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This week, the island of Samoa is switching time zones, causing it to skip from Thursday directly to Saturday. Out of simple curiosity, what implications might this have on any Jews on the island? Since one cannot "jump" into the middle of Shabbat, does that mean all observant Jews would have to leave the island?

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In my opinion the most intriguing question asked on this forum ever – simchastorah Dec 29 '11 at 5:10
Could I +100 this? – Hacham Gabriel Dec 29 '11 at 5:12
I think the halachic date line is independent of the secular date line, in which case, this change cannot move Shabbos, but of course I don't know enough to answer. – jake Dec 29 '11 at 5:15
I would say CYLOR... but I'm not sure if there are any in Samoa! – Dave Dec 29 '11 at 5:22
This question is now the highest-voted to date. – Isaac Moses Dec 30 '11 at 3:44
up vote 48 down vote accepted

The civil date line doesn't affect the Halachic day with regards to Shabbos.

Where is the location date line is subject to Halachic argument

According to the Chazon Ish, the Halachic dateline hugs the coast of Australia, China and Russia. Anything to the east (Japan, etc) is considered to be on the same day as the United States. Therefore, it's Shabbos in Japan on their Sunday.

Samoa used to have Shabbos on Saturday (like Hawaii). Now it will be pushed off a day (to be like) Japan and have it on Sunday.

According to R' Tukachinsky, the halachic date line is between Hawaii and California. Therefore, Hawaii is on the Japanese side and Shabbos is on their Friday.

Samoa used to have Shabbos on Friday (like Hawaii). Now it will be pushed off a day to Saturday.

There are other opinions that it runs straight through the middle of the Pacific, though there are arguments of exactly where does it run.

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Then there's also the opinion of R. M.M. Kasher (described here), that there is no date line - each place just follows the direction from which its earliest Shabbos-observant settlers came. In that case, then, its Shabbos would presumably continue to be at the same time as that of the U.S. (i.e., its new Sunday). – Alex Dec 29 '11 at 5:31
I don't have a citation readily available, but many American poskim allow Jews to visit Hawaii and keep Fri night / Sat night as shabbos. A minority suggest that Jews should not do melacha d'oraisa from Thurs night to Fri night on the islands of Aloha. Ditto Japan, not doing melacha d'oraisa from Sat night to Sun night. – user1095 Dec 29 '11 at 17:43
BTW, I heard that when Mir was in Japan during WW2, they kept Shabbos and Yom Kippur for two days (one Halachically and one Lechumra). Lubavitch IIRC, kept Shabbbos on Saturday like the latter two opinions. – Shmuel Brin Dec 29 '11 at 18:21
@Alex Samoa's earliest settlers kept Shabbat like Australia. It was switched to USA in 1892. see staff.science.uu.nl/~gent0113/idl/idl_alaska.htm – Double AA Dec 29 '11 at 19:09
Nice answer and all... but nobody in Japan keeps Shabbat on Sunday, and nobody in HAwaii keeps Shabbat on Friday. – avi Dec 29 '11 at 19:25

The question of where the Halachic International Dateline is is its own independent question. The decision in Samoa would only matter if we left date-line issues to governmental/secular authorities, which is not the case. The day to keep Shabbos in Samoa would be seven days from the last time it was to be kept, according to which ever opinion we should/do go by.

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But what if Shabbath has never been kept there (or has not been kept there since whatever year the last Jew to ever dwell/visit there left)? Do we go by that person, or do we go by what Samoa decides for itself? What if, perhaps, all this time it was in the wrong time zone and now it's moving into the correct one (from the perspective of Halachah)? – Seth J Dec 29 '11 at 17:36
My point was that whatever the halachic process used to determine the date of Shabbos for the "week before", whether in theory or in practice, remains unchanged by an arbitrary change by the the govn. There may be different opinions about which day that is, but seven days later would constitute Shabbos according to which ever opinion. – Yirmeyahu Dec 30 '11 at 4:31

It seems The Star K picked up on the question: How to Keep This Shabbos in Samoa? STAR-K Tells Us How (Samoa & Tokelau To Cross International Date Line)

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This Shabbath matters, of course, but I think the question was also about long-term implications. – Seth J Dec 30 '11 at 5:04
The short answer (my summary of this article) is that since "According to almost all opinions, the Halachic Dateline is not determined by what the locals call 'Saturday,'" Shabbat the week of the time change (shabbat B) will start exactly 7 days after the start of the previous shabbat (shabbat A), and shabbat the week after the time change (shabbat C) will start exact exactly 7 days after the start of shabbat B. There's longstanding complication caused by the fact that the Chazon Ish and R' Tukachinsky disagree about what day Shabbat is to begin with, but this new change doesn't affect that. – Chanoch May 13 '12 at 14:49
While this link may answer the question, it is better to include the essential parts of the answer here and provide the link for reference. Link-only answers can become invalid if the linked page changes. - From Review – sabbahillel Feb 17 at 13:56
There should be mention of the questions of Japan and New Zealand, the cases behind the rulings Chanoch mentions. – Micha Berger Feb 17 at 16:56

It's particularly interesting because one must choose a shita -- it's logically impossible to satisfy both opinions. (Even if I observe one day fully and refrain from melacha d'oraisa on the other -- or fast one day and eat b'serugin on the other -- I'm still willy-nilly choosing one and rejecting the other by treating one as"real" and the other as "extra.")

Which begs the question: What do the Jews in those places do nowadays? It would be interesting to hear from people who've lived in Japan, Hawaii, or places in between. If I had to guess, I'd imagine Jews in these ambiguous places observe Shabbos on the local Saturday, relying on whichever halachic dateline shita would validate that approach for the place they are living.

If so, I assume Samoa Jews would want to keep observing Shabbat on local Saturday if possible even after Samoa changes its local secular custom about when Saturday is. So the halachic question becomes, can Samoan Jews stick to Saturday by switching which halachic shita they follow re where they are in relation to the halachic date line? And if yes, I assume they'd have to keep two Shabbatot in a row the first time they do so, then switch thereafter. They'd want to make sure the first time they do it isn't Yom Kippur. Or maybe leave for a Shabbos and come back and start over. Thoughts?

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Yakov, welcome to Mi Yodeya! This is an interesting line of discussion, but could use some work to become a more focused and informative answer. I suggest that you take a look at this quick tour of Mi Yodeya to learn about some of the ways that our structured Q&A format is different from those of more free-form discussion boards. I look forward to seeing you around! – Isaac Moses Feb 17 at 20:40

I think that there is no reason to assume that the change in Samoa would affect the Hebrew date. Since, for example, the fifteenth of Ader is Shabbat all over the world, it should be Shabbat in Samoa also, no matter what day of the week the Samoans call it.

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How do you know it's still the 15th of Ader? – Double AA Feb 17 at 6:00
Yosef, welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks for this answer! I hope you'll look around and find other Q&A of interest and stay learning with us. If you haven’t done so already, you should take a look at the tour. Also MiYodeya emphasizes sources - since we don't know you, how else would we know that what you wrote is true? Maybe you could edit your answer to better explain how you got to this answer – mbloch Feb 17 at 8:18
This does not give sources or reasons. – sabbahillel Feb 17 at 10:21

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