Friday, August 8, 2014

No, I Am Not Desecrating Shabbos

Yesterday, I took my 15th plane flight so far this summer, this time not for work but instead joining a family vacation. I am now further from Israel than I have ever been in my life. This presented an interesting question when I recited mincha yesterday: Should I face east or west? I had flown from the east to get here, but the shortest journey home would be to travel west to get back home.

This may (but not necessarily) relate to a vastly more significant halachic question: Am I desecrating Shabbos by writing this on my computer? Certainly some Poskim would say so!

Here is the background: As we fly west from Israel, we keep moving the hour back, so as not to outpace the sun. But if we were to constantly do that, we could end up arriving back in Israel at an earlier time and date than having left it! Hence, the need for an international dateline. But where is the halachic international dateline?

This is a famous and complex question that I certainly can't do justice to in a blog post. But I will outline the issues and mention the factors that are relevant from a rationalist Jewish viewpoint.

There are three well-known approaches to this question, the first of which has two variants. The first approach is based on an inference from the words of the Baal HaMaor, which are in turn an inference from the Gemara in Rosh HaShanah relating to when the new moon can be seen. This is a very technical discussion, but the bottom line is that according to this view, the day begins six hours (90°) east of Jerusalem. According to the strict interpretation of this, followed by the Brisker Rav, China and parts of Russia and Australia would be west of the halachic dateline, i.e. people in those places would observe Shabbos on what the rest of the world considers to be Sunday.

A variant on this approach is that of the Chazon Ish. He considers it unreasonable for the halachic dateline to bisect a country - it would mean that your next-door neighbor could be keeping Shabbos on a different day than you! Hence, he says that contiguous land of China, Russia and Australia should be incorporated to their western parts. According to this, only places such as New Zealand would be keeping Shabbos on what the rest of the world considers Sunday.

Some, however, would entirely reject these approaches. This is because they consider the inference from the Baal HaMaor's inference to be either technically incorrect, or unsuitable for resolving a question that Chazal were not addressing.

A second approach is that of Rav Yechiel Michel Tucazinsky. He bases himself of the Gemara's statement that Jerusalem is the navel, i.e. center, of the world. This is understood to mean that it is the Prime Meridian. Accordingly, the halachic dateline is 180° east/west of Jerusalem. This is extremely close to the secular international dateline - the significant difference being the Hawaiian islands. These would on the western side of the halachic dateline rather then the eastern side, and thus eleven hours ahead of Israel rather than thirteen hours behind; accordingly, Shabbos would be on Friday.

But while it may seem intuitive to use this Gemara to resolve the question, it is problematic. The meaning of the Gemara's statement that Jerusalem is the "navel" of the world is not at all clear. Even if it is making a geographic rather than spiritual statement, it was stated at a time when the conception of world geography was very different. In fact, when the Americas were discovered, R. David Gans felt that this Gemara posed a problem, and felt forced to explain it as a geo-cultural statement that Jerusalem is the center of the civilized world (or something like that; it's a long time since I saw it).

A third approach is that of Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer and Rav Zvi Pesach Frank. They are of the view that there is no halachic Prime Meridian and thus no unique halachic international dateline. Rather, one simply follows what the rest of the world considers to be the day of the week. It would seem that this would be the correct approach from the rationalist perspective.

However, there is one further wrinkle. What about being choshesh lechol hedeyos - being concerned for all opinions? After all, we are talking about Shabbos - a very serious matter! Perhaps Jews in eastern Australia should avoid melachah on Sunday, and Jews in Hawaii should avoid melachah on Friday?

The answer to this also relates to rationalist vs. mystical approaches to Judaism. According to the mystical approach, there is a metaphysical reality to Shabbos, an objective spiritual state that is "out there". Hence, one would probably want to make absolutely sure to be in line with it, and one would take into account other views; after all, they might be right. According to the rationalist approach, on the other had, there is no independent metaphysical reality to Shabbos. Rather, Shabbos attains its status as a result of how we conduct ourselves.

Of course, there is much more to be said on topic, but I'll have to sign off here. Shabbat shalom!

163 comments:

  1. You didn't even say "rhumb line" once!

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  2. Hi,

    Quite an interesting overview of these quite uncommon questions, that we indeed had to tackle ! (and by "we", I mean the Jewish community of French Polynesia, just beneath Hawaï, as it happens that you even have readers there!),

    You wondered if you should face east or west. As far as we're concerned, we're at the antipodes, which is 11 500 miles away from Jlem if you fly over China, but 11 900 if you fly over the US. Despite this "shortcut", all the poskim questionned on that topic told us to face East, in order not cross the international date line and remain of the same daily zone as the Western communities.

    But crossing the international date line does go with some other questions.
    Although we won't, of course, celebrate Chag haHaviv in the real Spring, in November (which is more related to being in the southern hemisphere), what would you do if, for example if you left Tahiti on Sunday at 1 am, after counting 45 in the Sefirat haOmer, and land in Caledonia, a few hours later, but it is locally Monday 7 am (and at night fall, the local community will count 47) ?
    * Keep on your own count, because Ad Mimahorat haShabbat haSheviit tisperu Hamishim Yom
    * Follow the local community to celebrate shavuos ?

    Best regards and thank you for your trully enriching articles - and gut shabbes / shavoua tov / purim casher vesameah or happy new year according to when you'll read that ;)

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  3. Many Yeshivish people in Australia will keep a second day of Shabbat on Sunday (at least Midoraiso) if they go to any size island off the coast of Australia for a weekend holiday with their family even if the island is connected to the mainland by a land bridge because they hold like the Chazon Ish

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  4. The international date-line also represents the way civilization spread over the world (in general, not crossing the Pacific, but rather spreading out from Eurasia and Africa east to Australia et al, and west to the Americas (and Hawaii? in any case, Hawaii has been under American control for so long that it is related to as part of the Americas).
    Just my two cents!

    Catriel Lev
    Ramat Bet Shemesh Alef

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    1. But then if the American Indians came across the Siberia-Alaska land bridge, or with Kon-Tiki rafts via the Pacific, the dateline should be in the Atlantic!

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    2. Not necessarily; since they may not represent general civilization (since they were an isolated incident, and so long ago), and also since they may have come across from Egypt on Kon-Tiki type rafts through the Mediterranean and across the Atlantic!

      Catriel Lev

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  5. Dr. William Gewirtz (whose work on Zmanim should be savoured NY any rationalist) makes a similar argument in his article entitled "Zemannim: on the introduction of new constructs in halacha".

    It is important to note that no poskim hold that the international dateline itself is koveia (i.e. the fact that Samoa changed its affiliation is halachically irrelevant). Rather we just assume that each community keeps Shabbos based on where it came from, and this happens to align pretty well with the International Dateline. See Dr. Gewirtz's paper (available on yutorah.org) for an elaboration of this point.

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  6. By its very nature the Torah encompasses all realities and all ism's, therefore when discussing the fringe one has to step deeper. To assume that Shabbat has only a rationalist reality and not also a metaphysical reality or vice versa would be to do the Torah injustice.

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  7. I think I would take the opposite approach in terms of the rationalist/metaphysical dichotomy. The metaphysical approach would say that the halakhic process has the ability to change the objective reality, so that if there is a psak as to when to keep Shabbos, that makes it Shabbos in that area. The rationalist approach would say that there is an objective time that is Shabbos in each location, and if one is unsure when that is, one should be machmir.

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    1. I half second. We have a general rule that in matters of doubt we must be machmir on Tora prohibiitions but may be meikal regarding rabbinic prohibitions. Thus one should avoid doing the former on both days but only avoid the latter on the day which is Shabbat according to one's posek. One who has reached the level of chassidut as defined by Messilat Yesharim should be machmir even on the latter. When htis was a matter of practical halacha during WW2, when yeshivot escaped to China and Japan one rosh yeshiva actually kept two days of Yom Kippur while the students traveled 200 km by train to keep the dictum of getting away from doubt literally.

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    2. Except that the concept of two days Shabbos every week undermines the very concept of Shabbos. Sheishes Yamim Ta'avod...

      In the same way as we can eat all three pieces of meat when one is known to be Neveilah, we must decide which day is Shabbos, and keep that, and nothing else. Halacha has the power to determine it.

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    3. This is not a case of doubt; it is a case of dispute. Sometimes dispute is used to create a doubt in order to create a s'feik s'feikah heter, but if a posek is convinced and pasken, then there is no longer a doubt according to that posek. In addition, we have the way that Shabbat was treated prior to this dispute. Certainly, if one appreciates the shita of the Chazon Ish, he could desire to be "Yotzeh" both shitos, but to do it because of a "doubt" is a highly doubtful proposition. That is fear-based rather than being halachah based.

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    4. @Snag, In SA OC 344 as cited below in the supercomments after "Yechezkel August 11, 2014 at 8:33 AM", we have an instance where your interpretation of "Sheishes Yamim Taavod" is disregarded.

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  8. The idea of an objective tangible reality is sooooo pre quantum and pre relativity....

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  9. A third approach is that of Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer and Rav Zvi Pesach Frank. They are of the view that there is no halachic Prime Meridian and thus no unique halachic international dateline. Rather, one simply follows what the rest of the world considers to be the day of the week. It would seem that this would be the correct approach from the rationalist perspective
    ######

    I think this is a matter of dispute. Rabbi kasher claimed this was the case. others disagreed. do you have the source of these letters

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    1. more about this here

      http://seforim.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/kalir-false-accusations-and-more.html

      in 1999 a memorial volume appeared called Ohel Sarah Leah. Beginning on p. 246 is an article by Hillman dealing with R. Joseph Saul Nathanson’s view of the International Date Line. In this article, he deals with a letter by R. Zvi Pesah Frank published by R. Menachem M. Kasher. He believes that Kasher added material to the letter so as to align it with his own viewpoint. The fact that Kasher published the letter in 1954, almost seven years before R. Zvi Pesah Frank’s death, does not deter Hillman from his argument. Other than Hillman, I think everyone realizes that if you are going to forge something in another’s name, you don’t do it when they are still alive![15] We can thus completely discount Hillman’s argument and see it as an ideologically based distortion.


      ...


      n the recently published Genazim u-She’elot u-Teshuvot Hazon Ish, pp. 263ff. the unnamed editor also levels serious accusations against Kasher, in a chapter entitled הזיוף החמור והנורא. He puts forth a series of claims designed to show that another letter Kasher published on the International Date Line, this time a posthumous letter from R. Isser Zalman Meltzer, is also forged. I have to say that in this example, unlike the one dealt with by Hillman, there is at least circumstantial evidence, but no smoking gun. The most powerful proof comes from Kasher himself in which he tells of a meeting with the Hazon Ish and how at that meeting he told the Hazon Ish about the letter he received from R. Isser Zalman in opposition to the Hazon Ish’s position. Yet the letter Kasher publishes from R. Isser Zalman is dated from after the Hazon Ish’s death. There is clearly a problem here, but more likely than assuming forgery is that Kasher was simply mistaken in his description of his visit with the Hazon Ish. Let’s not forget that this element of the account of his visit was published thirty-three years after the event, and it is possible that Kasher didn’t recall everything that was said. The followers of the Hazon Ish have indeed always claimed that his description of his visit, in Ha-Kav ha-Ta’arikh ha-Yisraeli (Jerusalem, 1977), pp. 13-14, is not to be relied upon. Since his own recollection of his visit is the strongest evidence in favor of Kasher forging R. Isser Zalman’s letter, it is not very convincing.

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  10. BTW, the Baal Hamaor was preceded by the Kuzari in this. Some poskim do quote it in his name. Probably about the only place the Kuzari is quoted for halacha.

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    1. This is the main place, But there are others. See Rav Zevin's article "The Kuzari in Halakhah." Incidentally, the Rabad criticized the Baal ha-Maor for relying on Halevi who was not one of "anshei ha-Talmud."

      Lawrence Kaplan

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    2. http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=14336&st=&pgnum=195

      earliest may be rabbi chasdan dayan. (the chazon ish seems to give equal weight to kuzari as other rishonim)

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  11. I think I would take the opposite approach in terms of the rationalist/metaphysical dichotomy. The metaphysical approach would say that the halakhic process has the ability to change the objective reality, so that if there is a psak as to when to keep Shabbos, that makes it Shabbos in that area. The rationalist approach would say that there is an objective time that is Shabbos in each location, and if one is unsure when that is, one should be machmir.

    Actually, I think that you've got this backward. I think that the "rationalist" approach promoted here premises that there is no independent metaphysical reality to match up with. Instead there is a halachic or legal "reality" arrived at through the process of P'sak itself. The correctness of the P'sak is not dependent on matching up with an outside reality or God's original intention, but with following the traditional process of having a sufficiently capable Posek studying all the prior precedent and then applying as best he can L'shem Shamayim.

    Here is Rav Moshe expaining how we can pasken today even though we are on a lower level than the prior generations:

    But this is the correct reason, in my humble opinion, that the sages of later generations are both permitted and required to pasken, even though they would not have been considered fit for p'sak in generations of the sages of the Gemara. Even though there is a definite possibility that they [the later sages] did not understand the law accurately as it would be understood in the heavens, [the reason is that they can pasken] is that the "truth" with respect to P'sak is not in the heavens (לא בשמים היא), rather it is according to the understand of the sage after he has properly investigated to clarify the halacha using the Talmud and later poskim according to his abilities, with due sense of gravity and fear of God. If it then appears to him that this is the correct ruling, this is is the truth for the purposes of P'sak (הוא האמת להוראה) and he is required to pasken. Even if in reality, from the point of view of the heavens his explanation is faulty, with respect to this we say that his words are also "words of a living God" (דברי אלקים חיים) since in his opinion, he paskened according to the proper explanation and there was no disproof to his opinion. And he receives reward for his p'sak even though the his explanation is not true.

    http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.hebrewbooks.org%2Fpdfpager.aspx%3Freq%3D14673%26st%3D%26pgnum%3D3&sa=D&sntz=1&usg=AFQjCNHzLgxx5FwpdHtqxVgpmiXf_Xi0_g

    This also explains why neither Nevuah not miraculous signs are relevant in establishing P'sak. If we were trying to match God's intention or a metaphysical reality, then these methods should be relevant, which the Tanur of Aknai proves is not the case.

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  12. Refresher of Tanur of Aknai (Bavli version):

    We learnt elsewhere: If he cut it into separate tiles, placing sand between each tile: R. Eliezer declared it clean, and the Sages declared it unclean; and this was the oven of 'Aknai. Why [the oven of] 'Aknai? — Said Rab Judah in Samuel's name: [It means] that they encompassed it with arguments as a snake, and proved it unclean.

    It has been taught: On that day R. Eliezer brought forward every imaginable argument, but they did not accept them. Said he to them: 'If the halachah agrees with me, let this carob-tree prove it!' Thereupon the carob-tree was torn a hundred cubits out of its place — others affirm, four hundred cubits. 'No proof can be brought from a carob-tree,' they retorted.

    Again he said to them: 'If the halachah agrees with me, let the stream of water prove it!' Whereupon the stream of water flowed backwards — 'No proof can be brought from a stream of water,' they rejoined.

    Again he urged: 'If the halachah agrees with me, let the walls of the schoolhouse prove it,' whereupon the walls inclined to fall. But R. Joshua rebuked them, saying: 'When scholars are engaged in a halachic dispute, what have ye to interfere?' Hence they did not fall, in honour of R. Joshua, nor did they resume the upright, in honour of R. Eliezer; and they are still standing thus inclined.

    Again he said to them: 'If the halachah agrees with me, let it be proved from Heaven!' Whereupon a Heavenly Voice cried out: 'Why do ye dispute with R. Eliezer, seeing that in all matters the halachah agrees with him!' But R. Joshua arose and exclaimed: 'It is not in heaven.'4 What did he mean by this? — Said R. Jeremiah: That the Torah had already been given at Mount Sinai; we pay no attention to a Heavenly Voice, because Thou hast long since written in the Torah at Mount Sinai, After the majority must one incline.

    R. Nathan met Elijah and asked him: What did the Holy One, Blessed be He, do in that hour? — He laughed [with joy], he replied, saying, 'My sons have defeated Me, My sons have defeated Me.'...

