Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Daf Yomi - Rosh Hashana 22 - Highlights


The Mishna rules that a father and a son that saw the new moon may go to Beis Din; however they cannot combine to testify together as one set of witnesses. They should both travel to Beis Din because just in case one of them becomes disqualified from testifying, the other can join a different witness to form a pair and testify. Rabbi Shimon disagrees and maintains that relatives are eligible to testify in regards to the new moon. Rabbi Yosi relates an incident where Tovya the doctor saw the moon together with his son and a freed slave. The kohanim accepted Tovya and his son as witnesses but disqualified the slave. When they arrived in Beis Din, Tovya and the slave were accepted as witnesses but not the son.

Rabbi Shimon offers Scriptural proof for his opinion that relatives are permitted to testify regarding the new moon. It is written (Judaica Press) “The Lord spoke to Moshe and to Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying; This month shall be to you the head of the months,” – the testimony regarding the new moon is valid through Moshe and Aaron together even though they were brothers.

The Gemora concludes that the halacha is in accordance with Rabbi Shimon. (22a)


The Mishna enumerates different types of people that are Rabbinically disqualified from testifying. One who plays with dice, lends with interest, gambles on dove races, engages in business with Shemitah produce or slaves are all ineligible to testify. The Mishna offers a rule regarding this that any testimony where a woman is ineligible to testify, these people are disqualified as well.

The Gemora infers from the Mishna regarding testimony that a woman is eligible to testify, these people are eligible as well. It would emerge that all those listed in the Mishna will be eligible to testify in regards to allowing a woman to remarry. There was a leniency that a woman is permitted to testify that her husband died enabling her to remarry. (22a)


The Mishna states regarding one who saw the moon but is unable to travel to Beis Din; they may bring him by a donkey or carry him on a bed. This was permitted even on the Shabbos. If they were wary about an ambush, they were allowed to carry sticks with them to be utilized as weapons. If the distance to Yerushalayim was extremely far, they would be permitted to take food with them. They were permitted to begin traveling on Shabbos providing that they will reach Beis din before the end of the Shabbos. (22a)


The Mishna states that if the Beis Din will not recognize the witnesses, the local Beis din will send along another fellow (one who is recognized) to testify regarding the witness that he is indeed trustworthy. Originally, Beis Din accepted testimony from any Jew but when the Baysussim (those that adhered to the Written Torah only and despised the Chachamim) began obstructing the procedure of sanctifying Rosh Chodesh (by testifying falsely), the Chachamim established that Beis din will accept testimony only from witnesses that they recognized.

The Gemora states that two witnesses are required to vouch that the testifying witness is trustworthy. It is learned in the Gemora that one witness is permitted to travel to the Beis Din on Shabbos to confirm that the testifying witness is honorable even though there might not be a second corroborating witness to join him. (22a – 22b)


The Gemora relates how the Baysussim attempted to trick the Beis Din into sanctifying the incorrect day as Rosh Chodesh. They hired two false witnesses to testify that they saw the moon on the night of the thirtieth,. They didn’t know that one of the witnesses was not loyal to their beliefs. They arrived in Beis Din and the Baysusse gave his testimony and left. The second one testified that he was walking up Maaleh Adumim and he saw the moon crouched between two rocks, it’s head had the appearance of a calf, it’s ears resembled a young goat, it’s horns were like a deer’s horns and it’s tail was between it’s legs. He continued that when he stared at the moon, he became shocked and fell backwards. He then showed them the two hundred zuz that he received in order to testify falsely. He informed Beis Din that when he heard that the Baysussim were looking to hire false witnesses, he volunteered in order to foil their plot. Beis Din told him that the two hundred zuz should be his as a present and the one that hired you should be taken out to receive lashes. It was at this time that the Chachamim instituted to only accept witnesses that were recognizable to Beis Din. (22b)