Monday, June 27, 2011

Machon Yerushalayim’s Book Week 2011

Machon Yerushalayim’s Book week 2011

by Eliezer Brodt

As previously mentioned there are many book sales this time of year all over Eretz Yisroel, and many publishers release new titles for the occasion. One of the publishing houses that makes a special sale every year is Machon Yerushalayim (MY). This year for the sale MY released many new titles.

Over twenty years ago MY released a beautiful new edition of the classic work Minchas Chinuch. Over time this edition has become a bestseller, selling thousands of copies worldwide. In the introduction of the work they wrote of plans for a fourth volume which would include indices and a collection of all the notes and discussions of the various gedolim on the Minchas Chinuch. For various reasons that project never got off the ground. Bu there was another work that does collect all the notes and discussions of the various gedolim on the Minchas Chinuch and comment on them, from Rabbi Schlessinger. This work, although beautiful and full of great stuff, looked like it would shape up to be over twenty volume,s but no more volumes were released in the past fifteen years. Recently, for Pesach and Shavuos MY released samples of this original project. Last week they released the first volume of this edition which goes up to the forty-first Mitzvah. The work is excellent. It is more concise than Rabbi Schlessinger edition and similar to the style they have used in the Otzar Miforshei Hatalmud. I just have one small complaint - at this rate it will be around twelve volumes (although they estimate only six). Although it is nice to have the notes on the same page of the Minchas Chinuch, but most people have already bought the Minchas Chinuch in three volumes, so it would be much easier for them to put all the notes in two separate volumes like originally planned. Hopefully MY will offer this option in the future. Volume two of this work is due in a month or two.

Another very valuable work just printed is the sefer Shulchan Melachim. This work is based on manuscripts from Rabbi Yitzchak Bueno who was a Rav in Yerushlayim over three hundred and fifty years ago. It is on Orach Chaim and is full of pesakim of his and other giants of his time. The Prei Chadash and Chida used it in manuscript. This volume contains many useful footnotes and is printed with the Shulchan Orach on the page.

Another work just printed is the extremely important work Tashbetz Koton based on many manuscripts. There are over one hundred manuscripts of this work. A few years ago an edition of Tashbetz Koton was printed by Rabbi Schneerson with many excellent notes (he promised a second volume which has still not been printed). Rabbi Schneerson's edition is based on the version of the sefer that was in front of the Beis Yosef, who quoted from it extensively. However one weakness of this edition of Rabbi Schneerson's is that it’s in a complete different order than many of the other editions, making it very hard to use. The new edition of MY is based on the order that most quote the sefer, making it easier to use than Rabbi Schneerson’s. Besides for this it is based on many manuscripts and contains many useful notes to help one understand the text. One small problem I had with the MY edition is they did not reprint the notes of R. Yeruchem Fischel Perlow but it could be they could not get permission.

Another very valuable work just printed is called Pinkaso Shel Shmuel from the Rashash. This work is a collection of indexes of thousands of topics found in the Rashash's writings organized according to topics, including topics related to Kelalim, Toldos Tanaim V'amoraim and more. It is mindboggling to see how many topics the Rashash touched upon in his works! One weakness in my personal opinion of this work is they should have already brought down exactly what he says instead of in an index form as he writes very concisely, so the sefer would only be a little bigger and even better. The editor of this work seemed be unaware of the great work on the Rashash from Shua Englman, "Rabbi Samuel Strashun (HaRaShaSh) and his Hagahot on the Babylonian Talmud," (PhD dissertation, Bar-Ilan University, 2008; Hebrew). All in all it’s a beautiful job.

Another work worth mentioning is a volume called Iggros Rabbenu Chaim Me-volozhiner. This small work (117 pp.) is mostly a commentary to a one-page letter of R. Chaim Volzhiner.

Another volume which is due out any day is the fourth volume to the Shut Ha-Tashbetz.

Some other volumes printed are two more volumes to their edition of the Shulchan Orach- Yoreh Deah, another volume of Yad Dovid, another volume of Sharei Torah and a shu"t from R. Chaim Kafusi.

A very special title of theirs printed last year is the Shiltei Giborim. See here for a nice article about this work. Hopefully I will return to this work in a future post.

In addition to all this all their seforim are available at reduced prices.

Email me at Eliezerbrodt@gmail.com if you are interested in a complete catalog.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Upcoming Kestenbaum Auction #51 - Alphonse Cassuto Collection Part 2.


Kestenbaum & Co. will be holding an auction this Thursday, June 23. The catalog is available online at the Kestenbaum site (link). This auction includes the second part of the Alfonso Cassuto collection which is heavily focused on books originating or relating to the Iberian Peninsula. One can read more about that collection at the website or see the last auction catalog.


In addition, there are a few controversial books of note. First, lot 136 is the exceedingly rare first edition of Toldoth Ya’akov Yosef, the first Hassidic work published. It is both rare and controversial because it was the first and thus subject to bans and book burnings. Second, lot 153, is R. Azariah de Rossi’s Me’or Eynaim, Mantua, 1574. Of course, this book too was subject to a ban, in this case by R. Yosef Karo. De Rossi attempted to preempt his critics by removing certain pages and replacing with “corrected” pages. Third, lot 159, is R. Ya’akov Emden’s polemic against the Frankist movement, Sefer Shimush, Altona c. 1758-62. This work too was banned by the Va’ad Arba ha-Artzot. Aside from the controversial nature of the work, the work is also notable for the illustrations it includes at the end depicting the punishment that is due the Frankist. Also see this post by On the Main Line for another notable illustration in Sefer Shimush. Here are the illustrations of the punishments:




Fourth, lot 253, R. Manasheh of Ilya’s Binat Mikra. R. Menasheh himself was a controversial figure, [see R. D. Kaminetsky, Ha-Gaon R. Menasheh me-Ilya, Yeshurun vol. 20, pp. 729-81]. In addition, this exceedingly rare work is also controversial in part because R. Menasheh records that the Gra himself told him that one is not limited to the interpretations of texts advanced by the Talmud. Finally, we have Nathan of Gaza, Tikun Krei’ah le-Chol Yom, Frankfurt O.M., 1666 (lot 271). Nathan was Sabbatai Tzvi’s “prophet.”


Turning to illustrations, we have a R. Issachar Baer Eilenburg’s Be’er Sheva, Venice, 1614, lot 157. The title page prominently displays a bare-breasted woman. It is worth nothing that this copy belonged to the Sadigur Rebbi, R. Nachum Dov-Baer Friedman, and his stamps also appear prominently on the title page.




This is not the only work belonging to the Sadigur Rebbi that contains such illustrations. Lot 269, is the Sadigur Rebbe’s copy of R. Avraham Rapa’s Mincha Belula, which contains R. Rapa’s herald that similarly contains bare-breasted women. Indeed, as previously discussed here and here some have attempted to alter the herald to make it less objectionable. Although lot 262 does not appear to have belonged to the Sadigur Rebbi, it too has similarly imagery, this time on the title page. In this case, it is a set of Mishne Torah, Amsterdam, 1702-03. Aside from the figures of Moses and Moses Maimonides apparently dressed as Greek philosophers flanking the title page, on the edifice at the top of the page there are two bare-breasted women.




This is not the only work from Maimonides that contains potentially objectionable imagery. Lot 260, is the Moreh Nevuchim, Sabbionetta, 1553, and in this case, the Greek mythological figures, Mars and Minerva appear at the bottom [for more on this title page see Marvin J. Heller, Mars and Minerva on the Hebrew Title-Page, Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, 98:3, Sept. 2004 (now reprinted in Studies in the Making of the Early Hebrew Book, Brill, 2007)].



Finally, a few other books of note are included in this auction. Lot 244 is R. Shmuel David Luzzato’s personal copy of the first Hebrew bibliography by a Jew, R. Shabbatai Bass's (author of the popular commentary on Rashi, Siftei Hakhamim), Siftei Yesheinim. For more on R. Bass, see this post. Lot 145 is the Sefer Avreikh, Munkatch, 1893, which as Marc Shapiro has pointed out is one of the works that are written by extraordinary precocious authors, in this case, he was nine years old; see this post. Lot 258 is the first English edition of R. Yehudah Areyeh of Modena’s Riti, translated by Edmund Chilmead.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Book Week 2011

Book Week 2011

by Eliezer Brodt

Book week has just begin in Eretz Yisrael. As I have written in previous years every year in Israel, around Shavous time, there is a period of about ten days called Shavuah Hasefer - Book Week (see here, here and here). Shavuah HaSefer is a sale which takes place all across the country in stores, malls and special places rented out just for the sale. There are places where strictly “frum” seforim are sold and other places have most of the secular publishing houses. Many publishing houses release new titles specifically at this time. In my reviews I sometimes include an older title if I just noticed the book. As I have written in the past, I do not intend to include all the new books. Eventually some of these titles will be the subject of their own reviews. I try to include titles of broad interest. Some books I cannot provide much information about as I just glanced at them quickly. I apologize in advance for any mistakes regarding transliteration. I also apologize in advance for using the word excellent so many times when describing seforim in this post! Additionally this year I am offering a service, for a small fee to help one purchase these titles (or titles of previous years). For more information about this email me at Eliezerbrodt-at-gmail.com. Part of the proceeds will be going to support the efforts of the the Seforim blog. Earlier this year I posted a list of recent academic titles see here.

