Yom Tov Sheni -

The Second Festival Day

For Jews living outside Israel, major Jewish holidays (except for Yom Kippur) are often observed for an additional day called yom tov sheni shel galuyot. The two days of Yom Tov are observed in the Diaspora because the Sanhedrin's messengers could not reach distant communities in time to inform the people of the Rosh Chodesh sighting. Therefore there was some question as to which day was correct for the observance of various Jewish holidays. A second day was therefore added to each holiday so that the correct date would not be missed...

Lunar Phases

Yom Tov means "holiday," and sheni means "second," so yom tov sheni (יוֹם טוֹב שֵׁנִי) means an extra day added for the regularly scheduled holiday... The reason for this extra day apparently goes back to uncertainty regarding the sighting of the new moon, etc., though the direct observation of the moon was no longer necessary after the development of the fixed Jewish calendar. Nonetheless, the sages decided to retain this practice as a custom (minhag) for Jews living outside of the land of Israel. In other words, Jews in the Diaspora (galut) will celebrate most of the holidays (except for Yom Kippur) for an extra day (e.g., Passover runs eight days rather than seven), despite the fact that this is based on an antiquated need rather than logic and the truth of Torah.

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