Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Daf Yomi - Rosh Hashana 22 - Retroactive Adults

The Mishna lists different types of people that are ineligible to testify regarding the sighting of the new moon. The Minchas Chinuch (4) inquires as to what the halacha would be regarding the ability of a minor to testfy that he saw the new moon. Beis Din does not accept the testimony of a minor, however, what would be the halacha if the minor would become an adult through his testimony. If a boy was born on Rosh Chodesh Nissan and thirteen years later wishes to testify that he witnessed the new moon. At the time of his testimony, he is a minor but if they accept his testimony and sanctify the day as Rosh Chodesh, it would emerge that retroactively, he is already an adult from the night before and therefore his testimony can be accepted.

The Minchas Chinuch states that it would be dependent on two answers of Tosfos in Makkos (2). There is a principle that in order for a testimony to be valid it must be a testimony that has the ability to be disqualified by making them "eidim zom'min" (conspiring witnesses). "Eidim zom'min" means that two witnesses testify regarding a certain incident and another set of witnesses disqualify that testimony by saying that the first set of witnesses were with them in a different place at the time that the first set of witnesses claim that the act took place. The first witnesses are termed "eidim zom'min" . The Torah commands that the second set of witnesses are believed, rather than the first. In general, they would be punished with the punishment they tried to inflict. Tosfos discusses if this principle applies also to the witnesses who are testifying that they saw the new moon.

If minors would testify, we would not be capable of making them "eidim zom'min" since witnesses can only become "eidim zom'min" prior to Beis Din acting on the testimony and in this case, that would be before Beis Din sanctifies the day to be Rosh Chodesh. At that juncture, they are still minors and they could not become "eidim zom'min." However, Tosfos cites an opinion that witnesses testifying on the new moon do not have this requirement and therefore the minor's testimony can be accepted since retroactively they would be regarded as adults at the time in which they testified.

HaRav Elyashiv shlita does not understand the Mibchas Chinuch at all. He comments that if all that would be required is for Beis Din to clarify that this day is Rosh Chodesh, perhaps the clarification can be accomplished through the testimony of minors who retroactively will be adults if it is Rosh Chodesh. However, that is not the case. Beis Din must listen to testimony, analyze their words and issue a decision sanctifying the new month. If these witnesses are minors at the time, Beis Din doesn't even have the ability to listen to them since they are disqualified from offering testimony.

4 comments:

Kenny said...

Didn't you say in a previous post that the testimony for Rosh Chodesh is different than other testimony?

Avromi said...

Yes we did but we concluded that witnesses are still required and therefore minors will be disqualified.

R Karr said...

I still don't understand. we said Beis din doesn't need any witnesses since they know when the new chodesh is based on calculations. So the witnesses are not real witnesses to establish facts they are just need as proof for Beis din. If so maybe a minor could be accepted

Avromi said...

They are not needed as proof - they are needed to be part of the process for Beis din to be mekadesh the chodesh - Steipler states that if they are outright false, we cannot accept them for example if the moon was clearly visible on the night of the thirtieth and they say the 31st, theyre not valid since we need witnesses. here too, witnesses are required - not minors.