Two Days of Yom Kippur

In the Kollel this week, I gave a shiur on a topic that appears as a side point in the beginning of Masechet Challah (1:1 in the Yerushalmi), but is relevant to this week – namely why we generally do not keep two days of Yom Kippur (as we do by all other Chagim), and why some people did.  The shiur and sources are available here.

I will not go into all the details, but I want to mention one position that I did not develop there.  I noted that it seems to be that many of the Rishonim who kept two days of Yom Kippur seemed to have done so as an expression of general piety, rather than actually as an expression of Yom Kippur (a claim made most forcefully by Professor Ephraim Kanarfogel, who first showed me the prevalence of this minhag in Ashkenaz and the implications it has).  This fits well with the minhag recorded by the Rokeach to fast throughout the Aseret Yimei Teshuva.  The Tashbetz Katan even notes that keeping two days of Yom Kippur could only become binding if one kept it as two days of Yom Kippur and not if he kept it because he always fasted anyways.  This implies that were at least some people who fasted on what would be day two of Yom Kippur as an excuse to do what they were inclined to do anyway. 

The most extreme expression of this is found in a minhag recorded in Machzor Vitri and Sefer HaPardes to keep melacha for two days but only fast on the 10th of Tishrei and the day of the 11th.  This seems to mix a concern for keeping two days with a minhag to fast – changing the second day into a regular fast day rather than another full Yom Kippur.  This, I assume, indicates that people were really just using this as an excuse to fast, and perhaps also a function of the Gemara’s warning not to fast for two days because it is dangerous.  However, I think if it were only the second issue at play, people would fast until they started to feel sick, rather than deciding in advance to eat at night.  This seems to me most likely.

However, R. Elyakim Krumbein wanted to suggest a more fundamental explanation.  He noted that the possuk has two description of the time frame for Yom Kippur – מערב עד ערב  and בעצם היום הזה.

ויקרא פרק כג

(כו) וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר יְקֹוָ֖ק אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר:

(כז) אַ֡ךְ בֶּעָשׂ֣וֹר לַחֹדֶשׁ֩ הַשְּׁבִיעִ֨י הַזֶּ֜ה י֧וֹם הַכִּפֻּרִ֣ים ה֗וּא מִֽקְרָא־קֹ֙דֶשׁ֙ יִהְיֶ֣ה לָכֶ֔ם וְעִנִּיתֶ֖ם אֶת־נַפְשֹׁתֵיכֶ֑ם וְהִקְרַבְתֶּ֥ם אִשֶּׁ֖ה לַיקֹוָֽק:

(כח) וְכָל־מְלָאכָה֙ לֹ֣א תַעֲשׂ֔וּ בְּעֶ֖צֶם הַיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֑ה כִּ֣י י֤וֹם כִּפֻּרִים֙ ה֔וּא לְכַפֵּ֣ר עֲלֵיכֶ֔ם לִפְנֵ֖י יְקֹוָ֥ק אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם:

(כט) כִּ֤י כָל־הַנֶּ֙פֶשׁ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר לֹֽא־תְעֻנֶּ֔ה בְּעֶ֖צֶם הַיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֑ה וְנִכְרְתָ֖ה מֵֽעַמֶּֽיהָ:

(ל) וְכָל־הַנֶּ֗פֶשׁ אֲשֶׁ֤ר תַּעֲשֶׂה֙ כָּל־מְלָאכָ֔ה בְּעֶ֖צֶם הַיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֑ה וְהַֽאֲבַדְתִּ֛י אֶת־הַנֶּ֥פֶשׁ הַהִ֖וא מִקֶּ֥רֶב עַמָּֽהּ:

(לא) כָּל־מְלָאכָ֖ה לֹ֣א תַעֲשׂ֑וּ חֻקַּ֤ת עוֹלָם֙ לְדֹרֹ֣תֵיכֶ֔ם בְּכֹ֖ל מֹֽשְׁבֹֽתֵיכֶֽם:

(לב) שַׁבַּ֨ת שַׁבָּת֥וֹן הוּא֙ לָכֶ֔ם וְעִנִּיתֶ֖ם אֶת־נַפְשֹׁתֵיכֶ֑ם בְּתִשְׁעָ֤ה לַחֹ֙דֶשׁ֙ בָּעֶ֔רֶב מֵעֶ֣רֶב עַד־עֶ֔רֶב תִּשְׁבְּת֖וּ שַׁבַּתְּכֶֽם: פ

He claimed that the mitzvah of inui is fundamentally like all other mitzvot of the chagim, and therefore should only apply during the day, similar to shofar or lulav.  He notes that the Netziv claims that עצם means the day itself, bolstering this line of thought.  However, a half day fast does not actually cause affliction.  Thus, the Torah “extended” the fast and started it at night.  He used this to explain the position of the Rambam who seems to rule that only Yom Kippur and no other Shabbat/Yom Tov can be extended via tosefet kedusha, and even then only the inuiim, the afflictions, and not the prohibition to do melacha can be extended:

רמב”ם הלכות שביתת עשור פרק א הלכה ו

כשם ששבות מלאכה בו בין ביום בין בלילה כך שבות לעינוי בין ביום בין בלילה, וצריך להוסיף מחול על הקדש בכניסתו וביציאתו שנאמר +ויקרא כ”ג+ ועניתם את נפשותיכם בתשעה לחדש בערב, כלומר ג התחיל לצום ולהתענות מערב תשעה הסמוך לעשירי, וכן ביציאה שוהה בעינויו מעט מלילי אחד עשר סמוך לעשירי שנאמר מערב עד ערב תשבתו שבתכם.

The notion of extending Yom Kippur is the natural extension of the fact that Yom Kippur at its core is a day extended by God himself.  (This is similar to the claim that we are extremely machmir about chametz on Pesach because God himself set up safeguards to stop you from eating it – namely forbidding owning or seeing it.  If God himself set up primary and secondary prohibitions, it must be that this is a Halacha that must really be protected, thus we take the cue and add chumrot.)

With this, one could suggest a radical explanation for the minhag recorded above.  Due to the concern of danger, we don’t fast for two full days.  However, there is still value to fasting during the second day, as an expression of Yom Kippur, as the inui always had a special status during the day!

I must admit that I find this to be brilliant, but very unlikely to be true (at least an explanation of this minhag).  Still, it is worth putting out there if others feel differently than me.


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