News Letter 5857-026
The 5th Year of the 4th Sabbatical Cycle
The 26th year of the 120th Jubilee Cycle
The 1st day of the 7th month 5857 years after the creation of Adam
The 4th Sabbatical Cycle after the 119th Jubilee Cycle
The Sabbatical Cycle of Sword, Famines, and Pestilence
August 9, 2021
Happy Birthday, Yehovah.
The New Moon has been Sighted by Becca Biderman & Dennis & Maureen Chkolnik.
ויאמר אלהים יהי מארת ברקיע השׁמים להבדיל בין היום ובין הלילה והיו לאתת ולמועדים ולימים ושׁנים׃
And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: Genesis 1:14
Tonight’s earliest photo of the new moon. When it first appeared it was already low in the sky and because of the heavy debris and when the illumination of the moon was less it could not be seen. But when it did appear it was ready to slip behind the cloud. I couldn’t focus on the time of the sighting because I knew my window to photograph it would be extremely brief so I focused on as many photos as possible.
Here the moon had dropped out of the cloud and was in a brief window of sky before it disappeared into a cloud bank that rested on the horizon….look at the color, that’s dust and debris
Now it taking it’s final bow as it goes into the cloud bank against the horizon
Monthly New Moon Report
Well, this sighting was one for the books! Due to atmospheric conditions, it showed up much later than normal. Usually, I see the new moon 20-30 minutes after the charts say it can be seen. But tonight the light of the new moon not only had the light of the sun to overcome but is also had the heavy dust hanging in the air to overcome.
So when it did appear it was just above a cloud and I had to work quickly to grab photos, never mind the time. I estimate the time to have been 8 p.m. The moon entered the cloud and I waited for it to come out. It exited and I was able to grab three more photos before it disappeared for good.
I pray each and every one of you has a wonderful and blessed seventh-month feast. Much love and shalom from Israel
To those of you who have reached out to support this ministry, your support helps me be able to collect the biblical calendar observations and share detailed accurate reports promptly, many times before others. If you haven’t considered it yet, we could really use your support in restoring the true Biblical Time. My observations of the land and related research continue year-round. Patreon or Paypal
Rosh Chodesh Sameach! May יהוה bless and keep you and give you peace, b’shem Yeshua haMashiach.
Yoel Halevi reported the following.
This is my view right now. The clouds are blocking my view and hiding a potential moon sighting.
And another on his thread said the following.
Yochanan ZaqantovIt is the same down south in Be’er Sheva.
New Moon Society has reported the following;
Hello AllHard moon together with clouds made the seeing hard. I saw at the last moment at 20:10 minutes but from Jerusalem the earliest time is 19:55 (or even 2 minutes before).If you saw the moon please send time and locationGadi
And Devorah date tree said the following.
The new moon was sighted from Israel this evening, Monday, 9 August 2021!
* From Tiberias at 7:57pm by Dennis Chkolnik, followed by Maureen Chkolnik.
* From Poriyah Ilit at 8:00pm by Becca Biderman.
This means that sunset on August 9, 2021 marks the beginning of the new month. Be sure to keep track of what number month this is, based on when you started the new year.
So we have our two witnesses. The New Moon Month has been declared.
But what if we only had one witness with a picture?
In the Mouth of two Witnesses
Num 35:30; Deu 17:6, Deu 19:15; 1Ki 21:10, 1Ki 21:13; Mat 18:16, Mat 26:60-61; Joh 8:17-18; Heb 10:28-29
So let me give you just a couple of examples of one witness which Even Rambam admitted was ok If they were a Trusted Jew.
In 1 Corinthians Paul was saying that in the mouth of two or three witnesses a thing is established. And then he went on to say how he was now stating to them a third time using himself as the other two witnesses.
2Co 13:1 I am coming to you this third time. In the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established.
Then we have Yehshua in John 8:17-18 saying the following.
John 8:17-18 (MKJV)
17 It is also written in your Law that the testimony of two men is true.
18 I am one who bears witness of Myself, and the Father who sent Me bears witness concerning Me.
Here we know Yehshua who is Yehovah and vice versa testifying that He is God. Where is the second witness?
Becca is a faithful and reliable witness for both the barley and the moon. She has claimed that she saw it with her eye. Then she videoed the new crescent and then she took pictures of it as it set.
How can we discard this testimony if she was the only one? This is something all of us must ask ourselves and weigh and judge. Not so much for this time as we now have three. But the next time when we only have one. Then what do we do?
As for me, I have waited for other witnesses to come forward. And they did. But I was also convinced by the testimony of one woman and her camera and would have kept the Feast of Trumpets based on the evidence she provided.
