Font Size

Cpanel

Rabbi's Blog

rabbi 05 smallsf badge lgRabbi Joel Landau  (rabbi@adathisraelsf.org) has been the Rabbi of Adath Israel since May 2013. He was ordained by the Chief Rabbinate in Jerusalem and has served previously as a congregational Rabbi in Charleston, South Carolina and Irvine, California. A full biography of Rabbi Landau is available here.


Beginning the 2nd Day of Shavuot Early

Next week, we will be celebrating the holiday of Shavuot, which commemorates the revelation of Ten Statements made directly by G-d to the millions of Israelites assembled at the foot of Mt. Sinai. As is well known, the custom in the Diaspora is to observe the holiday for a two day period. This year that would be from sundown on Tuesday 6/3 to nightfall on Thursday 6/5.

In most communities the custom is to wait until nightfall of the first day before davening, lighting candles and beginning any preparations for the second day. In SF this means that only as of 9:15pm Wednesday night could one begin to prepare for that evening’s Yom Tov meal. Clearly, it is difficult for older individuals or families with young children to wait until around 9:45pm-10:00pm to eat supper. Waiting is not only a hardship issue, but for many people it diminishes their Simchat Yom Tov, enjoyment of the holiday. Therefore, I decided to explore the halachic possibility of beginning the second day of Yom Tov early, just like we do every Shabbat during the summer months.

The following is a brief presentation of my findings

  • The Custom in the community of Mainz, Germany during the time of the Maharil (1360-1427), one of the most important Ashkenazic codifiers of Jewish customs, was to daven ma'ariv early on the eve of the second day of Yom Tov
  • In Responsa Hitorerut Teshuvah, Rav Shimon Sofer (1850-1944),Rav of theHungarianEger permitted l’chatchila (=optimally) davening, making Kiddush and eating the Yom Tov meal early.
  • Rav Yosef Chaim of Bagdad (1832-1909), who was the premier halachic authority in the Middle East wrote in his book Ben Ish Chai “On the second night of Yom Tov one does not have to wait until it is night to make Kiddush”.
  • When Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (1910-1995), who was one of the leading halachic authorities in Israel, when asked about the permissibility of making the second day of Yom Tov early, said he didn’t see a problem.
  • In Responsa Minchat Yitzchak, Rav Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss (1902-1989), the former head of the Ultra-Orthodox Beit Din in Jerusalem, permitted davening, making Kiddush, and eating the Yom Tov meal early for patients in a hospital.
  • Rav Ephraim Greenblatt (1932-2014), the former Rav of Memphis and author of the 10 volume Responsa R’vevot Ephraim, wrote that it is acceptable to daven, make Kiddush and eat the Yom Tov meal early on the second night of Shavuot.
  • Rabbi Gavriel Zinner author of the 30 volume Responsa Neta’ei Gavriel, who is a highly respected halachic authority living in Boro Park wrote that “Halacha L’ma’aseh, one may be lenient and make kiddush early on Shavuot”
  • Rav Hershel Schachter the renowned Rosh Yeshiva of YU’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary wrote that “those who have the custom to start the second day of Yom Tov early need to be careful not to prepare on day one for day two (in order not to diminish the sanctity of day one by preparing on it for day two). Therefore, they should daven ma’ariv of day two immediately after plag (= a halachic hour and a quarter before sunset), make Kiddush and eat so that any preparation done on day one will be utilized on day one.
  • Rav Yehuda Herzl Henkin, a modern orthodox halahic authority living in Israel, address this topic in his four volume Responsa Beni Banim, he writes that it is acceptable to follow the Bagdad custom (mentioned above) to daven ma’ariv of day two immediately after plag on day one, make Kiddush and eat.

CONCLUSION:

Though for good reasons the mainstream custom is to wait until nightfall to daven, make Kiddush and eat, there are more than sufficient grounds to begin the second day of Yom Tov early. However, one has to be careful not to prepare anything on the first day that will not be used on that day before sunset.

APPLICATION:

It is permissible to prepare/heat food on Wednesday for Wednesday evening’s/night’s meal provided that the food will be eaten on Wednesday before sunset. This does not mean that all of the food has to be eaten before sunset, it is sufficient to eat just a small portion of each food that was prepared/heated.

In order to successfully begin the second day of Yom Tov early it would be wise to set the dining room table and have all your food warming before you come to shul for the Wednesday afternoon programming. We will be davening ma’ariv at 7:00pm sharp and will conclude by 7:15pm. Sunset is at 8:35pm, therefore, there should be more than enough time (for most people) to make it home, make Kiddush and begin eating before sundown.

Have a great Yom Tov,
Rabbi Joel Landau