Shabbat Succot | 5764
Ask the Rabbi
Question: I am a resident of Israel and will be traveling abroad during Sukkot. On yom tov, I will be in a city with a Jewish community, but in a different neighborhood. Can I do Melacha (work) publicly outside the Jewish community on the second day (yom tov sheni)? (I assume that privately (b’tzina), there is no problem.)
Answer: A person who lives in Eretz Yisrael cannot do melacha in chutz la’aretz on the second day of yom tov because Chazal feared that such activity could cause machloket (Pesachim 51b). This is not a local halacha of yom tov alone,but a general rule when visitors have different practices than their host community (ibid.). We understand many people’s impression that there is no problem to “violate” yom tov b’tzina. This is, in fact, the opinion and rationale of the Taz (Orach Chayim 496:2).
However, the great majority of rishonim and acharonim forbid melacha even b’tzina (Tosafot, Pesachim 52a; Magen Avraham, ibid.:4; Mishna Berura, ibid.:9, to name a few). Sometimes we allow a person to privately follow his minhag against the local minhag, but not by melacha on yom tov sheni,for two possible reasons. 1) It is more difficult to do melacha unnoticed (Tosafot, ibid.). 2) The prohibition of melacha on yom tov sheni is a major institution, about which we are very strict (Ba’al Hamaor, Pesachim ibid.). We urge visitors to Jewish communities to follow the majority opinion and not do melacha even b’tzina. (We are aware of cases where bnei Eretz Yisrael did melacha “privately,” and the matter became known and did cause a fight).
In a few situations, one can be lenient. One is a situation where even one who sees what his friend is doing cannot tell that the action is forbidden for a local Jew. For example, one can cook without an eiruv tavshilin, because one who sees him cook does not see that he doesn’t have an eiruv (Radvaz, cited by Mishna Berura 596:13). Also, if there is a machloket whether a given action is permitted on yom tov,then even a ben Eretz Yisrael who is strict on the matter can do it on the yom tov sheni. This shouldn’t cause a dispute since even many locals are lenient. One example is smoking (which we feel is a melacha on yom tov and strictly forbidden all year, but, unfortunately, not all agree).
Where does the prohibition of yom tov sheni apply? The Shulchan Aruch (OC 596:3) says that it applies everywhere within the techum Shabbat (the confines of the city, where one is permitted to walk on Shabbat) of the Jewish community. While it is difficult to rule on a city which we do not know firsthand (ask the local rabbi), in most major cities one can go from place to place within the city without leaving techum Shabbat. If in your case it is not so, how will you get to the beit k’nesset on the first day of yom tov?
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