We had a similar situation when Roy Hoffman was the only witness with his camera and we accepted his testimony a couple of years ago.
I will now give you some of the man-made rules as recorded by Rambam about the witnesses. I have highlighted the section where he said one Reliable Jew was good enough before they started to mess with the testimonies.
Malichi is going to restore all things according to the last verse of his prophecy and Yehshua. It does not say he was going to restore the traditions of men. Let us be prudent in what we are doing and how we do it.
Yom Teruah, August 9-10, 2021, the room will be open at 8 PM Eastern with You are all welcome to join and watch. It is not recorded.
We will have morning service at 10 AM Eastern time zone. Our afternoon service will be at 2 PM Eastern time zone. You are welcome to come and join us before during and after we are off the air.
We look forward to you joining our family and getting to know us as we get to know you.
Joseph Dumond is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: Joseph Dumond’s Personal Meeting Room
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Kiddush HaChodesh – Chapter Two
By Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon (“Maimonides”); translated by Eliyahu Touger
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1The only testimony that is acceptable with regard to [the sighting of] the new [moon] is that of two1 adult males2 who are fit to testify regarding all matters.3 Women and slaves,4 by contrast, are like other unacceptable witnesses and may not testify.
When a father and a son both see the new moon, they should both go the court to testify. Not because testimony regarding the [the sighting of] the new [moon] is acceptable [from witnesses who are] related, but because one of them may be disqualified because he is a thief or for other reasons, and the other will be able to join with another person and give testimony.
A person who is disqualified from serving as a witness by Rabbinical decree,5 although he is acceptable according to the law of the Torah itself, may not serve as a witness with regard to [the sighting of] the new [moon].
אאֵין כָּשֵׁר לְעֵדוּת הַחֹדֶשׁ אֶלָּא שְׁנֵי אֲנָשִׁים כְּשֵׁרִים הָרְאוּיִין לְהָעִיד בְּכָל דָּבָר וְדָבָר. אֲבָל נָשִׁים וַעֲבָדִים הֲרֵי הֵן כִּשְׁאָר פְּסוּלֵי עֵדוּת וְאֵין מְעִידִין. אָב וּבְנוֹ שֶׁרָאוּ אֶת הַיָּרֵחַ יֵלְכוּ לְבֵית דִּין לְהָעִיד. לֹא מִפְּנֵי שֶׁעֵדוּת הַחֹדֶשׁ כְּשֵׁרָה בִּקְרוֹבִים אֶלָּא שֶׁאִם יִמָּצֵא אֶחָד מֵהֶן פָּסוּל מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא גַּזְלָן וְכַיּוֹצֵא בּוֹ מִשְּׁאָר הַפַּסְלָנוּת יִצְטָרֵף הַשֵּׁנִי עִם אַחֵר וְיָעִידוּ. וְכָל הַפָּסוּל לְעֵדוּת מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא כָּשֵׁר מִן הַתּוֹרָה פָּסוּל לְעֵדוּת הַחֹדֶשׁ:
2According to the law of the Torah, there is no need to be precise regarding testimony about [the sighting of] the new [moon]. For even if the new moon was sanctified on the basis of the testimony of witnesses, and later it was discovered that those witnesses had perjured themselves,6 [the new moon] remains sanctified.7
Accordingly, in the early generations, testimony regarding [the sighting of] the new [moon] was accepted from any Jew [without further enquiry], for any Jew can be presumed to be an acceptable witness unless one knows with certainty that he is unacceptable. When the followers of Baithos8 began conducting themselves in a debased manner and would hire people9 to testify that they had seen the moon when in fact they had not, the court decreed that it would accept testimony regarding [the sighting of] the new [moon] only from witnesses whom the court knew to be acceptable. Moreover, they would examine and question their testimony.
