ANSWERS TO REVIEW QUESTIONS
prepared by Rabbi Eliezer Chrysler
Kollel Iyun Hadaf, Jerusalem
Previous dafRosh Hashanah 25
(a) It once happened that two witnesses testified that they had seen the new
moon in the morning in the east and in the (following) evening in the west.
Rebbi Yochanan ben Nuri declared their testimony null and void. When they
arrived in Yavneh however - Raban Gamliel accepted it.
(b) It could it not have been the *old* moon that they had seen in the
morning in the east (in which case the problem would have been that, as we
have already learned, twenty-four hours must elapse between the
disappearance of the old moon and the appearance of the new one) - because
Raban Gamliel's justification for accepting them was that sometimes it moves
a little quicker and sometimes a little slower, an argument that will hold
no water with regard to the twenty-four hours that *must* elapse between the
disappearance of the old moon and the appearance of the new one.
(c) The other occasion on which Raban Gamliel accepted the witnesses, and
Rebbi Dosa ben Horkinas declared them to be liars - was when they claimed to
have seen the new moon in the morning, yet the following evening, no moon
could was visible.
(d) The basis of Rebbi Dosa's accusation was - that for the new moon to have
been sighted in the morning and to disappear in the evening is as ridiculous
as a woman giving birth in the morning and then still being pregnant in the
(a) Rebbi Yehoshua (who was the Av Beis-Din) - declared that he agreed with
Rebbi Dosa ben Horkinas, causing Raban Gamliel to react harshly (because he
was afraid that the authority of Beis-ha'Gadol was being threatened - much
like Moshe's strong reaction to Korach's rebellion).
(b) Raban Gamliel ordered Rebbi Yehoshua to come to him with his staff and
money on the eleventh of Tishri (the day that, in his opinion, should have
been Yom Kipur).
(c) Rebbi Akiva consoled Rebbi Yehoshua with the Pasuk in Emor "Eileh
Mo'adei Hashem Asher Tikre'u *Osam* be'Moadam" - (which, seeing as "Osam" is
missing a Vav, could also be read "Asher Tikre'u *Atem*"), to teach us that
whichever of the days Beis-Din (under the jurisdiction of the Nasi) fix Rosh
Chodesh, *is* Rosh Chodesh, whether that is the right day or not.
Consequently, even if *he* had been right and Raban Gamliel wrong, the day
that Raban Gamliel fixed as Rosh Chodesh was Rosh Chodesh, in which case, he
had not desecrated Yom Kipur.
(d) Rebbi Dosa ben Horkinas (with whom Rebbi Yehoshua was agreeing) consoled
him, using the Pasuk in Mishpatim "va'Ya'al Moshe ve'Aharon, Nadav va'Avihu
*ve'Shiv'im mi'Ziknei Yisrael*" - to point out that even though Raban
Gamliel and his Beis-Din were not as great as Moshe and Aharon, Nadav and
Avihu, the Torah deliberately withholds the names of the seventy elders, so
that we should learn to accept the Beis-Din of our days, who may well be
equivalent to the seventy elders whose names we do not know.
(a) When Rebbi Yehoshua arrived at Raban Gamliel's house on the eleventh of
Tishri - Raban Gamliel arose and kissed him on the head.
(b) 'Come in peace', he said to him, 'my Rebbe and my Talmid. My Rebbe in
knowledge, and my Talmid, because you obeyed my instructions'.
(a) With regard to his first ruling (concerning the witnesses who claimed
that they saw the new moon in the east in the morning ...) - Raban Gamliel
explained that he had a tradition from his father (Rebbi Shimon ben Gamliel
the first) that the speed of the moon (or perhaps he was referring to its
orbit) is not constant, sometimes it travels a bit slower and sometimes a
(b) The source for this lies in the Pasuk in Tehilim "Asah Yare'ach
le'Moadim, Shemesh Yada Mevo'o", which Rebbi Yochanan explained to mean that
it is the sun whose path is constant, but not the moon.
(c) Rebbi Chiya threw a clod of earth at the moon when he saw it on the
morning of the thirtieth of Elul - because if it would still have been there
that evening, they would not have been able to prolong the month, and Yom
Kipur would have fallen next to Shabbos (and we have already learned that,
provided the moon is not seen that night, one may frighten witnesses to say
that they have seen the new moon even if they have not). Throwing the clod
of earth at the moon was merely a sign that they wanted it to move quickly
and disappear (before nightfall). Who knows, perhaps signs of this nature
are effective, as we find with regard to Rosh Hashanah.
