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Eighteen Treatises from the Mishna, by D. A. Sola and M. J. Raphall, [1843], at


§ 1. There are four periods of commencement of years: viz.—on the first of Nissan is a new year for [the computation of the reign of] kings, 1 and for festivals; 2 the first of Elul is a new year for the tithe of cattle, 3 but according to R. Eleazar and R. Simeon, it is on the 1st of Tishri. The 1st of Tishri is New Year's [day] for the ordinary or civil year, for the computation of the seventh years [or years

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of release] 4, and of the jubilees; also for the planting of trees, 5 and for herbs. 6 On the first of Sebat is the new year for trees, 7 according to Beth Shammai; but Beth Hillel say, "it is on the fifteenth of the same month."

§ 2. The world is judged at four periods in each year; on pass- over, in respect to the growth of corn; 8 on the feast of weeks, concerning the fruit of trees; on the feast of new year, when all human beings pass like lambs before God's throne, in order to be judged; as it is said (Ps. xxx. 9), "He who hath fashioned all their hearts, understandeth all their works;" and on the feast of tabernacles judgment is passed concerning the water [or rain].

§ 3. Messengers were sent out 9 for the following six months: for Nissan, on account of the Passover; for Ab, on account of the fast; for Elul, on account of the feast of new year; for Tishri, on account of the regulation of the festivals; 10 for Kislev, on account of the feast of dedication; for Adar, on account of the feast of lots; and also for Iyar, during the existence of the second Temple, on account of the little [or second] Passover.

§ 4. For the new moons of two months [the witnesses] may profane the Sabbath: 11 viz. for those of Nissan, and of Tishri; because, on these months only, the messengers went to Syria, and the festivals are regulated by them; and during the existence of the Temple it was lawful to profane the Sabbath for any month, on account of the regulation of the offerings [on the feast of new moon] in their proper day.

§ 5. Whether the moon had been seen high on the horizon, 12 or had

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not appeared thus high, the Sabbath may be profaned [by the witnesses]. R. José says, "If the moon appeared high on the horizon the Sabbath may not be profaned by them [to announce it]."

§ 6. It happened once, that more than forty pair of witnesses passed through on the Sabbath, when R. Akivah detained them at Lydda [‏לוד‎]; Rabbon Gamaliel then sent word, saying, "If thou thus detainest the people, thou wilt be the cause of their straying in future" [they will refuse to come].

§ 7. When father and son have seen the new moon, they must both go to the tribunal of judgment [Beth Din], not that they may be combined together to act as witnesses, but in order that, should the evidence of either of them be invalidated, the other may join to give evidence with another witness. R. Simeon says, "Father and son, and relatives in every degree, may be allowed as competent witnesses to give evidence as to the appearance of the new moon." R. José says, "It once happened that Tobias the physician, his son, and his freed slave, saw the new moon in Jerusalem, [and when they tendered their evidence] the priests accepted his evidence, and that of his son, but invalidated that of his freed slave; but when they appeared before the 'Beth Din,' 13 they received his evidence, and that of his freed slave, but invalidated that of his son."

§ 8. The following are considered incompetent witnesses: gamblers with dice, usurers, 14 pigeon breeders, 15 those who trade in the produce of the Sabbatical year, and also slaves. The rule is, that all evidence that cannot be received from a woman cannot be received from any of these.

§ 9. A person who has seen the new moon, but is unable to go [to give evidence], must be brought [if unable to walk] mounted on an asses or even in a bed. Persons afraid of being waylaid by robbers may take sticks with them; 16 and if they have a long way to go, it will be lawful for them to provide for themselves, and carry their food. 16 Whenever [witnesses] must be a day and a night on the road, it will be lawful to profane the Sabbath to travel thereon, to

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give their evidence as to the appearance of the new moon. For thus is it written (Lev. xxiii. 4), "These are the feasts of the Lord, the holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their appointed seasons."


156:1 The reign of Jewish kings, whatever the period of accession might be, was always reckoned from the preceding Nissan; so that if, for instance. a Jewish king began to reign in Adar, the following month [Nissan] would be considered as the commencement of the second year of his reign. This rule was observed in all legal contracts, in which the reign of kings was always mentioned.

156:2 This is in respect to a person who has neglected to observe his vow, the period of which neglect may not extend above three festivals from the time of the vow, of which the festival in Nissan, or Passover, is the first.

156:3 In order to keep the tithes of different years distinct.

157:4 When the land must lie fallow. (Lev. xxv., Deut. xv. 12, &c.)

157:5 In respect of the ‏ערלה‎, or prohibition of eating of the fruit of newly planted trees. (See Lev. xix. 23–25, and Mishna Treatise, ‏ערלה‎.)

157:6 In order not to mix the tithe of herbs of one year with that of another.

157:7 In respect to the tithe due of fruit trees.

157:8 Whether the coming year should be a favourable one in respect to the growth of corn, fruit, the descent of fructifying rain, &c.

157:9 From Jerusalem, to announce to other places the day on which the Sanhedrin had fixed the day of the last new moon.

157:10 The day of Atonement, and feast of Tabernacles; inasmuch, as it was possible that the Sanhedrin might have made the preceding month Elul intercalary ‏מעוברת‎.

157:11 To travel thereon to Jerusalem, to acquaint the Sanhedrin of their having seen the new moon.

157:12 When it is to be supposed it had also been seen at Jerusalem; and that, consequently, the Sabbath need not be profaned by the witnesses travelling thereon to Jerusalem.

158:13 The tribunal of judgment—the Sanhedrin.

158:14 This includes all games of hazard; usurers and gamblers being considered as reputed thieves. (See Sanhedrin, c. iii.)

158:15 Those who breed and train pigeons for gambling purposes; such as, betting on their velocity of flight, or to train them to entice the pigeons of others to the dovecote, &c.

158:16 Even on the Sabbath.

Next: Chapter II