בדִּין תּוֹרָה שֶׁאֵין מְדַקְדְּקִין בְּעֵדוּת הַחֹדֶשׁ. שֶׁאֲפִלּוּ קִדְּשׁוּ אֶת הַחֹדֶשׁ עַל פִּי עֵדִים וְנִמְצְאוּ זוֹמְמִין בְּעֵדוּת זוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה מְקֻדָּשׁ. לְפִיכָךְ הָיוּ בָּרִאשׁוֹנָה מְקַבְּלִין עֵדוּת הַחֹדֶשׁ מִכָּל אָדָם מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁכָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּחֶזְקַת כַּשְׁרוּת עַד שֶׁיִּוָּדַע לְךָ שֶׁזֶּה פָּסוּל. מִשֶּׁקִּלְקְלוּ הַבַּיְתוֹסִים וְהָיוּ שׂוֹכְרִין אֲנָשִׁים לְהָעִיד שֶׁרָאוּ וְהֵם לֹא רָאוּ הִתְקִינוּ שֶׁלֹּא יְקַבְּלוּ בֵּית דִּין עֵדוּת הַחֹדֶשׁ אֶלָּא מֵעֵדִים שֶׁמַּכִּירִין בֵּית דִּין אוֹתָן שֶׁהֵם כְּשֵׁרִים וְשֶׁיִּהְיוּ דּוֹרְשִׁין וְחוֹקְרִים בָּעֵדוּת:
3Therefore, if the [High] Court did not know [the character of] the witnesses who sighted the moon, the inhabitants of the city where the moon was sighted would send other witnesses10 together with the witnesses who saw the moon to substantiate their character to the court, and inform [the judges] that they are acceptable [witnesses]. [Only] afterwards would the court accept their [testimony].
גלְפִיכָךְ אִם לֹא יִהְיוּ בֵּית דִּין יוֹדְעִים אֶת הָעֵדִים שֶׁרָאוּ אֶת הַיָּרֵחַ מְשַׁלְּחִין אַנְשֵׁי הָעִיר שֶׁנִּרְאָה בָּהּ עִם הָעֵדִים שֶׁרָאוּ עֵדִים אֲחֵרִים שֶׁמְּזַכִּין אוֹתָן לְבֵית דִּין וּמוֹדִיעִין אוֹתָן שֶׁאֵלּוּ כְּשֵׁרִים הֵם וְאַחַר כָּךְ מְקַבְּלִין מֵהֶם:
4The court would make calculations in a manner resembling the calculations of the astronomers, and would know whether the position of the moon – when it would be sighted – would be to the north of the sun, or to its south,11 if its [crescent] would be wide or narrow,12 and the direction in which its corners would be pointed.13
When the witnesses came to testify, they would ask them: “Where did you see [the moon]: to the north or to the south [of the sun]?”, “In which direction were its corners pointed?”, “How high and how wide did it appear to you?” If their replies were suitable, their testimony was accepted. If their replies were not suitable, their testimony was not accepted.
דבֵּית דִּין מְחַשְּׁבִין בַּדְּרָכִים שֶׁהָאִיצְטַגְנִינִין מְחַשְּׁבִין בָּהֶם וְיוֹדְעִין הַלְּבָנָה כְּשֶׁתֵּרָאֶה בְּחֹדֶשׁ זֶה אִם תִּהְיֶה בִּצְפוֹן הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ אוֹ בִּדְרוֹמָהּ וְאִם תִּהְיֶה רְחָבָה אוֹ קְצָרָה וּלְהֵיכָן יִהְיוּ רָאשֵׁי קַרְנֶיהָ נוֹטִין. וּכְשֶׁיָּבוֹאוּ הָעֵדִים לְהָעִיד בּוֹדְקִין אוֹתָם כֵּיצַד רְאִיתֶם אוֹתָהּ בְּצָפוֹן אוֹ בְּדָרוֹם. לְהֵיכָן הָיוּ קַרְנֶיהָ נוֹטוֹת. כַּמָּה הָיְתָה גְּבוֹהָה בִּרְאִיַּת עֵינֵיכֶם וְכַמָּה הָיְתָה רְחָבָה. אִם נִמְצְאוּ דִּבְרֵיהֶם מְכֻוָּנִין לְמַה שֶּׁנּוֹדַע בַּחֶשְׁבּוֹן מְקַבְּלִין אוֹתָם וְאִם לֹא נִמְצְאוּ דִּבְרֵיהֶם מְכֻוָּנִין אֵין מְקַבְּלִין אוֹתָם:
5If the witnesses say, “We saw [the reflection of the moon] in water,” or “…[its form] behind the clouds,” or “…[its reflection] in a mirror,” [what they] saw is of no [consequence], and this sighting cannot be used as the basis for sanctifying [the new moon].14 [The same law applies if the witnesses say,] “We saw a portion [of the moon] in the heavens, and a portion of [its form] behind the clouds,” “…a portion [reflected] in water,” or “…a portion [reflected] in a mirror.”
If one [potential witness says,] “I saw it and it appeared to me approximately two storeys high,” and another [potential witness] says, “It was three storeys high,” their testimonies may be combined15 [and the moon sanctified on this basis]. If, however, one says “It was approximately three storeys high,” and the other says, “It was approximately five storeys high,” their testimonies may not be joined together.16 Either one of them, however, may join together with another witness who gives identical testimony, or [who gives testimony] involving a discrepancy of merely one storey.
