CHAPTER I.1. There are four new years. The first of Nisan 1 is a new year for kings and for festivals. 2 The first of Elul 3 is a new year for the tithing of cattle; but R. Eleazar and R. Simeon say, "it is on the first of Tishri. 4" The first of Tishri is a new year for civil years, for years of release, and for jubilees, also for planting of trees 5 and herbs. The first of Sebat 6 is a new year for (the tithing of) trees according to the school of Shammai, but the school of Hillel say, "on its fifteenth."
2. The world is judged at four periods: at the passover, for the growth of corn; at Pentecost, for the fruit of trees; at new year's day, when all human beings pass before Him like lambs, as is said, "He fashioneth their hearts alike; He considereth all their works;" 7 and at the feast of tabernacles, judgment is given for the rains.
3. Messengers went forth (from Jerusalem) in six months: in Nisan for the passover; in Ab 8 for the fast; in Elul for the new year; in Tishri for the regulation of the feasts; in
[paragraph continues] Kislev 1 for the dedication; in Adar 2 for the feast of lots; and also in Iyar 3 during the existence of the Temple for the little passover.
4. For two months 4 they may profane the Sabbath, for Nisan and for Tishri, because in them the messengers went forth to Syria, and in them they regulated the feasts. And during the existence of the Temple they might profane it in all the months for the regulation of the offerings.
5. If the moon 5 appeared high and clear, or did not appear high and clear, the witnesses may profane the Sabbath on account of it. R. José says, "if it appeared high and clear, they may not profane the Sabbath on account of it."
6. It happened that more than forty pairs of witnesses were passing through, when R. Akivah detained them in Lydda. Rabban Gamaliel sent to him, "if thou thus detainest the people, it will be a stumbling-block in the future."
7. When father and son have seen the new moon, they must go (before the Sanhedrin), not that they may be combined together, but in order that, should the evidence of either of them be disallowed, the other may be combined with another witness. R. Simeon says, "father, and son, and relatives in every degree, may be allowed as competent witnesses for the new moon." R. José says, "it happened that Tobias, the physician, his son, and his freed slave, saw the new moon in Jerusalem, and the priests accepted his evidence, and that of his son, but disallowed his slave; but when they came before the Sanhedrin, they accepted him and his slave, but disallowed his son."
8. These witnesses are disallowed—gamblers with dice, usurers, 6 pigeon-breeders, 7 traders in produce of the Sabbatical
year, and slaves. This is the rule—all evidence that cannot be received from a woman cannot be received from any of these.
9. "He who has seen the new moon but cannot walk?" "They must bring him on an ass or even in a bed." Those afraid of being waylaid may take sticks in their hands, and if they have a long way to go, they may take provisions. If they must be a day and a night on the road, they may profane the Sabbath in travelling to testify for the new moon; as is said, "These are the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons." 1
Footnotes149:1 Nisan answered to part of March and April. The reign of kings was counted from this month, so that if a king began to reign in Adar (February and March) in the following Nisan he would be reckoned to have reigned two years.
149:2 The passover was the first of the three feasts, beyond which one could not neglect a vow.
149:3 Part of August and September.
149:4 Part of September and October.
149:5 Lev. xix. 23-25.
149:6 Part of January and February.
149:7 Psalm xxxiii. 15.
149:8 Part of July and August.
150:1 Part of November and December.
150:2 Part of February and March.
150:3 Part of April and May.
150:4 That is, for the new moon observances.
150:5 The Talmud states that when the sun and moon were first created they were of equal size. The moon became jealous of the sun, and she was reduced in bulk. The moon then appealed to God, and she was consoled by the promise that Jacob, Samuel, and David were to be likewise small. As, however, some injustice seemed to have been committed, God ordained "a sin-offering" on every new moon, because the moon had become less than the sun!
150:6 The Sanhedrin treated gamblers and usurers as thieves.
150:7 Those who bred pigeons, to bet on their quickness of flight, or to entice their neighbours’ pigeons to their dovecotes.
151:1 Lev. xxiii. 4.
