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Rosh Hashanah 18

ROSH HASHANAH 17 & 18 (8, 9 Av) - these Dafim have been dedicated by Rabbi Eli Turkel of Ra'anana, Israel, to the memory of his father, Reb Yisrael Shimon ben Shlomo ha'Levi Turkel (Yarhzeit: 10 Av).


QUESTIONS: The Mishnah states that Sheluchim, messengers, are sent out to the Diaspora to announce the declaration of the new month. They are sent on six different months out of the year (when the exact date of the new month is necessary to know in order to observe the festivals on the proper days). One of the months in which the Sheluchim go out is Elul, in order for all of the people to know when Rosh Hashanah will occur.

RASHI comments that due to the arrival of the Sheluchim, "the people in the Golah know to make Rosh Hashanah thirty days after the start of Elul, because Elul is usually not Me'ubar (30 days long). Even though it is possible that the Beis Din will make Elul a 30-day month, we follow the majority of years (in which Elul is 29 days long), and therefore they observe the thirtieth day after Rosh Chodesh Elul as Rosh Hashanah."

There are a number of problems with Rashi's explanation.

(a) Why does Rashi say that in the "Golah" they need Sheluchim in order to know when Elul began so that they will make Rosh Hashanah the thirtieth day of Elul? Even in Eretz Yisrael, the people outside of Yerushalayim need to know when Elul began so that they will know when to observe Rosh Hashanah! (RASHASH)

(b) Rashi seems to be saying that in the Golah they kept only one day of Rosh Hashanah, because they relied on a Rov (that in most years, Elul is Mechusar). How could Rashi say that they kept only one day? We find in numerous places (such as Beitzah 6a) that they kept two days of Rosh Hashanah out of doubt!

(c) According to Rashi, the people in the Golah know when the first of Tishrei is because they know (due to the Sheluchim) when the first of Elul was, and they may assume that Elul is 29 days long. If so, they should also know when the tenth of Tishrei (Yom Kipur) occurs and when the fifteenth of Tishrei (Sukos) occurs! Why, then, is there a need for Sheluchim to go out to inform them when Rosh Chodesh Tishrei is?

(a) It could be that in Eretz Yisrael, even though the people do not know when Rosh Chodesh Tishrei is and will therefore need to know when Rosh Chodesh Elul was, they do not need Sheluchim to inform them. Word about when Rosh Chodesh Elul was established gets around the country quickly. Sheluchim are only needed for those in the Golah.

(Although the RAN and BARTENURA quote the words of Rashi as they appear in our text with the word "ba'Golah," in the Rashi on the Rif and as quoted by the SHITAS RIVAV, the word "ba'Golah" is omitted. According to that Girsa, this question does not begin.)

(b) Regarding the second question, how could Rashi say that they keep one day of Rosh Hashanah in the Golah, Rashi is probably bothered by the question of the RITVA. The Ritva asks that if the people in the Golah must keep two days of Rosh Hashanah out of a doubt how many days were in the month of Elul (29 or 30), then of what benefit are the Sheluchim of Rosh Chodesh Elul? (This is also the question of the LECHEM MISHNAH in Hilchos Kidush ha'Chodesh 3:9.) The benefit of the Sheluchim cannot be that without them the people would have to keep three days of Rosh Hashanah, because by no holiday do we find that *three* days were observed out of doubt! What, then, do we gain with the Sheluchim, since with or without the Sheluchim we must keep two days of Rosh Hashanah in the Golah out of doubt? This is why Rashi explains that with Sheluchim we keep only one day of Rosh Hashanah, and thus we benefit by not having to keep two days.

Regarding the Gemaros that say that we keep two days of Rosh Hashanah, that is when there are no Sheluchim, and the people did not know when Rosh Chodesh Elul was declared.

The other Rishonim (for example, TOSFOS DH v'Al) argue with Rashi. They say that in the Golah, the people keep two days even when Sheluchim are sent out. Accordingly, the benefit of sending out Sheluchim was so that the people not need observe *three* days of Rosh Hashanah. They would not really have had to keep three days of Rosh Hashanah even without the Sheluchim, since they could assume that Beis Din would not make three 29-day months in a row. Nevertheless, since it is better to be certain than to be in doubt, Sheluchim were sent to confirm when indeed Beis Din had declared Elul. By sending out Sheluchim, the people will know for sure that there is no need to observe three days, but only two. (RITVA)

(c) Rashi (DH v'Al Tishrei) explains that the Sheluchim of Tishrei were sent only so that the people know that they did the right thing and not have a guilty conscience on Yom Kipur. But even without Sheluchim, their observance of the tenth day according to their count from the beginning of Elul would be the correct day of Yom Kipur.


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