האָמְרוּ הָעֵדִים רְאִינוּהוּ בַּמַּיִם אוֹ בֶּעָבִים אוֹ בַּעֲשָׁשִׁית. אוֹ שֶׁרָאוּ מִקְצָתוֹ בָּרָקִיעַ וּמִקְצָתוֹ בֶּעָבִים אוֹ בַּמַּיִם אוֹ בַּעֲשָׁשִׁית אֵין זוֹ רְאִיָּה וְאֵין מְקַדְּשִׁין עַל רְאִיָּה זֹאת. אָמַר אֶחָד רְאִיתִיו גָּבוֹהַּ בְּעֵינַי כְּמוֹ שְׁתֵּי קוֹמוֹת וְאָמַר הַשֵּׁנִי כְּמוֹ שָׁלֹשׁ קוֹמוֹת הָיָה גָּבוֹהַּ מִצְטָרְפִין. אָמַר הָאֶחָד כְּמוֹ שָׁלֹשׁ קוֹמוֹת וְהַשֵּׁנִי אוֹמֵר כְּמוֹ חָמֵשׁ אֵין מִצְטָרְפִין. וּמִצְטָרֵף אֶחָד מֵהֶם עִם שֵׁנִי שֶׁיָּעִיד כְּמוֹתוֹ אוֹ יִהְיֶה בֵּינֵיהֶן קוֹמָה אַחַת:
6If witnesses say, “We saw [the moon] without concentrating our attention, and, afterwards, when we concentrated our attention with the intent of sighting it so that we could testify, we did not see it,” this is not considered [valid] testimony, and it cannot serve as the basis for sanctifying [the new moon]. Perhaps clouds came together, and appeared like the moon, and afterwards became dispersed.17
If witnesses say, “We saw [the moon] on the twenty-ninth [day] in the morning in the east before sunrise, and [afterwards,] in the evening, we saw it in the west on the thirtieth night,” their testimony is believed, and the moon can be sanctified on this basis. [The rationale is] that they saw [the moon] at its appropriate time. [Their testimony] about [what they thought] they saw in the morning is disregarded. We need not pay any attention to what they saw in the morning, for it is obvious that it was the conjunction of clouds that appeared to them as the moon.18
Similarly, if [witnesses claim] to have seen the moon at its appropriate time, but it was not seen on the thirty-first night, their [testimony] is believed. For what is significant for us is only the sighting [of the moon] on the thirtieth night.19
ואָמְרוּ רְאִינוּהוּ בְּלֹא כַּוָּנָה וְכֵיוָן שֶׁהִתְבּוֹנַנְנוּ בּוֹ וְנִתְכַּוַּנְנוּ לִרְאוֹתוֹ לְהָעִיד שׁוּב לֹא רְאִינוּהוּ אֵין זוֹ עֵדוּת וְאֵין מְקַדְּשִׁין עָלֶיהָ. שֶׁמָּא עָבִים נִתְקַשְּׁרוּ וְנִרְאוּ כַּלְּבָנָה וְכָלוּ וְהָלְכוּ לָהֶם. אָמְרוּ עֵדִים רְאִינוּהוּ בְּיוֹם תִּשְׁעָה וְעֶשְׂרִים שַׁחֲרִית בַּמִּזְרָח קֹדֶם שֶׁתַּעֲלֶה הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ וּרְאִינוּהוּ עַרְבִית בַּמַּעֲרָב בְּלֵיל שְׁלֹשִׁים הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ נֶאֱמָנִים וּמְקַדְּשִׁין עַל רְאִיָּה זוֹ שֶׁהֲרֵי רָאוּהוּ בִּזְמַנּוֹ. אֲבָל הָרְאִיָּה שֶׁאָמְרוּ שֶׁרָאוּהוּ בְּשַׁחֲרִית אֵין נִזְקָקִין לָהּ שֶׁאֵין אָנוּ אַחְרָאִין לִרְאִיַּת שַׁחֲרִית וּבְיָדוּעַ שֶׁהֶעָבִים הֵם שֶׁנִּתְקַשְּׁרוּ וְנִרְאָה לָהֶם כִּלְבָנָה. וְכֵן אִם רָאוּהוּ בִּזְמַנּוֹ וּבְלֵיל עִבּוּרוֹ לֹא נִרְאָה הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ נֶאֱמָנִין שֶׁאֵין אָנוּ אַחְרָאִין אֶלָּא לִרְאִיַּת לֵיל שְׁלֹשִׁים בִּלְבַד:
7What is the process through which the testimony regarding the sighting of the moon is accepted? Anyone who saw the moon and is fit to testify20 should come to the court. The [judges] should bring them all to a single place,21 and should make a large feast for them, so that people will come regularly. The pair [of witnesses] who arrive first are examined first according to the questions mentioned previously.22 The one of greater stature is invited [into a private chamber] first and asked these questions. If his testimony is accurate according to [the data that the court arrives at through] calculations, they invite his colleague in. If their statements are comparable,23 their testimony is substantiated.
