It is well known that for the three main festivals (Pesach, Shavuot, and Succot), Jews in Israel celebrate only one day whereas Jews in the rest of the world keep two. This distinction goes back to the time before the calendar was set and the new months were proclaimed by the Sanhedrin based on the testimony of reliable witnesses. Once they had determined that the witnesses were telling the truth and that the new month had indeed begun, they would send messengers to all parts of Israel and the nearby Diaspora, informing the Jews there that a new month had come. However, for those Jews living far away from the Sanhedrin, the messengers generally came a week or two after the new month had been proclaimed, and thus there was often confusion as to which day precisely was the first day of the new month. As such, Jews in these areas were in doubt as to the exact date of the holidays, and thus they would keep an extra day to cover themselves on all counts.

With the destruction of the Temple and the establishment of the calendar, the reasons for this second day of the holidays (yom tov sheni shel galuyot) disappeared. Seemingly, there would no longer be a reason for anyone to hold more than the actual number of days prescribed by the Torah. However, the gemara in Beitzah 4b records that the people who lived in the Diaspora were told to be careful with the customs of their fathers, and to continue to hold a second day.

Our question for the week grows out of this warning. What happens in the case of an Israeli who leaves Israel for one of the holidays, or for someone from abroad who visits Israel at that time? What is the meaning of the "customs of your fathers"? Before we fully investigate this question, we first have to explore the concept of a person who goes from a place that has one custom to a place that has an opposing custom.


The mishna on Pesachim 50a states that a person who travels from a town whose custom it is not to do labor on the 14th of Nissan (erev Pesach) to a town whose custom it is to do labor then, or vice versa, must abide by the stringencies of both places, essentially meaning that he may not do any labor on that day. The mishna continues to state that a person should not act in opposition to the customs of a town so as not to increase dissension and strife.

There are two glaring problems with this mishna. First, what is the meaning of "the stringencies of both locations"? If one place is strict with regard to labor, the other place is obviously lenient, and this person abides by only one of the two customs! Second, what does it mean that a person should not act in opposition to the custom of a place - if he comes from a place that does not do work, the mishna has just said that he should not do work even if he enters a place that allows it! Is this not a case where he acts in opposition to the practices of the town that he has just entered? As we proceed in this topic, we will see exactly what the words of the mishna mean.

The gemara here and its parallel in Chullin 18b, as well as the Rishonim in both locations, offer several distinctions within this law. The first is a statement of Abaye, who says that the law of the mishna refers to cases when a person travels within Israel or within Bavel (a.k.a. the Diaspora), or from Israel to the Diaspora. However, when a person travels from the Diaspora to Israel he must adopt the practices of Israel, since Israel was predominant with regard to being able to proclaim the new month and to judge cases involving fines. Tosafot in Chullin present a much more important factor. They mention that with regard to a person who travels from Israel to the Diaspora or the reverse, he follows the custom of the place in which he intends to stay. Thus, if he is merely a holiday tourist, he continues to follow the practices of the place that he came from. Tosafot in Pesachim use this distinction to explain the confusing language of our mishna. They state that a person adheres to the stringencies of the place that he left when he intends to return, and adheres to those of the place to which he has come when he intends to stay. Rosh draws out this distinction further, distinguishing between actions done privately and those done in public. He claims that even though a person may continue to follow the practices of the place that he left, he should do so only in private, so as not to create any strife. Rosh also stresses the extent to which one should adopt a new set of customs in these circumstances. If one comes to a new place and intends to stay there, he takes on its customs totally, even its leniencies in place of any former stringencies that he might have held. Ran essentially agrees with Rosh, stating that intention to return is a major factor that determines whether or not a person takes on the stringencies of the place that he has come to (or abandons those of the place that he has left), and points out as well that a person who does not follow the practices of his new locale should act differently only in private. Further, he mentions that if a person comes to a place where they have a certain custom that is mistaken, he should not act against it publicly, due to the clause in the gemara that states that a person should not permit things that are actually permitted in the presence of those who forbid it (see Pesachim 51a for more on this idea).

In the interest of fleshing out this topic as much as possible, we should mention here a most confusing statement of Ra'avad. The Ba'al HaMaor states that a person who travels from Israel to Bavel may not perform labor on the second day if he is in a place of settlement even if he intends to return, while in the desert he may act as he would were he still in Israel (since all of these laws focus around the idea of whether or not a person has to hold by the customs of the place he is in, when a person is in a place without customs, such as a desert, we can easily say that he may continue to follow his former practices). The Ra'avad, in his commentary on the Ba'al HaMaor, disagrees since there is no one in the Diaspora or in Israel who does not keep two days of a holiday. What does he mean by this? Can he possibly mean that even in Israel two days were kept? The first approach is to say that he is, in fact, putting forth this radical view. The second possibility is that he is saying that no one, regardless of where they come from, does not keep two days when they are in the Diaspora. The third option is that there is a mistake in the text of the Ra'avad as we have it. Rav Menachem Kasher, in Divrei Menachem, cites the Kaftor VaFerach, which claims that the text should really read that there is no one is the Diaspora who does not keep two days, and only in Israel is one day kept (this version results in a very difficult sentence grammatically, but it makes the Ra'avad a bit easier to accept).