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  13. rav frank's teshuvah

    http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=20947&st=&pgnum=154

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    1. although I did read that the source of rav frank is radvaz. but the radvaz says it is a machlokes rishonim where the dateline is. ie there is an objective jewish dateline

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  14. Your mis-quotes are breathtaking.
    The Ba'al HaMa'or is clear, not an inference. You can go and learn it. The dispute was why the Ra'avad disagreed. The Ra'avad asks a question on the Ba'al HaMa'or and Rav Tikutzinsky claimed he meant to disagree in his entire premise. I personally learnt those two sources before I knew Rav Tikutzinsky's opinion and I did not think he meant anything close to what Rav Tikutzinsky meant.
    Why is Rav Meltzer's (unverified) opinion the more rational one? Is it more rational that G-d commanded a Sabbath just like everybody else's week? Why? Unless rational is a euphemism for 'the method that causes the least bother in the modern world'. Then it is truly rational.
    Your claim that some Rishonim were really of the rational faith is also suspect now. Not being machmir on sefeikos is the more rational approach?! The Rambam is the one that says that ספיקא דאורייתא לחומרא is itself מן התורה. How would that be the rational belief.
    Am I misreading the signs and being naive? It seems to me that 'rational' is becoming the way of people who know little about the sources, understand even less, but cannot fathom the idea that they should not have an opinion about the topic.

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    1. actually it is the Rashba who said ספק דאורייתא לחומרא מדאורייתא, the Rambam said it is דרבנן.

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    2. As opposed to being the way of people who know little about human agency and fallibility, understand even less, and cannot fathom the idea that they are subject to it?

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  15. Yes but the farther apart halachic reality and reality reality get, it makes you wonder about a unified source of reality.
    Kol tuv

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  16. None of the men who came up with the creative suggestions as to determine the dateline ever actually had to live in one of them. Back in reality, for obvious reasons, there is not a single Jewish community in the world that keep Shabbos on any day other than the local Saturday.

    It is not to the Mir Yeshivah's credit that they asked this shailah when they came to Kobe, Japan in WWII, as though this was somehow a mark of saintliness. To the contrary, there was already an established community in Kobe long before they got there, and the yeshivah should not have been poresh min hatzibbur by contemplating otherwise. This was just all too typical yeshivah thinking, i.e., that they knew better than anyone else, that mesorah is something to scream when convenient but ignore when expedient, daas ballei battim hefech min hatorah, etc.

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    1. I agree and would like to add another point. This fleeing of the Mirrer Yeshiva, literally and figuratively from making a decision is to be repudiated. With all do respect, here were the elite of torah scholars, the supposed creme de la creme of would-be halachic decisors. They couldn't make a decision? Were they stumped? Hard to believe. Or were they just acting holier than thou in order to criticize anyone who conducted themselves in a rational manner? By rational I mean, consider the situation, come to a conclusion, and act on it. If you were wrong, God forgives.

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    2. They weren't halachic decisors; they were roshei yeshiva. Different disciplines. It's like expecting a professor of pure mathematics to design a suspension bridge.

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    3. Not different disciplines at all. Haven't you ever heard of the "psak" of the 11 rosh yeshivas not to appear together with Reform Jews? And are you saying the Agudah's League of Gedolim - rosh yeshivas and rebbes, every one of them - are not capable of deciding halachic questions?

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    4. RAK specifically designed his moetzet to consist of RY only (and originally some rebbes; that was done away with, to maintain a litvish / yeshivish outlook) and not pulpit rabbis (i.e., practical poskim).

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  17. For applied halacha on this subject, see

    http://hirhurim.blogspot.com/2008/01/sunday-goy.html?m=1

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  18. R' Natan - While I am not in the habit of commenting on blogs because I do not feel that the comments generally contribute to intelligent discussion in any meaningful way, I will nevertheless add my comments here because I feel you have made a basic error with serious practical ramifications. I would like to make a couple of points:

    1. In your zeal to divide much of Judaic practice and thought into your worldview of rationalism vs. mysticism, you have relegated those who would be concerned about multiple opinions regarding the Halachic Dateline to the Dark Side of mysticism.
    Actually, one has nothing to do with the other. One need not be concerned with a "metaphysical reality", "an objective spiritual state" that one must "make absolutely sure to be aligned with", to justify a lack of confidence in observing any one particular day of the week as Shabbos, and that is certainly not the reason for such.
    However or whenever one might feel it was, there was, at some point, a first day. Certainly a quantifiable, countable first day. Any spot on the globe must have experienced some part of that first day, although only one place could have experienced the full first day. Every place will subsequently have its seventh day. And the count continues. If there is confusion as to where to place the dateline, then there is confusion as to when the second day began in any particular place, and there will be confusion as to when is the seventh day. The very objectively real, quantifiable and countable seventh day. We just aren't sure when to start counting. No spiritual energy necessary.
    I suppose you feel that there is no objective count for every spot on Earth, and the count is rather subject to how people experience seven days. (Is that only because the world did not begin with people all over the globe? had it been so would you think differently?) In which case, your closing paragraph is not a new wrinkle, but rather essentially a repetition of your remarkable statement of support for the position of R' Isser Zalman Meltzer and R' Tzvi Pesach Frank. Which brings me to my next point: (continued in next comment)

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    1. I don't have time to respond at length, but I would like to point out one halachah: Someone who is lost and has lost track of time, counts six days and then keeps Shabbos. They do not need to be machmir to avoid melachah on the other days, even though one of them may well be Shabbos.

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    2. Source please? Shulhan Aruch (Orach Hayyim 344) doesn't rule that way, but that one must keep Shabbos every day (beyond the minimal work required to survive for that day). He does rule that one makes kiddush on the seventh day, but that is just a form of a zecher.

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    3. Not exactly--a person in such a situation is allowed to do only enough work to subsist on the other six days. He can't just assume that they're not Shabbos, and do whatever he wants.

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    4. Not true.

      http://www.mechon-mamre.org/b/l/l2107.htm
      דף סט,ב

      http://www.mechon-mamre.org/i/3102.htm
      כב

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    5. That's not true. The Talmud says the halacha of keeping Shabbos on day 7 was stated for purposes of Kiddush and Havdalah. Melacha is permitted only to the extent necessary to keep him alive and get him back to civilization. Such melacha is permitted on all 7 days, and more than that is forbidden on all 7.

      Shmuli

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    6. http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=49625&st=&pgnum=389

      the mechaber says according to mishnah berurah every day one only does the extent which is necessary for life saving purposes.

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    7. Wrong Natan.

      Please be careful to look up the halachah in Shulchan Aruch before halachic statements.

      He DOES have to avoid melachah on other days (except for what pertains to his survival as with all pikuach nefesh). The halachah that he counts 6 days and then keeps shabos is only with regard to Kidush and Havdalah.

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    8. According to SA, OH 444, someone in that position is forbidden to perform melacha on all days of the week as long as he has still has food, so I don't think you can prove from that halacha that Shabbos has no temporal ontological uniqueness (if that is, indeed, what you hold).

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    9. שו׳׳ע או׳׳ח שדמ:א says that someone lost in the desert and lost track of when שבת should do exactly how much he needs to do to stay alive and nothing more, as well as travel to where he can find out the day of the week. Such a person DOES need to avoid unnecessary מלאכה.

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    10. There you go again. Did you even look at the gemara to which you are referring?!
      You are absolutely incorrect.
      The gemara (shabbos 69b) says that every day one may only do whatever melacha is necessary to keep him alive. His personal Shabbos is actualized only with the addition of kiddush and havdalah. The Rambam, our Supreme Rationalist, says that melacha is prohibited always because every day is a safeik Shabbos and he may only do what is necessary because of pikuach nefesh.
      Even if one would argue that this prohibition of melacha the whole week is merely mid'rabanan, which is certainly not the basic understanding, it is only because we would say that there is a rov here that any given day is not Shabbos, which is one of the rules that apply to sfeikos. (See magen avraham and pri migadim 344. The magen avraham actually wonders why there is an issur melacha if there is a rov that any day isn't Shabbos, and he says that Shabbos is considered kavua.)
      In any case, the halacha that you refer to has no bearing at all on this discussion.

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    11. You might wan't to check Siman 344 again. The actual Halacha is the exact opposite of how it's being represented here. On any day that there is no Pikuacha Nefesh in regards to provisions, the person is forbidden to work. Every day of the week. Some Achronim maintain that this is only in regards to Issurei D'oraisa.
      Dov

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    12. To reword the other comments, if a Jewish Robinson Caruso is travelling on a stormy sea and then wakes up alone on a desert island with enough supplies to survive forever, he may never again do ANY melachah on ANY day for maybe the rest of his life.

      BTW, the בעל הבלג published all these basically redundant comments that "clobbered" him. כל הכבוד! For me this honesty is part of the beauty of this blog. People upset at what he moderates out should reconsider.

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    13. Whoops, I goofed up big time. I shouldn't have quoted something that I haven't seen for 15 years. Unfortunately I don't have any seforim with me here.

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    14. Actually, see my post below about the Radvaz. He actually does make R Slifkins argument and explains that avoidance of work on the other days is due to slightly different factors. By keeping one of seven, he is considered to have kept Shabbos in full.

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  19. 2. I completely fail to understand why you would consider the third approach - presented as being that of R' Meltzer and R' Frank - which obviates the existence of and need for a Halachic Dateline as being any more rational then the approach which does require one. (I suspect that you might not have seen the teshuva of Rav Frank. Please correct and forgive me if I am wrong. Additionally please let me know how you are aware of Rav Meltzer's position and where it can be found). The teshuva of R' Frank is difficult to understand. What he seems to be saying is that in any given place, Shabbos is whenever the local population has experienced an additional cycle of seven days, even originally having brought their experience from elsewhere. Why is the experiential seventh day any more rational than a fixed, objective one?
    What would you say if two travelers simultaneously set out for, and reached, a heretofore undiscovered territory - one traveling eastward, and one traveling westward. They have both transplanted their experiences to their new location - but they do not have the same result! How would you propose to determine Shabbos in such a scenario?
    What about the numerous places that have changed their dating in the last couple of centuries to comply with the International Dateline? Would you say that Shabbos is determined to be the day they currently know as Friday or Sunday, or does it change as well? The tone of your post did not clearly indicate a differentiation.

    In summation, you have (unreasonably) decided that one halachic approach to this question is more rationalist than another. You rely on this determination to confidently follow your chosen approach in a matter of serious halacha l'maaseh. You self-assuredly explain, based on a very shallow application of your favorite rationalist vs. mystical theme, why there is no reason to be machmir on a different opinion.
    Surely you are aware of various rules regarding sfeikos. Certainly there are klallei hap'sak, which often tell us what to do in case of divergent opinions, but just as often, the application of these klallim is unclear. In matters such as these, where Torah giants have different opinions regarding one of the most serious halachos, do you not think that one needs a world-class Talmid Chacham to determine whom to follow? You may be knowledgeable, but do you consider qualified as such? Why did you make no mention of the weight of a safeik d'oraisa? I am not judging your behavior in your personal life, but you have written a public post in a widely read blog which takes a very cavalier attitude to a very serious halachic question. I feel that what you have done is very dangerous.

    I sincerely hope that you will publish my comment(you don't need to publish this sentence)

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  20. Two points:

    1. Regarding Chazal's declaration that Jerusalem is the center of the world and your statement that it is unclear whether this is refer's to its physical location or something spiritual here's an interesting fact that I read many years ago. If you draw a line from Jerusalem eastward to the east coast of Japan and draw another line from Jerusalem westward ending at the the west coast of the Western Hemisphere, counting only the land masses (disregarding the Atlantic Ocean), the two lines are of equal length.

    2. Regarding your statement that rationalists would be meikil and mystics would be machmeer by not doing melacha on Friday and/or Sunday it's worth pointing out that the Roshei Yeshiva of the Mirrer Yeshiva were meikil when they were in Japan and Shanghai and although some of the boys and avreichim wanted to be machmeir, they were discouraged from doing so. In fact, I read that the Mashgi'ach Rav Levenshtein discouraged them in the strongest terms.

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    1. 1.
      I would very much like to see that quantified. How do you draw the lines? Why do you stop at Japan (which is neither the westernmost point of the Asian land mass, nor part of the mainland)? etc.

      Without even bothering to get a map out I would have thought that by this definition it would be (approximately) the Greenwich Meridian that is the centre of the world. I am guessing that is a large part of the reason that Greenwich was eventually chosen as the universally adopted Prime Meridian.

      Sorry RNS for going off topic

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    2. Just something interesting I read years ago. A cursory glance at a good map looks like it's true. In any case, it's certainly a דבר שאפשר לברר. I thought Japan was the westernmost point of the Eastern Hemisphere. If it is not then what is?

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    3. Ask Sarah Palin. She could apparently see it from her window.

      Hint for non-Americans: she was once Governor of the US state of Alaska.

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  21. I don't think it's very rationalist to adopt the position of Rav Frank, et. al., given the fact that the international dateline has already been moved many times in its short history. And figuring out the direction form where people first arrive and which civilizations count for this purpose is fraught with its own problems.

    Your protestations of of taking Rishonim and midrashim out of context ring quite hollow. When faced with new situations, Chazal resorted to accepted principles of drash to derive halachos to apply to them, taking pesukim out of their context to do so; it is quite far-fetched and irrational to believe that they already had a mesorah that applies to these halachos. While we generally do not darshen pesukim, poskim have long made use of similar or at least analogous tools to derive halachos for new situations from statements of Chazal and Rishonim originally made in a different context. That is not a flaw, it's a design.

    The best way to resolve the dateline would be for the poskim to come to a consensus, much like the one that has been reached in regards to electricity, also derived through the normal halachic process mentioned above (namely, that it's use is rabinically prohibited in general, and bibilically prohibited when it comes to certain kinds of lights). In the absence of a consensus, following the minhag hamakom where there is an established Jewish community would seem to be the most rational approach, but following the international dateline elsewhere hook, line, and sinker elsewhere doesn't seem too rational for the reasons mentioned above. It would seem more rational to defer to the great weight of authority and go with something in the mid-pacific, but anything to close to the middle where there is no weight of authority at all would go to safek de'oraisa l'chumra, not to one say in 1850, another in 1900, and perhaps yet another in 2015.

    Shmuli

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  22. Although I am far from being a halachic scholar, common sense would seem to me to support the idea that Jews should follow the world's standard and observe Shabbat when everyone else marks Saturday on their calendar, thus recognizing the International Date Line.
    A somewhat similar question arose when Ilan Ramon, the first Jewish-Israeli astronaut went into space on the ill-fated STS-107 Space Shuttle Columbia flight He asked the Rabbanim to decide when he should observe Shabbat. Of course, one answer would be to say once every seven orbits because each orbit has a sunrise and sunset. They finally told him to observe Shabbat when it is observed in Houston where the Johnson Space Center is located and where the astronauts lived prior to the flight. One other possibility was doing it according to Florida time which is where the launch center is located. I would say Houston is also the "common sense" solution (I believe the halachic discussion involved is posted somewhere in the internet)

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  23. Although, like other commenters, I am not entirely comfortable with R. Slifkin’s explication of the rationalist vs. non-rationalist divide on this issue, I would nevertheless submit that a person with a rationalist orientation is likely to be attracted to the third option as the most parsimonious way of reconciling classic halachic practice and the sources without making many of the difficult (and in certain aspects, radical) assumptions that the Chazon Ish and R. Tukatzinsky are forced to make. To quote an article on Chabad.org:

    “The Chazon Ish was forced to say that the majority of Australia which is to the east of the 90° line is “drawn after” the small part which is to the west, in order that they continue to observe the Sabbath on the day they were accustomed. But many point out that it is illogical to say that the majority of the land gets drawn after after a small portion; see comments by the Rebbe (Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory), Shaarei Halachah Uminhag, vol. 2, p. 153.”

