Sunday, December 31, 2006

Daf Yomi - Rosh Hashana 26 - Highlights

The Mishna states that Beis Din can only declare “It is sanctified” by day and not by night. If only the Beis Din saw the new moon, two of them should stand up and testify in front of the others and the others will proclaim “It is sanctified.” If only the Beis Din saw the new moon but they were only three, two people should be brought to become part of the Beis Din and two of the original three should stand up to testify. (25b)

The Gemora states that we can learn from the Mishna that even if all the Jews saw the new moon, the new month does not begin until Beis din sanctifies it.

We also learn that even if Beis din concluded the interrogation of the witnesses before nightfall, they cannot proclaim “It is sanctified” by night.

The Gemora states that the case of the Mishna where Beis Din saw the new moon is referring to where they saw the moon at night. If they would have seen the new moon by day, they would not require any witnesses at all since there is a principle that a judgment based on the hearing of testimony is not better than the judges sighting themselves.

It is learned from the case of the Mishna where a Beis Din of three saw the new moon that an individual judge cannot sanctify the new month by himself. This is learned from a Scriptural verse which states that Moshe could not sanctify Rosh Chodesh until he had others with him.

The Gemora cites a dispute between Rabbi Tarfon and Rabbi Akiva regarding the permissibility of a potential witness to become a judge. Rabbi Tarfon maintains that if the entire Sanhedrin (court of twenty-three) saw one person kill another, some of them can be the witnesses and the others can judge. Rabbi Akiva holds that they all can be witnesses but not judges since a potential witness is disqualified from being a judge. The Gemora concludes that Rabbi Akiva will agree by the sanctifying of the new month that a potential witness can become a judge. He only argues by capital cases where the judge will not be capable of finding any commendable evidence for the accused if he witnesses the incident. (25a – 26a)

The Mishna teaches us that all shofaros can be used on Rosh Hashanah except for one that comes from a cow, since a cow has a keren - horn - rather than a shofar. Rabbi Yosi permits the use of a cow's horn, arguing that all shofaros are referred to as keren. (26a)
Although the Mishna very specifically teaches the reasoning behind the two opinions on the use of the horn of a cow, two Amoraim nevertheless suggest alternative explanations for the disagreement.

Abaye says that the basic position in the Mishna stems from the Biblical requirement of a single shofar - not two or three shofaros. The horn of a cow is made up of several layers, so it cannot be used (Rabbi Yosi argues that we see the layers as making up a single shofar).

Ula suggests that the basic position of the Mishna is based on the rule en kategor na'aseh sanegor - a prosecuting attorney cannot become a defense attorney. Just like the High Priest cannot wear his gold garments into the Holy of Holies when performing the Yom Kippur service, similarly the horn of a cow cannot be used to call out in defense of the Jewish People. Rashi explains that the cow invokes the Golden Calf and therefore is considered a member of the prosecution. In general, gold is seen as representing vanity and a desire for material wealth, which do not seem appropriate for prayers of forgiveness. (Courtesy of the Aleph Society) (25a)
The Mishna referred to the ram’s horn as a “yoveil.” The Gemora cites a braisa proving this. Rabbi Akiva traveled to Arabia and he observed that they refer to a ram as a “yuvla.” When he traveled to Galye, he observed that they referred to a niddah (menstruating woman) as a “galmudah.” “Galmudah” is a connotation of the phrase “this one is separated from her husband.” When Rabbi Akiva traveled to Africa, he observed that they would refer to a ma’ah (a certain coin) as a “kesitah.” The Gemora offers other examples of travelers noticing the meaning of strange words. (26a – 26b)
The Mishna states that the shofar used on Rosh Hashanah should be from the horn of a wild goat. Its mouthpiece should be coated with gold and there shall be two trumpets blowing at the sides of the shofar. The shofar is blown longer since the mitzvah of the day is with the shofar. On fast days, they would blow with the horns from a male animal, which were bent. Their mouthpieces would be coated with silver. Two trumpets were blown in the middle and the sound of the trumpets would be longer since the mitzva of the day is with trumpets and not the shofar. The Mishna concludes by stating that the laws of the Yovel year are similar to the laws of Rosh Hashanah. They both would use a straight shofar and there would be nine identical brochos recited by mussaf. Rabbi Yehuda maintains that on Rosh Hashanah, they would use a shofar from a male animal and on Yovel, they would use a shofar taken from a wild goat.

The Gemora explains the argument in the Mishna. Rabbi Yehuda maintains that a bent shofar should be used on Rosh Hashanah since a person should bend himself towards the ground when he is praying. The bent shofar mirrors the person’s attitude of deference and humility. On Yom Kippur of the Yovel year, they would blow with a straight shofar since Yovel represents freedom. The Tanna Kamma disagrees and holds that a person should stand up straight when he prays on Rosh Hashanah and therefore a straight shofar is used and on a fast day, he should bow his mind and therefore a bent shofar is preferable. (26b)