Travelling from Israel on the Eighth day of Pesach

Q. Yaakov, an Israeli businessman has already booked to fly to an important business meeting in England on the day which for him is the day after Pesach but is the last day of Pesach in England. He is flying to Luton airport and from there by car to the meeting in Devon. He was told that it is a serious shaaleh. Is there any leniency?

A. I understand that it might be very costly for you to cancel this meeting so let us look into it from the sources.

The first source is Beitza 4b. “Now that we know when the month begins why do we keep two days Yom Tov? Because they sent from there, “Maintain the tradition of your fathers because there is a possibility that the government might decree a law and mistakes would be made,” Rashi explains that the government might forbid the study of the Torah and the knowledge of how the months are fixed would be forgotten and we would eat chametz on Pesach.” This is the main source that in Jewish communities outside Eretz Yisroel we have to keep two days’ Yom Tov at the beginning and end of Pesach and Succos and on Shevuos. Even in Eretz Yisroel two days of Rosh Hashono are kept, so obviously chutz lo’oretz does also. The Rishonim discuss why in chutz lo’oretz only one day of Yom Kippur is kept. This is the halachic source for keeping two days Yom Tov. Some suggest al pi drush that in chutz lo’oretz where Jews are surrounded by non-Jews and often have to work even on Erev Yom Tov, it takes two days to absorb the sanctity of the Yom Tov. In Eretz Yisroel where everybody is preparing for Yom Tov days and weeks before, one can absorb the sanctity in one day.

The second source is in Meseches Pesachim. The Mishna (50a) says, “Where the custom is to work on Erev Pesach before noon, one may work. Where the custom is not to work, one may not work. If one goes from a place where they work to a place that they don’t work or vice versa one has to keep the stricter law whether of the place one has gone to or the place one has come from and one shouldn’t do differently because this might cause an argument.” The Gemara explains that this last phrase is relevant only when going from a place which works to a place which doesn’t work. When one goes from a place where they don’t work to a place that they do, one still shouldn’t work as per the statement earlier that one has to keep the stricter law of one’s original place. This should not cause an argument because people will just think that he has no work. On 52b the Gemara brings that Rav Safra said to Rebbe Abba, “We keep one day Yom Tov (Tosfos explains that they lived in chutz lo’oretz but near enough for messengers to tell them when Yom Tov was observed in Eretz Yisroel) but when we travel further into chutz lo’oretz, when we are in the midbar (outside a Jewish town) we may work on the second day Yom Tov. If we are in the town, we should not work to avoid arguments. Rashi says that this only applies in public but in private there will be not be arguments and it is permitted. Tosfos says that it is forbidden even in private, because the fact that we are doing melachos will inevitably become known. This whole discussion is talking about somebody who intends to return home after Yom Tov. Somebody who is moving to live in chutz lo’oretz will definitely have to be strict even in private according to all opinions.

The third source is Chullin 110a. Rami Bar Dikuli was accused of eating the kechal (udder) in a place where the custom was not to eat it in case some milk might have remained, causing one to transgress the prohibitions of cooking and eating milk and meat together. He answered that he was outside the techum (the two thousand amos around a town where it is allowed to walk on Shabbos.) This clearly implies that it would have been forbidden inside the techum, even if in Rami bar Dikuli’s own town the custom was to eat the kechal. As the Gemoro explains, this is because of the halacha brought in Pesachim that even a visitor has to keep the stricter custom of the town he is in.

These sources lead to a paragraph in the Shulchan Aruch (496:3): “Those who live in Eretz Yisroel who have come to Chutz Lo’oretz are not allowed to do work in a Jewish town on the second day of Yom Tov, even if they intend to return to Eretz Yisroel. If they haven’t yet arrived in the town, they may work because they have not yet become like the local townspeople even if they intend to stay in Chutz Lo’oretz. If they have arrived in the town and they do not intend to return to Eretz Yisroel, they are now forbidden even if they go out of the town. (This implies that someone who does intend to return, even if he has been in the Jewish town, may do work as soon as he has left the town.) Outside the techum we do not apply the rule that one has to keep the strict custom of the local place, implying that within the techum one does have to be strict.

There is a huge amount of rabbinic discussion concerning people whose status is unclear. For instance an Israeli who has come for two or three years but intends to return or someone learning in a Yeshiva who wants to stay in chutz lo’oretz but who is financially dependent on his parents in Eretz Yisroel and many other cases. All these questions apply to someone from chutz lo’oretz who is temporarily in Eretz Yisroel. But our case is about an Israeli who is definitely coming to England only for a few days. Based on the information already given, I invite the reader to ‘pasken’ the shaaleh before we go on. Must Yaakov cancel his trip, no matter what the cost?

Two questions have to be considered. Is Luton considered a Jewish town? If so, is the airport within its techum? I am told that there are Jews living in Luton and there is a minyan on Shabbos morning (Thank you, the Chabad sheliach!). However, according to the map, it seems that the airport is well outside the techum.(The halachos of techumim are complicated – in order to be sure, expert study is needed.) Therefore it would appear that Yaakov can relax.

Two questions remain. Luton Airport is a busy airport near to where many thousands of Jews live. We must assume that there will always be quite a number of Jews at the airport, unfortunately even on Yom Tov. Does this change the situation? True, according to the Shulchan Aruch, a ben Eretz Yisroel does not have to avoid doing melachos outside the Jewish town. But what if he actually meets Jews there, even they shouldn’t be there? Even if technically Chazal made no decree there, it creates a great zilzul of Yom Tov Sheini if Jews see a religious Jew doing melachos. They may become baalei teshuva and be convinced that the second day Yom Tov is just a chumra – something which is not obligatory. Even if they don’t become baalei teshuva, they might normally keep the second day in some way – but no longer. A second question is that the route from Luton Airport to Devon will be by way of the M25. Although this needs a proper study, as mentioned above, it seems likely that this passes through areas which are within the techum of London.

Space does not allow a full study of these two questions. However the SeferYom Tov Sheini Kehilchoso (p.136) brings an opinion of Rav S.Z. Auerbach that in an airport everyone knows that there are travelers from all places. Even if there are Jews there, they will assume that those religious travelers have come from Eretz Yisroel, where they know that only one day Yom Tov is observed. Although others disagree, it is at least one opinion. Concerning the question about travelling within the techum of London, by that stage it is probably considered ‘in private’ which Rashi and later the Taz allowed. True, the Magen Avraham and Mishna Berura are strict but maybe in an emergency one may be lenient. There were also other details which give grounds to be lenient but space does not allow.

Therefore, I told Yaakov that he does not have to cancel his trip which might cause a significant loss, but he shouldn’t arrange such a trip in the future. Next year, after Pesach finishes in Eretz Yisroel, he should help his wife put away the Pesachdike dishes!