Rabbi Eliezer Melamed
The writer is Head of Yeshivat Har Bracha and a prolific author on Jewish Law, whose works include the series on Jewish law "Pininei Halacha" and a popular weekly column "Revivim" in the Besheva newspaper. His books "The Laws of Prayer" "The Laws of Passover" and "Nation, Land, Army" are presently being translated into English. Other articles by Rabbi Melamed can be viewed at: www.yhb.org.il/1
Q: Rabbi, shalom. In the Midrasha (women’s seminary) where I teach, there are a few girls from Chutz La-Aretz (outside of Israel) who do not have a place for Leyl ha’Seder (Passover evening festivities). Some of them don’t have a place for the rest of the Chag (holiday), either.
According to what we have learned, they must observe Yom Tov Sheni Shel Galiyot, the second day kept in the Diaspora, and conduct two Seder’s. Due to various difficulties, the Midrashais not able to house and feed them for the entire Chag. Most of the girls have found an arrangement –some of them returned to their parents homes abroad, while others will be with relatives here in Israel. A few girls have not found a solution, and they are quite desperate. Some of them have even decided to forgo observing Yom Tov Sheni.
I realize I could suggest they go to a hotel where Yom Tov Sheni is observed, including two Seder’s, but this would be very expensive for them, as the girls left without a solution come from relatively poor families.
It is very important for me to give them a good feeling while they are here in Israel for the year. I invited them to participate in our Seder at my parent’s house, but the problem is that we have to return home on Motzei Chag (after the holiday). Is it possible for them to be with us for the Seder at my parents, and afterward, take them by car to our house, in such a way that they will not have to perform any melakha (activities prohibited on Yom Tov)? We will open and close the car doors for them, etc. They will stay with us until the end of the Chag, and at our home, will be able to conduct a second Seder, and observe the last two days of Pesach (Passover).
A: The Rabbis instituted that in Chutz La-Aretz, all the chagim (festivals) must be observed for two days. Thus, all the prohibitions that apply to Yom Tov Rishon, including rabbinical prohibitions, also apply to Yom Tov Sheni. Similarly, all the prayers on Yom Tov Sheni are identical to Yom Tov Rishon. Also, Kiddush is once again recited over wine, and the blessing Shehechiyanu is recited, just like Yom Tov Rishon (Shulchan Aruch 661:1). On Pesach, Leyl HaSeder is conducted twice – along with all its commandments and blessings.
In my previous column, I pointed out that this halakha expresses the virtues of Eretz Yisrael (Land of Israel), in which the kedusha (sanctity) of the chag can be absorbed in one day, as the Biblical commandment requires. In Chutz La-Aretz, however, the kedusha of the Chag is not revealed in one day, and in order to absorb it, two days must be observed.
Both Rabbi Hai Gaon (Otzar HaGaonim, Yom Tov 4:2), and the Admor ‘Tzemach Tzedek’ (Derech Mitzvotecha 104:1), explained this similarly.
The Halakha for a Visitor to Israel
Some Poskim (Jewish law arbiters) are of the opinion that a ben Chutz La-Aretz (one who lives outside of Israel) who came to Israel for a visit, for the duration of his stay, is considered a ben Eretz Yisrael [a “resident”of Israel] (Chacham Tzvi, 167; Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 496:11). But according to most Poskim, since his place of residence is in Chutz La-Aretz, even when visiting Israel, he is considered a ben Chutz La-Aretz, and this is the customary practice (Birkei Yosef, 496:7; Mishna Berura 496:13).
Therefore, b’nei Chutz La-Aretz visiting Israel must observe Yom Tov Sheni Shel Galiyot, be careful not to perform melakhot forbidden on Yom Tov, recite the Yom Tov prayers, recite Kiddush over wine, and have seudot Yom Tov (festive meals).
Asking an Israeli to Do Malakha
For the purpose of a mitzvah (l’tzorech mitzvah), or in a case of great need (l’tzorech gadol), a ben Chutz La-Aretz is permitted to ask a ben Eretz Yisrael to perform a melakha for him, because this is considered shvut d’shvut (i.e., there are two reasons that it is not forbidden from the Torah, but only rabbinically), since the actual minhag (custom) of Yom Tov Sheniis derived from Divrei Chachamim (rabbinical ordinance), and his request for others to perform melakha for him, is also a rabbinical prohibition. However, if it is not for the purpose of a mitzvah, or a case of great need, this is forbidden.
Without going into details, it seems that in a sha’at dachak (a situation of specific need), it is permitted to drive the girls as long as they do not perform any melakha – including, not opening, or closing, the car doors. And although they might travel outside of techum Shabbat (the distance one is allowed to walk on Shabbat and Yom Tov outside of the city limits, approximately 0.598 miles, or 3161.74 ft.), since they are in a car which is considered a reshut ha’yachid (an enclosed domain), it is possible to rely on the opinion of the Poskim who say that it is not forbidden.
However, as will be explained further on, since the girls came to Israel for the year to study, they are exempt from observing Yom Tov Sheni Shel Galiyot.
Why Aren’t Visitors Exempt?
Apparently, one could ask: Since Yom Tov Sheni stems from a rabbinical ordinance, the halakha should follow the lenient opinion, exempting visitors to Israel from observing Yom Tov Sheni (Chacham Tzvi, and Shulchan Aruch HaRav), for we have the rule safek d’Rabanan lekula (a doubt concerning a rabbinic prohibition is treated leniently). Moreover, seeing as the issue is disputed, there is room to argue that at the very least, blessings recited on Yom Tov should not be said on the second day of Chag, because of the rule that when unsure whether to say a blessing, refrain from reciting it, called safek brachot l’hakel (this was the opinion of Rabbi Shmuel Salant, and Maran Rabbi Kook tended to adopt this opinion, as well).