It’s worth checking back to this post in the next few days as I will probably add some more tiles, especially from Mechon Yerushalaim.

1) Magnes Press has many special titles this year. First and foremost is Benny Brown's book on the Chazon Ish (see here). Another special title is the three volume critical edition of Sifri from M. Kahane. Another nice title is Kabbalistic Manuscripts and Textual Theory from Daniel Abrams. A nice collection of articles is Chinuch Vedas. There is a new collection of articles related to R. J. B. Soloveitchik called Rav Be-olam Ha-chadosh. There are also some new works on philosophy of Halacha. One is called Halacha, Meta Halacha, u-Philosph. Another one is called Halacha Ke-mecholles Shinu. There is another collection from E. Melamed called Midrashe Halacha shel Ha-amoroyim be-talmud Bavli. Another title is from S. Tzefatman called Rosh Ve-rishon. Another title is from Shlomo Simonsohn on the Jews in Sicily. Another nice collection is related to the Cario Genizah called Ha-kanon Ha-somu Min Hayin. Another nice title is a collection of articles related to Gan Eden called Gan Eden Me-kedem. In English, there is a new title called The Pinnacle of Hatred: The Blood Libel and the Jews.

2) Kibbutz Hamechuad has a very special new title from Chanan Gafni called Peshuto Shel Mishana (a table of contents is available upon request). I highly recommend it and hope to return to it a post in the very near future.

3) The Israel Democracy Institute has some very good new titles. One is from Benny Brown (author of the work on Chazon Ish) dealing with R. Elyahsiv, Shlita and Rav Shach. Another work which looks interesting is a collection of articles called Rabnut HaAtgur (two volumes; a table of contents is available upon request). There are some other good titles there for good prices.

4) Caramel reprinted N. Krochamal's classic work Moreh Nevuchei Ha-zeman.

5) The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities does not have anything new but has some very good deals on old titles.

6) Merkaz Zalman Shazar has some new special titles. Amongst them is Amram Tropper’s Kechomer Beyad Hayotzer and the Hebrew translation of Professor Kanarfogel's Peering through the Lattices, called Sod U-magiah Uprishut Bemishnsom Shel Balei Hatosfot.

7) Reuvan Mass has a few new titles. Amongst them works on the Maggid Me-Mezritch, Ha-shar Le-aon and a work on R. Tzvi Mezigitov, Al Derech Ha- avodah.

8) The Bialik Institute has a few new titles, amongst them Lo Yossur Shevet Me-Yehudah in honor of Professor Simon Schwarzfuchs, which is a excellent collection of articles including pieces from of Professors Chaim Soloveitchik, Shnayer Z. Leiman, A. Grossman. M. Rosman, Eric Zimmer, R. Reiner ,Simcha Emanuel and many others (a table of contents is available upon request). Another nice title is Legalot Nistorot from Chana Werman. Aharon Shemesh has a book related to halacha in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Another title, Yosef Dat, is a Sefer Hayovel for Y. Salomon. In English there is a new title edited by Boaz Huss called Kabbalah and Contemporary Spiritual Revival.

9) Bar Ilan University has some new titles. The latest volume of Sidra is something specia,l with an all star line-up of writers (see here). A good title for those interested in academic Talmud is called Meleches Machsevet (see here). There are new volumes of Badad and Iyunei Mikra. Another title is on Zionist movement in Poland (see here).

10) Mechon Ben Zvi has some new titles, amongst them some new volumes in their set of critical editions of classics of Sefer ha-Makabim. Other works include Safrut Ha-mikra and a new translation of Shemoneh Perakim of the Rambam from M. Schwartz and two more volumes in their special series.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pashkevilin and Benny Brown's New Book on The Hazon Ish


Following the internal self-destructive collapse of the proverbial ghetto walls within Jewish communities around the world, the actual walls of Jerusalem continue to be adorned with elaborate pashkevilin, broadsides, and as The Satmar Rebbe, the late Reb Yoel Teitelbaum, zy"a, once allegedly offered a deep philosophical preach: 'Meah Shearim is sustained by the pashkevilin on her walls.' Recent scholarship on these broadsides has been offered by Benjamin Brown, "The Socio-Religious Texture of the Meah Shearim Neighborhood," Ariel: A Periodical for the Study of Eretz Israel 163-164 (March 2004): 121-135 (Hebrew); and on the origins of these broadsides, see Menachem Friedman, "The Pashqevil (Pasquinade) and Public Wall Poster/Bulletin Board Announcements in Haredi Society," in Broadsides: Wall Announcements and Polemical Proclamations in the Haredi Street (Jerusalem: Ben Zvi Institute, 2005), 8-37 (Hebrew).

As noted by OnTheMainLine blog, a recent article in Haaretz, offered some background on the recent digitisation of more than 20,000 pashkevilin from a private collection in Jerusalem (under the curatorship of Mr. Yoel Krois of The Edah Charedis). To access the digitised broadsides hosted by the The National Library of Israel (at Givat Ram), see here. The ranking collection of pashkevilin actually housed in an academic setting is at The Widener Library of Harvard University, whose indefatigable Judaica librarian, Dr. Charles Berlin of the Harvard College Library, has spent decades securing copies of pashkevilin from Jerusalem. In addition, The JTS Library has thousands of broadsides within their holdings, described here.

But with the new collection of (what I've dubbed) 'The Edah Charedis Collection,' see here, Hebrew school teachers and other Jewish educators will be able to assign broadsides to students interested in perfecting their own writing skills, from the lost-art of flowery Hebrew writing. It'll be like taking a walking trip down the winding roads of Meah Shearim, just without the rugelach, kiggel, or bags of popcorn, among other amenities of traversing the roads of Meah Shearim! The significance of these pashkevilin cannot be overstated. Scholars around the world now have a literal window into the religious imagination of the religious leadership of Meah Shearim of the past century, and from the comfort (not to mention security!) of their own home!

But as significant and exciting that twentieth-century pashkevilin are for future generations of scholars and scholarship, for many in the Jewish book world, the mere appearance of a broadside has often been the cause for consternation and anxiety for any author. Excommunications and other taunts have been immortalized during an individual's fifteen minutes of fame, though these are often extended due to the shedding pashkevilin on the walls of Meah Shearim. One pashkevil observer once mentioned to me that the most controversial pashkevilin are often posted in the final moments after candle-lighting in Jerusalem, ensuring a 25-hour window before being defaced. Mi Ke-Amcha Yisrael!


In any event, my thoughts and fears about pashkevilin resurfaced following the publication this morning of a volume that offers the first-ever book-length academic look at Rabbi Abraham Isaiah Karelitz zt"l, widely known as The Hazon Ish, at the founding of a modern Haredi community in the State of Israel, and is a significant contribution towards the study of Orthodox Judaism and religious life in the Land of Israel during the twentieth-century. And it is nearly 1,000 pages. Yes, my friends, this is the book that we've all been waiting for. I am so happy to announce: Benjamin Brown, The Hazon Ish: Halakhist, Believer and Leader of the Haredi Revolution (Jerusalem: Hebrew University Magnes Press, 2011; Hebrew), co-published by The Center for Jewish Law and Contemporary Civilization at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University, under the directorship of Prof. Suzanne Stone. (Plans are underway for an English translation of this work; please let me know if you wish to assist in sponsorship.)

Copies of Benjamin Brown, The Hazon Ish: Halakhist, Believer and Leader of the Haredi Revolution (Jerusalem: Hebrew University Magnes Press, 2011; Hebrew), are available for purchase at Shavua Sefer in Jerusalem and at bookstores around Israel. For overseas customers, copies are also available at a special rate, with proceeds to support the efforts of the the Seforim blog. Please contact Eliezer Brodt (EliezerBrodt@gmail.com), co-editor of the Seforim blog; also, follow us on Twitter (@theSeforimblog). While I am still waiting to hear how many copies will be for sale at The Steimatzky in Bnei Brak, if you are interested in purchasing this volume, I strongly urge you to let us know as soon as possible, as Benjamin Brown, The Hazon Ish: Halakhist, Believer and Leader of the Haredi Revolution (Jerusalem: Hebrew University Magnes Press, 2011; Hebrew), is going to be the hottest-selling academic book this year….so purchase soon!

See here for the cover of Benjamin Brown, The Hazon Ish: Halakhist, Believer and Leader of the Haredi Revolution (Jerusalem: Hebrew University Magnes Press, 2011; Hebrew), as well as the volume's ToC, prologue, and English abstract.

Operators are standing by…

Monday, June 13, 2011

@TheSeforimBlog is finally on Twitter!

@TheSeforimBlog is finally on Twitter!

Follow us if you're interested in the world of Jewish books, bibliography, scholarship, and more!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Yom Tov Sheni and the Customs With Regard to Travelers

Yom Tov Sheni and the Customs With Regard to Travelers

By J. Jean Ajdler


J. Jean Ajdler of Brussels, Belgium, is a civil and structural engineer. He has published articles about medieval Jewish astronomy, the history of the Jewish calendar, and Talmudic metrology, and is the author of Hilkhot Kiddush ha-Hodesh al-pi ha-Rambam (Jerusalem: Sifriati, 1996).