[Afterwards,] the remaining pairs are asked questions of a broader nature. [In truth,] their testimony is not required at all, [and they are being asked] only so they will not depart disheartened, so that they will come frequently [in the future].24
זכֵּיצַד מְקַבְּלִין עֵדוּת הַחֹדֶשׁ. כָּל מִי שֶׁרָאוּי לְהָעִיד שֶׁרָאָה אֶת הַיָּרֵחַ בָּא לְבֵית דִּין. וּבֵית דִּין מַכְנִיסִים אוֹתָן כֻּלָּן לְמָקוֹם אֶחָד וְעוֹשִׂין לָהֶן סְעֵדּוֹת גְּדוֹלוֹת כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּהְיוּ הָעָם רְגִילִין לָבוֹא. וְזוּג שֶׁבָּא רִאשׁוֹן בּוֹדְקִין אוֹתָן רִאשׁוֹן בַּבְּדִיקוֹת שֶׁאָמַרְנוּ. מַכְנִיסִין אֶת הַגָּדוֹל וְשׁוֹאֲלִין אוֹתוֹ. נִמְצְאוּ דְּבָרָיו מְכֻוָּנִים לַחֶשְׁבּוֹן מַכְנִיסִים אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ. נִמְצְאוּ דִּבְרֵיהֶם מְכֻוָּנִין עֵדוּתָן קַיֶּמֶת. וּשְׁאָר כָּל הַזּוּגוֹת שׁוֹאֲלִין אוֹתָם רָאשֵׁי דְּבָרִים. לֹא שֶׁצְּרִיכִים לָהֶם אֶלָּא כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יֵצְאוּ בְּפַחֵי נֶפֶשׁ, כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּהְיוּ רְגִילִין לָבוֹא:
8Afterwards – i.e., after [the witnesses’] testimony is substantiated – the head of the court declares, “It has been sanctified.” And all the people respond, “It has been sanctified. It has been sanctified.”
A minimum of three judges is required to sanctify the new moon.25Similarly, the calculations [regarding the moon’s position] must be made by three judges. The new moon is sanctified only when it is sighted at its appropriate time.26 Moreover, the moon is sanctified only during the day.27If it was sanctified at night, the sanctification is of no consequence.
Furthermore, even if the court and the entire Jewish people saw the moon, but the court did not declare that “It has been sanctified”28 before the nightfall beginning the thirty-first day, or if the witnesses were cross-examined, but afterwards the court was not able to declare that “It has been sanctified” before the nightfall beginning the thirty-first day,29 it should not be sanctified,30 and the month should be full. Despite the fact that the moon was sighted on the thirtieth night, it is the thirty- first day that will be Rosh Chodesh. For [the sanctification of the new month] is not established by the sighting of the moon, but by the court that declares, “It has been sanctified.”31
חוְאַחַר כָּךְ אַחַר שֶׁתִּתְקַיֵּם הָעֵדוּת רֹאשׁ בֵּית דִּין אוֹמֵר מְקֻדָּשׁ וְכָל הָעָם עוֹנִים אַחֲרָיו מְקֻדָּשׁ מְקֻדָּשׁ. וְאֵין מְקַדְּשִׁין אֶת הַחֹדֶשׁ אֶלָּא בִּשְׁלֹשָׁה. וְאֵין מְחַשְּׁבִין אֶלָּא בִּשְׁלֹשָׁה. וְאֵין מְקַדְּשִׁין אֶלָּא חֹדֶשׁ שֶׁנִּרְאֶה בִּזְמַנּוֹ. וְאֵין מְקַדְּשִׁין אֶלָּא בַּיּוֹם וְאִם קִדְּשׁוּהוּ בַּלַּיְלָה אֵינוֹ מְקֻדָּשׁ. ואֲפִלּוּ רָאוּהוּ בֵּית דִּין וְכָל יִשְׂרָאֵל וְלֹא אָמְרוּ בֵּית דִּין מְקֻדָּשׁ עַד שֶׁחָשְׁכָה לֵיל אֶחָד וּשְׁלֹשִׁים. אוֹ שֶׁנֶּחְקְרוּ הָעֵדִים וְלֹא הִסְפִּיקוּ בֵּית דִּין לוֹמַר מְקֻדָּשׁ עַד שֶׁחָשְׁכָה לֵיל אֶחָד וּשְׁלֹשִׁים. אֵין מְקַדְּשִׁין אוֹתוֹ וְיִהְיֶה הַחֹדֶשׁ מְעֻבָּר וְלֹא יִהְיֶה רֹאשׁ חֹדֶשׁ אֶלָּא יוֹם אֶחָד וּשְׁלֹשִׁים אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁנִּרְאֵית בְּלֵיל שְׁלֹשִׁים. שֶׁאֵין הָרְאִיָּה קוֹבַעַת אֶלָּא בֵּית דִּין שֶׁאָמְרוּ מְקֻדָּשׁ הֵם שֶׁקּוֹבְעִין:
