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Though a number of views arguing for a precise (longitudinal or shoreline conforming) location for a halakhic dateline, those of the Hazon Ish and Rav Tukatzinsky being most often quoted, have been proposed, this paper argues strongly in favor of a view of major poskim including Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank and Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer that argue that such a line is not defined in halakha. In support of that position, I further argue that the existence of a dateline often thought of as logically necessary, in fact, is not. Rather the halakha is established by local (Jewish) practice as it has evolved. A person leaving such a location while over uninhabited ocean/land maintains previous practice (subject to observations of a new day.)

A related matter not covered, but one to which I hope to return, are the assumptions behind the position of the Hazon Ish, whose position was previously argued by Rav Moshe Lapidus at the end of the 19th century. It drew opposition at that time from Rav Shaul Nathanson, author of the Shoel u’Mashiv.

Though all my articles published on benefit from her meticulous editorial judgment, Davida Kolmar’s work on this article, moving paragraphs, simplifying sentences, etc. made the article clearer and more easily read and understood.

This ancient topic, clearly decided by all codifiers of law, has had those who nonetheless sat outside the sukkah (for at least part of Shemini Atzeret) throughout history. For those of us in the USA, it is abundantly clear that, despite family custom, we are obligated to sit in the Sukkah, despite this position not being practiced in Talmudic times.

the fascinating look back at history.

This brief introduction to the calendar explains some of the science and mathematics hazal likely used in establishing the calendar. I had come across a claim by those associated with perpetrating the bible codes hoax that attributed hazal’s knowledge of the average length of time between lunations to halakha le’Moshe mi’sinai. As is explained in the article, hazal (and ancient science) knew the average length between lunations to 6 decimal places. Today, modern science knows that quantity to 8 decimal places. The error introduced by not knowing the 7th and 8th decimal place will become impactful in about 5000 years, absent a simple fix by an intervening Sanhedrin. It seems obvious to me which brings more credence and loyalty to Torah, hazal, and our traditions.