This is his first contribution to the Seforim blog.


Abstract: In ancient times the customs of the communities were extremely variable the one from the other. Each community had its own customs and it was very jealous of them. Therefore very precise rules ensured the equilibrium between them at the level of the travelers between these communities. The introduction of the printing with the publication of the Shulhan Arukh in the sixteenth century constituted the globalization of the Jewish society and contributed to the standardization of the Jewish rules and customs and the progressive disappearing of the local minhagim. However one great difference between Israel and the Diaspora survived; Israel keeps only one festival day while the Diaspora keeps two festival days. It is today the greatest difference of custom still extant and the dramatic increase of travel has given more acuteness to the problem. The aim of this article is the examination of the rules of priority of the customs in general, and that of the second festival day in particular, at the level of the travelers. We first examine the general problem of the minhagim: we examine the Talmudic sources and their understanding and the consecutive rulings. We acknowledge a great confusion in the understanding of the reference texts and a great diversity in the rulings.


Afterwards we examine the problem of the second festival days with regard to the travelers. In the case of the travelers from Israel to the Diaspora the divergences remain restricted. The Israelis traveling abroad do not keep two festival days but they may not distinguish themselves from the local Jews. The problems still today under discussion are whether the Israelis traveling abroad are allowed to perform work secretly, how they should behave outside a Jewish settlement, how long and under which conditions they can take advantage of their quality of Israelis. As for the travelers from the Diaspora to Israel, It seems even likely that the problem was not grappled with in the Talmud. There is a great confusion among the rulers: the overwhelming majority ruled that the travelers behave completely like in the Diaspora, some ruled that the travelers behave completely like Israelis and some ruled that they should adopt the severity of the two first opinions. We show that the first opinion has also weak points and is not better justified than the two others so that the problem remains theoretically open.



I. Introduction.


Yom Tov sheni shel Galluyyot was definitively instituted in about 325 when the Palestinian rabbis, probably under the leadership of Rabbi Yosi, began to send to Egypt and Babylonia, in advance, the data of the coming year. But at the same time, they invited them to go on keeping two festival days, in order to be able to react in the case of a disruption of the communication of the calendar data. There is much discussion in the rabbinic literature about the status of the second festival day. According to one opinion, the second festival day has the status of a minhag i.e. a custom. It is even an important minhag;[1] the violator of the second festival day is punished by beating or excommunication by contrast with the violator of a plain minhag.


The institution of the second festival day is characterized by the recitation of the Hallel and of all the benedictions, including the Sheheheyanu, exactly as on the first festival day, although one does generally not recite a benediction on a minhag.[2]


According to a second opinion the observance of the second festival day is the result of a takana obliging us to go on keeping the second festival day as if we were still doubting, as it was the case when the Babylonians did not yet know the fixing of the month.

However the application and extension clauses of the second festival day seem to work like a minhag.


If we paraphrase R’ Solomon Meiri, we can say that yom tov sheni shel galluyyot is a

מנהג דרך תקנה, it is a minhag which was introduced through a formal takana, in other words it is a minhag which was upgraded to the status of a takana. The takana is thus to go on keeping the former minhag.


The difficulty of giving a precise juridical status to the second festival day is probably the origin of the great confusion existing in the application of the rules of the second festival day by the travelers between Israel and the Diaspora and vice versa.


This confusion is still increased by the divergences between the rulers about the laws of the observance of the minhag by the travelers. If it were a pure takana to keep a second festival day outside of Israel, then the observance of this second day would depend only on the geographical localization of the person. As mentioned above the rules of yom tov sheni work also like a minhag and its obligations, as for a minhag, seem more to be “personal obligations” or חובת גברא which follow the travelers in their travels through the customs.


A third element could interfere with the issue. The takana instituting the second festival day was sent to Babylonia and was accompanied by a justificatory message. Indeed we find in the next quotation from B. Beitsah 4b:


והשתא דידעינן בקביע דירחא מאי טעמא עבדינן תרי יומי, דשלחו מתם, הזהרו במנהג אבותיכם בידכם, זמנין דגזרו המלכות גזירה ואתי לאקלקולי.


And now, when we know the fixing of the moon, why are we observing two festival days? Because they sent from Palestine the following order: be careful to maintain the practice of your late parents. It could once happen that the authority enacts [unfair] laws [again the Jews] and you could be wrong [if you observe only one day].


It is thus possible that this message was intended for people living abroad exclusively while people traveling from Babylonia to Israel were perhaps excluded from the beginning on. Indeed there was no danger of disruption of the communications and the information about the calendar for people traveling in Israel. It is thus not certain at all that the takana instituting the second festival day was intended for those people traveling to Israel and staying temporarily during the festival.[3]


Finally it must be noted that the rabbinic thought was much influences by the position of Maimonides’ ruling that the obligation of keeping two festival days does not depend on the distance from Jerusalem nor from the position of the place in Israel or abroad but it depends only on the exact situation which prevailed at the examined place at the time of the messengers, whether the messengers came along at this place or not. According to Maimonides and some other authorities, in most modern settlements in Israel one should keep two festival days. Therefore, according to these authorities, the obligation of keeping two festival days is not restricted to the Diaspora.


We know also from R’ Estori ha-Farhi (Kaftor va-Ferah chap. 51) that during the fourteenth century the rule was according to Maimonides and therefore they kept two festival days in Ramla but in the neighboring Lod they kept only one festival day.


In B. Pesahim 51b the travel of Rav Safra from Israel to Babylonia was detailed directly after the study of the problem of the traveler between two places having different minhagim. Visibly the Talmud considers that there is a profound analogy between keeping the second festival when traveling from Israel to Babylonia and traveling from a town where they do work on the morning of the 14th of Nissan to a place where they don’t. By contrast we don’t find in the Talmud any evidence about the converse situation of a traveler coming from abroad to Israel. However the overwhelming majority of the rulers considered that the problem of the keeping of the second festival day by the travelers between Israel and the Diaspora and vice versa must be deduced from the rules applicable to the travelers between two towns with different positions about the minhag of working on the morning of the 14th of Nissan. Therefore, in a first stage we will examine thoroughly how the traveler must behave with regard of the minhag during his travels.

II. The Minhag and the Travelers.


A. Talmudic references.


The problem of the minhag and the travelers is raised in many quotations in the Talmud.


1. Mishna Pesahim IV: 1.

Where it is the custom to do work on the eve of Passover until midday [like in the Province of Judah], one may do [work]; where it is the custom not to do [work, like in the Province of Galil], one may not do [work]. He who goes from a place where they work to a place where they do not work, or from a place where they do not work to a place where they do work, we lay upon him the restrictions of the place from where he departed and the restrictions of the place where he has gone; and a man must not act differently [from local custom] on account of the quarrels [which would ensue]


2. B. Pesahim 51a.

When Rabbah bar Bar Hannah came [from Palestine to Babylonia] he ate of the stomach fat. Now Rav Awira the Elder and Rabbah son of Rav Huna visited him; as soon as he saw them he covered it [the fat] from them. When they narrated it to Abaye he said to them “he has treated you as Cutheans.” But does not Rabbah bar Bar Hannah agree with what we learned: “we lay upon him the restrictions of the place from where he departed and the restrictions of the place where he has gone”?


Said Abaye: That is only [when he goes] from [one town] in Babylonia to [another] in Babylonia, or from [a town] in Palestine to [another in] Palestine, or from [a town in Babylonia to [another in] Palestine; but not [when he goes] from a place in Palestine to [another] in Babylonia, [for] since we submit to them [and accept their jurisdiction] we do as they. Rav Ashi said: you may even say [that this holds good when a man goes] from Palestine to Babylonia; this is however where it is not his intention to return, but Rabbah bar Bar Hannah had the intention of returning.


3. B. Pesahim 51b.

Rav Safra said to Rabbi Abba: for instance I, who know the fixing of the month, in inhabitated places I do not work [when I happen to be in Babylonia] because it is a change [which would lead to] strife. How is it in the wilderness? – Said he to him: thus did Rabbi Ammi say: in inhabited regions [of Babylonia] it is forbidden; in the desert it is permitted.[4]


4. B. Hulin 18b.

When Rabbi Zeira went up [to Palestine] he ate there an animal [which was slaughtered in that part of the throat] which was regarded as a deflection by Rav and Samuel.


But does not Rabbi Zeira accept the rule: [when a person arrives in a town] he must adopt the restrictions of the place which he has left and also the restrictions of the place he has entered? – This rule applies only when one travels from town to town in Babylonia or from town to town in the land of Israel, or from the land of Israel to Babylonia; but when one travels from Babylonia to the land of Israel, inasmuch as we are subject to their authority, we must adopt their customs. Rav Ashi said: you may even hold that the rule applies when one travels from Babylonia to the land of Israel, but only when this person intends to return. Rabbi Zera, however, had no intention to return to Babylonia.


