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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin

Folio 11a

whose members have been appointed for that purpose.1

It once happened that Rabban Gamaliel2  said: 'Send me up seven [scholars] early in the morning to the upper chamber3  [for this purpose].' When he came in the morning and found eight, he asked: 'Who is he who has come up without permission? Let him go down.' Thereupon, Samuel the Little arose and said: 'It was I who came up without permission; my object was not to join in the intercalation, but because I felt the necessity of learning the practical application of the law.' Rabban Gamaliel then answered: 'Sit down, my son, sit down; you are worthy of intercalating all years [in need of such], but it is a decision of the Rabbis that it should be done only by those who have been specially appointed for the purpose.' — But in reality it was not Samuel the Little [who was the uninvited member] but another;4  he only wished to save the intruder from humiliation.

Similarly it once happened that while Rabbi was delivering a lecture, he noticed a smell of garlic. Thereupon he said: 'Let him who has eaten garlic go out.' R. Hiyya arose and left; then all the other disciples rose in turn and went out. In the morning R. Simeon, Rabbi's son, met and asked him: 'Was it you who caused annoyance to my father yesterday?' 'Heaven forfend5  that such a thing should happen in Israel,' he answered.6

And from whom did R. Hiyya learn such conduct? — From R. Meir, for it is taught: A story is related of a woman who appeared at the Beth Hammidrash7  of R. Meir and said to him, 'Rabbi, one of you has taken me to wife by cohabitation.' Thereupon he rose up and gave her a bill of divorce,8  after which every one of his disciples stood up in turn and did likewise. And from whom did R. Meir learn this? — From Samuel the Little. And Samuel the Little? — From Shecaniah son of Jehiel, for it is written, And Shecaniah son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam answered and said unto Ezra: We9  have broken faith with our God and have married foreign women of the peoples of the land: yet now there is hope in Israel concerning this thing.10  And Shecaniah learnt it from [the story told of] Joshua. As it is written, The Lord said unto Joshua, Get thee up, wherefore, now, art thou fallen upon thy face? Israel hath sinned …11  'Master of the Universe,' asked Joshua, 'who are the sinners?' 'Am I an informer?' replied God. 'Go and cast lots [to find out].'12  Or, if you like, I might say that he learnt it from [the incident with] Moses, as we read, And the Lord said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep My commandments and My laws?13

Our Rabbis taught: Since the death of the last prophets, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachai, the Holy Spirit [of prophetic inspiration] departed from Israel; yet they were still able to avail themselves of the Bath-kol.14  Once when the Rabbis were met in the upper chamber of Gurya's15  house at Jericho, a Bath-kol was heard from Heaven, saying: 'There is one amongst you who is worthy that the Shechinah16  should rest on him as it did on Moses, but his generation does not merit it.' The Sages present set their eyes on Hillel the Elder. And when he died, they lamented and said: 'Alas, the pious man, the humble man, the disciple of Ezra [is no more].'

Once again they were met in the upper chamber at Jabneh, and a Bath-kol was heard to say: 'There is one amongst you who is worthy that the Shechinah should rest on him, but his generation does not merit it.' The Sages present directed their gaze on Samuel the Little. And when he died, they lamented and said: 'Alas! the pious man, alas! the humble man, the disciple of Hillel [is no more].' Samuel the Little also said shortly before he passed away: 'Simeon17  and Ishmael18  will meet their death by the sword, and his friends19  will be executed; the rest of the people will be plundered, and many troubles will come upon the world.' The Rabbis wished to use the same words of lamentation for R. Judah b. Baba;20  the troublous conditions of the time, however, did not permit it, for no funeral orations were delivered over those who were martyred by the [Roman] Government.21

Our Rabbis taught: A year cannot be intercalated unless the Nasi sanctions it. It once happened that Rabban Gamaliel was away obtaining permission from the Governor in Syria,22  and, as his return was delayed, the year was intercalated subject to Rabban Gamaliel's later approval. When Rabban Gamaliel returned he gave his approval with the result that the intercalation held good.

Our Rabbis taught: A year may not be intercalated except where it is necessary either for [the improvement of] roads23  or for [the repair of] bridges, or for the [drying of the] ovens24  [required for the roasting] of the paschal lambs, or for the sake of pilgrims25  from distant lands who have left their homes and could not otherwise reach [Jerusalem] in time.26  But no intercalation may take place because of [heavy] snows or cold weather27  or for the sake of Jewish exiles [from a distance] who have not yet set out.

Our Rabbis taught: The year may not be intercalated on the ground that the kids28  or the lambs or the doves are too young.29  But we consider each of these circumstances as an auxiliary reason for intercalation.30  How so? — R. Jannai [gave the following example of the law in operation], quoting from R. Simeon b. Gamaliel's [letter to the Communities]: 'We beg to inform you that the doves are still tender and the lambs still young, and the grain has not yet ripened. I have considered the matter and thought it advisable to add thirty days to the year.

