7 or 8

Today is the last day of Pesach.  The Torah tells us to celebrate Passover for seven days.    Reform Jews and all Israeli Jews will observe the Biblical number of days.  Yet every year there are questions about the “correct” number of days to observe Passover.

Conservative and Orthodox Jews outside of Israel add an additional day.  So for them Passover is eight days.  Some say adding to the joy of the holiday for others adding to its burden.   The additional day in the Diaspora was added because it was the Sanhedrin that used to declare the new moon and it took a while for messengers to come from Jerusalem to announce it.  Hai Gaon mentions that Hillel b R. Yehuda was the first to fix the calendar. But this has come under some debate. Clearly by the time of Maimonides the calculated calendar terms were fixed.  Thus we could definitely predict when the holidays, new months and new years would begin.  And the actual need to add an additional day to ensure that the holiday was observed properly was no longer.  But some in the Diaspora continue out of custom to observe the eighth day of Passover and two days of Shavuot as well and an extra day at Sukkot.

So for those of you that will add an additional day tomorrow.  I will think of you when I taste my first chametz tonight.   Onward to Shavuot.

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