5. B. Hulin 110a.

Rami bar Tamri, also known as Rami bar Dikuli, of Pumbeditha, once happened to be in Sura on the eve of the Day of Atonement. When the townspeople took all the udders [of the animals] and threw them away, he immediately went and collected them and ate them. He was then brought before Rav Hisda who said to him: why did you do it? He replied, “I come from the place of Rav Judah who permits it to be eaten.” Said Rav Hisda to him,” But do you not accept the rule: [when a person arrives in a town] he must adopt the restrictions of the town he has left and also the restrictions of the town he has entered.” He replied, “I ate them outside the [city’s] boundary.”



B. The Exegesis of the Mishna.


At the first glance the meaning of the Mishna is evident. There is however a great confusion in the understanding of this Mishna. The great difficulty results from the existence in the Mishna of divergent impositions: laying upon the traveler the restrictions of the place from where he departed and the restrictions of the place where he has gone.


The problem is to decide whether these two impositions must be considered separately, in different situations, whether the one or the other, but not both together or if they must be considered together because they play simultaneously. In this last contingency, we must find genuine situations where both impositions can work together.


1. The understanding of Maimonides (Rambam Hilkhot Yom Tov VIII: 20),[5] R’ Nissim Gerondi (Ran) (Rif Pesahim 17a: .רבה בר בר חנה), R’ Ovadiah of Bertinoro (commentary on Mishna Pesahim IV: 1) and R’ Isaac bar Sheshet Perfet (Ribash no. 44).


The Mishna speaks about a traveler who does not intend to settle and who will go back to his place of origin. We lay upon the traveler the restrictions of his place of origin when he goes from a place where they do not work to a place where they work. Conversely we lay upon the traveler the restrictions of the place where he has gone when he goes from a place where they do work to a place where they don’t. By contrast if the traveler intends to settle at the new place he adopts the customs of the new place whether these customs are more restrictive or less restrictive. As for the consideration about the necessity that a man must not act differently than the local customs, Abaye considers that this consideration is related to the first case, when the traveler goes from a place where they do work to a place where they do not in order to avoid disputes. By contrast when the traveler goes from a place where they do not work to a place where they do, he really singularizes himself by not working. Rava said that this consideration can also apply to the second case, when the traveler walks from a place where they do not work to a place where they work. Indeed when a tourist walks and does not work and even if the countrymen walk and do not work it is not a singularity.[6] According to this explanation the two contradictory impositions do not work together, they work separately in different situations.


2. The understanding of Tossafot (B. Pesahim 51a רבה בר בר חנה and B. Hulin 18b הני מילי.), Tur (Orah Hayim 468:4) and R’ Jonathan ha-Kohen of Lunel (Rashba I:337).


The Mishna must be considered as taught in different cases:[7]


n When the traveler does not intend to settle and will go back home, we lay upon him the restrictions of the place from where he departed.


n When the traveler intends to settle at the new place, we lay upon him the restrictions of the place where he has gone.


3. The Provencal understanding (Meiri [Beit ha-Bekhira on B. Hulin 18b and on B. Pesahim 51a and b], Kolbo [end of the laws of Hamets and Matsah] and Orhot Hayim) or the introduction of an intermediate case.


n When the traveler intends to settle at the new place, we lay upon him the restrictions of the place where he has gone.

n When the traveler intends to go back home immediately,[8] he behaves according to the customs of the place from where he departed. But he is not allowed to behave according to the less restrictive customs of the place from where he departed before people who are not scholars.

n When the traveler intends to go back home later,[9] then he must behave according to the restrictions of both places; the place from where he departed and the place where he is now staying temporarily.


Meiri writes that this is his opinion and this was also the ruling of his teachers. He found afterwards that Rabad referred to this explanation. He writes also that there are other explanations and even reasoning that the right mind cannot endure.


Thus the Mishna, which speaks of both the restrictions of the place from where the traveler departed and the place where the travelers stays provisory, corresponds to the case of a traveler who intends to go back home after a certain delay (according to Meiri: thirty days). This explanation allows solving the apparent contradiction between Rav Ashi in the quotations 2 and 4. In quotation 2, Rav Ashi understands that the Mishna refers to a case when the traveler does not intend to return home. In quotation 4, Rav Ashi understands that the Mishna refers to a case when the traveler does intend to return home. In fact in both cases the traveler intends to go back home later, after a delay (of more than thirty days). In quotation 2 this situation is considered as if he does not intend to go back home with regard of going back home immediately. In quotation 4, the same situation, going back home after thirty days, is considered as intending to go back home with regard of settling in the new place.


4. There are other explanations of the Mishna but these explanations consider particular situations like going from a place in Babylonia to a place in Palestine or vice versa. These solutions seem farfetched because the Mishna seems to be general and not restricted to very special cases.[10]


C. The ruling of Maimonides (Hilkhot Yom Tov VIII: 20).


The ruling of Maimonides has been at the origin of many discussions about its true meaning.


He who goes from a place where they work to a place where they do not work should not work in a Jewish settlement because of the fear of quarrels but he is allowed to work in the desert. He who goes from a place where they do not work to a place where they do work should not work. We lay upon him the restrictions of the place from where he departed and the restrictions of the place where he has gone. However he should not appear in front of them as if he is idle because of the interdiction to work. A man must never act differently [from local custom] on account of the quarrels [which would ensue].


And similarly he who intends to come back to his place of departure, behaves according to the customs of his place, whether they are more or less severe than the local customs, yet at the condition that he does not do it in front of the local people on account of the quarrels.


This passage is constituted by two different parts. The first part is the transcription of the Mishna Pesahim IV:1[11] slightly adapted by the introduction of the concepts of settlement and desert which correspond to the influence of the passage about the query of Rav Safra in B. Pesahim. The second part seems similar but it presents differences. The two parts are connected by a coordination conjunction וכן מי that we translated by “and similarly.” The challenge is to explain these two passages and their coordination in the respect of all the Talmudic quotations.


This coordination conjunction means at the first glance “and similarly he who…” But its meaning was fiercely disputed. The use of a computer program shows that Maimonides used this conjunctionוכן מי 62 times in the Hibbur. It is used to connect two passages when the second corresponds to a case leading to a similar, but not necessarily identical, conclusion as in the first passage. He used also וכן כל מי three times but the first passage begins one time also by כל. Anyhow the two expressions seem to have the same signification. When there is no similitude but a real opposition between the two cases Maimonides uses the conjunction אבל מי (36 times in the Hibbur). Therefore the plain explanation of this quotation is to consider that both passages are parallel and deal with the case of the traveler who intends coming back home and not settling in the new place.


1. The Plain Understanding:


In the first passage we deal with working on the morning of the 14th of Nissan. Apparently working is a special activity that cannot be performed discretely and therefore it is absolutely forbidden. The second passage deals with other customs in general which can be hidden and performed discretely. The difficulty is that Maimonides must choose between the two contradictory statements of Rav Ashi; he accepts the statement of Rav Ashi in B. Hulin 18b that the Mishna refers to a traveler who wants to go back to the place from where he came and, although he rules like Rabba bar Bar Hanna he must reject the statement of Rav Ashi in B. Pesahim 51a; this remains also a difficulty. (Maimonides rules like Rabba bar Bar Hanna but rejecting the answer of Rav Ashi, he has no answer to the objection of the Talmud.) The great commentator R’ Nissim on Rif (Rif 17b entry רבה), and R’ Isaac bar Sheshet (Teshuvot, no. 44) understood the Talmudic passages according to this understanding, giving precedence to the statement of Rav Ashi in Hulin 18b. Among later authorities Magen Avraham, Ba’er Heitev, Be’er ha-Gola and Mishna Berura adopted the same understanding of this quotation of Maimonides, recopied in Shulhan Arukh, Orah Hayim 468:4.


2. The Second Understanding:


A second understanding, at the first glance surprising, is to consider that the first passage and, necessarily, the Mishna deals with someone who will settle in the new place and not come back. By contrast the second passage deals with a traveler who will come back to the place from where he came. The consequences of this understanding are surprising and moreover not accepted by the halakha. Indeed, according to the first passage people settling in a new place must behold the customs of their place of origin all their life.[12] A consequence of this ruling would be that people coming from the Diaspora and settling in Israel would be obliged to go on keeping two festival days all their life. Conversely people coming from Israel with the intention to settle abroad would be allowed to perform work on the second festival day before reaching a Jewish settlement.[13]


This understanding was first championed by the Maggid Mishneh who considered that the first passage correspond to the case when the traveler wants to settle without the intention to come back. He must give the precedence to the statement of Rav Ashi in Pesahim 51a and reject the statement of Rav Ashi in Hulin 18b. This position was followed by Gra, Hok Yakov, Shakh (on Yoreh Deah 214) and Peri Hadash in their commentaries of Maimonides’ quotation in Shulhan Arukh Orah Hayim 468:4.


D. The ruling of Meiri, Orhot Hayim and Kolbo.


Their ruling is consistent with the Provencal understanding explained above, introducing a third intermediate case. It is important because it was influential. R’ David ibn Abi Zimra ruled according to this opinion in a responsum (Radvaz IV: 73 also called no. 1145) about the travelers from Palestine to Egypt.[14] It was for him the only manner to solve the contradiction between the two statements of Rav Ashi in B. Hulin 18b and B. Pesahim 51a.


