Some reflections on Succos
I am back after taking a break for Succos.
This year I built a very big succa and for the first time really felt like תשבו כעין תדורו. For the first time in my life I slept and ate in the succa and did not feel cramped, the succa felt like a room of my house. It was great to be able to be mekayem the mitzva like that eating, sleeping, and just spending a lot of time in the succa.
The first day of Chol Hamoed, the weather in Israel was unprecedented. It was a really stormy day with a lot of rain. Everyone I spoke to (including my relatives who were born in israel) could not remember such bad weather on Succos. Other then that 1 day we really enjoyed our time on the succa.
Shmini Atzeres/Simchas Torah is a bit much in Israel. To go from the levity and simcha of the hakafos to yizkor and geshem seems incongrous.
The usual questions about how many days should visitors keep came up. There are 4 opinions:
1. 1 day - this is the opinion of the Chacham Tzvi and others, it seems to be the minority opinion
2. A day and a half - this is what is reported as the recommendation of the Rav to his talmidim, it means that on the second day you don't make kiddush, you daven a chol shemoneh esrei, however, you don't do any melacha.
3. 2 days - this is the majority opinion and what is observed in the Charedi community
4. 2 and a half days - you keep 2 days but on the second night you hear havdala and on the last day you put on tefillin. This is what RHS keeps (see Regarding the Second Day Yom Tov for Visitors in Eretz Yisroel for RHS nuanced view on this).
As many have pointed out a day and a half can be in some ways be considered the most machmir shita. You are machmir on the issur d'oraysa of possibly saying a bracha levatala. Everything else (melacha on the second day, the mitzvos on the second day, etc. are all only d'rabbanan's).
This is clearly 1 question where every needs to ask their own Rav a question and abide by his ruling.