Friday, December 29, 2006

Daf Yomi - Roshn Hashana 25 - Highlights

The Mishna cites a dispute regarding a set of witnesses who testify that in the morning they saw the old moon in the East and later that evening, they saw the new moon in the west. Rabban Yochanan ben Nuri states that these witnesses are false since it there is a twenty-four hour period between the time that the old moon disappears from sight and the time that the new moon appears. It is impossible to see the moon during this time span. Rabban Gamliel disagreed and he accepted these witnesses.

The Mishna cites another case. The witnesses testified that they saw the moon in its appropriate time on the thirtieth but the facts are that on the night of the thirty-first, the moon was not visible at all. Rabban Gamliel accepted these witnesses but Rabbi Dosa ruled that these are false witnesses. Rabbi Dosa compared this case to a case where witnesses testified that a woman gave birth to a child and the following day, she is seen indisputably pregnant. If the new moon cannot be seen now when it should be growing larger, it most certainly could not have been seen previously. Rabbi Yehoshua concurred with Rabbi Dosa that these are false witnesses. Rabban Gamliel, the Nasi, ordered Rabbi Yehoshua to come to him with his walking stick and money on the day that according to Rabbi Yehoshua’s calculation was Yom Kippur. Rabbi Akiva found Rabbi Yehoshua distressed over the situation that he would be compelled to desecrate Yom Kippur. Rabbi Akiva cited Scriptural proof that whatever the Beis din decrees regarding the new month has validity and therefore he should not be concerned. The day that Rabbi Yehoshua thought was Yom Kippur would in fact be the eleventh of Tishrei since the new month is dependent on Rabban Gamliel’s declaration. Rabbi Dosa cited Scriptural proof to Rabbi Yehoshua that w the ruling of Rabban Gamliel cannot be reconsidered. Rabbi Yehoshua came to Rabban Gamliel in Yavneh with his walking stick and his money. Rabban Gamliel stood up, kissed him on his forehead and told him “Come in peace my Rebbe and my student. You are my Rebbe in wisdom and my student that you accepted my words.” (24b – 25a)

The Gemora cites a braisa where Rabban Gamliel answered the Chachamim that there is times that the moon takes a long route and there are times that it takes a short route. This was said in order to explain why he could accept the witnesses when they testified that they saw the new moon in the evening less than twenty-four hours after the moon was seen in the morning. (25a)

The Gemora relates that Rebbe Chiya once saw the old moon standing in the sky on the twenty-ninth of the month in the morning. He grabbed a clump of earth and threw it at the moon. He spoke to the moon and said “We are required to sanctify you tonight and you are just standing there. Go and disappear!” Rebbe told Rebbe Chiya to go to the city of Ein Tav, where they did not see the old moon during the day, and sanctify the new month on the thirtieth. After you have completed this task, send me back a message “Dovid, the King of Israel lives and persists,” indicating that the new month has been sanctified. (25a)

The Gemora cites a braisa which elaborates on the incident involving Rabban Gamliel and Rabbi Yehoshua. Rabbi Yehoshua was distressed and he told Rabbi Akiva that he would accept to be compelled to lie in bed for twelve months rather than being forced to fulfill Rabban Gamliel’s decree of desecrating Yom Kippur (according to his calculation). Rabbi Akiva told Rabbi Yehoshua that he had leaned from Rabbi Yehoshua, his teacher, that the Torah teaches us that if Beis Din chooses the incorrect date for Rosh Chodesh by mistake, deliberately or if they were misled, nevertheless the sanctification is valid. Rabbi Yehoshua felt comforted by Rabbi Akiva’s words. (25a)

The Gemora brings a braisa which elaborates in further detail on the encounter between Rabbi Yehoshua and Rabban Gamliel. Rabban Gamliel stood up from his seat, kissed him on his forehead and told him “Peace onto you my Rebbe and my student. You are my Rebbe since you taught me Torah in public and you are my student since you fulfilled the decree just like a student would. Praiseworthy is the generation in which the greater people listen to the authority of the lesser people and certainly when the lesser listen to the greater.” (25b)