In this responsum Radvaz distinguished three cases:

n Going back immediately.

n Going back later.

n Settling definitively.


R’ Joseh Karo copied this ruling of Orhot Hayim in Beit Yoseph (Tur Orah Hayim 496) and abridged it Shulhan Arukh, Orah Hayim 496:3.


E. The Ruling of Tur.


His ruling is consistent with the ruling of Maimonides according to its plain understanding (opinion 1).


F. The Ruling of R’ Yoseph Karo in Shulhan Arukh.


Shulhan Arukh raised the issue at four different places.[15] Of special interest is the ruling of Orah Hayim 468:4, where he recopied the text of Maimonides (Hilkhot Yom Tov VIII:20, mentioned above), which seems to contradict the other rulings and more specifically Orah Hayim 496:3. It is accepted that the ruling of O.H. 468:4 is an abridged version of the original text of Orhot Hayim. We are dealing in this chapter with working on the morning of the 14th of Nisan and therefore the abridgment of the text of Orhot Hayim makes sense because it is forbidden to perform work whether the travelers comes back immediately or later. Therefore the text mentions only two cases, settling in the new place or going back to the first place without making the difference between going back immediately or later. But finally he never mentioned clearly in Shulhan Arukh the existence of three cases so that the doubt subsists about his definitive ruling; does he rule like Orhot Hayim, which he copied in Beit Yoseph O.H. 496 or does he rule like Tur and Maimonides (opinion 1)? Similarly the commentators differed about the meaning of the ruling of Orah Hayim 468:4 where he copied Maimonides.[16]


Anyhow the position of R’ Karo in Shulhan Arukh is problematic because he quoted two contradictory passages of two different authors.[17]


III. The Second Festival Day and the Traveler Going from Palestine to the Babylonia:


The quotation in B. Pesahim 51a about Rav Safra is generally considered as referring to his travel from Palestine to Babylonia. This is indeed the only plausible manner to understand how Rav Safra knew the fixing of the month before undertaking his travel.[18] Furthermore he asked his query to Rabbi Abba, a Palestinian Amora; this could only be before his undertaking of a travel to Babylonia.


There is a great unanimity between the rulers that in the direction Palestine-Diaspora, the obligation of keeping the second festival day is a personal obligation. Therefore Palestinians traveling to the Diaspora are not subjected to the obligation of the second festival day. However they are forbidden to perform work[19] on the second festival day when they are in a Jewish settlement. Outside of the techum around the town of this Jewish settlement they are allowed to perform work.[20]


Nowadays the dramatic increase of the travels is the cause of new responsa about the behavior of Israelis abroad. Because of the modern social conditions, with Israelis on mission abroad for one or even many years can prevail themselves of their status of Israelis, the tendency is to lengthen the delay allowing to prevail of the status of Israelis and even to be lenient about the interdiction of performing work discretely. However the rulers do not put at all the emphasis on the absolute necessity for Israelis abroad to behave officially as if they kept two festival days, as it is strictly required by the halakha. In weak communities, where a part of the attendance of the festival office is composed by Israelis (teachers and member of the Israeli mission), their absence at the offices on the second festival day is a very detrimental singularity. The danger is not anymore a possibility of dispute; it is the whole institution of Yom Tov Sheni which they endanger.


IV. The Second Day Festival and the Traveler Going from Babylonia to Palestine:


It is generally considered that this case was not considered in the Talmud and therefore we have not a model case which could allow solving the problem from the first source. However two important Rishonim have understood that the passage about the travel of Rav Safra in B. Pesahim 51a refers to a travel from Babylonia to Palestine.[21]


A. Foreigners Traveling to Israel Behave as in the Diaspora and keep two festival days.


The overwhelming majority of the rabbis compared the problem of the second festival day by the visitors of the Diaspora traveling in Israel to that of the observance of divergent minhagim between two different places. In responsa Yabi’a Omer VI: 40, we find an exhaustive enumeration of the main rulers championing this opinion. This approach considers that the foreigners keep two festival days abroad while Israelis keep one festival day in Israel. The case of the foreigners on a visit to Israel is solved according to the rules of the precedence of the minhagim. In other words, it seems that this particular problem had not been solved by the order sent from Israel to the Diaspora to go on keeping two festival days. In fact this comparison is strange because the status of the second festival day is certainly higher than a minhag like working on the morning of the 14th of Nissan, it seems more comparable to working on the same day after noon. Furthermore, if the behavior of the foreigners on a visit in Israel is regulated by the rule of the precedence of the minhagim, of rabbinic order, we can object that the positive obligation of tefilin of Torah order should have the precedence on this rule of rabbinic order.[22]


Therefore the responsum written on this issue by R’ Moses Feinstein shows originality and distinguishes itself from the others. He accepts the principle that during the period of the observation calendar, a foreigner visiting in Palestine had no doubt any more in the whole Diaspora about the true festival day and kept only one festival day. Now he says, after the institution of the second festival day, we have no more any doubt about the true festival day and we must however keep the second festival day although we know that it is a weekday. This obligation is personal and not territorial, there is no difference whether the foreigner is abroad or on a visit in Israel. As today we know all the fixing of the month, there is no more difference between Israel and abroad as it was the case before the institution of the second festival day.


In other words, according to this responsum, the obligation for the foreigner visiting in Israel, to keep two festival days derives directly from the order sent to the Diaspora, to go on keeping the customs of their elders and observing two festival days. Therefore the obligation is of the same nature than that of the foreigners living abroad and this explains why there are exempted from tefilin on this second festival day. The consequence of this special situation, as noted by R’ Moses Feinstein in his responsum, is that the condition of the foreigner visiting in Israel appears to be more sever today than at the epoch of the observation calendar.


However:

n Where does he know from that the obligation of keeping two festival days is personal and has not a territorial aspect?

n It seems that this responsum is based on the generally accepted explanation that the fear of forgetting the Thora and the rules of the calendar, which was the justification of the institution of the second festival day, exists not only abroad but also in Israel and therefore the order sent to the Diaspora is still valid in Israel. The only difference is that this order was not addressed to the Israelis. Now, as soon as we explain that in reality the fear was about the disruption between Israel and the Diaspora, it no more evident that the order was applicable upon the foreigners visiting in Israel.

n The fact that the conditions of the foreigner on visit in Israel would be more severe today than at the time of the messengers is problematic. Indeed Maimonides had met a similar situation about the late Eruv and he was objected by all the commentators, beginning with R’ Abraham ben David.[23] The argument was that the situation could never be more severe after the Takana than before. This principle was accepted by all the rulers and the Shulkhan Arukh did not follow Maimonides. Therefore the argumentation of R’ Moses Feinstein remains problematic.[24]


B. Foreigners traveling to Israel behave as Israelis and keep one festival day.


It is important to examine the commentaries of R’ Hananel and Ravan. Indeed these two authorities are generally considered as belonging to the supporters of the first opinion. Or analysis will show that they are supporters of the second opinion.


1. R’ Hananel.


R’ Hananel explains the passage as follows:


“In my situation, when I know the fixing of the month and the people of my place keep two festival days, when I want to come up from Babylonia, where we observe two festival days, to Palestine, where they observe only one festival day, in a settlement [in Palestine] I don’t observe the second festival day,[25] but in the desert [of Palestine where I am alone without other Jews, and I know for sure that the second festival day is a weekday] how should I behave?[26] Am I submitted to the strictness of the place from where I came? Rabbi Abba answered him: this was the ruling of Rabbi Ami. Among a Jewish settlement [in Palestine] it is forbidden [to observe the second festival day] but in the desert of Palestine it is allowed.[27]


Critical examination of this interpretation.


n Just before the passage about the query of Rav Safra occurs in the Mishna the passage: “the one who goes from a place where they do (“osin”) to a place where they do not perform (“ein osin”) work. The verb “osin” means to perform work and does not mean to observe the second festival day.


However the following references support the interpretation of R’ Hananel:

Kiddushin 31a: “avidna yoma tava le-rabanan.”

Kiddushin 39b: “de-avdin lei yom tov.”[28]


n Second, Rav Safra, in a settlement in Palestine does not observe the second festival day, why? Even if one is not allowed to distinguish oneself because of the fear of dispute, why should one not be allowed to respect discretely the second festival day according to the opinion of Rava? Rava has indeed said that the fact of walking idly (as opposed to walking with a purpose) is not to be considered as a singularity because there are always people in the streets and the market walking idly.


However R’ Hananel does not seem to have the reading “because of the fear of dispute” as in our Talmudic text. It is also likely that the reason why Rav Safra keeps only one festival day in a settlement in Palestine is because the messengers come along at this place and the people know the fixing of the month. He keeps only one festival day because otherwise it would appear as “mossif.” In the desert of Palestine, where the messengers don’t come along, keeping two festival days does not seem as “mossif.”


n Third the interpretation given for “be-yishuv assur, be-midbar mutar” is difficult.

In the desert, one is not allowed to observe the second festival day. One is either obliged or forbidden to observe a second day, but certainly one is not merely allowed.


However “mutar” could be the formal opposite of “assur”; but it would not mean

that he is allowed but he is obliged to keep two festival days in the desert.