(d) Rebbi sent Rebbi Chiya to Ein Itam to declare Rosh Chodesh there,
because (assuming this to be a continuation of the previous episode, the
people, who had seen the moon throughout the twenty-ninth, would begin
talking if they would subsequently prolong the month). Alternatively - it
was because the Romans had issued a decree forbidding the declaration of
Rosh Chodesh in Rebbi's town. This reason might also explain why Rebbi
instructed Rebbi Chiya to send him back (as a sign that he had accomplished
his mission) 'David Melech Yisrael Chai ve'Kayam' - symbolizing that Malchus
Beis David (who is compared to the moon) would prevail and outlast the
Romans - in spite of their decrees. He gave him the sign in code, to avoid
the Romans discovering what he had done.
(a) The Beis-Din of Raban Gamliel once accepted a viewing (of what they
thought was the new moon) on the twenty-ninth of the month. Raban Gamliel
however, rejected it outright - due to the tradition that he had received
from his father that the minimum time period between one Molad and the next
is twenty-nine and a half days, forty minutes and seventy-three Chalakim
(there are 1080 Chalakim in an hour).
(b) He subsequently eulogized the mother of Ben Zaza, who died that day, far
more extensively than he would otherwise have done - to negate the rumor
that was spreading in town that it was Rosh Chodesh.
(c) When Rebbi Yehoshua left Raban Gamliel (after he had been issued with
his devastating instructions), the Tana writes 'Halach u'Matz'o Rebbi Akiva
Meitzar' - meaning that Rebbi Akiva found Rebbi Yehoshua in distress.
(d) We have already seen in our Mishnah how Rebbi Akiva consoled his Rebbe.
He Darshened the three "Osom" written in Parshas Emor" (as of they were
written "Atem"): "Atem" - Afilu Shogegin; "Atem" - Afilu Mezidin; "Atem" -
Afilu Muta'in - from which we see that whether the Beis-Din changed the day
of Rosh Chodesh by mistake, whether they did so deliberately or whether they
were tricked into declaring the wrong day Rosh Chodesh, their decision is
(a) The Pasuk writes in Shmuel "va'Yishlach Hashem es Yeruba'al, ve'es
Bedan, ve'es Yiftach, ve'es Sh'muel. The Navi refers to ...
1. ... Gid'on as Yeruba'al - because ('Yariv Ba'al') he fought with the idol
(b) We know that Sh'muel was greater than the other three leaders mentioned
in this Pasuk - because of the Pasuk in Tehilim, which mentions him together
with Moshe and Aharon.
2. ... Shimshon as Bedan - because he came from Dan.
(c) Chazal therefore link Yeruba'al with Moshe, Shimshon with Aharon and
Yiftach with Sh'muel - to teach us that the leader of the generation,
whoever he is, is to *his* generation, like Moshe Rabeinu was to *his*.
(d) And we learn from the Pasuk ...
1. ... "u'Vasa el ha'Kohanim ha'Levi'im ve'El ha'Shofet Asher Yihyeh
ba'Yamim ha'Heim" - that one can only visit the judge who is alive then. In
other words, there is no point in complaining about the judges and the
leaders not being what they used to be. We must accept the leaders that we
have (perhaps, if *we* were more worthy, our leaders would be more worthy
too). Note: We are not speaking of leaders and judges who do not observe
Torah and Mitzvos - as is clear from the Pasuk in Shmuel, which serves as
the source for this statement.
2. ... "Al Tomar Mah Hayah, she'ha'Yamim ha'Rishonim Hayu Tovim me'Eileh" -
that neither is there any use in complaining about the decline in living
standards, because that is linked to the drop in the level of Torah and
Mitzvos (see Agados Maharsha).
(a) We reject the wording of Raban Gamliel's 'Kal va'Chomer' (if the seniors
obey their juniors, then how much more so will the juniors learn to obey
their seniors - on the grounds that no 'Kal va'Chomer' is required to teach
us that juniors are obligated to obey their seniors. That is an intrinsic
***** Hadran Alach, 'Im Einan Makirin' *****
(b) So we amend it to read that because the seniors obey their juniors, the
juniors derive a 'Kal va'Chomer' to obey their seniors.
