Thursday, November 01, 2007

Changes Due to a Leap Year

Our Gemora (Kesuvos 60) deals with the amount of time an infant usually suckles: A nursing mother is forbidden to re-wed till her infant becomes two years old (Yevamos 42a; Shulchan ‘Aruch, E.H. 13:11) lest she become pregnant and cut off the source of her infant’s sustenance while her husband, who is not the infant’s father, won’t see to alternative food. In a leap year, the author of Terumas HaDeshen writes (Responsa, 216), she must wait 25 months, as the Gemara explains that the suckling period is two years and in the leap year the suckling period is prolonged according to the year! (We should point out that the Remo ruled the halachah only “to worry as a first preference” while others disagree; see Pischei Teshuvah, ibid, S.K. 16, and Responsa Chasam Sofer, E.H. 137). (Meoros HaDaf Yomi Vol. 296)

They also cite other examples to this concept: Meoros HaDaf Yomi Vol. 296 brings the
Gemara in Niddah which states something astounding. The nine months of pregnancy become shorter or longer according to how the Sanhedrin determines the calendar! The Gemara says that the shofar blown at the start of the month to announce the new month as determined by the beis din causes a new calculation concerning everything connected with calculating various dates.

The Rashba writes (Toras HaBayis, bayis 7, sha’ar 3,amud 9): “Certainly the shofar is the cause, because everything that beis din below does, the beis din on High agrees, as we are told: ‘(the appointed times) that you (beis din) shall call them’.” Hashem gave power to the beis din below and gave them authority and responsibility to decide the length of months and declare leap years by adding a month.

The Rashba says that if beis din declares a leap year, they delay Pesach by a month: on the days that originally would have been Pesach it is allowed to eat chametz, and they fixed a new Pesach.

The Rashba continues that the beis din above behaves according to the rulings of the beis din below. Even nature changes according to their decisions. We have gathered a few interesting examples to demonstrate this wonderful connection between people and the Heavenly beis din, by means of the Torah.

Treifah: A treifah animal (whose body is defective such that it cannot live longer than 12 months) doesn’t live longer than 12 months but some say that in a leap year it can live 13 months! (Shach, Y.D. 57, S.K. 18, and see Pri Chadash, ibid).

An animal’s life depends on the chacham’s ruling: The Chazon Ish zt”l writes (O.C. 39, os 15) wonderful things about the power of Torah: “But deciding the measure of an individual treifah was given to the chacham and what appears to him, is the root of the halachah said to Moshe at Mount Sinai… and it’s possible that its life depends on the chacham’s ruling, if the ruling was made during its life.” Worms live long: Certain fruits have worms in them only while they’re still attached to the tree. These fruits must be examined during 12 months after picking as the worm lives for six months and its body disintegrates after six more months and then there is no prohibition to eat it (Shulchan ‘Aruch, Y.D. 84:8, and ‘Aroch HaShulchan, ibid, se’if 66). However, in a leap year the worms live longer and the fruit should be examined for 13 months! (See Pri Megadim, ibid, and Gilyon Maharsha, ibid).