Another possible explanation of the passage of Rav Safra could be the following:


Rav Safra says that he is not performing any work on the second festival day in a [Jewish] settlement [in Babylonia,[29] although he knows the fixing of the month]. He doubted however, when he is in the desert [of Palestine, i.e. when he has already reached Palestine but did not yet reach a settlement] whether he is forbidden to perform any work because of the severity of the place from where he came, or if he is allowed to perform work in the desert [of Palestine because he knows the fixing of the month]. Rabbi Abba answered: this was the ruling of Rabbi Ami, in a settlement in Babylonia it is forbidden to perform work; in the desert of Israel it is allowed.


We could then conclude that in a settlement in Palestine, where the messengers came along and all the population knew the fixing of the month, Rav Safra was, a fortiori, allowed to perform work on the second festival day and was not submitted to the severity of the place whence he came from.


This second interpretation is also acceptable; it solves the difficulties of the first interpretation but it introduces new difficulties:


n Why must Rav Safra mention that in a settlement in Babylonia he is not allowed to perform work on the second festival day?


In fact Rav Safra knows the fixing of the month and he could have imagined performing work discretely.


n Why is Rav Safra allowed to perform work in the desert of Israel and is he not submitted to the severity of the place from where he came as he is a traveler and intends to go back home?


Apparently in the desert of Israel, by contrast with Babylonia, the fact that he knows the fixing of the month is sufficient to allow him working on the second festival day.


The difference between these two interpretations is the status of Rav Safra in the desert of Israel: according to the first interpretation he keeps two festival days in the desert, according to the second interpretation he keeps only one festival day in the desert.


We will however see that the text of Ravan, although very similar to that of R’ Hananel, must necessarily be understood according to this second interpretation of the commentary of R’ Hananel.


2. R’ Abraham bar Nathan (Ravan).


Ravan often follows the commentary of R’ Hananel; this is also the case here. However, we note some minor, at the first glance, differences. They have a decisive influence of the interpretation.


Ravan writes: “I, who know the fixing of the moon and the people of my place hold two festival days, when I travel to Palestine, where they hold only one day, in a [Jewish] settlement in [Babylonia][30] I do not perform work [on the second festival day] because of the strictness of the place where I am.[31] In the desert of Palestine, am I allowed to perform any work during the second festival day, which I know is a weekday because of the severity of the place from where I came or not? Rabbi Abba answered: this was the ruling of Rabbi Ami. In a [Jewish] settlement [in Babylonia] it is forbidden to perform any work, in the desert [of Palestine] it is allowed. As Rav Safra[32] asked him about the desert in Palestine, we can conclude that in all the places of his land [Babylonia] it is forbidden [to perform work on the second festival day].”[33]


Thus in the desert of Israel and a fortiori in any settlement in Israel, Rav Safra was allowed to perform work on the second day of the festival.


In the case of a normal person who did not know the fixing of the month it is likely that in the desert of Israel he would not be allowed to work on the second festival day but in a settlement in Israel he was certainly allowed.


3. Conclusion.


The conclusion is clear: R’ Hananel and Ravan agree that Rav Safra was allowed to perform work on the second festival day when he was staying in a settlement in Palestine[34] during one of his travels from Babylonia to Palestine.[35] However in the desert of Israel the situation is less clear: according to Ravan he was allowed[36] but as for R’ Hananel the answer depends on the interpretation adopted.[37]


However all the other authorities[38] wanted to conclude that R’ Hananel and Ravan impose the keeping of two festival days by the travelers in Israel.

4. The responsum of Hakham Tsevi.[39]


You asked me about people of the Diaspora traveling to Israel; how should they behave during the festivals, like Israelis or like foreigners?


According to my humble view they must observe the festivals like Israeli people and this [matter] must not be considered as a severity of the place from where they came.

Not only this is the case for prayers, benedictions and Torah reading which are in fact no severities of the place from where he came; indeed if someone wants to adopt a more severe conduct and pray the prayer of the festival when it is not the time of this festival, he commits a transgression. But even on the level of the performance of work on the second festival day during their stay in Israel they are allowed. Indeed if all the inhabitants of the traveler’s place would settle in Israel they would certainly be forbidden to keep two festival days in the same way as someone who sleeps eight day in the sukkah is beaten. The same rule is valid for Pesah and Shavuot: if someone keeps an additional day he transgresses the interdiction of “bal tossif”. The rule that they gave “we lay upon him the severity of the place from where he came” is only valid in the case when the people living in the place of the severity are allowed to observe their more severe behavior even if they settle in the place of the leniency. But if they are forbidden to observe their more severe behavior in the place of the leniency, we do not impose this rule. Even the original statement [which represents the basis of the modern institution of Yom Tov Sheni] that they sent from Israel: be careful to maintain the practice of your late parents. It could happen that the authorities enact [unfair] laws [against the Jews] and you could be wrong [if you observe only one day] is only valid abroad. The possibility to be wrong because of the disruption of the communication of the calendar] exists only in their country outside of Israel but when the traveler is in Israel he cannot be wrong!


Now in Israel it is forbidden to add a festival day and Israeli people cannot add one day with regard of what is written in the Torah, they are forbidden to adopt a more severe attitude [than prescribed]. Therefore people traveling to Israel are forbidden to keep two festival days during their stay, even a provisory stay because the obligation to keep one festival day is dictated by the place where they are [Israel] and the rule about the severity of the place from where they came does not play in this case. And I wrote what seemed to me [correct]. Tsevi Askenazi s”t.[40]


5. Critical Analysis of this Responsum.


The responsum is based on the following arguments:


n Generally we compare this problem with the rule of the minhagim. But praying the prayer of the festival cannot be considered as a severity with regard of the prayer of a weekday.

n Forbidding the performance of work during the second festival day is certainly a severity but the rule of the severity of the minhagim does not play in our case. Indeed if a foreigner settles in Israel he will be forbidden to observe to festival days because of the order of “bal tossif”. In such a situation we cannot oblige a traveler to keep two festival days.[41] Thus in such a situation when the settler is forbidden to keep the second festival day, we cannot oblige the traveler to keep the second festival day and forbid him performing any work.

n The takana instituting the second festival day was introduced out of fear that the Jews of the foreign counties would lose the contact with Israel and would not keep the right festival day. Such a fear does not exist when these foreigners are on visit in Israel. The takana was not intended for them.


The responsum would perhaps have been more persuasive if it had been articulated as follows:


n From the motivation of the takana instituting the second festival day it appears that it was not addressed to the foreigners during their provisory stay in Israel because at this particular moment they could have no doubt about the Jewish calendar.[42]

n We must still examine the problem at the light of the rules of the priority of the minhagim. But the rule of the priority of the minhagim does not play in our case. Indeed if a foreigner settles in Israel he will be forbidden to observe to festival days because of the order of “bal tossif”. In such a situation we cannot oblige the traveler to keep two festival days.

n Even if one does not accept this reasoning we must still observe that as for the positive obligations of the second festival day (prayer, benedictions and Thorah reading) we cannot consider them as more severe customs.

n I would even add the following point. Yom Tov Sheni includes three points: first the positive obligations of the festival second the interdiction of performing work and third the suppression of the obligation of wearing tefilin.[43] But as soon as we are outside of the takana there is an obligation of tefilin and the rule of the priority of the minhagim must at least abide by this obligation.


6. The refutation of this Responsum by R’ Jacob Emden.


It is generally accepted that R’ Jacob Emden, the son of Hakham Tsevi refuted his father’s argumentation in responsa She’elat Yabets I, no. 168. The supporters of the first opinion have generally used the argument of the refutation of Hakham Tsevi by his son in order to eliminate the second opinion.[44] Let us examine this refutation and its main arguments.


n R’ Jacob Emden follows the theory of Rambam Hilkhot Kiddush ha-Hodesh III according which we keep today one festival day only in the places where we know that the messengers arrived and the people kept one festival day at the time of the calendar of observation. Therefore one must keep two festival days in all the new places. Therefore he argues, there is no interdiction, in principle, to keep two festival days in Israel.

n R’ Jacob Emden seems to understand Rambam, Hilkhot Yom Tov VIII: 20 according to the understanding of Maggid Mishneh that the traveler, even when he settles in a new place, must go on keeping the customs of his former place. Therefore he thinks that the Jews settling in Israel must go on keeping discreetly two festival days.

n R’ Jacob Emden ascertains that when there are two communities in a town with different customs or ruling there is no danger of dispute and of separation.[45] Therefore, he says, as soon as the number of foreigners, settling in Israel, is sufficient to have an independent quorum, they are allowed to celebrate publicly the second festival day. They should go on and keep the two festival days publicly.

n The message and order instituting the second festival day because of the fear of unfair laws against the Jews and the fear that they forget the Torah was not sent only to the Diaspora but it concerned also the inhabitants of Israel. Today there is no difference between Israel and the Diaspora; they know all the fixing of the month. The reason of the institution of the second festival day applies to all the Jews without distinction. If he did not fear [to introduce new habits] he would say that all the inhabitants of Israel must keep two festival days.


It appears that the responsum is based on very problematic early beginnings; first that one keeps two festival days in Israel in places which did not exist during the time of the Mishna and the Talmud (third century) and had not a Jewish population, second that one beholds always, after settling in a new place, the customs of the former place. These two principles are not accepted by the halakha. Further he ascertains that communities can go on and keep two festival days and former customs officially after settling in Israel.


