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Q&A: Sukkoth

October 10, 2014

Question: Is it ok to pay someone on chol hamoed for services rendered before chag?

Answer: It is not just permissible. It is obligatory!

Question: Just as Yom Tov began, the wind blew all the s’chach off of my sukka. Can I put it back on on Yom Tov?

Answer: No. You should wait until after Yom Tov is over. Keep in mind, that if the walls of your sukka could not withstand even ordinary winds for your area, then they were never valid to begin with. The walls of the sukka need to be able to withstand ordinary winds…

Question: Should I keep one day of Tom Tov while spending the year in Israel?

Answer: For all the opinions, see this nifty chart a friend of mine prepared some years ago. Some comments:

  1. The tendency in the Jewish world at large and the yeshiva world especially is to gravitate to the first opinion, namely, that visitors keep Yom Tov II in Israel just like they would in the Diaspora. 40 years ago, the idea that there would Be Yom Tov II minyanim for prayers was new and scandalous, and now it is commonplace.
  2. I find it hard to believe that in earlier periods of Jewish history, like during late Second Temple times or the succeeding centuries, the many thousands of Jewish pilgrims from Babylonia, Persia, Egypt, and Rome would keep any form of Yom Tov II in Israel. There would be a lot more Halachic literature on the subject. This alone should be an argument for only keeping one day.
  3. Any of the middle-of-the-road opinions, i.e., anything not either for keeping one day like Israelis or two days in all aspects like the first opinion, is not an actual halachic decision (p’sak). It is a non-p’sak. It is an attempt to satisfy the various actual opinions by avoiding having to weigh the evidence for either case. A true decision would take sides on the matter.
  4. In 5761, our rosh yeshiva in Rehovot ruled that as we were only spending ten months in Israel, we should observe Yom Tov II. We did so on Sukkoth and Passover, and when Shavuoth rolled around, we visited Rabbi Simcha Hakohen Kook’s house late in the afternoon. As the evening approached, the rosh yeshiva asked Rabbi Kook to excuse us, as we needed to get back home for our Yom Tov II services and meals. Rabbi Kook was taken aback, and told us that “there is no Yom Tov II in Rehovot.” The rosh yeshiva explained how he had instructed us to indeed observe two days, to which Rabbi Kook responded with a smile, “Then it will be the last time they do.” I bless you likewise. You’re supposed to stay here in Israel anyway…
  5. It is interesting to note that we follow Maimonides’s ruling to keep two days of Rosh Hashana even in Israel, but we do not, for good reason, practice his other ruling regarding newly-settled areas within Israel (Kiddush HaHodesh 5:12):

When a place is located within a journey of ten days or less from Jerusalem, and it is part of Syria or the diaspora, and [its inhabitants] have no [established] custom conveyed [from previous generations], they should celebrate two days, as is customary in the world at large. [The same rules apply to] a city that was created in the desert of Eretz Yisrael, or a city first populated by Jews in the present era.

That is, Jerusalem and Jaffa and Safed should have two days of Rsoh Hashana and one day of other Yamim Tovim, but new towns, like Kochav Yaakov and Ariel, should observe all Yom Tov II’s, just like in America. The standard practice follows the Rashba and others, who felt that had these new towns been within the range of other towns that received the Court’s messengers on time before the holidays, they would also have been made aware of the exact day of Rosh Hodesh. Although this discussion is largely theoretical, you now have more authorities on which to rely if you choose to keep Yom Tov II in a relatively new settlement in the land of Israel.

6. Keeping Yom Tov II in Jerusalem creates all sorts of awkward and strange halachic contradictions, whereas keeping one day does not. While I would never advocate conformity just because, with regards to observing our holy days, conformity is necessary. You should not conform to others practicing kapparos or Tashlich, as those practices are inherently problematic, but holidays are what they are because the community’s authorities decide when they are.

7. In conclusion, I would encourage you not to observe Yom Tov II as a means of encouraging you to begin to consider yourself as a permanent resident of Israel. How could you honestly say you intend to leave and live abroad? What would your prayers mean?


From → halacha

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