9If the court themselves see [the new moon] at the conclusion of the twenty-ninth day, before a star has emerged on the thirtieth night, the court may declare, “It has been sanctified; it has been sanctified,”32 for it is still day.33
If [the judges] sight the moon on the night of the thirtieth day after two stars have appeared,34 [they should adhere to the following procedure]. On the morrow, two other judges join one of the three [to form a court]. The other two [judges] then testify before [this court] of three, who then [sanctify the new month].
טרָאוּהוּ בֵּית דִּין עַצְמָן בְּסוֹף יוֹם תִּשְׁעָה וְעֶשְׂרִים. אִם עֲדַיִן לֹא יָצָא כּוֹכַב לֵיל שְׁלֹשִׁים. בֵּית דִּין אוֹמְרִים מְקֻדָּשׁ שֶׁעֲדַיִן יוֹם הוּא. וְאִם רָאוּהוּ בְּלֵיל שְׁלֹשִׁים אַחַר שֶׁיָּצְאוּ שְׁנֵי כּוֹכָבִים. לְמָחָר מוֹשִׁיבִין שְׁנֵי דַּיָּנִין אֵצֶל אֶחָד מֵהֶם וְיָעִידוּ הַשְּׁנַיִם בִּפְנֵי הַשְּׁלֹשָׁה וִיקַדְּשׁוּהוּ הַשְּׁלֹשָׁה:
10Once the court sanctifies the new month, it remains sanctified regardless of whether they erred unwittingly, they were led astray [by false witnesses], or they were forced [to sanctify it].35 We are required to calculate [the dates of] the festivals based on the day that they sanctified [as the beginning of the new month].
Even if [a person] knows that [the court] erred, he is obligated to rely on them,36 for the matter is entrusted to them alone. The One who commanded us to observe the festivals is the One who commanded [us] to rely on them, as [implied by Leviticus 23:2]: “Which you will pronounce as days of holy convocation.”37
יבֵּית דִּין שֶׁקִּדְּשׁוּ אֶת הַחֹדֶשׁ בֵּין שׁוֹגְגִין בֵּין מֻטְעִין בֵּין אֲנוּסִים הֲרֵי זֶה מְקֻדָּשׁ וְחַיָּבִין הַכּל לְתַקֵּן הַמּוֹעֲדוֹת עַל הַיּוֹם שֶׁקִּדְּשׁוּ בּוֹ. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁזֶּה יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁטָּעוּ חַיָּב לִסְמֹךְ עֲלֵיהֶם שֶׁאֵין הַדָּבָר מָסוּר אֶלָּא לָהֶם וּמִי שֶׁצִּוָּה לִשְׁמֹר הַמּוֹעֲדוֹת הוּא צִוָּה לִסְמֹךְ עֲלֵיהֶם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר אֲשֶׁר תִּקְרְאוּ אֹתָם וְגוֹ’:
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1.For all evidence must be substantiated by the testimony of two witnesses, as implied by Deuteronomy 19:15 which states, “The testimony of a single witness will not stand.” See Hilchot Edut, ch. 5.
2.Both these concepts are implied by the Hebrew word anashim.
3.See Hilchot Edut, Chapters 9-10, 12-14.
4.Who are not acceptable for testimony in court (Hilchot Edut 9:2,4). The slaves referred to here are “Canaanite slaves,” gentiles purchased as slaves. A Jewish servant, eved ivri, may give testimony in court on this and other matters.
5.E.g., gamblers, usurers, and other individuals described in Hilchot Edut, Chapter 11.
