When a new Rabbinic holiday is instituted, such as Chanukah, it naturally took time for Jewish people in far away lands to learn of the new holiday, it's rules and mitzvot. It may also have taken time to confirm that the news was in fact valid and reliable.

I would like to understand if there was any sort of 'grace' period for establishing a new Rabbinic holiday or if all such holidays went into effect immediately and were binding right away.

  • Other than not fasting and eulogizing, the only two rabbinic holidays that have mitsvot associated with them ADFAIK are Chanukah and Purim. Are you asking about these two cases in particular, or about rabbinic legislation in general?
    – mevaqesh
    Dec 6, 2017 at 14:30
  • @mevaqesh I believe there were others before Megilat Taanit was abolished. I am asking specifically about Rabbinicly legislated holidays. Dec 6, 2017 at 14:46
  • Megillat taanit holidays are mostly about not fasting and or eulogizing.
    – mevaqesh
    Dec 6, 2017 at 14:48
  • It does say that next year
    – patient
    Dec 6, 2017 at 14:49
  • 1
    I don't understand why the need for time for communication would necessitate a grace period. People who didn't hear yet are clearly exempt through Oneis. If you did hear you are obligated. What's the problem?
    – Double AA
    Dec 6, 2017 at 15:26

1 Answer 1


Some background information: I think you might misunderstand the very idea of Rabbis in times of the second Temple and up to the signing of the Talmud. As we know, the winner rewrites the history. That's what happened, in my understanding, with our sources - all of them were "aligned" with the winning Pharisee view, especially presenting our forefathers (up to the second Temple time) as keeping exclusively the Pharisee tradition for all times.

THis is not true, of course. Practically all of the Rabbinical rulings were a matter of public acceptance over long long time. The fact that the Mishna itself is full of mutual nonacceptance of numerous Rabbis proves it. Many even question "one vs many" rule and many time on wins over many. This is especially weird in times of the functioning Sanhedrin, where the question could be simply ruled by the Sanhedrin - but nobody used that option, proving that there was not unanimously accepted Halakhah until Rambam and Shulchan Aruch.

Another point to keep in mind - there were no written laws before the Mishnah, everyone wrote note to himself, so instituting a ruling was practically impossible.

Also, during the Second Temple the Rabbis had no social or political influence to enforce their ruling unto the masses. Jews were scattered all over a huge region with no central power. Even under R'Gamliel's political alliances it was very local. Remember R' Yahosua that did not accept R' Gamliel Beis Din ruling of Rosh Chodesh (Berachot 18)? The Talmud is full of such examples when Rabbies had conflicting customs in different towns and even neighborhoods of the same town.

To your question of Chanukkah: same here. The way the Talmud presents it as hinted in the Torah and practiced for generations is not so true. It was not widely practiced until long after the destruction of the Temple as it did not make a dent in the Mishna.

It is also true nowadays. Rabbis write their ruling as sort of "שלח לחמך על פני המים" - "spread you crumbs over the water" as they have no real enforcement power, and it takes years and sometimes decades and more to see, which rulings are accepted and which are not and by whom.

  • The way the Talmud presents it as hinted in the Torah and practiced for generations is not so true Where does the Torah hint to Hannuka, and in what why is the picture that the Torah hints not accurate?
    – mevaqesh
    Dec 10, 2017 at 3:33
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    as it did not make a dent in the Mishna If by "make a dent in the Mishna", you mean be mentioned in the Mishna, that's not true. Hannuka is mentioned in Bikkurim 1:6, Rosh HaShana 1:3, Ta'anit 2:10, Megillah 3:4, and 3:6, Moed Kattan 3:9, and Bava Kamma 6:6. (And 5 times in Tosefta and 3 times in Sifrei).
    – mevaqesh
    Dec 10, 2017 at 3:35
  • Besides for much of this being unclear / false / undocumented, none of it really answers the question. Granted for the sake of argument, that the rabbis may have had limited authority, and granted that some of their legislation may not have been immediately accepted, the question remains whether they ever deliberately delayed their ordinances; particularly holidays, from taking effect for the purpose of spreading the word to those who were receptive.
    – mevaqesh
    Dec 10, 2017 at 3:39
  • It's amazing how you catch the details missing the main point. The main point (maybe I couldn't present it clearly) - **There's no instituting of rulings" in general and holidays in specific. Rabbis publish their own rulings and the rest is a matter of "chance" or Hashem's guidance. Rabbis had and have no power (or very limited) over masses and it is up to the masses to accept or reject a certain ruling. But, I will thing about rewriting my answer to present this point more clearly. Thank you.
    – Al Berko
    Dec 10, 2017 at 12:27

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