This responsum accounts for the exalted and exaggerated positions adopted sometimes by R’ Jacob Emden. In any case it cannot be considered as a serious refutation of his father responsum. On the contrary this responsum is a model of logic, rigor, concision and originality.


7. Other authorities supporting the second opinion.


Only a little number of authorities supported the opinion of Hakham Tsevi. However, as we established above, Hakham Tsevi was probably preceded by R’ Hananel and Ravan who championed the opinion that foreigners visiting in Israel, keep only one day. Among these other authorities we can distinguish R’ Saul Nathansohn who adopted a similar position, at least in theory (Sho’el u Meshiv, 3rd edition no. 28). R’ Shneur Zalman of Liady in Shulhan Arukh ha-Rav ruled also that foreigners, on a visit to Israel, keep only one festival day.[46] He notes however that there are opponents.[47]


We must further notice that the problem of the foreigners visiting Israel was apparently not raised nor in the Talmud nor in the Rishonim. This could be considered as an indication that their status does not pose a problem and is identical with that of the Israelis. A similar consideration could be expressed about R’ Joseph Karo who did not raise the issue in Shulkhan Arukh. However he had raised the issue and followed the opinion 1 in his responsa Avkat Rokhel 26 and one should admit that he changed his mind.[48] When going from the Diaspora to Israel, the obligation of Yom Tov Sheni would be a territorial obligation and not a personal obligation.[49]


C. Foreigners traveling in Israel do not keep two festival days, they wear tefilin on the second day but they do not perform work on this day.[50]


This position was adopted by R’ Shmuel Salant, longtime chief rabbi of Jerusalem during the second part of the nineteenth-century. R’ Yehiel Mihel Tikochinsky, his pupil wrote in his book Ir ha-Kodesh ve ha Miqdash that R’ Salant was inclined to rule according to the ruling of Hakham Tsevi. R’ Salant considered as certain that during the period of the empirical calendar by vision and messengers, when they kept the second festival day out of doubt, foreigners on visit in Palestine had no doubt and kept only one festival day. Therefore, he argued, today the rule cannot be more severe than at that epoch. As he dared not ruling as Hakham Tsevi because his teacher R’ Israel of Shklov had ruled according to the opinion 1 (Pe’at ha-Shulkhan, Hilkhot Erets Israel, chap 2, $ 15), he adopted an intermediate position considering the most severe aspects of both opinions. Therefore he advised not to keep the second festival day and to wear tefilin but to refrain on the second festival day from any work, normally forbidden on the second festival day.


The contemporary posek R’ Nahum Eliezer Rabinovitch of Maale Adumim has a similar position and he considers that one must behave according to the ruling of R’ Shmuel Salant. R. Rabinovitch finds in the text of Maimonides an allusion to the status of the foreigner visiting in Israel and the Israeli visiting abroad. The Israelis keep two festival days even when they travel abroad and the foreigners keep only one festival day when they are in Israel (Yad Peshutah, Hilkhot Talmud Torah VI: 14, 11, p. 477-478).


In Yabia Omer VI: 40, R. Ovadiah Yosef mentions that R’ Abraham Isaac Kook ruled that one should adopt the severe points of the responsum of Hakham Tsevi, thus to behave like the severe aspects of both opinions.


It is interesting to note that the problem is still with us and new responsa are still written on this issue. Even the champions of the majority opinion are sensitive to the new situations. In many instances, a specific element like the ownership of a house in Israel or the regular celebration of the three festivals in Israel or even the rental of an apartment in Israel on annual basis are generally considered by the champions of the opinion 1, as a sufficient element allowing keeping the festivals as the Israelis.


V. General conclusion.


The aim of the present article was analyzing the complex problem of the priority of the minhagim and explaining the evolution from the Talmudic references until the halakha in Shulkhan Arukh. Today the general problem has lost its acuteness and has more a historical interest. The difficulty of the problem results from the difficulty to understand clearly the Talmudic sources and their apparent contradictions. We have seen that these difficulties were at the origin of a great number of interpretations.


We examined also the problem of Yom Tov Sheni shel Galuyyot with respect to the travelers between Israel and the Diaspora and vice-versa. It appears that the case of the travelers from Israel to the Diaspora is examined in the Talmud; the traveler in his quality of Israeli is dispensed from keeping the second festival day and therefore his conduct during this day is determined by the rules of the priority of the minhagim, in the respect of the susceptibility of the local population. The converse situation, the case of the traveler from the Diaspora to Israel was not considered in the Talmud (this is at least the general understanding, but there are opposed opinions) and Shulhan Arukh did not raise the issue. Therefore there is much uncertainty in the treatment of the problem. The general opinion was to treat the problem on the same way as the symmetrical problem and to assimilate it to a problem of priority of minhagim. Others considered that we are out of the scope of application of this rule and there was never a problem at all so that the issue depends only on the localization of the traveler. A foreigner keeps two festival days abroad but only one day in Israel. The absence of true evidence leads to the rare situation that the three possible attitudes have their champions. We show that the majority opinion has also its weak points and the minority opinion is theoretically much stronger that one could imagine.



[1] This expression is from R’ Zerahia ha-Levi on the Rif on B. Pesahim, p. 17a.

[2] See “Yom Tov Sheni Shel Galuyyot: The True Signification of the Second Day Festival,” the Seforim blog (forthcoming).

[3] Even today the overwhelming majority of the Rabbis believe that the reason invoked for the institution of the second festival day was the fear of unfair laws against the Jews causing to forget the Torah and the Jewish calendar. Such a fear exists everywhere, Israel included. Therefore the foreigners visiting in Israel are still subject to this danger and therefore they are submitted to the obligation of the second festival day. The Israelis should also fear the same danger but the takana instituting Yom Tov Sheni was not addressed to them.

[4] The translation is here according to the generally accepted understanding that Rav Safra was traveling from Palestine to Babylonia. Although he knew the fixing of the month, he did not perform work on the second festival day when he was in a Jewish settlement in Babylonia because of the fear of dispute. This reason did not exist in the wilderness and therefore Rabbi Ammi allowed him working on the second festival day because he knew the fixing of the month.

[5] In fact there are two different understandings of the meaning of Maimonides. We have adopted here what seems the genuine understanding. This problem will be examined later.

[6] See Novellae of R’ Samuel Strashun (Rashash) ad locum.

[7] .לצדדין

[8] Meiri writes: before thirty days.

[9] Meiri writes: after a delay of more than thirty days.

[10] Such special situations to which the Mishna must be reduced in order to satisfy both impositions, can be found in responsum I: 337 of Rabbi Solomon ben Adret (Rashbah) and in the novellae of R’ Hezekiah da Silva on Shulhan Arukh, Orah Hayim 468:4.

[11] See quotation 1 above.

[12] We will see later that R’ Jacob Emden in responsa Yabets, no. 168, championed such an opinion and understood Maimonides according to this second opinion.

[13] This is the opinion of R’ Zerahia ha-Levi, see ha-Maor ha-Katan on the Rif on Pesahim. Rabad ad locum opposed vehemently this opinion.

[14] As for the definition of going back immediately he gives the examples of people coming to Egypt to buy merchandise or people going to Israel to visit tombs. As for going back later he proposes the examples of people coming to Egypt for an enterprise or trade or people going to Israel for learning.

[15] Shulhan Arukh: Orah Hayim 468:4 (about working on the morning of Nisan 14th), 496:3 (about Yom Tov Sheni and the travelers from Israel to the Diaspora), 574:1-2 (about fasting for travelers between two places having different fast days) and Yoreh Deah 214:2 (about the rules of the communities and the travelers).

[16] See above the two interpretations of the ruling of Maimonides Hilkhot Yom Tov VIII: 20.

[17] Even if we consider that R’ Yoseph Karo changed his mind and considered only two cases in O.H. 468:4 and if we consider that O.H. 496:3 must be understood according to the first and plain understanding, there remains even though a contradiction. Indeed in 496:3 (according to the text of Orhot Hayim) he writes that the traveler is allowed to work on the second festival day as long as he is outside a Jewish settlement, even if he intends to settle there. In O.H. 468:4 (according to the text of Maimonides) he writes that the traveler is allowed to perform work in the desert (outside the settlement) if he intends to come back and apparently not if he intends to settle.

[18] For a plausible explanation of his knowledge of the fixing of the month, see J. Jean Ajdler, "Rav Safra and the Second Festival Day: Lessons About the Evolution of the Jewish Calendar," Tradition 38:4 (Winter 2004): 3-28.

[19] Even discretely. According to Tosafot it is impossible to perform work discretely.

[20] According to R’ Zerahia ha-Levi, even someone who wants to settle outside of Israel is allowed to perform work outside the tchum of the Jewish settlement as long as he did not reach the Jewish settlement. Ritva agrees with this ruling. R’ Nissim rules that the one who wants to settle is already forbidden to perform work in the desert of Israel. Rabad seems to rule that as soon as the Palestinian leaves the boundaries and enters the Diaspora, he is forbidden of performing any work on the second festival day.