6.More particularly, the term used by the Rambam, zomemim refers to witnesses who claimed that they saw the moon while they were located in a specific place at a specific time, and later it was proven that they had been in another place at that time. (See Hilchot Edut, Chapter 18.)
7.See Halachah 10.
8.Avot D’Rabbi Natan 5:2 relates that Antigonus of Socho had two talented students, Tzadok and Baithos. When Antigonus taught: “Do not be like students serving a master in order to receive a reward,” they turned away in disgust, commenting, “Is it proper for a worker to toil the entire day without receiving any recompense?”
They began splinter groups that rejected the core of Jewish practice and coveted material wealth. They found that they could not convince the majority of the people to reject the Torah entirely, so they adopted a different tactic. They claimed that they were true to Torah, but the only Torah that was Godly was the written law. The oral law, they maintained, was merely a human invention.
This thesis was only a ruse to sway the people from the performance of the mitzvot. Accordingly, the Sages would refer to all those who deny the Torah and its tradition as Sadducees (from Tzadok) or Baithosees (from Baithos) [the Rambam’s Commentary on the Mishnah, Avot 1:3]. Not only did these individuals scorn Torah observance themselves, but they tried, as indicated by this halachah, to undermine the observance of the Jewish nation as a whole.
Our translation follows the standard printed text of the Mishneh Torah. Many original printings and manuscripts state minnim, “non-believers,” rather than “the followers of Baithos.” Similarly, the Rambam’s source, Rosh HaShanah 2:1, uses this term. Some consider this as a reference to the early Christians.
9.Rosh HaShanah 22b relates that the Sadducees paid witnesses 400 zuzim to testify falsely with regard to the sighting of the moon.
10.The Rambam uses a plural term, implying that two character witnesses are required. This prerequisite is apparent from Rosh HaShanah 22b. The Jerusalem Talmud (Rosh HaShanah 2:1), by contrast, requires only one character witness.
11.As the Rambam states in his Commentary on the Mishnah, Rosh HaShanah 2:7, this refers to the latitude of the moon. This subject is explained in Chapter 16.
12.As the Rambam explains in his Commentary on the Mishnah (loc. cit.), the size of the moon’s crescent grows as it moves further away from the sun.
13.See Chapter 19 for an explanation of how the court can determine these matters.
14.To sanctify the moon, it is necessary to see the moon itself – and not its reflection – and to see it clearly, not as it is hidden by clouds.
15.Although there is a discrepancy between them, the two testimonies are not considered to contradict each other, since it is possible for a person to err slightly in making such an estimation.
16.For this discrepancy is too great for the two to be considered a single statement.
17.Rosh HaShanah 24a and 25a mentions instances where the conjunction of the clouds appeared to resemble the moon.
18.The Rambam’s statements are based on his interpretation of the difference of opinion between Rabban Gamliel and Rabbi Yochanan ben Nuri mentioned in Rosh HaShanah 2:9. (See the Rambam’s Commentary on the Mishnah for a detailed analysis of this matter.)
Rabbi Yochanan ben Nuri maintains that the witnesses’ testimony should be disregarded, because it cannot possibly be true. Everyone knows that, at the beginning of the month, the moon always appears on the western horizon for a brief period after the setting of the sun. At this time of the month, seeing it in the morning, before sunrise, is impossible. (See Chapters 15 and 17 for an explanation of this phenomenon.) Since the testimony of these witnesses contains an obvious error, the testimony should be disregarded entirely.
Rabban Gamliel, as his opinion is explained by the Rambam, was aware of this astronomical concept as well. Nevertheless, in the instance mentioned in the Mishnah, he knew that according to the calculations, it would have been possible for the moon to have been sighted on the night mentioned by the witnesses. Why then, he argued, should their testimony be discounted entirely because of the error they made regarding the morning. The fact that then, they mistook the condensation of clouds for the moon should not cause their testimony to be disregarded entirely.
19.This represents a parallel difference of opinion mentioned in Rosh HaShanah (op. cit.). Rabbi Dosa ben Hyrkanos maintains that it is impossible for the moon to be sighted on one night, and then for it not to be sighted on the following night.
Rabban Gamliel (as his position is explained by the Rambam in his Commentary on the Mishnah) accepted the witnesses’ testimony in this instance, because he knew that, according to the calculations, it was possible for the moon to be sighted on the thirtieth night. The fact that it was not sighted again on the thirty-first night was merely a matter of circumstance: no one was trying to see it, their view was obstructed by clouds, or the like.
20.I.e., there is no benefit to be derived from a witness whose testimony will not be accepted by the court because of his conduct – e.g., a transgressor, a gambler, or a usurer.
