Yom Tov Sheni

The past few years there has been a growing tension among those who work in interactive professions about their need to check their blackberries on Yom Tov. Some fields need daily input. There was quite a strain in the community this year with the three day Yom Tovs. We will have this same 3-day yom tov pattern in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2017.

Over at Jewschool, the following was posted:

Love it or hate it, this pattern is here to stay. We’ll do it all over next year, and then again in 2013, 2014, and 2017: half of the years in the 2010s.

The other half of the decade will see a different pattern that we haven’t seen in quite a while: Rosh Hashanah on Monday, with all the fall holidays falling on weekdays. This pattern also includes Shavuot starting on Saturday night, leading to another “3-day yom tov” for the 2-day crowd.

All told, the half-decade from 5771 to 5775 will include a total of 14 “3-day yom tovs”, and the decade from 5771 to 5780 will include 21. (But don’t worry, there’s only 18 more to go!)

This leads to my prediction (awaited since the title of the post): This decade, and especially this half-decade, will see lots of 2-day-yom tov people switching over to 1 day.

In a few years, we can come back and check this prediction and see whether the 1-day majority has gotten any larger.

So, I have a historical question. When modernizing Jews gave up the second day of yom tov in the 19th century was the push from certain professions or certain districts?

Jacob Katz, following his method of relying on Mannheim’s concept of ideology, presents the issue as an ideological battle between Reform and Orthodoxy (See, “Orthodox defense of Second Day of Yom Tov in Divine Law in Human Hands). But has anyone checked- did the push to get rid of yom tov sheni occur after a series of 3 day yom tovs pushed people to feel a need for the change? Was it more in certain professions? Maybe it was not ideological but a social push from ordinary businessmen? Was there a need to do manual labor or more likely to check the European stock market? Someone want to check the 19th century dates and determine if there was a decade like the next decade with many 3 day yom tov’s in a row? Does it coordinate with the push for the change?

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5 responses to “Yom Tov Sheni

  1. Great question – I never thought about that before. Yom tov sheini was repealed by the Breslau Conference of 1846. The days of the week for Rosh Hashanah in years leading up to that were:
    1830 Sat
    1831 Thu
    1832 Tue
    1833 Sat
    1834 Sat
    1835 Thu
    1836 Mon
    1837 Sat
    1838 Thu
    1839 Mon
    1840 Mon
    1841 Thu
    1842 Mon
    1843 Mon
    1844 Sat
    1845 Thu
    1846 Mon

    (See this post for a key to what each configuration contains.)

    So their time was much like ours: they had recently gone from a weekend-holiday-rich era to a weekend-holiday-poor era.

  2. The Breslau Conference of 1846 dealt with the issue from a rabbinical point of view and after dealing with the problem of Sabbath prohibitions.

    My question is whether there was already a push by the laity in the 1820′s? And was it driven by pragmatics? Were there local initiatives already before Breslau?

  3. Here’s the data from the 1820s:
    1820 Sat
    1821 Thu
    1822 Mon
    1823 Sat
    1824 Thu
    1825 Tue
    1826 Mon
    1827 Sat
    1828 Tue
    1829 Mon

    Not sure what to conclude from that.

  4. No Breslau conference is necessary today, because 1-day observance does not require a different instutition to serve it. It just requires that some people show up on the second day, and others don’t. You can watch it happening (or not happening) yourself, based on the proportion of open seats in the synagogue on Day 1 versus Day 2. Similarly, the institution that serves the mass of people that show up on Saturday morning can also serve the trickle of stalwarts who show up for daily minyan.

    I actually saw Yom Tov Fatigue expressed not on Day 1 but on Day 3. Several community members that would normally attend synagogue on shabbat, stayed home because they were “shul-ed out.” Given the blur of experienced difference between your generic yom tov day service and the shabbat service, many people groan at the prospect of another 3 hours in shul. It is not surprising that some drop.

    • First of all, yom tov observance isn’t just about whether or not you go to shul; someone could stay home and still be observing yom tov (or Shabbat) at home.

      Second of all, a 2-day shul that wanted to become a 1-day shul would still have to do some things differently, beyond simply not having services on the 2nd day. Certain practices that are specific to the 2nd day in 2-day communities (e.g. Simchat Torah, yizkor, Ruth) would be moved to the 1st (only) day. If the 2nd day is on Shabbat, they would have regular Shabbat services that day instead of yom tov services. If the shul has a daily minyan, they would have weekday services that day.

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