***** Perek Ra'uhu Beis-Din *****
(a) 'If Beis-Din and all of Yisrael saw the new moon on the thirtieth, but
night fell before they managed to declare Rosh Chodesh, Rosh Chodesh will
have to be postponed until the thirty-first of the month. The Tana needs to
add 'and all of Yisrael' - to teach us that the fact that *everyone* knows
that the new moon appeared, is not sufficient grounds to declare Rosh
Chodesh, and that Beis-Din will only do so through the testimony of
We learn from the Pasuk ...
(b) 'Nechkeru ha'Eidim' is an independent case (not part of the previous
one). Either way (whether everyone saw the new moon, or the witnesses had
already been cross-examined, if Beis-Din did not manage to declare 'Mekudash
Mekudash', the month had to be prolonged.
(c) If the only ones to have seen the new moon are ...
1. ... the twenty-three members of the Sanhedrin Ketanah - then two of them
must stand (as witnesses always had to do) in front of three of the others
(d) Having taught us that if the whole of Yisrael saw the new moon, but did
not manage to declare Rosh Chodesh before nightfall, the Tana nevertheless
needs to add that the same applies to a case where the witnesses were
examined etc. - because we would otherwise have thought that, once the
witnesses have been cross-examined, the final declaration of the Beis-Din is
nothing more the conclusion of the Din, which in other matters, is permitted
2. ... the three members of Beis-Din - then two of them will have to stand
in front of the remaining Dayan, who will have to combine with two other
Dayanim from elsewhere. The Chidush in this case, is - that one Dayan is not
eligible to declare Rosh Chodesh on his own.
1. ... "va'Hayah *be'Yom* Hanchilo es Banav" - that (the beginning of) Din
must be performed by day.
2. ... (with regard to Kidush ha'Chodesh) "Ki *Chok* le'Yisrael Hu *Mishpat*
le'Elokei Ya'akov" - that the Chok (the final declaration) of Kidush
ha'Chodesh, has the same Din as Mishpat (the beginning of Din - in other
cases), and it cannot be performed by night.
(a) Even though all three members of Beis-Din saw the new moon, they need to
testify - because, Rebbi Zeira explains, we are speaking when they saw the
new moon at night, when they cannot declare Rosh Chodesh (had they seen it
by day, they would indeed have been permitted to sit down and declare Rosh
Chodesh without additional witnesses).
(b) The principle of 've'Lo Tehei Shemi'ah Gedolah me'Re'iyah' will not
apply to other cases of testimony - because the Torah uses the term
'Eidus', implying that there must be verbal testimony at all costs.
(a) Having established the previous case when they saw the moon at night -
the Seifa (when the Beis-Din of *three* saw the new moon) comes to teach us
that an individual Dayan is not qualified to handle Kidush ha'Chodesh on his
own (as we explained earlier).
(b) We might otherwise have learned from money-matters, where one competent
Dayan can judge on his own - and apply that leniency by Kidush ha'Chodesh,
(c) We do *not* learn from money-matters - because there is certainly no-one
more competent than Moshe Rabeinu, yet the Torah writes in Bo "ha'Chodesh
ha'Zeh *Lachem*" (in the plural) to teach us that Kidush ha'Chodesh requires
three (not two, since a Beis-Din must always comprise an odd number).
(a) We know that for Beis-Din to issue the death-sentence, there must be
testimony (and we will not apply 've'Lo Tehei Shemi'ah Gedolah me'Re'iyah')
- from the Pasuk "al Pi Sh'nayim *Eidim* Yumas ha'Meis".
(b) Witnesses cannot testify and then sit and judge - because even the most
lenient opinion, only permits *potential* witnesses (who saw the crime) to
(decline to testify and to) judge (instead).
(c) Rebbi Tarfon permits Dayanim who saw a murder to sit as judges. Rebbi
Akiva prohibits it.
(d) Rebbi Akiva could in fact, be the author of our Mishnah, which permits
witnesses who saw the moon to sit as judges - because it is only in murder
cases (where someone who witnessed a murder will have great difficulty in
even *trying* to find the defendant innocent (to practice the "ve'Hitzilu
ha'Eidah" which the Torah specifically writes in connection with murder).
But in other cases, Rebbi Akiva concedes that a potential witness is
permitted to judge.