    And, as Dr. Gewirtz notes, when discussing the problems with the viewpoints of both the Chazon Ish and R. Tukatzinsky:

    “This conclusion (the Chazon Ish’s) faces at least three challenges:
    1) The gemara in Rosh ha-Shanah may be interpreted differently, as Rashi and others do.
    2) Even if the gemara is to be interpreted in accordance with R. Zerahyah ha-Levi, who specifies that at noon in Jerusalem, somewhere on earth it is 18 hours earlier and the day in beginning, what he implied was a location but not necessarily a strict longitudinal line.
    3) Even if R. Zerahyah meant a strict longitudinal line, his source was not necessarily (entirely) traditional and may well have reflected familiarity with contemporary science.

    My view is that all three are, in decreasing order, likely. I have no evidence, but R. Zerahyah ha-Levi could be reflecting thinking of gentile scholars of his period around whose time these issues were first recorded in detail. As far as I know, there is no such recorded discussion of datelines going back to the period of R. Yehudah ha-Levi.

    Sources supporting the 180 degrees view are midrashic and may not provide a compelling halachic basis. Of course, there is no evidence that either of these approaches was ever used in practical pesak prior to the end of the nineteenth century. One would also be hard-pressed to explain how such a degree-based rule could be applied before global measurements were in use.”

    While the first of Dr. Gewirtz’s objections to the Chazon Ish’s position is a technical one, the latter two are, at least to a certain extent, a function of his “rationalist” worldview, as are the other points he makes. So it is not straightforward to counsel that one simply “asks a posek” - the various approaches to this issue are likely to be either more or less coherent depending on one’s general epistemological approach, although many who subscribed to the third approach were not rationalists at all.

    As an example, it’s interesting to note that, at least according to one source, the Satmar rebbe rejected the Chazon Ish’s application of the sugya in Rosh Hashana, and subscribed to the third option listed by R. Slifkin:

    http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=15016&st=&pgnum=108

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    1. I thought that the satmar rebbe was saying the dateline expands east as civilisation expands east. which would mean the dateline would expand today till 180% east of yerushalayim. this is tikuchinsky not third option

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    2. No - R. Mandel writes a couple of times that there is no 'makom kavua' for the dateline according to the Satmar rebbe. The eastwards expansion he discusses is simply echoing R. Isser Zalman's approach, as described in Dr. Gewirtz's article.

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  24. it seems to me that how one defines an International Date Line is basically irrelevant to the issue of when to celebrate Shabbat in different locales. All such lines are arbitrary even if necessary for some air and ocean travel. Shabbat is defined by the appearance of sun and stars, rather than by the clock - despite the emphasis on the latter in more recent centuries. It's a question of counting days based on 24 hour cycles that reflect the position of the sun and appearance of stars. The Jews who migrated to Australia in ships over a century ago didn't lose track of the days of travel. They knew what day of the week they had arrived. Their reckoning also agreed with that of the local populace with whom they came into contact. Hence there is no question as to when they should celebrate Shabbat. The fact that the Ba'al Ha'ma'or suggestion about a date line 90 degrees east of J'lem which would put all of Australia except for the western third in the far west rather than the far east is irrelevant to their observance of Shabbat. Such an arbitrary determination of a date line can't override their own count of days. Nor does the view of the Hazon Ish do much to lessen the arbitrariness of a date line crossing Australia. Why should the entire continent be dragged into the status of the western third rather than the reverse? The other suggestion about a line 180 degrees from J'lem is also problematic in that it places the Hawaian islands in the far east as opposed to the far west. The Americans who settled Hawaii had their count of days which started from the mainland. Why should Jews travelling to or living in Hawaii maintain a different day of Shabbat than the local Saturday especially if they come from the Americas or Europe and have travelled west to Hawaii? The current position of the date line is far more practical than any of the 'halachic' suggestions in that it avoids populated areas and effects only air and sea travel across that relatively uninhabited region.

    Y. Aharon

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  25. Y. Aharon - well said. Your approach is the same as that of R. Isser Zalman.

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    1. @Y. Aharon and Dave, if half an island somewhere in the Pacific is settled by people coming from the east and the other half by people coming from the west, when would be Shabbos?
      To make it more complicated, imagine that the people from the west settled in the eastern half of the island and the people from the east settled in the western half. Or that the Galagapos were settled from the west and the philippines and New Zealand from the east, what then...?

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  26. The rabbonei Eretz Yisrael's insistence on keeping Yom Tov Sheni outside of Eretz Yisrael even after the calendar was fixed would seem to undercut your assertion about there being no need to consider metaphysical realities. Indeed, it would seem logical to extend the concept Yom Tov Sheni to areas in which no rough consensus can be found as to which day is shabbos, and keep both days as completely as possible. Admittedly, no posek I am aware of has endorsed this.

    Shmuli

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    1. Not only has no Rav endorsed this, when it was practical question for the Jewish refugees in Shanghai during WWII, the consensus of the Rabbonim there was to keep one day.

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    2. That's because the Rabbonim had felt there was a definite psak for that area. Their rejection of two days doesn't necessarily follow in disputed areas, and Yom Tov Sheni seems to be the traditional model for how to handle problems like this.

      Shmuli

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  27. I am very much in the rationalist camp, and usually agree with R. Slifkin. However, in this article the statement "It would seem that this [third opinion] would be the correct approach from the rationalist perspective" definitely requires more evidence. I am not sure what the solution to this problem is, but I don't see how the third option is somehow more in line with rationalist thought. R. Slifkin, if you feel this to be the case, can you please elaborate on this. It is by no means obvious to me.

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  28. Also, I think the third option needs to itself be clarified. I can understand the view that you follow the local Jewish community (and perhaps in the absense of one, you count for yourself the sunsets); this is what I did myself when I went to China and Japan.
    But is the third opinion really to follow whatever the local non-Jews call Saturday? I find that opinion hard to believe.
    [A. because historically, the date line has moved around so Saturday has changed; B. because for those non-Jewish communities, the fact that Saturday and Shabbos happen to coincide elsewhere in the world is merely a coincidence; and basically, C. who cares what the non-Jews do about days of the week - Shabbos has nothing to do with them. We're just lucky that the world has adopted a 7-day week... imagine how tough our lives would be if the world adopted a different system, as they have considered doing on numerous occasions?!]

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  29. If you are in Alaska, another possible direction to face during davening is directly north(!) because the shortest route from there to J'lem is through the N pole. I believe that this is the view of the אמונת חכמים.

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  30. First off, for those looking for the Shita of Rav Zvi Pesach Frank, you can find it here:

    http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=20947&st=&pgnum=154

    Here is a quick translation (I am not particularly knowledgeable on this issue, and I have not researched the names, so I mark the places of uncertainty in names). Note the rather harsh language toward the Chazon Ish:

    It has been about 10 years ago since the question arose via the escapees who settled in Japan and China about the dateline for Shabbos and Yom Kippur, and I was asked how they should practice in such places.

    I answered that it was incumbent on them to practice in accordance with that which was already established in those places without change from [the practice of] the people who were already to be found there.

    And behold in these days, some Talmidei Chachimim, and among them great rabbis, come out [with statements] that in their opinion, those who are immigrating to these places must change the day of Shabbos as well as Yom Kippur. You provided a great benefit, my friend [Rav Kasher], by entering into the depths of this matter to explain it according the Torah's precepts, and you collected many statements of the greatest of their generation who spoke on this matter. The first amont them being the Radvaz (or Ridvaz?) who decided as a matter of practical halacha that someone that arrives from a distant location must keep Shabbos in accordance to the residents of that place. Ans this is also the position of the Rabad and Yesod Olam who argue with the Kuzari. And recently in Jerusalem was published the book of the great head of Bais Din from Bialystok, the great Rav שמואל מוהליבר of blessed memory who "shook worlds" [to protest] against those who wanted to change the day of Shabbos.

    Inasmuch as this endangers the observance of Shabbos in [the nation of] Israel, there is a holy imperative on the greats of our generation to stand at the watch, in order to erect a fence, that these people will not come, God forbid, to breach the holiness of Shabbos. And especially, since the main reason given to change the [day of] Shabbos is the dateline that was established by the nations of the world, because there is no foundation in the Talmud or later authorities that there exists a dateline; this itself is a clear proof that, in fact, the date is not established by the Torah, because [otherwise] how could the Torah be missing such a [important] principle which is relevant to the establishment of Shabbos. Rather, perforce, [the halacha is] in accordance with that which the Radvaz (Ridvaz?) wrote, that the Mitzvah of Shabbos is such that in each place one works six days and rests on the seventh day, in accordance with the plain language of the Torah in all places [in the Torah] where the Torah prohibits [work on] Shabbos. Once should not deviate from this [principle]. An anyone who comes to change this [principle] without proof from the Torah should fear for his soul that he is not, God forbid, among those who cause the masses to sin, especially since this is one of the foundations of the Torah. And one who heeds [these words] will be blessed with all manner of good.

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  31. A third approach is that of Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer and Rav Zvi Pesach Frank. They are of the view that there is no halachic Prime Meridian and thus no unique halachic international dateline. Rather, one simply follows what the rest of the world considers to be the day of the week. It would seem that this would be the correct approach from the rationalist perspective
    ######

    I think this is a matter of dispute. Rabbi kasher claimed this was the case. others disagreed. do you have the source of these letters


    I posted the responsum which was addressed to R. Kasher according to the table of contents. What dispute is there?

    Also, I think the third option needs to itself be clarified. I can understand the view that you follow the local Jewish community (and perhaps in the absense of one, you count for yourself the sunsets); this is what I did myself when I went to China and Japan.
    But is the third opinion really to follow whatever the local non-Jews call Saturday? I find that opinion hard to believe.
    [A. because historically, the date line has moved around so Saturday has changed; B. because for those non-Jewish communities, the fact that Saturday and Shabbos happen to coincide elsewhere in the world is merely a coincidence; and basically, C. who cares what the non-Jews do about days of the week - Shabbos has nothing to do with them. We're just lucky that the world has adopted a 7-day week... imagine how tough our lives would be if the world adopted a different system, as they have considered doing on numerous occasions?!]


    The teshuva cited above doesn't deal with the case where Jews have not established with day Shabbos is. However I will say the following:

    1) While the non-Jews are not commanded in resting on Shabbos, of course the concept of Shabbat applies to everyone. It was sanctified during creation, not during Matan Torah.

    2) We have a couple of Pesukim at least that indicate the relevance of Shabbos to non-jews:

    כג וְהָיָה, מִדֵּי-חֹדֶשׁ בְּחָדְשׁוֹ, וּמִדֵּי שַׁבָּת, בְּשַׁבַּתּוֹ; יָבוֹא כָל-בָּשָׂר לְהִשְׁתַּחֲו‍ֹת לְפָנַי, אָמַר יְהוָה. 23 And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before Me, saith the LORD.

    Also this pasuk in Peshat:

    ו וּבְנֵי הַנֵּכָר, הַנִּלְוִים עַל-יְהוָה לְשָׁרְתוֹ, וּלְאַהֲבָה אֶת-שֵׁם יְהוָה, לִהְיוֹת לוֹ לַעֲבָדִים--כָּל-שֹׁמֵר שַׁבָּת מֵחַלְּלוֹ, וּמַחֲזִיקִים בִּבְרִיתִי. 6 Also the aliens, that join themselves to the LORD, to minister unto Him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be His servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from profaning it, and holdeth fast by My covenant:
    ז וַהֲבִיאוֹתִים אֶל-הַר קָדְשִׁי, וְשִׂמַּחְתִּים בְּבֵית תְּפִלָּתִי--עוֹלֹתֵיהֶם וְזִבְחֵיהֶם לְרָצוֹן, עַל-מִזְבְּחִי: כִּי בֵיתִי, בֵּית-תְּפִלָּה יִקָּרֵא לְכָל-הָעַמִּים. 7 Even them will I bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer; their burnt-offerings and their sacrifices shall be acceptable upon Mine altar; for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.

    3) As a factual matter, Christians at least do consider the day of week count to be representing the same days as those mentioned in Bereishis.

    4) Thus I would say that the adoption of the 7 day week all over the world could even be considered providential or at least a fulfillment of the pesukim of Bereishis.

    5) What day of the week do Jews all over the world consider it to be in a given country when they do business with these countries over the phone? If a Jew goes there on vacation, what day of the week will he consider it to be?

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    1. ##I posted the responsum which was addressed to R. Kasher according to the table of contents. What dispute is there?##


      http://seforim.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/kalir-false-accusations-and-more.html

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    2. Thank you very much for the reference. It seems that Prof. Shapiro thinks that this is unlikely to be a forgery, since it was printed originally during his lifetime. I don't have the scholarship to give an independent opinion.

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  32. AdamAugust 11, 2014 at 10:25 PM
    I am very much in the rationalist camp, and usually agree with R. Slifkin. However, in this article the statement "It would seem that this [third opinion] would be the correct approach from the rationalist perspective" definitely requires more evidence. I am not sure what the solution to this problem is, but I don't see how the third option is somehow more in line with rationalist thought. R. Slifkin, if you feel this to be the case, can you please elaborate on this. It is by no means obvious to me.


    I mentioned some of the factors above, but consider this other one: if you accept an "ancient" earth, it is sensible to base the halacha on the literal position of the sun on the first day of creation?

    The rabbonei Eretz Yisrael's insistence on keeping Yom Tov Sheni outside of Eretz Yisrael even after the calendar was fixed would seem to undercut your assertion about there being no need to consider metaphysical realities. Indeed, it would seem logical to extend the concept Yom Tov Sheni to areas in which no rough consensus can be found as to which day is shabbos, and keep both days as completely as possible. Admittedly, no posek I am aware of has endorsed this.

    The gemara asks this question (albeit back when the calendar was semi-regular as it was likely not completely fixed until after the Saadia-Ben Meir dispute):

    But now that we are well acquainted with
    the fixing of the new moon, why do we observe two days? — Because they sent [word] from there
    [Palestine]: Give heed to the customs of your ancestors which have come down to you; for it might
    happen that the government might issue a decree and it will cause confusion [in ritual].


    No mention of metaphysics, just a practical concern for corruption of the calendar in the future.

    @Y. Aharon and Dave, if half an island somewhere in the Pacific is settled by people coming from the east and the other half by people coming from the west, when would be Shabbos?
    To make it more complicated, imagine that the people from the west settled in the eastern half of the island and the people from the east settled in the western half. Or that the Galagapos were settled from the west and the philippines and New Zealand from the east, what then...?


    What if we settle Mars? What if you live on the north pole? At the center of the earth? What if you have one foot east of the dateline and one foot west?

    The answer is that all rules will have gray areas and will also have areas not covered. When they become practical, then Poskim must establish the new rules.

    To answer directly though, it would be sensible to use the day of the week that is settled in that place.

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    1. No mention of metaphysics, just a practical concern for corruption of the calendar in the future.

      That concern wouldn't be such a big deal if we take the attitude that Yom Tov "attains its status as a result of how we conduct ourselves", as opposed to a concern that we are actually violating Yom Tov if we made a mistake about the day. This gemara certainly does seem concerned about metaphysical realities.

      Shmuli

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  33. AnonymousAugust 11, 2014 at 3:31 PM
    I don't think it's very rationalist to adopt the position of Rav Frank, et. al., given the fact that the international dateline has already been moved many times in its short history. And figuring out the direction form where people first arrive and which civilizations count for this purpose is fraught with its own problems.


    His pesak was not to change from the accepted day in that place. Has Japan or Hawaii changed? No, so your question doesn't apply to his Pesak.

    The mere fact that one answer is more absolute than another, doesn't make it right.

    Your protestations of of taking Rishonim and midrashim out of context ring quite hollow. When faced with new situations, Chazal resorted to accepted principles of drash to derive halachos to apply to them, taking pesukim out of their context to do so; it is quite far-fetched and irrational to believe that they already had a mesorah that applies to these halachos. While we generally do not darshen pesukim, poskim have long made use of similar or at least analogous tools to derive halachos for new situations from statements of Chazal and Rishonim originally made in a different context. That is not a flaw, it's a design.