As far as halachic codes go, Rambam (Hil. Yom Tov 8:20) states that one should adhere to the stringencies of both places. However, if he intends to return to his original place, he should continue to follow both their leniencies and their stringencies, and must do so in such a way that he will avoid confrontation. The Magid Mishna adds in that when a person has no plans to return to the place that he has left he may not hold by their practices even if he is in a desert. The Tur (O.C. 468) agrees with Rambam with regard to a person who intends to return home, but states that the general rule is that a person follow the customs of the place where he plans to stay (and not adopt two sets of customs). Both the Beit Yoseif and the Bach state that even if a person plans to return he should still hold like the place where he has come to with regard to things that are noticeable if they are differed from. However, if his continuing to follow his original practices would not create any stir, then he may do so.

Two final points that will be important for dealing with our original question. The first is the statement of the Magen Avraham that students who come to Israel to learn for a few years are considered to have intentions to return. The second point is the words of the Chok Yaakov, who, in a lengthy comment on the Shulchan Aruch, makes a key distinction within the notion of adopting the stringencies of the place that he has come to. He claims that there are two possible ways to view this law - either one really has to adopt these practices according to the letter and essence of the law, or one really has no deeply rooted obligation to do so but must follow them so as not to create argument. One of the main results of this distinction would be whether or not one also must continue to follow the stringencies of the place that he has left. If his adherence to the new customs is really the law, then he has no reason to continue to follow his former customs. However, if he has to adopt these new practices solely for the purpose of maintaining the peace, then perhaps we make him keep to his former ways in private as well.


We now return to our original question. What does some who travels from a "one-day zone" to a "two-day zone" or vice versa do on the holidays? Before looking at the opinions, we must realize the various issues involved. Can an American eat chametz on what would otherwise be the eighth day of Pesach if he so happens to be in Israel? Conversely, can he keep an eighth day in Israel, or would he be in violation of adding on to the mitzvot (see Rosh HaShanah 28b for more on this prohibition). If a person, in either direction, keeps a day that he does not have to, are any blessings that he says on particular mitzvot of the day considered to be worthless and thus are unnecessary mentionings of Hashem's name? Which prayers should a person say on these days of doubt? Taking all of these factors (and several others) into mind, we begin our look at the various opinions.


We begin with the Chacham Tzvi. He states that everything depends on where one currently is (see also the Piskei Uziel). Thus, an American (I will use the term American to mean a non-Israeli; my apologies to the non-American, non-Israeli readers - convenience prevails over political correctness in this case) in Israel would hold one day, while an Israeli in America would hold two. What about the requirement of guarding the practices of one's fathers? He claims that this is applicable only when an American is in America, and thus he has to hold two days there even though we now know the exact dates. However, this concept does not hold in a situation where such a person comes to Israel. Why not? The basic logic is that had one's ancestors, at the time of the Temple, been in Israel, regardless of where they came from, they would know exactly when the holidays began and thus would only hold one day. Similarly, an Israeli traveling abroad in those times would have the same doubt as those around him and thus would keep two days. The Chacham Tzvi stresses the fact that it is forbidden for an American to perform any of the mitzvot of the day on the second day if he is in Israel due to the prohibition of adding on to the mitzvot. The She'eilat Ya'avetz qualifies this law a bit. He states that this applies only to one who is not married, since the possibility exists that while in Israel he will find a spouse and decide to stay (this is also the view of Maharitatz, Chida, and the Chachmei Eretz Yisrael). Thus, he may keep only one day based on the chance that his "visit" may turn out to last much longer than originally planned. However, one who is married presumably is going to return to the place that he came from and thus must keep two days. Note that this qualification takes a different approach than the one that we suggested. The opinion of the She'eilat Ya'avetz has nothing to do with what would be done when the Temple was still standing, but rather relies on whether we define a person as an Israeli or as an American. However, the view of the She'eilat Ya'avetz in the other direction should be noted as well. He claims that an Israeli in America must always keep two days, since that practice has very strong roots and cannot be uprooted until Eliyahu comes.

