum Shabbat’ of the Jewish community, it is forbidden for one to do ‘melacha’ on their ‘Yom Tov Sheni’. True, some poskim (Jewish law arbiters) are of the opinion that in private, one is permitted to do ‘melacha’, however, in practice, most poskim are of the opinion that even in privacy, one must act like them in regards to all prohibitions of the Chag, because if he acts leniently in private, in the end it will be revealed, and he will appear to be inconsistent, and thus, violate their ‘Yom Tov’ (Tosephot, R’za, Mishna Berura 496:9).
Since primarily he is considered a ‘ben Eretz Yisrael’, he must make ‘havdala’ in private on ‘Motzei Yom Tov Rishon’, and on ‘Issru Chag’, must lay tefillin privately. And in order not to appear as if he contradicts their custom, he should be particular to wear clothing suitable for ‘Yom Tov’, and light candles in honor of ‘Yom Tov Sheni’, without reciting a blessing.
As for prayers, simply, it would be preferable to pray at home, alone, so as not to pray with them, but recite different prayers, for while they are reciting the ‘Yom Tov’ prayers, he must recite the prayers for ‘Chol HaMoed’, or the regular daily prayers (Orech Mishpat 129). If one can come for parts of the prayer service without other people realizing his prayers are different, it is preferable, so as to hear ‘kaddish’ and ‘kedusha’. And if possible, it is even better to pray the ‘Amidah’ with them, while concealing his own prayers.
On the second ‘Leyl Ha’Seder’ on ‘Yom Tov Sheni’ of Pesach, if a person has his own apartment, he does not have to participate in the ‘Seder’ of ‘b’nei chutz la’aretz’. If, however, he is a guest of ‘b’nei chutz la’aretz’, he should participate in the ‘Seder’ with them, but should not recite the ‘birkot ha’mitzvah’; rather, he should answer ‘amen’ (Chayei Adam 103:4).
An Israeli Abroad for an Extended Period of Time
There is a considerable ‘safek’ concerning a person who travels abroad for an extended period of time, but intends on returning to Eretz Yisrael. On the one hand, since he intends on returning, he seemingly remains a ‘ben Eretz Yisrael’. On the other hand, perhaps when the Rabbis said ‘v’da’ato lachzor’ (‘and he intends on returning’), they meant he would return within a short period of time; but if he remains abroad for a long time, then, for that period of time, he is considered a ‘ben chutz la’aretz’. In addition to this, there is also concern that he might decide to settle abroad permanently.
On the face of it, there are numerous viewpoints regarding this ‘din’ (law). However, when analyzing the roots of the various opinions, two fundamental positions are found: Some poskim say that a person who intends on residing abroad for a year, is considered a ‘ben ha’makom’, and must observe ‘Yom Tov Sheni’, for we have seen in the Talmud that after a year, a person is considered a ‘ben ha’makom’, and is obligated to pay all taxes (Baba Batra 7b). This is the instruction of many Rabbis of ‘b’nei chutz la’aretz’.
Other poskim say that even if one’s intention is to remain abroad for several years, as long as there is absolute certainty that he will return, then his stay there is considered temporary, and in his own eyes, and in the eyes of his neighbors, he is considered a ‘ben Eretz Yisrael’. It seems that as long as he intends to return within four years, according to this opinion, he is considered a temporary resident, for this is the longest amount of time an emissary is sent on ‘shlichut’ (mission).
In practice, it seems that when a person goes abroad for a purpose that does not have a specified time period, he must act according to the first opinion, and even if he has a clear intention of returning to Israel, if he leaves for a year – as long as he is abroad, he is considered a ‘ben chutz la’aretz’. If he has a family, he is considered a ‘ben chutz la’aretz’ during that year only if his family went with him.
But if one leaves Israel for a clear, time-limited purpose, he must act according to the second opinion. Therefore, a person who is an educational ‘shaliach’, or a business representative for an Israeli company, or goes abroad for studies, or for any other defined purpose, as long as he intends to return within four years, he is still considered a ‘ben Eretz Yisrael’. And if he goes abroad for four years, even if in the middle, he visits Israel a number of times, as long as he is ‘chutz la’aretz’, he must observe ‘Yom Tov Sheni shel Galyiot’.
These laws have many diverse situations, and a reliable Rabbi should be consulted.
It should also be noted that when a person is in a community that has a ‘mara d’atra’ (community Rabbi) who is an established halachic authority, and his public instruction goes according to the first opinion – as long as one is in his community, he must act according to his instruction, because sometimes the Rabbiperceives a situation in which people from Israel who do not observe ‘Yom Tov Sheni’, is liable to cause other community members to disregard ‘Yom Tov Sheni’. Therefore, this is an important consideration in obligating people who go abroad for one year, to observe ‘Yom Tov Sheni’, as well.
I hope next week, with the help of God, to clarify the halacha in regards to Jews living outside of Israel, who come to Eretz Yisrael for a short period of time, for the chagim.