    This is exactly why it is problematic to change the existing accepted day for Shabbat. Rav Frank in fact makes you very argument: the Torah simply doesn't give a dateline. To try to get people to change their day of Shabbos based on a newly created line is not sensible. It would only make sense if that line was really there from the beginning and was ignored, but this is not the case, as you describe.

    The best way to resolve the dateline would be for the poskim to come to a consensus, much like the one that has been reached in regards to electricity, also derived through the normal halachic process mentioned above (namely, that it's use is rabinically prohibited in general, and bibilically prohibited when it comes to certain kinds of lights).

    I don't have the whole history, but I believe that in fact, that is what happened. There was actually a conference to discuss and decide this with Rav Frank and Rav Meltzer included. However the Chazon Ish dissented from the decisions made there which is probably one reason why Rav Frank treats that Shita so harshly. So if you think that is the way to decide it, then you should go with the established days.

    In the absence of a consensus, following the minhag hamakom where there is an established Jewish community would seem to be the most rational approach, but following the international dateline elsewhere hook, line, and sinker elsewhere doesn't seem too rational for the reasons mentioned above.

    Why not, since that seems to have been the practice? Rav Frank says specifically to go with what was already there.

    It would seem more rational to defer to the great weight of authority and go with something in the mid-pacific, but anything to close to the middle where there is no weight of authority at all would go to safek de'oraisa l'chumra, not to one say in 1850, another in 1900, and perhaps yet another in 2015.

    The great weight of many authorities is on the view of the days of that specific place not any specific line. And Rav Frank seems to preclude the notion of considering two days, as that will threaten to uproot Shabbos.

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    1. His pesak was not to change from the accepted day in that place. Has Japan or Hawaii changed? No, so your question doesn't apply to his Pesak.

      True enough, but it sounded like Rabbi Slifkin was flying in some random place and asserting unhesitatingly that he can and should observe Shabbos based on the International Date Line. My main argument was in opposition to its unqualified use, even form a rationalist viewpoint, not about what to do on Hawaii and Japan, where I've conceded that in the absence of a consensus the rationalist viewpoint would probably be to follow the minhag hamakom.
      There was actually a conference to discuss and decide this with Rav Frank and Rav Meltzer included. However the Chazon Ish dissented from the decisions made there which is probably one reason why Rav Frank treats that Shita so harshly. So if you think that is the way to decide it, then you should go with the established days.

      The Chazon Ish's shitah of 90 degrees east of Jerusalem more than qualifies as an undermining of consensus, as it was issued shortly after the conference and later accepted as the din by many gedolei haposkim. The conference you mention never really established a consensus in the way that one was eventually formed with electricity. (Perhaps one can say, however, that a consensus was formed as to halacha l'maaseh in regards to Australia due to the Chazon Ish's strange directioning of greira on that continent. Hence Rav Moshe's harsh reaction to me'orrim about Shabbos there. Note, however, that some poskim accepting the Chazon Ish's line do in fact reject greira).

      Why not, since that seems to have been the practice? Rav Frank says specifically to go with what was already there.

      There is no minhag in places without a Jewish community. Even if you were to argue that places with strong Bible believing Christians who believe in a (possibly superseded) concept of Shabbos count, they are far and few between. Merely establishing two days a week as off for reasons of business convenience has nothing to do with identifying with Shabbos. Note that the Seventh Day Adventist church on some pacific islands observes Shabbos on Sunday.

      Rav Frank seems to preclude the notion of considering two days, as that will threaten to uproot Shabbos.

      I don't see why. Yom Tov sheni has not undermined the sanctity of Yom Tov. Sure, it's less often, but so what?

      Note that according to Chazal ,Elul was almost always 29 days. Yet, apart from Yom Kippur for obvious reasons, the small concern about a possible 30 days in Elul was enough to require Yom Tov sheni to avoid the possibility of transgressing m'leches Yom Tov. It was later decided that this even applies to the bittul Aseh of sukkah. Yet Rabbi Slifkin raises a hue and a cry when it comes to doing so where the wrong day could mean transgressing an issur sekilah. I find that really strange.

      Shmuli

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    2. There was actually a conference to discuss and decide this with Rav Frank and Rav Meltzer included. However the Chazon Ish dissented from the decisions made there which is probably one reason why Rav Frank treats that Shita so harshly. So if you think that is the way to decide it, then you should go with the established days.

      The Chazon Ish's shitah of 90 degrees east of Jerusalem more than qualifies as an undermining of consensus, as it was issued shortly after the conference and later accepted as the din by many gedolei haposkim.

      Again, I'm not clear on the whole history, but it seems that the people sent a telegram to R Herzog asking emergency P'sak, R. Herzog gathered together the Rabbis, came to a consensus and gave the answer. You are never going to get more consensus than that, so if consensus is your basis, then you should go with that. The reason for keeping two different days would be treating all argument as doubt and being concerned that (Klapei Shemaya) the R Herzog gave the wrong Pesak, which I think what is being referred to in this thread as a "metaphysical" reality.

      Another way of looking at it is that, if you are going to make a global decision, then those who disagree with the majority need to convince that majority, not merely issue a contrary opinion. Otherwise you are giving up on making a single decision for all.

      Why not, since that seems to have been the practice? Rav Frank says specifically to go with what was already there.

      There is no minhag in places without a Jewish community. Even if you were to argue that places with strong Bible believing Christians who believe in a (possibly superseded) concept of Shabbos count, they are far and few between.


      All over the globe today, people use a 7 day week with a beginning and end of the week corresponding to that of the rest of the globe using some date line. No one has an 8 day week and no one starts the week on Wednesday in the rest of the world. For the Christians there, I believe that they would consider these days to correspond to those of creation, while the others probably regard it as a convenience. For all I know, that is providential. It is certainly amazing.

      Merely establishing two days a week as off for reasons of business convenience has nothing to do with identifying with Shabbos.

      The weekend is not my argument; see above.

      Note that the Seventh Day Adventist church on some pacific islands observes Shabbos on Sunday.

      Should we be Choshesh for their Shitah? :)

      Rav Frank seems to preclude the notion of considering two days, as that will threaten to uproot Shabbos.

      I don't see why. Yom Tov sheni has not undermined the sanctity of Yom Tov. Sure, it's less often, but so what?

      1) Nevertheless Rav Frank is pretty clear, so perhaps you are missing something.

      2) The idea of Shabbat is that it is a reminder of the 6,1 pattern of Breishis. While I assume that the number of days of Yom Tov also have meaning, it is not the essence.

      3) There was an existing Minhag. Shabbos is a public thing. Changing introduces FUD.

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    3. Note that according to Chazal ,Elul was almost always 29 days. Yet, apart from Yom Kippur for obvious reasons, the small concern about a possible 30 days in Elul was enough to require Yom Tov sheni to avoid the possibility of transgressing m'leches Yom Tov. It was later decided that this even applies to the bittul Aseh of sukkah. Yet Rabbi Slifkin raises a hue and a cry when it comes to doing so where the wrong day could mean transgressing an issur sekilah. I find that really strange.

      1) That is a case of factual doubt, not a case of halachic doubt. Later on, possibly in the middle of the holiday, people would find out that they had celebrated the "wrong" day and this could cause all sorts of issues. If you are following a valid Pesak, then there is not danger of transgressing issur sekilah.

      2) We see from Yom Kipur that there are limits. If we really were worried about the metaphysical doubt then keeping Yom Kippur twice up to the limits of tolerance would be the rule, but it apparently wasn't.

      3) Did you ever stop to consider the Jews outside of Palestine and Bavel? I didn't until I read Sacha Stern's Calendar and Community. For example, they didn't send messengers to Alexandria. In fact they most likely kept their own calendar and didn't have any 2 day Yom Tov.

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    4. I would think Alexandrian Jews wouldn't have had an issue with the regalim. Yom Kippur (almost?) never had 2 days, and Rosh Hashana was supposed to be observed even in Eretz Yisrael in pre-calendar times for 2 days except close to the central beis din. I never read that book, but I do find it hard to believe the Alexandrian Jews of Philo's time would have completely kept their own calendar. In any event, practices that Chazal wouldn't have endorsed don't make good precedents to follow.

      Shmuli

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    5. A couple more points:

      1)I know what Rav Frank said. My point is that I don't see his concern reconcilable with Yom Tom Sheni.

      2) A seven day week is not being observed by most people in Oceania for religious reasons at all. One of the biggest churches who actually cares about it in that location is that of the Seventh Day Adventists. And that church on some of the Islands considers the Sunday to be the seventh day. Your point that people don't start the week on Wednesday is true, but many people across the world consider Monday to be the first day of the week

      Shmuli.

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    6. A couple more points:

      1)I know what Rav Frank said. My point is that I don't see his concern reconcilable with Yom Tom Sheni.


      I've lost the train of your argument:

      A) Before the "fixed/semi-fixed" calendar, there was an actual factual doubt every month. They know 100% that they wanted to match those in E"Y, but could not do so reliably, so they kept two days until the correct date was revealed.

      B) After the "fixed/semi-fixed" calendar, the gemara reports that they continued to keep two days in case as there fathers had, in case there was a later break in communication (implies semi-fixed BTW, which aligns with other evidence).

      I'm missing the contradiction.

      2) A seven day week is not being observed by most people in Oceania for religious reasons at all. One of the biggest churches who actually cares about it in that location is that of the Seventh Day Adventists. And that church on some of the Islands considers the Sunday to be the seventh day. Your point that people don't start the week on Wednesday is true, but many people across the world consider Monday to be the first day of the week

      1) I'm not arguing that we copy other religions. The people there consider Sunday to be the "same" Sunday that Israel has.

      2) What you seems factually incorrect. There are lots of Christians there who consider Sunday to be the first day of the week corresponding to the rest of the world and creation.

      3) The fact that a small number of people consider some other system is interesting, but doesn't really seem relevant.

      4) Can you detail more about those who consider Monday to be the first day of the week. Do they identify that with Sunday in other areas or with the Biblical creation account? Or do they just count 1 from Monday? If the latter, I'm not sure why this is relevant.

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  34. @David Ohsie, a fine response to my inquiry about half an island etc. I also find it reasonable that the gentile population should determine which day is Shabbos. But I would nit pick your proofs that gentiles have an inherent connection to Shabbos. The "sanctifying" of Shabbos mention at the end of the creation account is understood by some authorities to refer to the future and only for the Jews, though Ramban disagrees. And even according to Ramban not every item of creation is there for everyone. I would think that for example the Land of Israel was created specifically for the Jews, even if gentiles may visit, bring sacrifices etc., and perhaps Shabbos also is inherently only for the Jews.

    Your Pesukim refer to converts and/or the Messianic era, and might not be relevant to the here and now.

    The Christians took the Shabbos and changed it to the day of the sun god and left virtually none of the original Shabbos intact. Remember that the Romans ridiculed the Jews for wasting one day every week in idleness. Remember also that in הלכה a gentile is forbidden to keep Shabbos. But I still find your conclusion reasonable. Kt.

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  35. "According to the rationalist approach, on the other had, there is no independent metaphysical reality to Shabbos. Rather, Shabbos attains its status as a result of how we conduct ourselves.

    What does this mean? Chazal teach us that kedushas Shabbos is kevia vekayama mi shesheis yemai Breishis. It is not the result of how we conduct ourselves (as opposed to chagim).

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    1. That has a simple meaning: Shabbos is every seventh day and doesn't require a Bais Din to make a decision and do a sanctification. Calendar dependent holidays do depend on the calendar which requires a decision and sanctification by the Beis Din.

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  36. The "sanctifying" of Shabbos mention at the end of the creation account is understood by some authorities to refer to the future and only for the Jews...Your Pesukim refer to converts and/or the Messianic era, and might not be relevant to the here and now."

    Yes, the pesukim have multiple interpretations, but the plain meaning has value. And the version of Rav Frank's shita doesn't address a case where there are no Jews in that "new" location. I agree therefore that this is only a reasonable proposition, but it might be the only sensible one.

    The Christians took the Shabbos and changed it to the day of the sun god and left virtually none of the original Shabbos intact.

    My point is that they maintain that the week is sourced in the creation of the world, so that "Saturday" corresponds to the seventh day. Their celebrations are irrelevant to that main point.

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  37. Update Here is a translation of the Radvaz:

    You asked me to let me know my opinion on the matter of the Shabbos because there is a great [time] difference between those living in the East and those living in the west, so that it turns out that when it is Shabbos for one group it is a weekday for the other group.

    Answer: Know that while this problem has perplexed many honorable people, I will let you know my opinion of the matter. Know that the Shabbos was given over to each member of the nation of Israel as it says "it shall be a sign between you and me" meaning that just as the sign of the convenant is for each and every person, so too Shabbos is given over to each and every person. Since the Shabbos is given to each person whereever he is, he counts six dayas and at the end of the sixth makes Shabbos which is a rememberance of creation, as it says "because for six days God made..." because if you don't say this, then even in the land of Israel there is a small [time] difference [between different places].

    And even if you want to say that by adding on to Shabbos, as we add on extra time to Shabbos as it enters and as it exits, the problem is resolved, nevertheless this addition to Shabbos is itself a Biblical obligation. As a result it turns out that the residents of the land Israel will deviate in this addition, because, behold, there is approximately a 4 day journey from east to west of the land of Israel. And even with cities that are close to one another there is a [time] difference, for example between Tiveria and Tzippori as Rabbi Yossi said, "may my portion be among those who bring in Shabbos in Tiveria and send out Shabbos in Tzippori". Rather, what can you say but that Shabbos is given over to all according to the place that he lives and because his place completed six complete rotations and the seventh already began [Shabbos begins], for some earlier and for some later.

    More importantly, they said that one who is traveling in the desert and does not know what day Shabbos is should count six days from the day that he became confused and should say Kiddush, and bless the day [in Tefilah] and say havdalah at the end of Shabbos. Therefore, even though he only does enough work in each day to keep himself alive, that is only because there is a doubt as to whether it is Shabbos for all the people of that area and that therefore the prohibition of Shabbos applies to him; alternatively, because if that day is Shabbos, then there is a time where the prohibition of Shabbos applies to all the people of the world, because the time different between those living in the extreme east and extreme west is only 12 hours or less [!]. Thus it turns out that he will be doing work at the time when it is Shabbos for everyone. Nevertheless, we learn from the fact that they required him to make Kiddush on the seventh day that it is given over to each individual to create a rememberance of the creation, each one according to his location. The proof is that after he reaches civilization, and knows that he erred and did work on Shabbos, they did not require him to bring a sin offering, nor a guilt offering, nor a confession of sin; this implies that he fulfilled the Mitzvah of Shabbos.

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  38. A further proof can be deduced from that which they said: an idolator who observes the Shabbos is subject to death, and not only on Shabbos but even if he established a day [of the week] to rest in; this implies that anyone who does work for six days and rests one day is, in the end, called one who observes the Shabbos.

    A further proof is that Shabbos was given in Marah and from Marah to Israel there is a small time difference because Marah is to the south and Israel is to the north; thus it turns out that Shabbos is not exactly equal in Marah and Israel. Rather the Blessed One commanded Shabbos to to each of them or to all of them every place that they are found, beause, behold, it it revealed and known before the Blessed One that in the it was in the future of his children to be exiled ot the ends of the earth, and that there would be large distances between them.

    And this reasoning is also required for all of the holidays and Yom Kippur because the question is relevent to them as well.

    You should know that an argument arose among the Rishonim regarding from which place the day starts, and also from which place Shabbos starts. See what is written in the Kuzari and by the author of the Yesod Olam. And according to all of them, those who live in the extreme east have their Shabbos before thos that live in the west; it thus turns out that these are permitted in work while at the same time that these are prohibited from work. Rather we must say that the Shabbos was given to each person in the nation of Israel according to his place to count six full days and rest on the seventh, and in this there is a rememberance of the act of creation.

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    1. ##You should know that an argument arose among the Rishonim regarding from which place the day starts, and also from which place Shabbos starts. ##
      sp how does this reconcile with rav frank, who says there is no dateline?

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    2. Rav Frank agrees that there was an argument. Both reasoning and practical p'sak of the Radvaz indicates that one should stick with the traditional time in a given area.

