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prepared by Rabbi Eliezer Chrysler
Kollel Iyun Hadaf, Jerusalem

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Rosh Hashanah 23



(a) According to Rav Yehudah, there are four species of cedars: cedar, balsam, box-wood and Kasros. Rav interprets Kasros as Adra (a fruit-less tree with many branches) - the Gemara gives two other suggestions as to what it might be (Mavliga and Gulmish).

(b) According to Rabah bar Rav Huna quoting Amri Bei Rav, there are many more species of cedar-trees. The source for most of these - is the Pasuk in Yeshayah, as we shall now see.

(c) The Pasuk lists Erez (cedar), Shitah (pine) and Hadas (myrtle), B'rosh (box-wood) and Tidhar (fir) - Eitz-Shemen (Afarsemon - balsam) and Te'ashur (seven, all in all).

(d) Rav Dimi quotes the Rabbanan as having added another three - Alonim (elm), Almonim (oak) and Almogim (coral). Some add Aronim (laurel) and Armonim (chestnut) in place of the first two.

(a) They would use a huge barge to procure the coral from the sea-bed. They set about doing that - by filling it with sand until it sunk to the sea-bed (in fairly shallow water). Then they would send strong swimmers into the water with ropes, which they would tie to the coral. Finally, they would empty the boat of all the sand, and it would rise to the surface, pulling the coral from its roots and raising it to the surface.

(b) Some maintain that such an operation required six thousand men working for twelve months; others that it required twelve thousand men working for six months.

(c) Coral was worth twice as much as silver.

(d) Two Syrian ports dealt with coral - the Persian port dealt with pearls. They called the Persian port 'Parvasa de'Meshamhig' meaning 'the Royal Port.

(a) In the Pasuk "Etein ba'Midbar Erez, Shitah ... " - "ba'Midbar" refers to Yerushalayim.

(b) Rebbi Yochanan learn from this Pasuk - that each and every tree that the Nochrim took out of Yerushalayim, Hashem will eventually return.

(c) He also says that anyone who studies Torah but does not teach it, is compares to a myrtle in the desert (which is useless in its location) - In the second version of Rebbi Yochanan's statement - he says that anyone who learns Torah and teaches it to others in a place where there are no Talmidei-Chachamim is precious like a myrtle in the desert (which is rare).

(a) After quoting the Pasuk in Yeshayah "Tachas ha'Nechoshes Avi Zahav ... " - Rebbi Yochanan concluded 'What will the Nochrim bring instead of Rebbi Akiva and his colleagues'?

(b) He learns from the Pasuk in Yo'el "ve'Nikeisi Damam Lo Nikeisi" - that even if Hashem is willing to forgive the Nochrim for the other sins that they committed, He will never forgive them for spilling the blood of the martyrs.




(a) The last mountain on which they waved the torches was Beis Biltin (also known as Biram), where they would continue to wave it until they saw the whole of the Golah before them resembling a bonfire - because all the residents of the Golah would then climb onto their rooftops and do likewise.

(b) The Golah refers to the town of Pumbedisa.

(c) Rebbi Shimon ben Elazar, in a Beraisa, adds Harei Mechayar and Geder etc. to the list of the mountains where they would wave the torches - some say that these places were in line with the others mentioned in the Mishnah; others, that this is a different group of mountains which led from Yerushalayim to a different part of the Golah at a different angle.

(a) The distance between any two mountains on this list - was eight Parsah (thirty-two Mil - a Mil is close to a kilometer).

(b) The Pesukim in Hoshei'a "Lachein Hineni Sach es Darkech be'Sirim ... " and in Eichah "Nesivosai Ivah" help us to understand - why it is that nowadays, the distance between those spots is longer than thirty-two Mil.

(a) All the witnesses who went to Yerushalayim to testify that they had seen the new moon would gather in 'Beis Ya'azek' - a large Chatzer, where they would gather on Shabbos, for the Beis-Din would cross-examine them (see 8a. See also Tosfos Yom-Tov).

(b) They organized large parties for them there - to encourage them to come again should they see the new moon.

(a) Initially, the witnesses were not permitted to move from Beis Ya'azek all day - because, seeing as they had come from outside the T'chum, they were forbidden to walk more than four Amos (the house or courtyard in which one is, is considered to be four Amos).

(b) Raban Gamliel instituted - that the witnesses should be allowed to go two thousand Amos in all directions.

(c) This Takanah is not confined to the witnesses who came from outside the T'chum to testify - but extended to a midwife who came to deliver a baby, and to someone who came to save someone from a fire, attackers, a river or from a building that collapsed.

(a) Based on two Pesukim, the Gemara is uncertain whether the courtyard is called 'Beis Ya'azek' or 'Beis Yazek' (without an Ayin). Based on the Pasuk in Yeshayah "va'Ye'azkeihu va'Yesakleihu" - 'Beis Ya'azek' means encircled by a wall.

(b) And based on the Pasuk in Yirmiyah "ve'Hu Asur ba'Zikim" - it means chained (because they were confined to such a small space).

(c) We try and resolve the uncertainty from the fact that they arranged big feasts for them there - implying that their environment was not unpleasant.

(d) We conclude that there is no proof from there however - because who says that both facts are not correct? They were hemmed in on the one hand, and enjoyed fine parties on the other.

(a) Beis-Din questioned ...
  1. ... the pairs of witnesses - on the basis of 'first come, first served'.
  2. ... the senior witness of each pair of witnesses first. Whilst the first witness was being cross-examined, the second one was sent out of court.
(b) Even if the first pair were accepted, they would continue to ask the other witnesses key questions about their testimony - in order that they should not become despondent (at having come all that way for nothing).

(c) The new moon is never seen in the middle of the day - because it is so small and so pale, that the glare of the sun renders it invisible.

(d) They would ask the witnesses whether they had seen the moon in front of the sun or behind it, whether it was to the north of the sun or to the south - how high in the sky it was, in which direction it was pointing and how wide it was.

(a) Initially, we understand the question (that they asked the witnesses) 'in front of the sun or behind it' - to mean 'whether the moon reached the north ahead of the sun, or whether it got there only after it'.

(b) We ultimately explain it - to mean 'whether its points were facing towards the sun, or away from the sun'.

(c) We learn in this regard from the Pasuk "Hamsheil va'Fachad Imo, Oseh Shalom bi'M'romav" - that the sun never saw the missing part of the moon (in order not to embarrass the moon). Consequently, should the witnesses testify that the moon's points were facing the sun, their testimony will be disqualified.

(d) We also learn from there - that the sun has never seen the points of the rainbow (so that nobody will be able to say that the sun is shooting arrows at those who do not believe in its divine powers.

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