Question: [Wednesday 6th Elul, 5780]
Should someone avoid davening for something petty (like their son winning a ball game), so as not to “diminish zechusim”?
There is a Mitzvah Min Hatorah to Daven to Hashem for things that you want. This itself can serve as a Zechus to have your request fulfilled, and in general is the entire concept of prayer which is to create a new Ratzon, even if it was not in his original decreed budget. Thus, I see nothing wrong with a person Davening for this if it is important to them, and on the contrary one should be encouraged to do so. Nonetheless, there seemingly is some truth behind the idea that receiving something from G-d can potentially come in expense of other blessings, although it is unclear as to how this works, and this would require further analysis. One thing is clear, we don’t tell a person not to turn to Hashem for things that he wants and desires out of calculation that it may diminish his merits, as if he needs something, he has a Mitzvah and Chiyuv to Daven for it. What we do say is that he should not enter himself into a situation that will then require miraculous intervention, as doing so may diminish his merits.
Sources: See here: https://shulchanaruchharav.com/halacha/personal-prayers-praying-in-distress/ and the Sefer Mivaser Tov-Tefila 2:4 for the importance of Davening for even petty things from Hashem; See also Taanis 20b, Maharsha Kiddushin 29b; Even Yisrael 9:106-25
Question: [Sunday 3rd Elul, 5780]
I have learned that since holiness is more revealed in the Land of Israel, Yamim Tovim can be revealed and received there in one day, as opposed to in golus where two days are required.
My daughter will be learning in a seminary in Israel this year. According to the shita of Chabad, should she keep one or two days of Yom Tov?
Chabad Rabbanim debate this matter. My ruling in such situations is that she should keep one day.
Background: The scenarios in which a non-resident is required to keep Yom Tov only one day in Eretz Yisrael is disputed between the Poskim, including between the Alter Rebbe’s first and second version of his Shulchan Aruch. In the second version he states as you wrote above, that one is to always follow where he is in, as his spiritual effluence of Yom Tov is received through his current location. The Rebbe Rashab, however, took the approach of the first version of Admur. We as well find conflicting instructions throughout the years within the writings of the Rebbe, even though in general the Rebbe’s approach was like the first version of the Shulchan Aruch. Accordingly, the matter is disputed amongst Chabad Rabbanim, with some taking the approach of the latter version of the Shulchan Aruch, and others taking the approach of the first version of the Shulchan Aruch, which is the implied directives of the Rabbeim.
Practically, for Chabad Chassidim, I rule to keep one day like in Eretz Yisrael as I received from my Rebbe by whom I did Shimush, Harav Asher Lemel Hakohen Shlita. In addition, irrelevant of one’s personal stance, it seems that the Chabad populace as a whole has accepted the approach of Admur in his second version, as can be seen by each holiday that the visitors to 770 keep a full two days just like the Diaspora residents. It would hence be highly contradictory to follow the ruling of the later version of Admur for visitors to the Diaspora, but apply the ruling of the earlier version to visitors to Israel. Those who voice the argument that a true home of a Chassid is in 770, and hence he is considered a resident, I find preposterous to accept in regards to making Halachic decisions based on it, not to mention that those who make such claims would need to be consistent with all other resident laws applicable to them to always consider themselves as visitors of Israel, regarding keeping two days in Eretz Yisrael, Tefilas Haderech, Visein Tal Umatar, etc et, and there is no greater confusion in the boundaries of Halacha then such new claims. Nonetheless, despite the above, by Pesach I rule stringently regarding the last day, to not eat Chametz, as ruled the Rebbe Rashab.
Sources: See Admur 496:7-11; Basra 1:8; Shaar Hakolel 1:2; Minchas Yitzchak 5::43; Likkutei Sichos 3/997; Letters and talks of Rebbe printed in Shulchan Menachem and the many Sefarim cited there which discuss this matter in great length as to the Chabad position, and as evident, each Rav has his way of ruling.