CHAPTER II.1. If a witness were unknown, another was sent to testify to him. At first they received evidence of the new moon from any one; but when the heretics 2 bribed (the witnesses), they ordained that evidence should only be received from those who were known.
2. At first high flames were lighted, but when the Samaritans mimicked them, it was ordained that messengers should be sent forth.
3. "How were these high flames lighted?" "They brought long staves of cedarwood, canes, and branches of the olive tree, and the tow of flax, which was tied with twine. And one went to the top of the mountain and lighted them, and waved the flame to and fro, up and down, till he could perceive his companion doing so on the second mountain, and so on the third mountain," etc.
4. "And where were these high flames lighted?" "From the Mount of Olives to Sartaba; from Sartaba to Grophinah; from Grophinah to Hoveran; from Hoveran to Bethbaltin; there they did not cease to wave them to and fro, up and down, till the whole country of the captivity 3 looked like torches of fire."
5. There was a large court in Jerusalem called Beth Yangzek, 1 there all the witnesses met, and there the Sanhedrin examined them. And they made great feasts for them, that they might come often. At first they did not stir from thence all day. 2 Rabban Gamaliel the elder ordained, that they might go two thousand cubits on every side. And not only they, but the midwife going to a birth; and they who go to rescue from fire, or from enemies, or from inundation, or from fallen buildings. These are as inhabitants of the place, and they have two thousand cubits on every side.
6. "How did they examine the witnesses?" "The first pair which came were examined first, and they brought in the eldest of them, and they said to him, 'Tell us how you saw the moon—(her horns) towards the sun, or away from the sun? To the north, or to the south? What was her altitude? Towards where her declination? And what was her breadth?' If he said 'towards the sun,' he said nothing. Afterwards they brought in the second and examined; if the evidence was found to agree, the evidence stood. The remaining pairs of witnesses were then superficially examined, not because there was necessity for their evidence, but not to discourage them, that they might be willing to come again."
7. The chief of the Sanhedrin said, ("the feast) is sanctified;" and all the people answered after him, "Sanctified, sanctified." Whether the new moon had been seen in its season, or not, they sanctified it. R. Eleazar, son of Zadok, said, "if it were not seen in its season, they did not sanctify it, for heaven had already sanctified it."
8. Rabban Gamaliel had on a tablet and on the wall of his chamber figures and phases of the moon which he showed to ignorant witnesses, and said, "was it like this you saw her, or like that?" It happened once that two witnesses came, and said, "we saw the moon in the morning in the east, and in the evening in the west;" said R. Johanan, son
of Nourrie, "they are false witnesses," but when they came to Jamnia, Rabban Gamaliel received their evidence. Two other witnesses came, and said, "we saw the moon in her season, but on the next evening of the intercalary day she was invisible," and R Gamaliel received them. Said R. Dosah, son of Arkenaz, "they are false witnesses, for how can they testify of a woman being delivered, and on the morrow she is still pregnant?" To him said R. Joshua, "I approve thy words."
9. Rabban Gamaliel sent to (R. Joshua), "I order thee to come to me with thy staff and money on the day of atonement, according to thy reckoning." 1 R. Akivah went to (R. Joshua), and found him sorrowing. He said to him, "I can prove that all Rabban Gamaliel has done is well done, for it is said, 'These are the feasts of the Lord, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons,' 2 or out of their seasons; I have no other feasts but these." R. Joshua came to R. Dose, son of Arkenaz. He said to him, "if we are to judge the tribunal of Rabban Gamaliel, we must also judge the tribunals which have existed from the days of Moses till now," for it is said, "Then went up Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel." 3 "And why were not the names of the elders mentioned, but to inform us that every three men in Israel who compose a tribunal, are as a tribunal of Moses?" R. Joshua took his staff and money in his hand, and went to Jamnia to Rabban Gamaliel on the day when the atonement began, according to his reckoning. Rabban Gamaliel stood up and kissed him on his head, saying to him, "come in peace, my master and disciple,—my master in wisdom, my disciple in obeying my words."
Footnotes151:2 Lit. Bithosin, the followers of Biothos, who, with Zadok, the founder of the Sadducees, was a scholar of Antigonus of Socho.