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    3. so are you saying there is a machlokes? radvaz holds there is no such thing as an halachik dateline. while radvaz acknowledges that baal hamor/kuzari and yesod olom say there is such thing as an halachik dateline.

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    4. What Rav Frank says is that there is no dateline established by the Torah, and therefore each area should stick with it's original custom. He explicitly argues with the Kuzari and claims that Yesod Olam and Rabad agree with him, and not because they think that there is a dateline from the Torah that it happens to include Japan.

      I just tracked down the Yesod Olam and am going to try to plow through it. Based on what I saw, it is not short or sweet :).

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    5. #He explicitly argues with the Kuzari and claims that Yesod Olam and Rabad #

      do you accept rav metzer's interpretation of rabad ?

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    6. Have not looked at Rabad yet.

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    7. I have not seen the Rabad yet...

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    8. Where is the Rabad's response? For some reason, I can't find it.

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    9. did you see the rabad yet ?

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  39. A few observation from the Radvaz:

    1) He thought that the inhabited world spanned only twelve timezones.

    2) He thought that the argument about where to start the day actually had no practical implication since either way, those living in the extreme east would start Shabbos earlier. He doesn't give any exception of Japan or Siberia, although it is likely that he didn't have the geographical knowledge to resolve that. That is one reason why paskening from the Ba'al Hamaor/Kuzari is problematic: the information available was not complete, nor the practical implications.

    3) He actually makes a modified version of R Slifkin's argument above. He says that even though the one lost in the desert can only work to do enough to live, he has fulfilled the Shabbos completely through is treating one day as Shabbos. The only reason that he doesn't do melacha is to avoid contradicting the people in his area of the rest of the world, but this consideration doesn't come up the case of Japan or Hawaii:

    More importantly, they said that one who is traveling in the desert and does not know what day Shabbos is should count six days from the day that he became confused and should say Kiddush, and bless the day [in Tefilah] and say havdalah at the end of Shabbos. Therefore, even though he only does enough work in each day to keep himself alive, that is only because there is a doubt as to whether it is Shabbos for all the people of that area and that therefore the prohibition of Shabbos applies to him; alternatively, because if that day is Shabbos, then there is a time where the prohibition of Shabbos applies to all the people of the world, because the time different between those living in the extreme east and extreme west is only 12 hours or less [!]. Thus it turns out that he will be doing work at the time when it is Shabbos for everyone. Nevertheless, we learn from the fact that they required him to make Kiddush on the seventh day that it is given over to each individual to create a rememberance of the creation, each one according to his location. The proof is that after he reaches civilization, and knows that he erred and did work on Shabbos, they did not require him to bring a sin offering, nor a guilt offering, nor a confession of sin; this implies that he fulfilled the Mitzvah of Shabbos.

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    1. ##That is one reason why paskening from the Ba'al Hamaor/Kuzari is problematic: the information available was not complete, nor the practical implications.##

      I think the chazon ish was aware of this and writes their pesak was not dependant on it.

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    2. I'm sure that the Chazon Ish was aware of that and undoubtedly was much greater than me in Torah and in many other ways.

      That said, I think that a "rationalist" perspective would put a lot more weight on the historical factor. Compare with horseradish for Maror and the measure of K'Zait. Even for the Chazon Ish, there was a problem; had to instead invoke a kind of Gereira to make the P'sak somewhat practical. So that in the end there is no real east/west dateline for the Chazon Ish either, just a different jagged line.

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    3. I'm sure that the Chazon Ish was aware of that and undoubtedly was much greater than me in Torah and in many other ways.
      ....

      letter from chazon ish to tikushinsky:
      " that which they added to yerushalyim 6 hours is not because of the yishuv there, but because of the honour of yerushalyim, they added for its honour, and its honour is until there is a hefsek and even if the mafsik is a small line and they knew for certain that yishuv is found there, also they would not add on to yerushalyim but (only) to the hesek. as this is enough for the honour of yerushayim with this addition. and since we can explain like this why do you have to say that they did not know there was a yishuv underneath the globe, since this is is explained in the zohar ( see uruch lener rosha hashanah 20: parshas vayikra)

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    4. that which they added to yerushalyim 6 hours is not because of the yishuv there, but because of the honour of yerushalyim

      With all due respect to the Chazon Ish, this doesn't fit with the Yesod Olam. And the Yesod Olam indicated explicitly that there is no-one living on the other side of the world. And the Zohar doesn't say that they do either; it only says that there when it is day for those on one side, it is night for those on the other, but that can mean east and west. Also the Pesachim 94a indicates a flat earth.

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    5. 'With all due respect to the Chazon Ish, this doesn't fit with the Yesod Olam.'
      ..

      I think the brisker rov also disagreed with the chazon ish about the yesod olam

      'but that can mean east and west' ? there is no time difference north south. I am not sure of your point.

      'Also the Pesachim 94a indicates a flat earth.'
      (1)
      http://www.aishdas.org/toratemet/en_shape.html
      The Gemara in Nazir 7a also seems to say that day and night occur at the same time, which implies that the earth is round. See the glosses of Maharatz Chayes on that passage.

      (2)the yerushalmi and zohar were both written in eretz yisroel.

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  40. I have no lomdus to add to this discussion. But I do have the personal testimony of my father z"l a Gerrer chasid who was in Shanghai during the war, as well as the testimony of a number of Gerrer chasidim who were in EY when the shaila was first sent there. My father was close to both many of the Mirrer yeshiva leit as well as the Amshinover Rebbe zt"l. He recalled how the Mirrer Roshei Yeshiva sent the shaila to the Chazon Ish while the Amshinover Rebbe sent the shaila to the Imrei Emes zt'l. THe Imre Emes asked Rav Tucazinsky to pasken. Rav Tucazinsky, in turn , asked the Chazon Ish to join him in gathering 100 mumchim in this matter to deliver a single psak to both the Mirrer Roshei Yeshiva and the Amshinover Rebbe. The Chazon Ish is reputed to have replied that the entire world did not contain 100 mumchim in this sugya. As a result the Chazon Ish and Rav Tucazinsky issued separate and conflicting psaks. My father recalled how some in both the litvish and chasidish communities were careful to avoid melacha d'oraisa on the day that was Shabbos according to the other camp's psak. As for Yom Kippur, my father often told me how the Amshinover Rebbe admonished the chasidim not to fast for two consecutive days - yet on the day that was Yom Kippur according to the Chazon Ish's psak, the Rebbe himself went into seclusion so that no one could know what his personal hanhaga was on that day.
    As for how this effects at least some of the frum world today, I have heard that there are some in the yeshivish world who refuse to visit Hawaii in order not to fall into a safek as to Shabbos.

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  41. It seems there are two issues here. One what to do about the safek and the other about picking a day in which to fulfill all the requirements Midioraissa and Midirabbanon of that date so as to avoid having no full Yom Kippur for instance on the grounds of not knowing which date is the real Yom Kippur anyhow.

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  42. I don't know much about the history of the date line issue vis-a-vis the European yeshiva refugees (Mir and others) in Kobe, Japan in the early part of WWII. Did the Hazon Ish really rule that they should celebrate Shabbat on Sunday? That would go counter to the day count of the refugees and that of the local Jewish community there (there was a small community - primarily of Sefardi businessmen, as I recall). How could people be expected to dismiss their own count of days and that of the local Jews, and accept the view of even a very prominent talmid chacham. This would appear to be a case of 'who would you rather believe, your lying mind or daas torah?', or 'even if they (the temple court) tell you that right is left'. Why would that personage put them into such a situation - especially if their colleagues who didn't ask the Hazon Ish intended to celebrate Shabbat on their and the local Saturday? Based on what? The apparent view of some Rishonim who are not normally referenced in halachic matters. There are alternative ways of understanding that rather obscure gemara (T.B. Rosh Hashana 20b that doesn't involve introducing a date line at 90 degrees east of J'lem - or any date line at all. Unless, the pesak was that they should also avoid work on Sunday in case the 90 degree date line was operative. I could understand treating Saturday as full Shabbat and Sunday as a weekday - except for not doing biblical work. I can't fathom treating Saturday as a week day (even if work isn't done) and making kiddush on Sunday.

    Y. Aharon

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  43. http://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/725223/Rabbi_Hershel_Schachter/International_Date_Line

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    1. Thank you. I listened quickly, but here is a summary: He definitely seemed to prefer the Chazon Ish. He did not mention Rav Frank or Rav Meltzer or the fact that the prior custom was like them. He also said some kind of story (not sure if he took it seriously) about Rav Tukachinsky that he would not have paskened had he known of the Chazon Ish's existence! Finally, he claimed that the people who were in the R Herzog conference were not holding in the Sugya!

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    2. **Finally, he claimed that the people who were in the R Herzog conference were not holding in the Sugya**

      I think rav s.z aurbach said the only person there who knew what he was talking about was R. tukochinsky (although r. shapiro was also an expert.) as to rav meltzer he (politely)said the sugya was not his

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    3. Finally, he claimed that the people who were in the R Herzog conference were not holding in the Sugya!
      ......................................

      it says something simila in Genazim u-She’elot u-Teshuvot Hazon Ish p. 269 it quotes r. shmuel Auerbach saying that his father said that most of the participants not only they were not in the sugyah but they did not know what the nidon was.

      also brings. r. refoel wasserman pardes nison year 754, criticising the level of the conference saying who was there. was the brisker rov, rav frank or rav bengis there ? and even rav meltzer who came when he saw how things were going, he left.

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  44. I don't know much about the history of the date line issue vis-a-vis the European yeshiva refugees (Mir and others) in Kobe, Japan in the early part of WWII. Did the Hazon Ish really rule that they should celebrate Shabbat on Sunday?

    I think that the answer is "Yes", although I am also not very knowledgeable of the history. This article has a partial history, although it seems to be very lacking in that it doesn't mention the roles of Rav Tvi Pesach Frank or Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer.

    I think that what you point out actually may reflect a differences in the "meta-halachic" approaches of the Chazon Ish vs. Rav Herzog, Rav Frank, Rav Meltzer and others. Rav Herzog's approach was to create practical Halacha for the whole state of Israel. He dealt with issues like "how can we update inheritance laws to match modern times" so that the religious courts would be accepted by all to handle such issues.

    In contrast, the Chazon Ish was paskening for a community of "scholars". Issues for practical implementation of society as a whole were not as much of a relevant factor for him. So if setting out the correct version of Shabbos meant that the practice of the prior communities who based their practice on "ignorance" would not be as relevant to his Pesak as it would be for Rav Herzog and others.

    Prof. Marc Shapiro has a series of lectures on significant Rabbinic figures and he has lectures on both the Chazon Ish and Rav Herzog and I think that he discussed the timezone issue to at least some degree. Here is a link to the Chazon Ish lectures; you can find the others by searching: http://torahinmotion.org/store/browse/all?search=chazon%20ish.

    If you join, you can buy 30 lectures a month for $10. Well worth it, IMO just for this series. (I'm not affiliated in any way).

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  45. David, I haven't decided yet to buy Prof. Shapiro's lectures on rabbinic figures, but will probably do so since I regard him as an excellent resource person. I did listen to most of Rav Hershel Schachter's lecture on the date line, and was disappointed. Not that there aren't worthwhile insights, but the lecture was more like a legal brief than a scholarly discourse. He simply dismissed the 'no halachic date line' viewpoint as leading to chaos, while defending the 90 degrees east of J'lem date line despite the resulting chaos in 1941 Japan when some observed Shabbat on Sunday instead of the local Saturday. He never mentioned, Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank and Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer as proponents of the 'no date line' view - only Rav Kasher. He is dismissive of the 180 degrees from J'lem dateline (Rav Tukashintzky) as having no source. His argument appeared to be based in part on placing J'lem at the center of a defined hemisphere extending 90 degrees to the east and west. That would not, however, justify placing the date line at the eastern end of this arbitrary hemisphere rather than at the western end - other than convenience. That western end, 55 degrees west latitude, is in the Atlantic Ocean but crosses Brazil. Using the Hazon Ish rationale, one could move the line to the east of Brazil and South America. Of course, many problems could still ensue from separating Europe and Israel from the Americas in day reckoning. The same concern, however - albeit less, would result from the 90 degree east date line. The least disruption results from the secular date line - by design.

    In any case, chaos is not a necessary consequence of rejecting a special 'halachic' date line. One normally just keeps track of days and counts the 7th day as Shabbat - except when that conflicts with local observance. Thus, in travelling from the Americas to Australia, Japan, or China in a westward direction, one accepts the 24 hour clock advance crossing the Pacific and observes Shabbat when the Jewish communities at the destination areas observe the holy day - despite not having counted 7 24 hour days that week (that is a commonly used halachic theme - negating the individual perspective in favor of the communal one). The only problematic situation could be on special occasions involving, for example, flying westward from the American mainland to a place in the Pacific without a Jewish community, such as the Fiji islands. Does one keep count of days, or use the secular date line to adjust his count?

    Be that as it may, R' Natan should have (or have had) no qualms about celebrating Shabbat in Hawaii in the local Saturday since Rav Schachter doesn't appear to consider the 180 degree from J'lem dateline as a valid viewpoint.

    Y. Aharon

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  46. "He simply dismissed the 'no halachic date line' viewpoint as leading to chaos"?? I just listened to the entire shiur, and he said nothing about leading to chaos. The word chaos isnt mentioned even one time in the hour and a half shiur. He says that ruba druba of chachmei hatorah didnt accept the psak of R Kasher. Period. So contrasting the "chaos" of 1941 becomes totally irrelevant as well. Why should chaos play a role in deciding which day shabbos is? You keep knocking down the straw man "chaos" argument throughout your post, despite the fact that it plays no role in anyones halachic reasoning regarding the dateline. And the following sentence is also way off - "His argument appeared to be based in part on placing J'lem at the center of a defined hemisphere extending 90 degrees to the east and west. That would not, however, justify placing the date line at the eastern end of this arbitrary hemisphere rather than at the western end - other than convenience. " First of all - it is not "his" argument - he is quoting the chazon ish who in turn is quoting the baal hamaor. If you read the baal hamaor you will see why choosing east as the direction to travel 90 degrees from yerushalayim has nothing at all to do with "convenience" and everything to do with his reading of the text of the gemara. not arbitrary at all - and suggesting that it be 90 degrees west of jerusalem has no basis in anything halachic or logical.

    Last but not least - "He never mentioned, Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank and Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer as proponents of the 'no date line' view - only Rav Kasher." If you listen to his presentation of R Kasher until the end, he does not attribute a "no date line" shitta to him at all - what he says lemaskana is that R Kasher believes that we should accept the secular dateline as being binding halachically. It does not appear that Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank agrees with Rav kasher on this based on his short teshuva, nor is it clear what day he would say to hold in an area where there wasnt an established minhag. I would love to see the original source for the position of Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer but havent found it. If someone could point the way I would be most appreciative

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    1. You keep knocking down the straw man "chaos" argument throughout your post, despite the fact that it plays no role in anyones halachic reasoning regarding the dateline.

      Rav Frank does mention it. He says it will lead to Chillul Shabbos. I think that is the kind of "chaos" that we are talking about here:

      "Inasmuch as this endangers the observance of Shabbos in [the nation of] Israel, there is a holy imperative on the greats of our generation to stand at the watch, in order to erect a fence, that these people will not come, God forbid, to breach the holiness of Shabbos."

      Why should chaos play a role in deciding which day shabbos is?

      This is precisely the meta-halachic argument that is playing out here. The Chazon Ish is not concerned. He looks at the available Rishonim and renders his P'sak regardless of the existing practice in those locations. The same could be said about the Heter Mechirah.

      If however, you view the halacha as an attempt to establish a unified practice for all Jews, then the confusion is a major factor. Especially if you don't believe that you are trying to match a metaphysical Shabbos date hidden in the Torah. I believe this is why Rav Frank refers to the idea of the Radvaz who shows that any day can actually serve as Shabbos depending on the circumstances and that the main concern is to match up with the local Shabbos.

      If you listen to his presentation of R Kasher until the end, he does not attribute a "no date line" shitta to him at all - what he says lemaskana is that R Kasher believes that we should accept the secular dateline as being binding halachically.