The Har Tzvi rejects the view of the Chacham Tzvi. He claims that the fact that we now know the correct dates is a significant factor, and thus we no longer look to what would have been done when messengers were still used. He first cites the Aruch HaShulchan, who states that an Israeli who comes to America for less than a year continues to act as if he were an Israeli, but once a year has passed for him in America he must follow everyone else and celebrate two days. However, the Har Tzvi himself follows the view of later Sefardi Rabbis who claim that there is no difference and that the key factor is intent to return. Thus, an Israeli who intends to return home keeps only one day. However, this ruling is not total. Such Israelis should be stringent and not do labor on the second day of the holiday and they should not make a minyan in which weekday prayers will be recited. This notion of trying to cover all of the bases is what is colloquially known as keeping a "day and a half," a notion that has several forms that we will encounter as we progress.

Rav Moshe Feinstein (Igrot Moshe O.C. 2:101) has a different view. He claims that an unmarried person in Israel must continue to keep two days if they still rely on their parents financially, since they still have ties to the Diaspora and there is no compelling reason to base their status on the possibility that they may find someone to marry in Israel (not that such things are impossible; they just do not outweigh the other factors mentioned above). This view is opposed by the Orach Mishpat, who claims that it is absolutely forbidden to keep two days of a holiday while in Israel. With regard to an Israeli abroad, Rav Moshe sides with the Har Tzvi with regard to his not being able to do labor, and adds that they also may not eat chametz on the eighth day of Pesach, yet he may put on tefillin privately on the second day of a holiday, as that is a stringency of the place that he left.

Perhaps the most comprehensive overview of this issue comes from Rav Ovadia Yoseif (Yabia Omer 1:40). He begins by citing the view of the Chacham Tzvi. In opposition to this he cites the Avkat Rocheil who rules that an American in Israel must hold two days to their fullest, and there is no issue of creating argument. Rabbeinu Chananel, Ra'avan, and Mahari Pinto agree with this, and the Halachot Ketanot cites Rav Yisrael Binyamin HaZakein who states that ten Americans in Israel may even go so far as make their own minyan on the second day of a holiday (all of this is only when they plan to return home). He then brings down the view of the Geonei Mizrach U'Ma'arav, who claim that men from Africa who marry Israeli women continue to follow their original practice for a year, and then begin keeping only one day. However, men from Bavel at the time when there were two major yeshivot there were considered to come from a place with a very established practice, and thus would have to adhere to the stringencies of both places (day and a half). The Kol-Bo and the Radvaz state that if a person intends to return, but not immediately, he should follow only the stringencies of the place that they left but not the leniencies (even in private). Rav Yoseif then points out that no Rishon agrees with the Chacham Tzvi, but the Sho'el U'Meishiv, Rav Shmuel Salant, and Rav Yechiel Tukechinsky all do (Rav Tukechinsky also lists several specific practices that an American in Israel should do to cover himself).

With regard to unmarried students, Rav Yoseif first mentions the notion that we consider the possibility of marriage and allow them to keep only one day in Israel. However, he cites the Ginat Veradim who claims that there is no such distinction to be made, and thus anyone who plans to return home must keep two days. If such a student is still reliant on his parents in the Diaspora, the Halachot Ketanot requires him to hold two days. However, the Mabit and others claim that since a person may ignore his parents' wishes in order to move to Israel, this factor is irrelevant and a student should observe only one day. However, there is also the view of the Rashbash, which states that since a person is allowed to remain in the Diaspora if he be unable to earn a living in Israel (and thus many eminent Torah-scholars did not move to Israel), such a student is considered to fall under this category if he is still relying on his parents ands thus he should keep two days. In conclusion, Rav Yoseif states that a student who is independent and would stay in Israel were a spouse to be found should observe only one day, while a student who still relies on his parents and would be hard-pressed to just pick up and move should celebrate two days.

Finally, we come to the opinion of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik ("The Rov"). There is some confusion as to what his actually view was. According to Rav Tzvi Reichman in his Reshimot Shiurim of the Rov on Succah, Americans in Israel keep only one day. However, newer versions of this book include a footnote in the back by Rav Moshe Meiselman, where he states that the view of the Rov was that such people keep a day and a half, not doing any labor (or eating chametz on the eighth day of Pesach), yet saying weekday prayers and putting on tefillin. The rationale here is that really only one day should be kept, yet Americans in Israel must keep the stringencies of the place that they left. To clarify this issue, I consulted the Rov's son-in-law, Rav Aharon Lichtenstein. He claimed that the view of the Rov was essentially that brought down by Rav Meiselman, that really only one day must be kept, but to be safe one must hold by the stringencies of the Diaspora as well. With regard to a second Pesach seder while in Israel, the Rov held that one should read the haggadah and go through all of the rituals, but should not say any of the blessings on the specific mitzvot (alternatively, he advised that one may find someone who follows the ruling that an American in Israel must keep two days to their fullest, and simply say "Amen" to their blessings).

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