152:1 So called in the Mishna. It means "the place fenced in." The Gemara reads, Beth Yazak, "the place of chains."
152:2 i.e. the Sabbath, when they could only go four cubits.
153:1 To carry money on the day of atonement was unlawful, but according to R. Joshua's reckoning it would have been a day too late
153:2 Lev. xxiii. 4.
153:3 Exod. xxiv. 9.
CHAPTER III.1. “The Sanhedrin and all Israel saw (the new moon); the witnesses were examined, but it became dark before they
could say, “Sanctified”? "The month is intercalary." "The Sanhedrin alone saw it?" "Two members must stand up and testify before them, and they shall say, 'Sanctified, sanctified.'" "Three composing a Sanhedrin saw it?" "Two of them must stand up, and their assessors must be seated with the single member, and before them they shall testify, and say, 'Sanctified, sanctified,' because an individual cannot be trusted by himself alone."
2. All cornets are allowed, except (horns) of a heifer, 1 because it is (written) horn. 2 Said Rabbi José, "are not all cornets called horn? for it is said, 'When they shall make a long (blast) with the ram's horn.'" 3
3. The cornet of the New Year was a straight horn of a wild goat; and its mouthpiece was plated with gold. And the two trumpets 4 were stationed on each side. The cornet, prolonged its note when the trumpets ceased, because the obligation of the day was for the cornet.
4. On fast days (there were) crooked ram's horns; and their mouthpieces were plated with silver. And the two trumpets were stationed in the midst. The cornet ceased, and the trumpets prolonged their notes, because the obligation of the day was for the trumpets.
5. The jubilee is like the New Year for the sounding and the blessings. R. Judah says, "on the New Year they sounded rams’ horns; and on the jubilee wild goats’ horns."
6. A cornet, which was rent and cemented, is disallowed. One cemented from fragments of cornets is disallowed. "It had a hole, which was closed?" "If it hinder the sound, it is disallowed; but if not, it is allowed."
7. "If one sound the cornet within a pit, a cistern, or in an earthenware vessel, and one (outside) hears the sound of the cornet?" "He is free." 5 "But if he hear the echo of the sound?" "He is not free." And so, if one be passing behind a synagogue, or his house adjoin the synagogue, and he hear the sound of the cornet, or the reading of the roll of
[paragraph continues] Esther, he is legally free, provided he heard it with due attention; but if not, he is not legally free. Although one hears as well as another; yet one hears with hearty intention, and another without hearty intention.
8. "And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand that Israel prevailed," 1 etc. And how could the hands of Moses make the battle, or crush the battle? But it is written to tell thee that whilst Israel looked to Heaven for aid, and subjected their hearts to their heavenly Father, they prevailed; and when they did not do so, they were defeated. Like as He says, "Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole, and it shall come to pass that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live." 2 And how could the serpent kill, or make alive? But when the Israelites looked to Heaven for aid, and subjected their hearts to their heavenly Father, they were healed; and when they did not do so, they perished. One deaf and dumb, or an idiot, or a child, cannot, as proxies, free others from their obligations. This is the rule—all who are not responsible for a thing, cannot free others from their obligations.
Footnotes154:1 Not to remind God of the sin of the golden calf.
154:2 Deut. xxxiii. 17.
154:3 Josh. vi. 5.
154:4 Numb. x.
154:5 From the obligation of hearing or sounding.
155:1 Exod. xvii. 11.
155:2 Numb. xxi. 8.
CHAPTER IV.1. When the feast of New Year happened on the Sabbath, they used to sound the cornet in the Sanctuary; but not in the provinces. After the destruction of the Sanctuary, R. Jochanan, son of Zacai, decreed that they should sound it in every place in which there is a tribunal of justice. R. Eleazar says, "R. Jochanan, son of Zacai, decreed it only for Jamnia." But the Sages said to him, "it was all one for Jamnia, and all one for every place in which there is a tribunal of justice."
2. And again, 3 Jerusalem was privileged above Jamnia,
because every city which could be seen, and the sounding heard, and which was near, and to which it was allowed to go, might sound the cornet; but in Jamnia they could only sound it before the tribunal of justice.
