In this article, we will begin to discuss the status of Torah MiTzion shlichim (emissaries) on Yom Tov Sheni (the second day of Yom Tov in the Diaspora). In future articles we will discuss the practical consequences of this status.
The fourth chapter of Mishnah Pesachim begins:
In a place where the custom is to work (la’asot melachah) on Erev Pesach until mid-day, one may work; in a place where the custom is not to work, one may not work.
Someone who travels from a place where they are accustomed to work to a place where they are not so accustomed, or from a place where they are not accustomed to work to a place where they are so accustomed, is required to follow the stringencies of both places.
A person may not deviate since this would lead to dissension.
The Gemara (Pesachim 51b) questions how we can reconcile the final instruction of not deviating with the preceding statement of following both stringencies. According to the earlier statement, if a person goes from a place where people do not work to a place where they do work, he may not work. This is because he is required to follow the practice of the place he came from. But if he avoids work in a place where people work, by definition he is deviating from the local custom! The Gemara gives a number of answers to this question, suggested by various Amoraim.
The Rambam’s understanding of this topic is found in his ruling in Hilkhot Yom Tov (8:20):
One who travels from a place where they work to a place where they do not work should not work in an inhabited area on account of dissension, but he may work in the desert.
One who travels from a place where they do not work to a place where they do work, should not work, because we require him to follow the stringencies of both places. Nevertheless, he should not publicize that he is not working, because of the prohibition of deviating and causing dissension.
Moreover, one who intends to return to his place of origin follows the customs of his place of origin regardless of whether they are more lenient or more stringent. However, he may not publicize it, as that would cause dissension.
Based on the Rambam’s last paragraph, we can deduce that his earlier statements are referring to a case where the person does not intend to return to his place of origin. Even in such a case he is required to follow the stringencies of his new location only in order to avoid dissension, and not on account of an actual legal requirement. It would seem that according to the Rambam, even a person who moves to a new place without any intention of returning to his place of origin, is still fundamentally considered a member of his original locale. This is how the Maggid Mishneh explains the Rambam. He also points out that most decisors disagree with the Rambam. However, the Shulchan Arukh (Orach Chaim 468:4) follows the Rambam in this matter. (For more details, it is highly recommended to look at the Mishnah Berurah, especially the Bi’ur Halakhah, s.v. haholekh. In this article we have followed the Maggid Mishneh, Shakh, and Gra in their understanding of the Rambam, as opposed to other commentaries.)
However, the Shulchan Arukh seems tocontradict himself. Regarding Yom Tov Sheni (496:3) he writes:
Residents of the Land of Israel who visit the Diaspora are forbidden to work on Yom Tov Sheni in inhabited areas, even if they intend to return to Israel. As long as they have not reached an inhabited area, they may work even if they do not intend to return to Israel, since they have not yet taken on the status of locals. But if they have reached an inhabited area and do not intend to return to Israel, they are considered locals, and are forbidden to do work anywhere. As long as they are still outside of the techum (the halakhic boundary of the inhabited area), they are not required to follow the stringencies of their new locale.
This ruling of the Shulchan Arukh is difficult. He seems to rule that someone who is planning to remain in a new place becomes obligated in their stringencies as a point of law. This contradicts what he writes above regarding Erev Pesach that one is obligated in their stringencies only to avoid dissension. There, the Shulchan Arukh rules that one who is in the desert is permitted to work. Why then does he state that on Yom Tov Sheni, work is forbidden even in the desert?
The Pri Chadash offers an answer based on the Ba’al HaMa’or. The Ba’al HaMa’or writes, “Those who travel from Israel to Babylonia are forbidden to do work on Yom Tov Sheni even if they are planning to go back, because this is an important custom which has spread throughout the entire Diaspora and one may not breach it.” Accordingly, the Shulchan Arukh feels the Rambam would agree that on Yom Tov Sheni, even in the desert work would be prohibited. In the inhabited areas, work would be forbidden by law, because this custom was accepted by all of the Diaspora. Therefore, we can definitely apply the verse, “Do not forsake the teachings of your mother” (Mishlei 1:8) to one who has traveled from Israel to the Diaspora.
The Pri Chadash concludes that when it comes to working on Erev Pesach, the Shulchan Arukh rules that it is permitted in the desert even if one does not intend to return to his original locale. However, when speaking of Yom Tov Sheni, he follows the opinion of the Ba’al HaMa’or that it is forbidden to desecrate Yom Tov Sheni even in the desert, because its widespread acceptance obligates all Jews.
Therefore, when discussing the status of an Israeli who goes to the Diaspora, we need to take this problem very seriously indeed, in light of the acceptance of the unique status of Yom Tov Sheni by the entire Jewish people.