      So then you agree that there there is a major ommission. Rav Frank says explicitly that the Torah doesn't establish a dateline and Rav Kasher's shita is based on this principle.

      It does not appear that Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank agrees with Rav kasher on this based on his short teshuva

      I don't know where you are getting this from. Rav Frank's teshuva was directed to Rav Kasher and explicitly mentions that the dateline is not set by the Torah.



      Delete
  47. Y. Aharon: I agree and posted some similar comments above.

    Here is another interesting reference regarding a Get which is written on a Monday in Hawaii accoding to the the Dateline and Chazon Ish and Tuesday according to R. Tukachinski:

    Rav Senderovic’s Ruling
    Rav Senderovic concludes that the Get should be dated as Monday based a different consideration. He notes that the date in a Get is written as such and such date from creation “in the manner in which we count it here etc.” This phrase clarifies that even if the date is inaccurate from an objective perspective, it nevertheless does not invalidate the Get since this is the accepted date in the place of the writing of the Get (Pitchei Teshuvah E.H. 127:16). Accordingly, the Get dated as Monday is acceptable even according to those who believe that Hawaii is west of the dateline, since it is Monday according to the manner in which it is counted there.


    http://www.koltorah.org/ravj/A_Get_in_Honolulu_1.html

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  48. The teshuva of R' Frank is difficult to understand. What he seems to be saying is that in any given place, Shabbos is whenever the local population has experienced an additional cycle of seven days, even originally having brought their experience from elsewhere. Why is the experiential seventh day any more rational than a fixed, objective one?

    Because if instead, they are supposed to change their practice when they cross a line determined by the Torah, then that line should have been given over explicitly in a Mesorah. But it isn't! So there is something essential to keeping the Torah which is then missing. Instead, it is more reasonable to assume such a line doesn't exist.

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    1. ##Because if instead, they are supposed to change their practice when they cross a line determined by the Torah, then that line should have been given over explicitly in a Mesorah. ##

      rav meltzer in a letter to chazon ish, uses this point to argue for a 'natural' 12 hour dateline like tukachinsky.

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  49. For those looking for something from Rav Meltzer and others, you can find them here in the approbations to Rav Kasher's book:

    http://www.otzar.org/wotzar/book.aspx?149342

    Click on the "guest access" link and then go to page 10.

    Here is Rav Meltzer's letter translated:

    I also agree to the Pesak of the Bais Din in Eretz Yisrael that is based on the responsum of the Radvaz [translated above] and also the Pesak of the Shoel U'Meishiv and the Gaon Rav שמואל מוהליבר and many other Greats of Israel, that one should not change, God Forbid, the day of Shabbos any any place in the world, not to Sunday and not to Friday, and because we don't have in Shas or the Shulchan Aruch any hint that one should consider "lines" with regard to keeping Shabbos. Rather the principle is to count six days and keep the seventh, and in all places in the world, they should keep the Shabbos as they have kept it until now.





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  50. Anomymous, besides David Ohsie's refutation of some of your contentions by citing translations of the views of Rav Frank and Rav Meltzer on the subject, I find your critique disappointing. So, Rav Schachter doesn't use the term, 'chaos', but he does allude to the state where everyone will follow his own count of days and celebrate Shabbat accordingly (on different days). That is what I meant by the term, 'chaos'. Of course, the suggested alternative to the 90 (or 180) degree from J'lem approach is not to simply keep your own count, regardless, but to follow the communal count and practice. That completely avoids divergent practices in the vital subjects of Shabbat and Yom Tov. While Rav Schachter certainly cites the Hazon Ish and the Baal Hamaor (Razah) for the 90 degree east of J'lem dateline, he says little about the gemara (Rosh Hashanna 20b) on which the Baal Hamaor's view is allegedly based, other than to observe that Rashi and the Tosafot don't understand the gemara that way. If Rav Schachter's view is based on the Razah on that gemara, he should have clarified how the Razah's understanding elucidates the esoteric aspects of that gemara, such as, in Israel, there are 6 hours (to) the new moon (from the calculated Molad) and 18 hours (from) the old moon, while it is reversed for Bavel. This is strange in that the difference in longitude between them is less than 15 degrees or 1 hour. Instead, Rav Schachter focuses on defining J'lem as the center (Tabur) of the globe and the surrounding hemisphere whose ends are 90 degrees from J'lem. He then discusses only the eastern end of that synthetic hemisphere as defining a dateline. I only offered the western end as an objection to the arbitrariness of the 90 degree viewpoint - not that it can be used to explain the gemara (I don't see that the Razahs eastern end does that well, either).

    Y. Aharon

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  51. This topic is interesting. If you really want to follow the Kuzari and Baal Hamaor, then the dateline is actually west of "China" (according to Kuzari) or west of the extreme eastern edge of the inhabited world (according the Baal Hamaor).

    Sabbath begins in China eighteen hours later than in Palestine, since the latter lies in the centre of the world. Sunset in Palestine, therefore, concurs with midnight in China, and midday in Palestine concurs with sunset in China. [...] the question could be put both to the inhabitants of China and the West: 'On which day did you celebrate the New Year?' The answer would be: 'On Sabbath.' This notwithstanding that the latter people had finished the feast, whilst the former, according to the geographical position of their country towards Palestine, were still celebrating it.

    http://sacred-texts.com/jud/khz/khz02.htm#page_93

    Know that the count of days of the week starts from the third point that is the center of the land and that is Eretz Yisrael. And an example of this is that when the first day of the week starts for the residents of Jerusalem and Eretz Yisrael, it doesn't start for the residents of the western edge [of the land] until the six hours later, and for the center of the [world] ocean that is below the land which is the point of the deep, it does not begin until twelve hours later and for the residents of the eastern edge [of the land] it does not begin until 18 hours after that, and so too with all the days of the week, and also with all hours of the day and from the night, this their order always. It it should be clear to you from this that there is a precedence of 18 hours in the count of the days of the week and their hours between the residents of Jerusalem and the residents of the eastern edge [of the land], that the residents of Jerusalem precede the residents of the eastern edge [of the land] even though the distance between them based on the rotation of the outer sphere is is only six hours when you start counting from the eastern edge, but with the counting of the days of the week and their hours, this is their order.

    דע כי חשבון הימים הנמנים מימי השבוע תחלתו מן הנקודה
    השלישית שהיא טבור הארץ והיא א״י והמשל על זה כי כשמתחיל יום ראשון מימי השבוע לשוכני ירושלים וא״י
    לא יתחיל לשוכני קצה המערב עד ו׳ שעות לאחר מיכן ובטבור הים שלמטה מן הארץ והיא נקודת התהום לא יתחיל
    עד י״ב שעות לאחר מיכן ולשוכני קצה המזרח לא יתחיל עד י״ח שעות לאחר מיכן וכן בכל יום ויום מימי השבוע
    וכן בכל שעה ושעה מן היום ומן הלילה כך הוא סדרן לעולם ונתברר לך מזה כי יש הקדמת י״ח שעות במנין ימי
    השבוע ושעותידם בין שוכני ירושלים לשוכני קצה המזרח ששוכני ירושלים מקדימין על שוכני קצה המזרח אע״פ
    שאין המרחק ביניהם כפי מהלך הגלגל הגדול אלא שש שעות כשאתה מתחיל למנות מקצה המזרח אבל במנין ימי
    השבוע ושעותידם כך הוא הסדר להן

    http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=37956&st=&pgnum=122

    The Chazon Ish reinterprets these sources to be talking about a theoretical point at the eastern edge of the land, not an actual place like China where people live.

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  52. David, thanks again for your citations. It is not clear to me how the Baal Hamaor (Zerachia Halevi - Razah) accounts for the gemara's statement (R' Zeira from R' Nachman - R.H. 20 b) about 6 and 18 hours from the Molad being one way for J'lem and the opposite for Bavel. In contrast, there is a direct way of understanding that difference based on J'lem (J) time and sun rise/set in the 2 regions. When the calculated Molad is at or before noon in J'lem, then the new moon can be visible at sunset (6pm) there. In Bavel, sunset is about 5 pm J time - too early for the new moon to be visible (it takes at least 6 hours from the Molad to a visible new moon according to the gemara). The new moon is then first visible the next morning at sunrise (5 am), which is nominally 18 hours from the noon Molad in J'lem (actually more like 17 hours). The same type of argument can account for the 12 hour difference in the last appearance of the old moon in both locales. If so, there is no need to invent a scheme involving a dateline 90 degrees east of J'lem. Rav Yehudah Halevi in his philosophical/ideology book, The Kuzari places some emphasis on all the peoples of the earth (in the context of what was known in 11 century Spain) calling the same day Saturday. That idea would fit with keeping Shabbat on the day that the local community calls Saturday.

    Y. Aharon

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    1. When the calculated Molad is at or before noon in J'lem, then the new moon can be visible at sunset (6pm) there. In Bavel, sunset is about 5 pm J time - too early for the new moon to be visible (it takes at least 6 hours from the Molad to a visible new moon according to the gemara). The new moon is then first visible the next morning at sunrise (5 am), which is nominally 18 hours from the noon Molad in J'lem (actually more like 17 hours).

      Y. Aharon: this is an interesting P'shat, but I think that there are at least two problems:

      1) You can't see a new moon at sunrise. It is obscured by the Sun. It will only be visible in the evening after the sun goes down, which is why the new moon (or actually waxing crescent) is always sighted in the evening.

      2) You can't sight the new moon within 6 hours of the conjunction, even with a telescope. This page reports 15.5 hours as the earliest reliable naked eye sightings, with most being much later: http://aa.usno.navy.mil/faq/docs/crescent.php. The Baal Hamaor assumed 24 hours from conjunction until a reliable sighting which seems much more realistic.

      Delete
  53. Hi Guys - I am back.

    Y Aharon - So, Rav Schachter doesn't use the term, 'chaos', but he does allude to the state where everyone will follow his own count of days and celebrate Shabbat accordingly (on different days). That is what I meant by the term, 'chaos'. Of course, the suggested alternative to the 90 (or 180) degree from J'lem approach is not to simply keep your own count, regardless, but to follow the communal count and practice. That completely avoids divergent practices in the vital subjects of Shabbat and Yom Tov.

    Anonymous – I think that he was referring to a case where Reuvein starts travelling East from Jerusalem and Shimon starts travelling West from Jerusalem and then they meet in the middle in a totally uninhabited place on the globe with no previously established minhag. If each one was counting days as they travelled based on the number of sunrises and sunsets they experienced (which everyone does), they would then arrive at a different count for which day was Shabbos – even if they joined each other on the same boat and anchored it in the middle of the Pacific. So one would be shaving for Shabbos and putting his cholent up to cook and the other would be in the middle of shalosh seudos. So that scenario seems odd to him as it should to all of us. I don’t really understand how anyone in the fire & brimstone camp (R’ T.P Frank, R’ Herzog, R’ I. Z. Meltzer and others) would pasken in such a situation. In either case, if you learn the gemoro in RH like Rashi & Tosafos and feel like there is no halachic dateline, then in absence of a jewish community, what would you do?? If you were flying on a plane at the same speed as the sun, would the day never change? But to me it seems (and maybe its my own projection) that this is not really his main argument. His main point is that Shabbos is a real day that was counted from the seven days of creation – I am confused as to why that keeps being referred to as “metaphysical” – its not metaphysical at all – its an objective day which the gemara elsewhere refers to as “keviah vekaimee” as opposed to yomtov which is given to beis din to determine. In my mind, this is completely synonymous with being “rational” – a close cousin to being “reasonable” (sometimes hard to distinguish the two).

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  54. David Ohse – “If however, you view the halacha as an attempt to establish a unified practice for all Jews, then the confusion is a major factor.”

    Anonymous –
    I have never heard of (or understood) that as being the purpose of Halacha especially when (or if) “unified practice” will contradict an objective truth.
    I think there are 2 issues here – I will call primary and secondary. The primary issue is WHAT IS THE CORRECT APPROACH TO UNDERSTANDING SHABBOS? I personally understand Rav Schachters approach very well. And the approach of the Chazon Ish (with Brisker Rov & R Ahron Kotler, etc) & R Tukatsinski (even though they argue as to where the dateline is – they share the premise that it is an objective day and that the Torah has an opinion on the matter). I do not understand this concept of “no dateline” at all and would love for someone to explain to me how to take that concept to its natural conclusion (are there perhaps different conclusions that one could reach when starting from that point? R Schachter seems to feel that R Kasher came to the conclusion that we should follow the civil dateline since the Torah sources didn’t have one – but then it would seem that he would disagree about a theoretical case of talmidim of the chazon ish establishing a dateline further east of the civil one and celebrating Shabbos on Sunday. R Frank would say chas veshalom to change from the established minhag and R Kasher would say that the civil day trumps the minhag). I am not at all trying to be argumentative here – I am really trying to understand the rationality of following the “no date line” dateline and how it plays out in either 1) uninhabited areas or 2) a theoretical situation where a community in the safek part of the globe keeps Shabbos earlier than another community further east of it in the sofek part of the globe (although of course if there is no date line the whole globe is the “safek” portion) Am I missing something major?

    The secondary issue is when everyone (seems like both sides do it here) get all righteously indignant about “kedushas Shabbos” (as if somehow keeping Shabbos on the wrong day of the week will somehow strengthen its observance) or “uniformity”. What good is making things uniform if everyone then gets it all wrong? Should all of klal yisroel be mechalel Shabbos just because 30% are mechalel Shabbos? Would the same argument be made if we discovered a jewish community in the jungles of Africa that kept Yom Kippur in the middle of the winter or used watermelons for esrogim? I think most would agree that a mistake is a mistake and there is no virtue in everyone being equally mistaken. (TO use a poor example but one that is contemporary), its sort of like Bibi getting up and pushing for everyone to stand behind the government during a time of crisis. For people like Bennett and Danon who feel like he is totally getting it all wrong – his argument rings rather hollow. They feel (as do I) that a unified stance of committing national suicide is not as ideal as a fractured government that will at least solve the security problems.

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  55. No more anonymous comments will be posted. Pick a pseudonym.

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  56. Anonymous, if 2 world travelers moving in opposite directions meet at some point in space and time, they will have different day counts regardless of where a dateline is drawn, if they haven't corrected their timepieces. It's no better with a 90 deg. or 180 deg. than with the secular dateline. If they meet at a locale with a Jewish community, they should follow the community's day count; if at a locale without a community, they should each follow their own count. Life has grey areas, this would be one of them. There is little point in insisting on some absolute means of determining Shabbat, if such an objective search is unattainable. Rabbanim drawing arbitrary lines don't provide a solution. In the absence of a true halachic consensus, people just have to do the best they can. The best in this case, appears to be to use the secular date line since that usually minimizes the frequency of the day conflict.

    Y. Aharon

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  57. Anonymous –
    I have never heard of (or understood) that as being the purpose of Halacha especially when (or if) “unified practice” will contradict an objective truth.


    The Tanur of Achnai shows that we are aiming towards a best human judgement, not an "objective truth". Even if we are "mistaken" K'lapei Shemaya, we practice according to our reasoning. That doesn't solve this argument, but as a general principle it is true.

    I think there are 2 issues here – I will call primary and secondary. The primary issue is WHAT IS THE CORRECT APPROACH TO UNDERSTANDING SHABBOS?

    Yes, and when your theory of halachah contradicts the practice as far back as we can tell, then this casts doubt upon your theory. It doesn't disprove it, but it casts doubt on it. Puk Chazi.

    I personally understand Rav Schachters approach very well. And the approach of the Chazon Ish (with Brisker Rov & R Ahron Kotler, etc) & R Tukatsinski (even though they argue as to where the dateline is – they share the premise that it is an objective day and that the Torah has an opinion on the matter). I do not understand this concept of “no dateline” at all and would love for someone to explain to me how to take that concept to its natural conclusion (are there perhaps different conclusions that one could reach when starting from that point?

    As I argued above, this is a mistake. Just because one rule establishes a clear boundary, while another has a fuzzy boundary, doesn't meant that the former rule is better.

