Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Daf Yomi - Rosh Hashana 2 - Names of the Months

It is noteworthy that the Mishna states the names of the months according to their names given to them during the Babylonian Exile.

The Ritva writes that the same way the Torah does not give designated names for the days of the week, so too there are no designated names for the months, rather they are identified by number in reference to the month of Nissan which the Torah states is the first month of the Year. This is because it is through this that we can constantly remind ourselves about the Exodus from Egypt. The names Nissin, Iyar etc. are names originating from the Persians that we became accustomed to when we were in Exile.

The Ramban in Parshas Bo writes in his commentary to explain the following verse. (translation of the Ramban taken from

“Hashem said to Moshe and Aharon in the Land of Egypt, 'This month shall be for you the beginning of the months; it shall be for you the first of the months of the year.' " (Shemot, 12:1-2)

"The verses mean that this month should be counted first. And beginning with it, should the count proceed to the second, the third, and so on, till the end of the sequence of months with the twelfth month. For the purpose that this month should be a commemoration of the Great Miracle. For every time we mention the months, the Miracle will be alluded to. It is for that reason that the months do not have names in the Torah, but rather they are identified by number…"

"And it is similar to the way that days are referenced with reference to the Day of Shabbat; for example, the First Day of Shabbat (for Sunday), and the Second Day of Shabbat (for Monday), as I will explain in the future…Thus, when we call the Month of Nisan "the first" and Tishrei "the seventh," the meaning is the first with reference to the Redemption and the seventh with reference to it…"

"And our Rabbis have mentioned this matter, and they said that the names of the months came back with us from Bavel. For originally they had no "names" for us, and the reason is that they were "in commemoration of the Exodus from Egypt." But when we returned from Bavel, and the prophecy of "it will no longer be said 'by the Life of Hashem, who took the Jewish People out of Egypt,' rather it will be said 'by the life of Hashem, who raised up and brought the People of Israel from the Northern Land' (Yirmiyahu 16:14-15) was fulfilled, we changed our practice and began to call the months by the names which were used in those lands, as a reminder that we had been there, and that it was from there that Hashem took us out…"

"For these names, Nisan, Iyar and the rest are Persian names, and appear only in the Books of the Prophets who prophesied in Bavel, and in Megilas Esther… And still today, the non-Jews in those lands use the names Nisan and Tishrei, etc. as we do. And thus we are following the same practice with reference to the second redemption as we did in connection with the first."

Rav Yeruchem Fishel Perlow in his classic commentary on Rabbeinu Sadya Gaon writes that there is a dispute as to how to understand the Ramban. The Abarbanel maintains that there still exists a mitzvah nowadays to count the months according to Nissan, thereby remembering the Exodus from Egypt. However, when they left Bavel, they wanted to be reminded of the Babylonian Exile as well and therefore the months are called by their Persian names. Sefer Haikrim holds that when they left Bavel, the Prophets abolished the mitzvah of counting the months according to the Exodus from Egypt and instituted that the months should be counted only according to the Babylonian Exile.

The Binyan Shlomo states that it is impossible to say like the Sefer Haikrim since a mitzvah cannot be abolished. A prophet does not have the ability to annul a Biblical obligation. Furthermore, he cites verses throughout Scripture that count the months according to the Exodus from Egypt.

Rav Yeruchem Fishel states that from the fact that the Mishnayos mention the months according to their Persian name, it is a proof to the explanation of the Ein Yaakov who explains the Ramban to mean that there is no obligation to count the months according to the Exodus from Egypt, rather if one is counting the months, he cannot count them according to any other order but from Nissan. If one wants to call the months a different name, he may do so.

The Binyan Shlomo learns differently and states that the obligation to count the months according to the Exodus from Egypt was only given to the Beis Din when they were sanctifying the new moon. He cites Rashi who maintains that the names of the months that we have now did not originate from the Persians, rather, the Members of the Great Assembly saw with divine spirit that these should be the names of the months and that there are hidden secrets involved in each one of the names.


Tiny Sam said...

According toEin Yaakov, it sounds like it has nothing to do with yetzias mitzrayim, just a nissan thing? isnt poshut pshat of ramban not like that?

Avromi said...

I hear your basic point, but i lookat the minchas chinuch 311 who seems to agree with the ein yaakov and its clear that theyre explaining the ramban of l'zichron neis hagadol and that is when you are counting months, do not count in any other way but from nissan and not from tishrei, but the mitzva never was obligatory to count that way. I'm not sure why exactly, but thats what he says.

eliezer said...

Maybe he means it is a mitzvah "keeyumis" meaning when you do it you are doing a mitzvah, as opposed to a mitzvah "cheeyuvis" where you are obligated to do this mitzvah.

Avromi said...

i assume its something like that

ben said...

it would seem that the Torah also allowed for other names as we see from the passsuk brought in the Gemara, where Iyar is referred to as chodesh ziv, and we know Tishrei is called yearch haisanim. I found the Yerushalmi here writes:
ולירקות באחד בשבט ראש השנה לאילן כדברי בית שמאי ובית הלל אומרין בט"ו בו:
גמ' שנים מניין כתוב אחד אומר וחג האסיף בצאת השנה וכתוב אחד אומר וחג האסיף תקופת השנה אי זהו חדש שיש בו חג ותקופה ואסיף ושנה יוצא בו אי זה זה זה תשרי אין תימר טבת אית ביה תקופה ולית ביה חג ואסיף אין תימר ניסן אית ביה תקופה וחג לית ביה אסיף אין תימר תמוז אית ביה תקופה ואסיף ולית ביה חג ואי זה זה זה תשרי. אמרין חברייא קומי ר' יונה ויהא תמוז אמר לון כתיב בחדש השביעי ואתון אמרין הכין. אמרין ליה ויהא תמוז אמר לון מיכן והילך על שמות חדשים את רבים עלי דא"ר חנינה שמות חדשים עלו בידם מבבל. בראשונה בירח האיתנים שבו נולדו אבות מתו אבות נפקדו אימהות. בראשונה בירח בול שבו העלה נובל והארץ עשויה בולות בולות. שבו בוללים לבהמה מתוך הבית. בראשונה בירח זיו שבו זיוו של עולם הצמחים ניכרין והאילנות ניכרין. מיכן והילך ויהי בחדש ניסן שנת עשרים ויהי בחדש כסליו שנת עשרים בחדש העשירי הוא חדש טבת.

Avromi said...

The Ritva states that yerech haeisanim and chodesh ziv are not nouns, rather adjectives. Eisanim is that it is strong in mitzvos or the avos were born in that month. Ziv is either acc to the one that holds that the avos were born in nissan, the radiant month or that the trees grow then.

ben said...

I hear but the Yerushalmi doesn't seem to indicate that