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Thought for the Day: Yom Tov Sheini Shel Galuyos and Listening to Chazal

Siman 496 in the Shulchan Aruch discusses Yom Tov Sheini shel Galuyos.  When you first think about it, second day yontif seems that it should be more lenient than the first day.  After all, it is only (shudder whenever you hear that, trouble is close) d'rabanan.  Yet the first syef says that in galus where two days of yom tov are celebrated, anything that is forbidden on the first day is likewise forbidden on the second day.  So far sounds like it just the same; but it's not.  As the m'chaber continues: anyone who treats the second day irreverently (m'zalzel) is to be excommunicated... unless he is a young rabbinic scholar, then beat him up instead.  Yikes!  That's really unfriendly!

The second syef, though says you can take care of a meis and even treat minor illnesses; things that are definitely forbidden on the first day.  Not real malachos, but some things that are forbidden on the first day m'd'rabanan are permitted on the second day.  The whole day is only d'rabanan (especially now a days that we have a fixed calendar), after all.

One more thing... t'filin.  There is a mitzvas asei m'd'oraisa for all Jewish men to lay t'filin every week day; ie, neither Shabbos nor Yom Tov.  While there is a machlokes about chol ha'mo'ed, there is no machlokes whatsoever about Yom Tov Sheini shel Galuyos; no t'filin.  So we have a positive commandment from the Torah to lay t'filin on the second day of Yom Tov and we have a rabbinic injunction instructing us to ignore that obligation and not to lay t'filin.  That's bad enough now a days with the fixed calendar, but when we were celebrating the second day because of doubt the situation is even more astounding.  The usual rule of "safeik d'oraisa l'chumra" would have instructed us to lay t'filin even on the first day of Yom Tov!  But our Chazal have told us not only to not lay t'filin on either day, but to excommunicate (or beat up) anyone who does.

The Ramchal, in Sefer HaIkarim, explains that halacha was revealed to Klal Yisrael via two different channels.  One channel was the mass prophetic revelation at Har Sinai; we call those d'oraisa.  The other channel was via the extraordinary efforts of Chazal to clarify and understand the Torah.  When Chazal came to a conclusion, it was the one HaShem had decreed from the beginning; He just didn't reveal it until Chazal had put in sufficient hishtadlus.  Putting it succinctly, "d'oraisa" means the expression of HaShem's Will as revealed at Har Sinai, "d'rabanan" means the expression of HaShem's Will as revealed through the endeavors of Chazal.  Same source, same level of obligation.

When you refrain from laying t'fillin on the second day of yom tov, or refrain from blowing shofar when Rosh HaShana falls on Shabbos, you are fulfilling the Will of the self-same Creator and King of Reality.  You can take real pride that HaShem loves us so much that He trusted us and shared actual ownership of the running of His world with us, His Chosen and Treasured Nation.

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