It must be noted, however, that inasmuch as for generations the custom was to act stringently (l’hakhmeer), with visitors to Israel observing two days of Yom Tov, although it is a rabbinic prohibition, we do not take into account the lenient opinions, for it is well known that the rules safek d’Rabanan l’hakel, or safek brachot l’hakel, are not invoked when contradicting a minhag (custom).
Coming to Israel for Longer than a Visit
However, this din (law) changes when there is an additional safek, such as when the visitor to Israel plans on staying for an extended period of time, or has plans to make aliyah (emigrate to Israel), or has children living in Israel. In such situations we take into consideration the opinion of those Poskim who say a visitor to Israel should always observe one day, plus the fact that in recent generations, the chances of Jews visiting Israel deciding to make aliyah, have increased; therefore, such a visitor is instructed to observe one day, according to the minhag of Eretz Yisrael.
Similarly, we have found that in the past, whenever a person would travel with his family from Israel to Chutz La-Aretz, or from Chutz La-Aretz to Israel for an extended period of time, if there was a possibility he would remain there, the customs of his new place of residence were applied to him (Radbaz, Mishna Berura 496:13). Accordingly, this was the instruction for students who came to Israel for a period of time, i.e., they should observe Yom Tov according to the minhag of Eretz Yisrael (Chida, in Chayyim Sha’al 1:55).
The Practical Halakha for Students Studying in Israel
Therefore, a student who comes to Israel for a year of study is considered a ben Eretz Yisrael. And even if he has clear plans to return and live in Chutz La-Aretz, or his parents live there and he visits them during the year, his lengthy stay in Israel makes him a ben Eretz Yisrael for the duration of his stay here. Additionally, there is always a chance he will decide to emigrate, seeing as it is a mitzvah from the Torah to make aliyah to the Land of Israel.
And even though, in practice, the academic year is all but ten months, nevertheless, since it is deemed an important period of time, for the duration of the students’ stay in Israel, he is considered a ben Eretz Yisrael. However, if one comes for less than an academic year, he is not considered a ben Eretz Yisrael for that period of time.
In view of this, I replied that those seminary students should observe one day of Pesach, as b’nei Eretz Yisrael.
Incidentally, I recall that Moreinu v’Rabbeinu, the Rishon L’Tzion, Sephardic Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, ztz’l, would instruct students who came to Israel for a year of study, to observe one day of Yom Tov. He would then add: “And when the time comes for you to return to Chutz La-Aretz, come back and ask if you are allowed to…”
A visitor to Israel– even if he came for half a year – as long as he plans to return to Chutz La-Aretz, is still considered a ben Chutz La-Aretz. If, however, he visits frequently, once his combined visits accumulate to a year, he is already considered to be somewhat of a permanent "resident", and additionally, he might decide to make aliyah;consequently, from that point on, whenever he spends Yom Tov in Israel, he should observe only one day.
Indeed, one could argue about the determination of specific time periods, however, it is impossible to instruct halakha ambiguously, because when halakha is not defined, it has no meaning. People are accustomed to consider a year as an important component in their lives, seeing as no one lives indefinitely. And if a person accumulated three hundred and sixty-five days in a certain country, we can no longer say he has no connection to that place and is still a guest. Additionally, the chances he will want to make aliyah, also increase.
A Visitor Who Intends to Emigrate in the Distant Future
A visitor to Israel who plans on making aliyah when possible, even if he visits for a short time and it will be years before he realizes his plans, for the duration of his stay in Israel, should act as a ben Eretz Yisrael, and observe one day.
A Visitor Who Has Children, Parents, or a House in Israel
If a visitor has children or parents who made aliyah, even if he does not intend on moving to Israel, since he has close family ties here, in effect, he has a strong connection to the country. Moreover, he might make aliyah in the future. Therefore, for the duration of his stay in Israel, he is considered a ben Eretz Yisrael.
Similarly, a person who bought an apartment or a house in Eretz Yisrael in which to live while visiting, is considered a ben Eretz Yisrael for the duration of his stay in Israel. However, if he bought an apartment or house in Israel as an investment, this does not necessarily create a bond to the country, because today, people invest in real estate all over the world, given that it is possible to manage one’s properties by telephone, or email.
An Israeli Expatriate who Visits Israel
A person who left Israel to live in Chutz La-Aretz, even if he has lived there for tens of years, since he previously resided in Israel at length, as long as there is even the slightest chance he might move back, he should act as a ben Eretz Yisrael for the duration of his visit to Israel.
While Abroad, They Must Observe Two Days of Yom Tov
While all these people have a deep attachment to Eretz Yisrael, nevertheless, since in practice they have not yet made aliyah– when they are in Chutz La-Aretz, they must observe Yom Tov Sheni Shel Galiyot. For in truth, it is possible for a person to have a double affiliation; when in Israel, he should observe one day of Yom Tov, and in Chutz La-Aretz, two days. This was the opinion of Maharitz (Rabbi Yom Tov Tzahalon), who wrote that someone who lives one year in Israel, and one year in Chutz La-Aretz – while in Israel, is considered a ben Eretz Yisrael, and when abroad, is considered a ben Chutz La-Aretz (Responsa 52). This is also what the author of Asei Lecha Rav (Rabbi Chaim David Halevi) has written (7:33, abridged).
All these matters are clarified in Chapter Nine of my new book, “Peninei Halacha: Moadim”, which, with thanks to Hashem, was published this week.