    Second, in fact the Chazon Ish's rule leaves a lot of gray area. Japan is to the east of the date line while Australia and Siberia are to the west? Some poskim how go by 90* don't accept the Chazon Ish in his judgement on on these (especially Australia).

    Third, a dateline that "must" exist, but whose location cannot be agreed upon (there 3 major categories of shita and then many variations within each) is hardly sharply defined.

    R Schachter seems to feel that R Kasher came to the conclusion that we should follow the civil dateline since the Torah sources didn’t have one – but then it would seem that he would disagree about a theoretical case of talmidim of the chazon ish establishing a dateline further east of the civil one and celebrating Shabbos on Sunday.

    There were people there that were celebrating Shabbos on Saturday before the Yeshivos got there. That is the issue.

    R Frank would say chas veshalom to change from the established minhag and R Kasher would say that the civil day trumps the minhag).

    I think that you are misunderstanding R Kasher's Shita. I believe the he advocated for the international dateline precisely because it matched the established minhag and it would give a also good way to determine the fuzzy cases. I didn't read through his shita yet, but I believe that he was arguing to have everyone agreed to use the civil dateline for questionable or new areas, not that this was inherently true. It would never be used to upset an existing Minhag, AFAIK.

    I am not at all trying to be argumentative here – I am really trying to understand the rationality of following the “no date line” dateline and how it plays out in either 1) uninhabited areas or 2) a theoretical situation where a community in the safek part of the globe keeps Shabbos earlier than another community further east of it in the sofek part of the globe (although of course if there is no date line the whole globe is the “safek” portion) Am I missing something major?

    1) According the Chazon Ish, communities in Japan which are further West keep Shabbos the day after the communities in Austrialia that are further east. In fact, by the Chazon Ish's shita, Shabbos in Sydney ends before Shabbos starts in Tokyo. So if that "theoretical" shita bothers you, then the Chazon Ish's shita is problematic for you.

    2) There are edge cases. That doesn't prove the principle wrong (see above).

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  58. The secondary issue is when everyone (seems like both sides do it here) get all righteously indignant about “kedushas Shabbos” (as if somehow keeping Shabbos on the wrong day of the week will somehow strengthen its observance) or “uniformity”. What good is making things uniform if everyone then gets it all wrong? Should all of klal yisroel be mechalel Shabbos just because 30% are mechalel Shabbos?

    1) Yes, keeping one day of the week as Shabbos, even on the wrong day, is meritorious (as shown by the case of the person lost in the Midbar).

    2) The main argument is that, according to the Chazon Ish, the Jews that settled in Japan crossed over an invisible line and should have shifted their shabbos by approximately 24 hours. The problem is that this line is nowhere clearly defined in Shulchan Aruch or anywhere else.

    3) Uniformity is very important or Shabbat. It is a public testimony by all of the 6/1 pattern of Bereishis. Having some people do one thing and others do something else *in the same place* removes this function from Shabbos, or at least diminishes it greatly.

    4) Suppose that there are 4 reasonable Shitos about how to fix Shabbos. If so, then no one knows 100% which one is right. Establishing your favored shita at the cost of splitting the community is not reasonable. And the split is inevitable when it changes the established Minhag.

    Would the same argument be made if we discovered a jewish community in the jungles of Africa that kept Yom Kippur in the middle of the winter or used watermelons for esrogim? I think most would agree that a mistake is a mistake and there is no virtue in everyone being equally mistaken.

    That is because no-one thinks that the Torah says this. If they had a true minhag to use a watermelon, then they would continue do so.

    Here is a practical example: does the Gemara sanction horseradish as Maror? Does that mean that no one may use horseradish?

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  59. Rav Yehudah Halevi in his philosophical/ideology book, The Kuzari places some emphasis on all the peoples of the earth (in the context of what was known in 11 century Spain) calling the same day Saturday. That idea would fit with keeping Shabbat on the day that the local community calls Saturday.

    I need to do more research, but I think that this is actually what happened:

    The Rishonim, like others, made the assumption that the inhabited part of the world spanned approximately 12 timezones. Naturally, the eastern edge had the earliest times and the western edge had the latest times. There was no need for a "dateline" per se because civilization did not wrap around the globe. The question of where exactly the day turns would be completely theoretical and probably was not considered important; it certainly had no meaning in halacha.

    Then the Baal Hamaor and Kuzari made a "Chiddush" that actually the eastern edge of civilization (Tsin/China) actually follows Eretz Yisrael in the calendar. This is because E"Y is the center and also because it is a special place. Therefore Shabbat (and other days) would start at E"Y or thereabouts and the far east would follow about 18 hour later. This was supported by the Gemara in Rosh Hashana which they interpreted to mean that if the Molad happened by noon in E"Y on Shabbos, then the new moon would be visible 24 hours later at the end of "Shabbos" in China/the Far East. This only works if the far east follows E"Y rather than preceding it, as we would normally assume.

    The Yesod Olam and Rabad (still need to find that reference) objected that this would create a dateline somewhere between E"Y and China where neighbors would be on different days. They objected: where was this dateline and wouldn't that be something of an oddity for the neighbors living on either side of it. Rather, the minhag of the world is correct and the Far East is the starting point. Therefore there is no need for a dateline.

    (I assume here that the Kuzari and Baal Hamaor would answer that China/Far East is some faraway place separated by uninhabited hard-to-pass land. So there is no problem: "here" is the starting point and "over there" is the ending point with not much in between to worry about. At least that is my speculation.)

    Fast forward to modern times, and we know that actually civilization spans the globe, although the Pacific is the sparsest place.

    Rav Herzog et al, correctly interpret the Yesod Olam and others as indicating that there was no dateline. This issue of a globally semi-continuous habitation is thus a new problem to be solved, not with an arbitrary line, but based on the custom of 6 days followed by one + the existing customs already established (and these two principles align well).

    The Chazon Ish looks at the Rishonim and says: "look, all the Risonim agree that the Far East is where the day starts and that the Far East extended 90* from Jerusalem. Thus they all agree that is where the dateline is. While there is some argument about the interpretation of R"H and the exact dateline location, they all agree on this premise." Of course, he still has the issue of a dateline cutting through a town, so he invokes Gereirah to tackle that problem. But for some reason this doesn't apply to Japan, so you get the oddity of Tokyo >24 hours after Sydney.

    What I believe is missing here, for the Chazon Ish, is the context. If someone had told the Yesod Olam: hey there are these Islands of Japan a bit past the 90* line, I don't think that there is any way in the world he would have said that Japan followed Israel in time. He would have said that this is the eastern edge and thus is before Israel. If not, he would have been subjected to the same questions that he asks on the Kuzari and Baal Hamaor.

    Note: there is a lot of speculation here as I haven't even gotten all the way through the sources...

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    1. ## But for some reason this doesn't apply to Japan, so you get the oddity of Tokyo >24 hours after Sydney.##
      ?
      japan is an island and is not part of the asian landmass

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    2. And therefore what? None of the Rishonim that I've seen mention such a rule. They talk about the extent of the eastern habitation or 18 hours. Neither of those really has anything to do with whether or not something is an island.

      Delete
    3. ##he Yesod Olam and Rabad (still need to find that reference) ##

      oz vehodor friedman edition

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    4. ##Then the Baal Hamaor and Kuzari made a "Chiddush" that actually the eastern edge of civilization (Tsin/China) actually follows Eretz Yisrael in the calendar. This is because E"Y is the center and also because it is a special place. ##
      the bal hamoaor says land only goes to 90 degrees east and west of Eretz Yisrael. so how eastern edge of civilization (Tsin/China) follow Eretz Yisrael?

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    5. ##And therefore what? ##

      to avoid the problem of 2 neigbours keeping shabbos on different days. the chazon ish interprets bal hamaor to hold of a concept of grerah. why should this affect japan ?

      Delete
    6. nachmanAugust 24, 2014 at 3:32 AM
      ##Then the Baal Hamaor and Kuzari made a "Chiddush" that actually the eastern edge of civilization (Tsin/China) actually follows Eretz Yisrael in the calendar. This is because E"Y is the center and also because it is a special place. ##
      the bal hamoaor says land only goes to 90 degrees east and west of Eretz Yisrael. so how eastern edge of civilization (Tsin/China) follow Eretz Yisrael?


      It's very clear in the Kuzari and to a lesser extent in Baal Hamaor that those in China/Eastern Edge have Shabbat after E"Y. You are thinking in modern mathematical terms. The Chazon Ish's reading that they are talking about a theoretical point at the coast (as your mathematical mental model suggests) doesn't fit the words of the Baal Hamaor who talks of the residents of the eastern edge and certainly now those of the Kuzari who actually mentions that the resident of China will have Shabbos after E"Y. It also doesn't fit the whole flow and logic of the Kuzari, whose point it is to show that the world's opinion that time starts in China is wrong, and that it starts in E"Y which is is a special place. That explains why he has to give an explanation of why Syria keeps Shabbos before Israel. This is a problem because if you go strictly by a dateline in Jerusalem, then it should not be that way. If he was thinking of a theoretical 90* line that whole part of the discussion in the Kuzari makes no sense and in fact the whole section is pointless because then he agrees that the day starts in China and his proof for the specialness of E"Y goes away.

      ##he Yesod Olam and Rabad (still need to find that reference) ##

      oz vehodor friedman edition


      Thank you.

      ##And therefore what? ##

      to avoid the problem of 2 neigbours keeping shabbos on different days. the chazon ish interprets bal hamaor to hold of a concept of grerah. why should this affect japan ?


      But then this is a new Shita and not the agreement of all the Rishonim. The Rishonim don't mention this rule.

      Again, if you showed a map of Asia to the Yesod Olam or anyone else who said that the day starts in the east and moves west, would any of them have excluded Japan? I have a very hard time believing this. Especially since the Yesod Olam explains the whole east-west concept based on the notion that all land lies between east and west.

      Just be clear: Chazon Ish >> David Ohsie.

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    7. If someone had told the Yesod Olam: hey there are these Islands of Japan a bit past the 90* line, I don't think that there is any way in the world he would have said that Japan followed Israel in time.
      ..
      letter from chazon ish to tikuchinsky (quoted in genozim and shut chazon ish)
      " and one can add that if you will want to lengthen the yishuv because of the islands of japan you will need to move from yerusahalyim to the north and who will place a border how far north you have to go , surely it is possible to move further to the north and reach siberia and if you want to fix 180 degrees as the end of the east,then the meridian should be in the middle of siberia as the 180 degrees cut in the middle of siberia"

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    8. That doesn't address my argument. FWIW I agree with Chazon Ish that 180 is also arbitrary and the basic 6 + 1 is correct.

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    9. Then the Baal Hamaor and Kuzari made a "Chiddush" that actually the eastern edge of civilization (Tsin/China) actually follows Eretz Yisrael in the calendar.
      ...

      I think this is the position of Rabbi Simcha Zelig Riger (genozim and shut chazon ish)

      Delete
  60. David - that was an excellent synopsis - Yasher Koach. I am the anonymous chazon ish supporter from earlier but now that Natan stopped allowing anonymous posts, I adopted the pseudonym of the chazonish. I also checked gmail and see that chazonish@gmail.com is available, but I will leave it open in case the chazonish himself wants it after techias hameisim.
    My mind is far less organized than yours, so I will make all my random, dis-jointed thoughts and assign them numbers below, but the numbering system itself has no significance as the points don’t follow one another nor are they in order of importance.
    1) Obviously none of us can really be machria between the gedolei poskim that grappled with these issues and came to such different conclusions. Clearly, different approaches seem to resonate with each of us and all I am trying to accomplish here is to gain a deeper appreciation of the Radvaz/R Kasher approach since I feel that (although I am slowly getting there,) I still don’t have a full appreciation of where that position is really coming from. I doubt that I will ever agree that it clearly aligns with “rationality” as I understand it, but clearly a lot of smart people feel that it does so I’m trying to come to terms with that.
    2) I was a proponent of the Chazon Ish before listening to the shiur from R Schachter, so all that shiur really did was to validate my pre-existing bias. In light of some of the points above, I must say that it is a little surprising to me that R Schachter doesn’t lend any weight at all to the fact that R Kashers general approach (if not his exact conclusions) are supported by R TP Frank, R Isser Zalman Meltzer, R Herzog and others. All he says is that R Kasher is a total daas yachid who was almost put into cherem for his psak. I plan on discussing this with R Schachter directly when I have a chance to see what I am missing.
    3) I really don’t see how either approach really strengthens or weakens Shabbos observance – a point that all of these sources (http://www.otzar.org/wotzar/book.aspx?149342) seem to harp on extensively (in relation to the brevity of their teshuvos). If anything, I personally would treat an “absolute” Shabbos of the chazon ish – determined by G-d himself over the “consensus” Shabbos of my fellow shipmates that just happened to travelled from the same origin as me. Maybe the fairest thing to do is to leave the “sanctity of Shabbos” argument out of it completely – I think we can all stipulate that both the camps were fairly zealous when it came to observing Shabbos (the stories of the Chazon Ish are legendary) and need not really play a significant role in the debate.

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  61. 4) I also don’t see how the absence of a clear, authoritative source (lets assume that’s true for a minute) is in anyway more supportive of the “lets see what people do” approach advocated by the Radvaz than it is of the “absolute” position of the Chazon Ish. Shouldn’t the lack of a source be troubling for anyone who values Shabbos observance? Is it REALLY logical to say that a dateline was completely left out of torah shebichtav AND torah shel baal peh because it is SO OBVIOUS that G-d intended for everyone to count by themselves? In my mind, this question that affects one quarter of the earths population at least deserved an honorable mention somewhere in jewish sources – and if you assume that it was left out, then we should all be left with just one more question (out of the thousands of other troubling questions we already have) for Eliyahu on the great day of redemption (bb”a). As in number three, I would call that a draw and leave it out of the equation.
    5) As far as the main premise of #4 is concerned, it is exactly the opposite of the chazon ish approach. As presented by R Schachter, the chazon ish is basically saying that EVERY SINGLE Rishon that discussed the issue (and he counts 8 of them!) came to the 90 degree dateline conclusion (albeit with variations) and ZERO rishonim disagree or offer alternatives. Is it really reasonable for an acharon to then come along and discount ALL the rishonim who use the gemara in RH as a source for the din and to say that there is NO source anywhere to guide us? The same basic argument can be made about any issue - “Let’s just discount all the sources out there and then claim that there is no source”


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  62. 6) Here is where I am really curious to hear your thoughts. IMHO, a very similar discussion to the dateline would be the question regarding what to do with zemanim in general in the land of the midnight sun. There is a wild, generally unaccepted opinion of the Minchas Elazar (the earlier Munkatcher Rebbe) that as long as the sun does not set, the entire period of time would be treated as the same day. Many other poskim struggle to create some mechanism to determine halachic zemanim (R Moshe Shternbuch is my personal favorite but you can review the whole slew of them here – http://www.star-k.org/kashrus/kk-whendoesonepraywhenthereisnoday.htm). My question is as follows: this question also seems to have very few ancient sources to sink ones teeth into but yet most poskim tend to look for a set of rules that mirror the (rather arbitrary) 24 hour time period that governs zemanim in the rest of the world. Only the psak of the Minchas Elazar really uses the totally “subjective” nature of ones own count and to me seems to parallel most closely the shitta of R Kasher on the dateline. Similarly, I am unaware that there are any poskim out there (or any seriously considered shitta) that either a minyan or an individual travelling on a plane keeps any zman other the “fixed, objective” zman of the location that he is flying over. Why wouldn’t common sense dictate that by Shabbos too, ones personal (or even communal) count play no role?
    7) It also seems to me that the dinim of keeping second day yomtov in golus (both then as well as now) seem to be totally going with the concept of an objective day that one needs to be concerned with. That is by Yomtov where there is much more room to say that its all dependent on beis din who could have easily solved the problem by arbitrarily picking a day WHICH THEN WOULD HAVE DEFINITELY BEEN THE “REAL” DAY – because the halachic process clearly gave the power of Kiddush hachodesh over to chazal. Yet chazal treat the relatively “lighter” issurim of yomtov seriously enough to create an entire slew of complex and controversial rules which govern the observance of yomtov sheni until today. I would think that this would kal vachomer apply to Shabbos which is more “fixed” even by the words of the gemorra itself as well as an issur of sekilla. On the flip side, the fact that in Halacha lmaaseh we calculate birchas hachama using the astronomically incorrect (but easier to calculate) shitta of Rav over the more exact shitta of shmuel Shmuel would tend to (at least loosely) parallel the dateline shitta that you are advocating.

