Flying back to Chutz La’Aretz from Israel on Second Day of Yom Tov

QUESTION


New York

If someone was in Israel for Pesach and only keeping one day of chag, would they be able to fly back to America on Yom Tov Sheni, once you leave Israel?
Does it matter if you don’t land until chag is over in chutz laaretz?
How would you handle a layover if it’s permitted?

ANSWER

If an Israeli or American who lives a good part of the year in Israel and can reasonably be called a בן ארץ ישראל—ben eretz yisrael comes to the US on Yom Tov Sheni (second day of Yom Tov), they can treat the day as chol ha’moed as long as s/he is in the airport—that is not yet “higiya li’yishuv,” but should wait for nightfall before traveling home, since once they leave the airport they will need to follow Yom Tov practices and thus will not be able to be riding a car (SA, OC 496:3).

Although, in all honesty, there is a basis to be lenient since we are dealing with שבות דשבות במקום מצוה shevut d’shevut bemakom mitzvah (the mitzvah here would be simchat ha’chag). It is shvut d’shvut because that the real problem with driving on Yom Tov is making a new fire which is rabbinic, and the car is being driven by a non-Jew. The ordering of the Uber is not a problem—it is not Yom Tov for him while he is in the airport. And when the cab gets into the destination city, it is still permissible for him to be in it. He should be careful, though, to have the Uber driver open the door for him when he arrives so he doesn’t trigger the interior light. If s/he does this, s/he must keep Yom Tov Sheni when they leave the airport and get into the city.

Someone who is totally living in the US but just keeps one day can board the plane in Israel and get out and be in the airport and move around, but must treat it like Yom Tov Sheni once they land, since they are no longer in Israel which would allow them—according to the psak of 1-day that they are following—to keep only 1 day. Once they land, their techum is defined by the airport and in most cases this is within the city boundaries, so they can walk throughout the city (assuming this is feasible).

Based on what I wrote in the first paragraph, there might be some basis to allow one to take a cab home (שבות דשבות במקום מצוה), provided their destination is within the techum of the airport. However, besides the interior light issue (getting both on and off the cab), there is also the problem of ordering the cab itself, which involves using your phone. The best way to deal with this is to arrange for a car service ahead of time (but what if the flight is delayed…). I think if you do not have to type (words or letters—so, have your destination address already entered), and can use a shinuy (your knuckle) and to call an Uber, then in cases of sufficient tzorekh, it an argument can be made to allow it.

It is also important to note is that there is a serious maryit ayin to be concerned about—getting out of a cab with your suitcase in front of your home on Yom Tov. So unless really, really necessary I would not go this route. For an Israeli (the first case) the maryit ayin issue is less, since it is maryit ayin regarding something that is only required because of חומרי מקום שהלך לשם—humrei makom she’halacha le’sham (taking on the stringencies of the place to which he is traveling).

If there is a layover, they can get on the connecting flight. Although they will be flying out of the techum, they will be doing so above 10 tefachim, so it is not a problem (SA OH 404:1). When they land at their destination, they cannot leave the building, since they left the techum (airport #1), they only have 4 amot from where they are, which includes anywhere within the walls of the airport. When boarding the second flight (and being on it), they must make sure to not do anything not allowed on Yom Tov. I would give the plane ticket to the steward/ess and let him/her scan it.

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