3. At first the palm-branch was taken seven days in the Sanctuary, and one day in the provinces. After the destruction of the Temple, R. Jochanan, son of Zacai, decreed, "that the palm-branch should be taken in the provinces for seven days, to commemorate the Sanctuary;" also "that the whole day of the waving 1 it should be forbidden (to eat new corn)."
4. At first they received evidence of the new moon during the whole (thirtieth) day; but once the witnesses delayed coming, and the Levites erred in the chant. They decreed, that they should receive evidence only till the time of the evening sacrifice; and if witnesses came after the evening sacrifice, that and the next day were kept holy. After the destruction of the sanctuary Rabban Jochanan, son of Zacai, decreed, "that they should receive evidence of the new moon during the whole day." R. Joshua, son of Korcha, says, "and again Rabban Jochanan, son of Zacai, decreed that wherever the chief of the Sanhedrin might be, the witnesses need only go to the place of its meeting."
5. The order of blessings to be said on the New Year is, "The Fathers," 2 and "The Mighty," and "Sanctification of the Name," and there are comprehended the "Kingdoms" without blowing the trumpet; "The Holiness of the Day," and he blows; "The Remembrances," and he blows; "The Trumpets," and he blows. And he says, "The Service," "The Confession," and "Blessing of the Priests." The words of R. Jochanan, son of Nourri. Said R. Akivah to him, "if the trumpet be not blown after 'The Kingdoms,' why are they mentioned?" But the order is, "The Fathers," and "The Mighty," and "Sanctification of the Name," and there are comprehended "The Kingdoms," with "Sanctification
of the Day," and he blows; "The Remembrances," and he blows; "The Trumpets," and he blows. And he says, "The Service," "The Confession," and "Blessing of the Priests."
6. They cannot read less than ten (texts of Scripture) relating to "The Kingdom," ten relating to "Remembrances," and ten to "Trumpets." 1 R. Jochanan, son of Nourri, says, "if three be read from all of them, the duty is fulfilled, but they mention not the remembrance of the kingdom, and trumpet of vengeance. 2 They must begin with the Law and end with the Prophets." R. José says, "if they end with the Law, the duty is fulfilled."
7. (The minister of the congregation) must go over to the reading desk on the feast of the New Year. The second minister must blow the trumpet. But at the hour for the hymn the first must read the hymn.
8. For sounding the trumpet of the New Year they may, not transgress the Sabbatical limit, they may not remove for it a heap of stones, they may not climb a tree, and they may not ride a beast, or swim over water. Nor may they cut it 3 with anything that violates the Sabbatical rest, or violates a negative command. But if one wish he may pour into it water or wine. 4 They may not prevent children from blowing, but they may practise in teaching them. But he who practises blowing is not freed from his obligation, and he who listens to the practice is not freed from his obligation.
9. The order of blowing the trumpet is, three blasts blown thrice. The measure of the blast is as six alarms. The measure of the alarm is as three shrieks. If one blew the first and prolonged the blast for the second to be as two, it reckons but as one. He who has said the blessings, and afterwards a trumpet is given to him, must blow a blast, an alarm, and a blast three times. As the minister of the congregation is bound, so is each individual bound. R. Gamaliel says, "the minister of the congregation releases the public from their obligations."
Footnotes155:3 There is a supposed hiatus in the Mishna text to the following effect: "In Jerusalem they sounded through the whole city during the session of the Sanhedrin (i.e. till noon); but in Jamnia they did not sound in the city, but only before the tribunal of justice. And again," etc.
156:1 i.e. Of the sheaf of the first-fruits, Lev. xxiii. 10.
156:2 The titles or the headings of the blessings which were used in the services of the Temple and of the synagogues out of Jerusalem.
157:1 Three were read from the law, three from the Psalms, and three from the Prophets,—such passages as Exod. xv. 18, Ps. xxiv., Ezek. xx. 33, Zech. xiv. 9, etc.
157:2 i.e. They would not read such passages as Ps. lxxviii. 39.
157:3 i.e. To improve its tone.
157:4 To clear its tone.