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10 Av 5764 - July 28, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Opinion & Comment
The New Zealand Dateline

To The Editor:

In the article "A South African Perspective of the Australian Jewish Community" by D Saks, please explain what this statement means, at the end of paragraph 3:

(Editor's Note: New Zealand also has a serious halachic issue because its Saturday, which is the same as Australia's, is not the same day as Shabbos which is a day later.)

Thank you,

A. R.


The Editor Replies:

In our parshas Vo'eiro issue of 5761 (2001) the following article appeared.

The Date Line: Don't Move to New Zealand

By HaRav Y. A. Zilber

It was recently reported by Yated that some South African Jews are planning to emigrate to New Zealand.

In that context, I would like to remind readers that the days of the week and Shabbos in New Zealand which are accepted by Jews since Creation, are in accordance with the date line decided upon by the Chazon Ish zy"o, namely one day later than that of the local non-Jewish population of New Zealand.

In other words, our Shabbos falls on the non-Jewish Sunday there. Yom Kippur which shows on a calendar as falling on Wednesday is to be observed on Thursday, and so on for all the other yomim tovim.

The truth is that the Chazon Ish was not the first one to make such a ruling. HaRav Y. M. Tikochinsky zt"l already came to the same conclusion in his book Bein Hashmoshos, which was published in 5789 [1929]. On page 53 he writes the following: "The poskim z"l have written at length about the line to be drawn beyond which lies the `East.' Most of them hold that it is 9 degrees eastwards of Yerushalayim. (See the Razah, Rosh Hashono 20, Yesod Olom, second maamar chapter 17, and the Kuzari, section 2 chapter 20, as well as other sources)."

In 5741 [1941] approaching Yom Kippur 5742, Rav Tikochinsky, amazingly, changed his mind altogether, and his book, A Day on Earth (Hayomam Bekadur Haaretz), contains lengthy discussions (taking up almost 100 pages) to justify his theory which goes counter to the one he earlier quoted in the name of the majority of poskim.

In the book, Zichron Shaul, section 1, "Shabbos," HaRav Shaul Barzam z"l, brother-in-law of HaRav Chaim Kanievsky shlita, writes that the group which met to decide the issue of Shanghai did not have the status of a beis din, since most of the participants were not proficient in this topic, and relied mainly on HaRav Tikochinsky and Professor Frankel.

One of the participants thought that only the times of Yom Kippur and the yomim tovim were being discussed, and not that of Shabbos.

In a periodical published in 5728 [1968] someone who calls himself a "geographer who has an air of Torah about him" wrote that HaRav Tikochinsky and HaRav Herzog consulted with him, and the ruling of HaRav Tikochinsky was correct since "it does not detract from the honor of Chazal or part of them, if they were not aware of the globular nature of the Earth or its ramifications, such as the continuity of sunrise and sunset." Rachmono litzlon. Can we rely on such a ruling?

In the responsa Yoshiv Moshe, pages 21-22, both the opinion of the Chazon Ish and that of HaRav Tikochinsky are mentioned, but he points out that the views of the latter in Hayomam Bekadur Haaretz were not accepted lahalocho, and that the mashgiach, HaRav Y. Levenstein zy"o put on tefillin in public on the day that was Shabbos according to Hayomam Bekadur Haaretz, based on the statement of HaRav Chaim Ozer zy"o that the Chazon Ish was the shofet beyomecho and the posek hador whose rulings had to be obeyed.

Incidentally, HaRav Eliashiv, in his responsum quoted there, does not relate at all to this topic of the date line, and HaRav Chaim Kanievsky told me that the rumours regarding his father-in-law's standpoint on this issue are to be totally disregarded.

The rabbonim of our generation shlita have held that we cannot make lenient rulings on a matter on which only the majority of poskim have expressed an opinion in writing.

I have only made these very brief comments, because I have already written at great length about this topic in the rabbinical publication Otzros Yerushalayim -- 5732 -- pages 1564 -- 68, 70, 76-79, 84, 86, and also in my book Beirur Halocho 5753-5755, Orach Chaim, Tinyono, volume 2, pages 150-159, and Teliso'o, pages 183, 192.

I will elaborate more iy"H in volume 6 of Beirur Halocho.

All this leads to the conclusion that everything possible should be done to prevent or minimize the emigration of Jews to New Zealand, to prevent halachic perplexity and chaos chas vesholom.

HaRav Y. A. Zilber (Y.A.Z.) is the author of Beirur Halocho. His comments on the calendar appear regularly in Yated Ne'eman.

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