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Second day yom tov in ancient times


Greetings. Why is there no source telling us how Jewish communities that were far away from Eretz Yisroel kept yomtov in the days of the first Temple or even the second Temple who could not be contacted by a shaliach or a fire? If they automatically had to keep a second day, why is there no Mishnah that discusses this?


You are asking an interesting question. In the sefer YomTov Sheini Khilchoso in the first chapter of his Mevo, he discusses the history of Yom Tov Sheini, and he says that originally the message was sent either by fire or messenger, but during the first generation after they couldn’t send use the fire method because of the Seduces, if there was a community that had a sage that could properly calculate when Yom Tov should be, that community didn’t keep two days of Yom Tov. It wasn’t until 100 years later, in the generation of R’ Elazar Ben Pidos that Yom Tov Sheini became the established minhag outside of Eretz Yisroel.

I attached a copy of the relevant pages, you can see it here. יום טוב שני כהלכתה מבוא פרק א- ר’ פריד

Best Wishes

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  1. Thank you. I need to read it carefully. I had thought that calculating the months with witnesses could ONLY be done by the Sanhedrin because only they knew the “sod haibbur”. What you are pointing to is that any chacham in far away places could do the same thing as the Sanhedrin?
    But why is this not mentioned in any Mishnah, especially if the rule went all the way back to Sinai?
    ALSO, how does this exactly relate to determining every month? How did people far away ever know when there was a new month, or when there was an Adar II if they didn’t have a calendar??

    1. From what I understood of what he says, was that this was specifically after they had no way to find out when the bais din was mekadesh the chodesh.
      They would of had to do this every month. Regarding the second Adar, I don’t know.

  2. If the local chachamim could make calculations why even bother with the fires or emissaries?? And why are we told that the Sanhedrin were the only authority who had the ability with the sod ha ibbur which is not mentioned in the mishnah??

    1. They had the capabitily to calcuate it, but it had to specifically be done by the bais din with two witnesses. In fact those witnesses were even allowed to be mechalel shabbos for it, because that was the only way it could be done.

  3. I’m sorry, I’m still not clear. For people who had no access to any way of tracking the months because they were so far from Yerushalayim, didn’t they have some kind of fixed calendar like the one provided much later by Hillel II etc.?? In addition, if it was possible for chachamim (even other than Rabbi Akiva as in Brachos 63b) to do this each month outside of the Sanhedrin, what was therefore the need for the fires or emissaries altogether?! And what was the importance of witnesses at the Sanhedrin when people could have done it everywhere else too?! And why is this not discussed in any Mishnah?!

    1. Essentially only the bais din could do this as stated clearly in the mishna in Rosh Hashana that one tanna had a differant calculatioin for the new moon and he was forced to come on the day that came out his Yom Kippur to the bais din. The option to “do it yourself” was only instituted after that period.

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