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  63. 8) My understanding about Halacha is that first & foremost it’s a set of rules/principles that govern and can be applied to all sets of circumstances. OF COURSE that leads to anomalies – that doesn’t bother me at all. Nor does it bother me that acc to the Chazon Ish the Japan vs Australia practice ends up being extremely weird in practice. Yom tov sheini is extremely weird in many cases, yet first chazal and then later poskim took the set of guiding halachic principles brought down in shas (regarding chumras hamakom, etc) and drew clear conclusions that governed almost all scenarios. (And election laws in the United States allow for the candidate with fewer votes to win the presidency through the electoral college. That is certainly an anomaly but yet the principles that lie behind the laws were established for a reason, with a cheshbon, and the anomaly is simply accepted as a fact of life.)The chazon ish seems to have done just that while the others seemed to have left” ikar chaser min hasefer” in terms of how to act in many many scenarios. What does one do when travelling with a group of people (observant jews) on a cruise that plans on fully circling the globe 4 times and then stopping and establishing a brand new jewish community on the island of Fiji? Do we assume that the date NEVER arbitrarily changes during their rotations (assuming the ship stayed out of the techum of any existing community in its travels) and they then keep Shabbos on a day which is Wednesday in the rest of the world? I am not making fun – just pointing out that the chazon ish seems to be more thought out in terms of practical ramifications.

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  64. I want to point out one other huge problem with any "degree" based dateline, especially ones that are close to Asia. We have a general principle that the Torah can be applied with the technology available in ancient times. Anything that requires modern technology, such as a microscope, is not considered imperative.

    Now in ancient times, there was no way to measure latitude accurately, nor generally to map the extent of landmasses. So to say that the halacha requires you to know that Indonesia is less than 90* from Jerusalem while Japan is greater than 90* or that the western tip of Australia is less than 90* from Jerusalem while you are sitting the the eastern side would be beyond what the halacha required.

    So more than the fact that the Torah never says where the dateline is, it could not have required a dateline, since that would require the knowledge of modern technology to implement.

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  65. I really don’t see how either approach really strengthens or weakens Shabbos observance

    What happens if you don't get to Musaf until the afternoon? Do you daven Minchah or Musaf first. The answer (based on memory) is that you do Minchah first because it is Tadir..

    What happens when this happens with a Tzibbur? You daven Musaf first to avoid the confusion. (Again based on memory).

    In this case, the Minhag was to keep Shabbos on Saturday all over. Practically speaking, the Chazon Ish was an innovation for Japan. This introduces confusion and puts Shabbos observance at risk.

    If anything, I personally would treat an “absolute” Shabbos of the chazon ish – determined by G-d himself over the “consensus” Shabbos of my fellow shipmates that just happened to travelled from the same origin as me.

    This was not their concern. The concern was for switching Shabbos to Sunday. Ships in no-man's land are an edge case.

    4) I also don’t see how the absence of a clear, authoritative source (lets assume that’s true for a minute) is in anyway more supportive of the “lets see what people do” approach advocated by the Radvaz than it is of the “absolute” position of the Chazon Ish.

    Because if you don't have a very clear proof to change the day of Shabbos from what the world is doing, then maybe don't change it.

    Shouldn’t the lack of a source be troubling for anyone who values Shabbos observance? Is it REALLY logical to say that a dateline was completely left out of torah shebichtav AND torah shel baal peh because it is SO OBVIOUS that G-d intended for everyone to count by themselves?

    It is not troubling to lack a source for a dateline if the torah doesn't need a dateline. If you think that there is one but that it was not well revealed, then that is "troubling".



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  66. 5) As far as the main premise of #4 is concerned, it is exactly the opposite of the chazon ish approach. As presented by R Schachter, the chazon ish is basically saying that EVERY SINGLE Rishon that discussed the issue (and he counts 8 of them!) came to the 90 degree dateline conclusion (albeit with variations) and ZERO rishonim disagree or offer alternatives. Is it really reasonable for an acharon to then come along and discount ALL the rishonim who use the gemara in RH as a source for the din and to say that there is NO source anywhere to guide us? The same basic argument can be made about any issue - “Let’s just discount all the sources out there and then claim that there is no source”

    There are two problems with the "all the Rishonim say 90* " argument.

    1) The ones that don't mention a dateline are not necessarily "neutral". They may not mention it precisely because there is not such concept. You can't deduce from their silence that they just agreed. If there was an important principle like this, it seem that it should have been included in Shulchan Aruch.

    2) I need to look at this further, but the Chazon Ish's notion that the Y'Sod Olam agrees with 90* is not compelling. I believe that Y'Sod Olam was simply saying that there is nothing special about China. The day starts in the extreme east and ends in the extreme west. He may have thought that the extreme east was 90* east of Jerusalem, but that doesn't mean that if I told him that it was really 100* or that Japan is an island that he would have split up the East in the way that the Chazon Ish suggests. So many of the Rishonim that Chazon Ish counts on his side are not really on his side. In addition, the plain reading of the Kuzari and Baal HaMaor is that China or a part of it would be east of the dateline, which also does not align with the Chazon Ish. So it is possible that actually no Rishonim go with the Chazon Ish's Shita.

    7) It also seems to me that the dinim of keeping second day yomtov in golus (both then as well as now) seem to be totally going with the concept of an objective day that one needs to be concerned with.

    Yes, the day that we'll find out about in a few days when the messengers or visitors get here. Again, this is factual doubt: we want to align with Jerusalem, but we don't know yet what they did.

    8) My understanding about Halacha is that first & foremost it’s a set of rules/principles that govern and can be applied to all sets of circumstances.

    I understand that if you are a Talmid of Rav Schachter, since I have heard him say that before on tape. However, that is not the only view. I think that it is more probably that Halacha has places where there is more than one answer and Poskim are forced to innovate in some way.

    OF COURSE that leads to anomalies – that doesn’t bother me at all.

    Well, it bothered the those that argued with the Kuzari...

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  67. More evidence of a meta-halachic divide. R Chaim Zimmerman says as much:

    In the framework of this preface, the author cannot enter into the details of a discussion which in the last ten years has caused a veritable storm in Jewish scholardom. Regretfully he must state, though, that some recent authors have attempted to render decisions based on utilitarian reasoning, distorting both, the spirit and the letter of halachic sources. Desirable coincidences and practical benefits are, needless to say, of no moment in such a debate. It has always been
    the challenge of Jewish life to apply Torah to life without subjugation of its pure principles to ephemeral conditions. To study Torah, means to seek the truth in keeping with the unchanging postulates of the revealed word and its proper exegesis; to render halachic decisions, means to pronounce this truth without reservations. The Halacha itself states with abundant clarity when and where the practicability and the easier acceptance of the decision may enter as a factor into the reasoning leading to the "Psak Din," the clear-cut dictum. In our case though, such considerations are completely inadmissable. The problem deals with laws of the Torah, with
    "d'uraisso," and not with later Rabbinic injunctions; it deals with creative and therefore absolute categories and not with subjective, time conditioned innovations.


    http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=41127&st=&pgnum=507.

    The Hebrew intro is even more explicit (partial quote):

    והדיגי שוגה פה מה שכתבתי כבד במקום אחר על אחד שכתב ״שפסק
    דיגו של בעל ״חזון איש״ מלבד שאין לו יסוד בהלכה למעשה לשגות יום השבת
    הנהוג ביאפאן ושאר האיים ליום ראשון, יכול לגרום ח״ו פרצה גדולה ביסוד
    קדושת השבת בעולם וכבר שמענו מרננים ואומדים, אחדי שיש אפשרות לרבנים
    לשנות את השבת ליום ראשון ביאפאן, למה לא יתקגו הרבנים גם בכל העולם
    כן, ותהי נפתרת שאלת השבת פעם ולעולם, רק מעט מזעיר, אפילו בין הרבנים,
    מבינים עומק הענין של שאלה זו, לפי השיטה האומרת לשנות את השבת ליום
    ראשון, משום שלדעתם זוהי השבת האמיתית, אנשים דנים רק על העובדה, שיש
    מקומות שנהגו עד עכשיו לשמור את יום השבת כפי חשבון המקום ראשון״. וכתבתי
    על זה: ״כאן נכשל מאד הכותב, שאם כך, היא ההלכה כמו שהביא החזון איש בשם
    כל הראשונים, אם כן איזה פחד יש לפחוד, לומר את ההלכה האמיתית ולגלות דעתה
    של תורה מפני החפשים והטפשים שמרננים אחרי הרבנים, הרי צריך להודיעם
    דעת התורה. ועל כגון דא נאמר: ישרים דרכי ד׳ וצדיקים ילכו בם ופושעים יכשלו
    בם, ואטו משום רינון הבריות נחלל את השבת, ונעשה שבת חול וחול שבת״.

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  68. I'm totally confused now. Didn't the psak of the chazon ish follow r chaim Zimmermans approach to halacha in this case?

    And to David Ohse: bottom line - how would you yourself keep shabbos if you found yourself in kobe next Thursday through Monday?

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    1. I'm totally confused now. Didn't the psak of the chazon ish follow r chaim Zimmermans approach to halacha in this case?

      I suggested that the Chazon Ish's shita and letters were in part based on the notion that his job as a posek was to answer questions based on his reading of the sources without regard to prior p'sak, prior practice, or the opinions of other Rabbanim. R. Zimmerman seems to support that approach.

      R. Herzog and R. Tukachinsky on the other hand, organized a conference to try to come to a consensus so that they could advise the community on a single day for fasting so that there would not be poeple left in doubt or trying to fast two days. If you look at Rav Tukachinski's book which I referenced, he was concerned that the Chazon Ish had already sent a telegram and thought that perhaps no telegram should be sent from R. Herzogs's group since two different telegrams would make things worse; his worst case scenario was people trying to fast on two days. He also endeavored to come to joint decision with the Chazon Ish. So you see the difference in the approaches which would have an influence on the P'sak.

      And to David Ohse: bottom line - how would you yourself keep shabbos if you found yourself in kobe next Thursday through Monday?

      Since I'm not a Rabbi and have no authority whatsoever, my opinion is worthless. If I knew that I was going to Japan, I would discuss it with a Posek. Non-authoritatively, I believe that Rav Frank, as described by Rav Kasher, is the most likely "correct" Shita, but as I mentioned, my belief has little value.

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  69. There is a definite mistake in Rav Schachter's Shuir on at least one point. Rav Schachter claims that Rav Tukachinsky didn't know of the Chazon Ish, and that had he known of his existence, he would have sent the Shaila to him instead of Paskening. This is incorrect.

    You can see what Rav Tukachinsky wrote here http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=9061&st=&pgnum=7

    1) Although there are multiple possible interpretations, what he seems to say is not that he never heard of the Chazon Ish, but rather than he didn't know he had an involvement in this area.

    2) More importantly, he says that had he known that Chazon Ish was also involved, he would have discussed it with him before either had sent any T'shuvot because perhaps this would have "paved for him a unified or matching path" (סולל לו דרך אחידה או מתאימה). In other words, he hoped to convince him to join in a unified Teshuva. As it was, he then exchanged letters with him and then met him in person, but neither was convinced of the other's position.

    I was also surprised to here Rav Schachter refer to him without any honorific in some cases. I'm pretty sure that Rav Tukachinsky was influential in setting the Zemanim for E"Y with his tables and would have been recognized as an authority in anything to do with Zemanim.

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    1. Rav Schachter claims that Rav Tukachinsky didn't know of the Chazon Ish, and that had he known of his existence, he would have sent the Shaila to him instead of Paskening. This is incorrect..

      ..

      I read he was thinking of making a rebuttal to the chazon ish's 18 hours kuntras until the brisker rov persuaded him not to by saying if he does he will come out publicly for the chazon ish

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    2. Source?

      This sounds like one of those stories to "prove" that one side of an argument actually admitted defeat despite their written position. Kind of like the "stories" about Rambam becoming a kabbalist and retracting the Moreh.

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    3. tikuchinsky not exactly admitting defeat here anyway

      I have seen quoted taarich yisroel page 57, that r. meir solovetik, son of brisker rov told the mechaber this. somewhere else it says the messanger for this was reb dovid (his brother)

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    4. So no the argument is "my father's greatness overwhelmed him and he could not even respond". Same difference.

      My limited understanding is that the Chazon Ish was the pre-eminent "pre-haredi" posek that many did not want to argue with. If Rav Tukachinsky was willing to disagree with him, I'm not sure why anything that the Brisker Rav would have said could have had an influence.

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  70. ##I was also surprised to here Rav Schachter refer to him without any honorific in some cases. I'm pretty sure that Rav Tukachinsky was influential in setting the Zemanim for E"Y with his tables and would have been recognized as an authority in anything to do with Zemanim.##
    he pursuaded ran salant to change the zemanin otoh.
    the chazon ish accused him of mocking the living angels (rishonim) in the context of calling the bal hamor opinion strange

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    1. but according to this, the chazon ish liked r. tikuchinsky as a person, but did not think he was a straight thinker, and was lacking cleverness/deep thought.

      http://onthisandonthat.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/hazon-ish-and-r-shlomo-goren.html

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    2. While the Chazon Ish has the right to judge people as he sees fit, I think that it is somewhat ironic that the he criticizes others for being unsophisticated and rigid given his stance on the Brisker derech. Anyone to my left is a communist; to my right, a facist.

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    3. I think that it is somewhat ironic that the he criticizes others for being unsophisticated and rigid given his stance on the Brisker derech.

      ...............

      not something I know much about, but was his criticism that brisk was 2 rigid, making 2 dinim everywhere , even where it does not fit.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brisker_method#Controversy
      R Chaim was also opposed to 'overdoing' the method. In response to a Rabbi who claimed that Kiddushin does not take effect once for all time, but rather constantly renews itself every moment (has a 'chaloys'), R Chaim simply and sarcastically replied "Mazel Tov" (as if to say that according to such a view, the Rabbi had just gotten married); thereby indicating his view that such an approach was ridiculous. [1]

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    4. The Chazon Ish might be right. The point is that something can be sophisticated and wrong, or it can be unsophisticated and right.

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    5. Of course, it could also be sophisticated and right, or unsophisticated and wrong; to cover all of the possibilities (though I am not particularly a fan of "sophistication").

      Catriel Lev
      Ramat Bet Shemesh-Alef

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    6. Catriel: Haven't you even learned Mishneh :). I always tell my kids that you need to fill in the missing words. In this case it the the implied word is "even".

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    7. 'but according to this, the chazon ish liked r. tikuchinsky as a person, but did not think he was a straight thinker, and was lacking cleverness/deep thought.'

      ....


      but kovetz igros 2:168 with reference to tukachinsky( according to Genazim u-She’elot u-Teshuvot Hazon Ish,) says the only way you can have his sefer in your house is if you write on it, the sefer is against chazal and one cannot rely on it.

      http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=46852&st=&pgnum=142

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  71. he pursuaded ran salant to change the zemanin otoh.

    There were always multiple Shita's here and Tosafos Shabbos. This was not to increase confusion to be remove it.

    the chazon ish accused him of mocking the living angels (rishonim) in the context of calling the bal hamor opinion strange

    If true, more evidence for a meta-halachic dispute of the sort that is discussed here often.

    Here you can find a claim that the Kuzari knew that Korea (which he would have considered part of China) juts out past the 6 hour line from Israel: http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=12608&st=&pgnum=7

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    1. link says shangai is 5.5 hours from yerushalim. according to google it is 5.75

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    2. I missed your point here. I'm pointing out that the author claims that the Kuzari would have known the geography of East Asia to a far greater degree than is plausible.

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