21.Rosh HaShanah 23b states that there was a large courtyard in Jerusalem called “the house of Ya’azak” where the witnesses would gather.
22.In Halachah 4.
23.See Halachah 5.
24.The Rambam (based on Rosh HaShanah 2:7) is communicating an important lesson in human dynamics. Since the court might need these witnesses in the future, it is important that they feel that consideration is shown to them, and that their coming was not futile.
25.Rosh HaShanah 25b derives this concept as follows: The commandment “This month shall be for you…” was addressed to both Moses and Aaron, implying that at least two judges are necessary. A court must be composed of an odd number of judges, and hence a third judge is required.
26.I.e., as the Rambam continues to explain, for the new month to be sanctified, the moon must be sighted on the thirtieth night, the witnesses must testify on the thirtieth day, and the court must declare the month to be sanctified – all before sunset of that day.
27.Based on Psalms 81:4-5, Rosh HaShanah 25b draws an equation between the sighting of the new moon and the delivery of a judgment. Just as a judgment may be delivered only during the day, so too, the mitzvah of the sanctifying the new moon applies only by day.
28.In his Commentary on the Mishnah, Rosh HaShanah 3:1, the Rambam explains that one might think that since the court and the entire Jewish people saw the moon, there was no need to sanctify the new month. Therefore, as he concludes in this halachah, it is necessary to emphasize that it is the sanctification of the court that establishes the new month, and not the sighting of the moon alone.
29.Rosh HaShanah (loc. cit.) explains that although a decision regarding a monetary case may be rendered at night if the testimony was received by the court during the day, this concept does not apply regarding the sanctification of the new month. The court must actually sanctify the new month during the day.
30.Based on Chapter 3, Halachot 15-18, it would appear that the Rambam’s intent is that, since the new month was not sanctified at its appropriate time, the court endeavors to have the witnesses’ testimony disqualified. If, however, the witnesses’ testimony is substantiated despite the court’s efforts, the month can be sanctified retroactively.
31.As mentioned in Chapter 1, Halachah 5, the mitzvah of sanctifying the new month has been entrusted to the court.
32.Rosh HaShanah 25b explains that this teaches us that hearing the testimony of the witnesses is not more effective than the actual sighting of the moon itself.
33.In his Commentary on the Mishnah (Rosh HaShanah 3:1), the Rambam writes that although the sun has set, the night does not begin until the appearance of the stars, and it is still possible to sanctify the new moon.
(The Rambam’s wording in this halachah and in the related portions of his Commentary on the Mishnah have raised questions concerning his conception of the limits of the day, the night, and the intermediate period referred to as beyn hash’mashot. See the Radbaz (Vol. V, Responsum 1379), the Ralbach, the Or Sameach and others, who address themselves to this issue.)
It is also significant to mention that Rashi (Rosh HaShanah, loc. cit.) and others differ with the Rambam’s interpretation of the Mishnah, and consider it as referring to the sighting of the moon at the conclusion of the thirtieth day, on the eve of the thirty- first.
34.From this time onward, they can no longer sanctify the new month on the basis of their sighting alone. Instead, the procedure outlined by the Rambam must be followed.
35.Significantly, instead of mentioning the court as being forced to sanctify the month on the wrong day, Rosh HaShanah 25a states “even if they purposefully sanctified the moon on the wrong day” – i.e., they accepted the testimony of witnesses even when they knew that it was flimsy. The Rambam chooses not to mention such an instance, and instead quotes the Mechilta D’Rashbi and the Sifra.
36.Rosh HaShanah 2:10 relates that once Rabbi Yehoshua differed with Rabban Gamliel concerning the acceptance of the testimony of witnesses with regard to Rosh HaShanah. Since Rabban Gamliel was the head of the High Court, his opinion was accepted. To emphasize the importance of following the necessity for uniform adherence to the decisions of the court, Rabban Gamliel ordered Rabbi Yehoshua to appear before him carrying his staff and his wallet on the day that Rabbi Yehoshua thought should be considered as Yom Kippur.
After consulting with his colleagues, Rabbi Yehoshua obeyed Rabban Gamliel’s instructions. Afterwards, Rabban Gamliel honored Rabbi Yehoshua for his humility and deference to the court’s authority.
37.אתם, meaning “which” in the above verse, can also mean “you,” when vocalized differently. Thus, the authority of “you,” the Jewish court to whom this matter is entrusted, is emphasized more powerfully (Rosh HaShanah, loc. cit.).
By Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon (“Maimonides”); translated by Eliyahu Touger