[21] R’ Abraham Bornstein of Sochaczew asked himself (responsa Avnei Nezer Vol 1, no. 354; 43) why the great rulers did not rule the story of Rav Safra. In fact Maimonides certainly refers to this story in Hilkhot Yom Tov VIII: 20 when he writes .לא יעשה בישוב אבל עושה הוא במדבר From the same responsum n° 354; 50, it appears that he understood the ruling of Maimonides like Maggid Mishneh, i.e. the first part referring to the case that the traveler does not intend to come back.

[22] One could make the same objection for Yom Tov Sheni in the Diaspora. But here the answer is that the Rabbis have the power, when they make enactments, to suppress an order of the Torah, see response of R’ Solomon ben Aderet I:61. By contrast, for the foreigners visiting in Israel, if their obligation of keeping Yom Tov Sheni does not derive from the original takana but from a general rabbinic rule of priority of minhagim, then the positive order of the torah should have the precedence.

[23] Hilkhot Yom Tov VI: 14.

[24] I have already heard the following argumentation. Even at the time of the observation calendar, the foreigners on pilgrimage in Israel were keeping the second festival day according to the rule of the priority of the minhagim. Therefore, today, we must still behave according to their custom. In fact this argumentation seems rather a Yeshiva argumentation but it is not likely that this was really the conduct of the pilgrims. Now even if this were the case, it is certain that the pilgrims wore the tefilin on the second festival day during their stay in Palestine because it is a positive law of the Torah with precedence on a minhag. Therefore it is likely that either the pilgrims wore the tefilin and did not keep the second festival day because of its contradictory character or they abstained from performing work on this day. Anyhow this argumentation could sustain the opinions 2 or 3 but certainly not the opinion 1, according which the foreigners traveling in Israel keep two festival days.

[25] R’ Hananel does not mention in his text “because of the fear of dispute” as in our Talmudic text. It is not certain whether he had the same reading as us. Nevertheless from Nahmanides’ Milhamot Hashem on the Rif on B. Pesahim 17a, we see that this was indeed the Spanish reading.

[26] Whether I should not keep two festival days because I know the fixing of the month or I should because I am still submitted to the place whence I came from.

[27] This exegesis is in accordance with the ruling of R’ Tsevi Ashkenazi in response Hakham Tsevi no. 167. R’ Meir Don Plotski from Ostrow understood R’ Hananel on the same way. See Even Shelema on Ravan, who does not accept this interpretation.

[28] Furthermore R’ Hananel writes in the beginning of his commentary “and people of my place hold (“osin”) two festival days.”

[29] We cannot explain that he means a settlement in Palestine. Indeed, in a Jewish settlement in Palestine the messengers come along and the population knows the fixing of the month. If, despite these circumstances, Rav Safra does not perform work in this settlement, why would he be allowed to perform work in the desert of Palestine where there are not messengers coming along. Or conversely if Rav Safra is allowed to perform work in the desert of Israel, a fortiori he must be allowed to perform work in a settlement of Israel.

[30] R’ Moses Sofer in his Novellae on Pesahim and R’ Ehrenreich in Even Shelemah on Ravan understood that it speaks about a settlement in Israel. R’ Ovadia Yoseph in Yehaveh Da’at VI: 40 recopied their arguments. According to their explanations, Rav Safra was forbidden to perform work in a settlement in Israel, likely because of the strictness of the place from where he came. But why was he allowed to perform work in the desert of Israel? Rabbi Moses Sofer writes that in the settlement working is forbidden on the second festival day because of מנהג אבותינו בידינו . But in the desert there is no status, there is no tradition of the elders and the obligation of Yom Tov Sheni depends on the geographical localization but it is not a personal obligation. I could not, unfortunately, understand him. If Rav Safra is allowed to work in the desert where there is no tradition and no status, no messengers coming along, a fortiori that he is allowed to work in a settlement in Israel where there is a tradition, were the messengers come along, were the population knows the fixing of the month and where there is thus a status of holding only one day. Conversely, if Rav Safra, in a settlement in Israel, is still submitted to the strictness of the place from where he came, a fortiori in the desert, where the messengers do not come along, he should be forbidden to work on the second festival day.

[31] Those Rabbis who understand that we speak here about a settlement in Israel must correct the text and instead of שם they must correct into משם. By contrast the text of Ravan fits perfectly our interpretation.

[32] The reading of Ravan is Rav Hisda but we maintained Rav Safra in order not to complicate things.

[33] The reasoning of Ravan works only with our interpretation. Rav Safra does not perform work in a settlement in Babylonia but he asked whether he was allowed to perform work in the desert of Israel. Ravan concludes that it was clear for him that it was forbidden to perform work in the desert of Babylonia. But if we consider that Rav Safra began with the statement that he does not perform work in a settlement in Israel and he asked afterwards whether he was allowed to perform work in the desert of Israel, how can Ravan conclude that it was clear for him that he was forbidden to perform work in the desert of Babylonia?

This reasoning has no basis. Why was it more evident that it is forbidden in the desert of Babylonia than in the desert of Israel?

[34] R’ Shneur Zalman of Liady in his Shulhan Arukh, Orah Hayim 496:11 ruled that a foreigner traveling in Israel observes one festival days but he added that there are authorities which oppose this ruling. Apparently he refers his ruling to Ravan; this is also the opinion of R’ Tsevi Pesah Frank in Mikra’e Kodesh, Pesah 2, p. 195 note 1. However all the other authorities wanted to conclude that R’ Hananel and Ravan impose the keeping of two festival days by the travelers in Israel.

[35] It is interesting to note that all the later commentaries did not follow this approach of a travel from Babylonia to Palestine but they considered a travel from Palestine to Babylonia. I had attributed this change to the difficulties of the exegesis of the commentaries following the first approach. But finally at the end of the study of the commentaries of R’ Hananel and Ravan, it seems that these commentaries are genuine and well argumentative. The change of approach could be justified by the fact that Rav Safra consulted Rabbi Abba, an eminent Palestinian Amora (born and educated in Babylonia). This could be only before a travel from Palestine to Babylonia.

[36] But it is likely that it was the case because he knew the fixing of the month.

[37] According to the first interpretation he was forbidden and according to the second interpretation he was allowed.

[38] R’ Moses Sofer in his Novellae on Pesahim, Commentary Even Shelemah on Sefer Ravan ad locum, R’ Ovadia Yoseph in Yabi’a Omer VI: 40.

[39] Responsum no. 167.

[40] Hakham Tsevi and later his son R’ Jacob Emden signed by Tsevi Ashkenazi s”t and Yabets S’t.Hakham Tsevi had learned under R’ Elijah Covo in Salonika, he assumed the Sephardi tittle hakham and adopted even Sephardi customs and the name Ashkenazi. S”t may be the common abbreviation of ספרדי טהור used by his teacher orסופו טוב or still סימן טוב.

[41] Imagine that in the middle of the second festival day he decides to settle in Israel. He would suddenly in the middle of Yom Tov Sheni, pass from the regime of “obliged to keep two festival days” to the regime of “forbidden to keep two festival days.”

[42] Hakham Tsevi understood thus correctly that the fear of the Palestinians leaders was that the disruption of the communication between Palestine and the Diaspora would endanger the calendar of the Diaspora. It is the first time that we meet an explanation of the reason of the institution of the second festival day different than that of Rashi in B. Beitsa 4b.This approach is very original. The incorrect understanding of the exact fear of the Palestinian Rabbis who sent the order of the second festival day to the Diaspora is at the origin of a great confusion, at such a point that R’ Jacob Emden thought that people settling in Israel should go on and keep two festival days in Israel.

[43] Those who consider that Yom Tov Sheni is a minhag and not a takana, cannot explain why we are exempted from the Tefilin. Only a takana, and certainly not a minhag, and the power of the sages to give to their enactments the same power as a Torah order, can explain that the order of keeping the two festival days includes the exemption and even the interdiction of wearing the tefilin. See response of R’ Solomon ben Aderet I: 61.

[44] This is indeed what we read in responsa Yabi’a Omer VI: 40.

[45] According to the principle: לא תתגודדו. This principle is generally accepted.

[46] In note 18 of the Shulkhan Arukh ha-Rav it refers to Ravan. However according to the commentary Even Shelema on Ravan (B. Pesahim 51b) the author, R’ Schneur Zalman refers to Hakham Tsevi. But in Miqra’e Kodesh, Pesah vol.2 p. 195 note 1, R’ Tsevi Pesah Frank refers to Ravan. In the new edition (New York 2007) of the Shulhan Arukh ha-Rav with new references, R’ Levine refers to R’ Hananel, Ravan and Hakham Tsevi. I thank R’ Samuel Pinson of Brussels who showed me this last edition.

[47] In note 19 of the Shulkhan Arukh ha-Rav it refers to Ravan. Of course it is impossible to have the same reference in both note 18 and note 19.

[48] A similar argumentation was proposed to explain the apparent contradiction about the time of the beginning of Bein ha-Shemashot between O.H. 261 and Yoreh Deah 266.

[49] In contradiction with the situation of the traveler going from Israel to the Diaspora where the obligation is a personal obligation and not a territorial obligation.

[50] We speak of those specific works that are normally forbidden on the second day.

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