An objection was raised: How long a period was intercalated in the year? Thirty days. R. Simeon b. Gamaliel said: A month?31  — R. Papa Said: [The matter is left to the judgment of the intercalary court:] if they wish, they may add a month; or if they wish thirty days.

Come now and see the difference between

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. By the Nasi on the previous evening (Rashi).
  2. The Second.
  3. The meeting place of the Rabbis. v. Keth. 50b; Shab. Ch. I, M. 4. [V. Krauss, Lewy-Festschrift, pp. 27, ff.].
  4. [Probably R. Eliezer b. Hyrcanus, v. Bacher; Agada der Tanaiten, vol. I, p. 84.]
  5. This is the reading in Rashi.
  6. I.e., he acted with the intention of saving the real offender from humiliation.
  7. 'House of Learning,' the school, or college. V. Glos.
  8. Attaching the blame to himself.
  9. Including himself, though no guilt was attached to him.
  10. Ezra X, 2.
  11. Josh. VII, 10-11.
  12. So saving the real sinners from humiliation.
  13. Ex. XVI, 28. Though no blame was attached to Moses, he is included to spare the offenders from humiliation.
  14. Divine voice, of secondary rank to prophecy. v. Glos.
  15. [J. Sotah IX, reads 'Gadia'.]
  16. Divine presence. v. Glos.
  17. R. Simeon b. Gamaliel the First, the father of Gamaliel of Jabneh. So Rashi. Cp. also Semahoth 8. But this statement lacks historical support, as Samuel the Little died nearly half a century after the destruction of the Temple, whereas Simeon died before that event. Halevy (Doroth, Ie, pp. 201 seq.) rightly assumes that Simeon here is the son of R. Hanina (the Segan of the Priests) known as Simeon b. ha-Segan (cf. Men. 100b) who witnessed the Destruction.
  18. R. Ishmael b. Elisha, the High Priest.
  19. R. Akiba and R. Hinina b. Teradyon.
  20. Who was martyred at the age of seventy under the Hadrianic persecution, v. infra 14a.
  21. Any words of praise spoken in public over the martyred would have been regarded by the Romans as an act of provocation.
  22. [I.e., in order to secure confirmation of his appointment as Nasi (Derenbourg, Essai p. 311); or to obtain permission for intercalating the year (Yad Ramah).]
  23. Which are impassable by those coming from afar to celebrate the Passover at Jerusalem.
  24. These were erected in the open and, being exposed to the winter weather, became slimy and unfit for use, except after being allowed some time to dry.
  25. Lit. 'Exiles of Israel', Jews from distant parts of the Diaspora.
  26. For the Passover Feast.
  27. As this need not prevent pilgrims from proceeding to Jerusalem.
  28. Kids set aside for the Paschal Sacrifice.
  29. Doves were prescribed as offerings for women after confinement and for persons cured from gonorrhoea. These, as a rule, postponed their offerings until the Passover Pilgrimage. But the reason that doves were too young was inadequate for intercalation, since the law provided the alternative of young pigeons for such offerings. Cf. Lev. XII, 8.
  30. Two reasons were required to justify intercalation, v. infra.
  31. Twenty nine days; whereas R. Simeon b. Gamaliel fixed it at thirty days.

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Sanhedrin 11b

the proud leaders of former days and their modest successors of later times. For it has been taught: It once happened that Rabban Gamaliel1  was sitting on a step on the Temple-hill and the well known2  Scribe Johanan was standing before him while three cut sheets were lying before him. 'Take one sheet', he said, 'and write an epistle to our brethren in Upper Galilee and to those in Lower Galilee, saying: "May your peace be great! We beg to inform you that the time of 'removal' has arrived for setting aside [the tithe]3  from the olive heaps." Take another sheet, and write to our brethren of the South, "May your peace be great! We beg to inform you that the time of 'removal' has arrived for setting aside the tithe from the corn sheaves."4 And take the third and write to our brethren the Exiles in Babylon and to those in Media, and to all the other exiled [sons] of Israel, saying: "May your peace be great for ever! We beg to inform you that the doves are still tender and the lambs still too young and that the crops are not yet ripe. It seems advisable to me and to my colleagues5  to add thirty days to this year."' [Yet] it is possible [that the modesty shown by Rabban Gamaliel in this case belongs to the period] after he had been deposed [from the office of Nasi].6

Our Rabbis taught: A year may be intercalated on three grounds: on account of the premature state of the corn-crops;7  or that of the fruit-trees;8  or on account of the lateness of the Tekufah9  Any two of these reasons can justify intercalation, but not one alone. All, however, are glad when the state of the spring-crop is one of them.10  Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel says: On account of [the lateness of] the Tekufah. The Schoolmen inquired: Did he mean to say that 'on account of the [lateness of the] Tekufah' [being one of the two reasons], they rejoiced,11  or that the lateness of the Tekufah alone was adequate reason for intercalating the year? — The question remains undecided.

Our Rabbis taught: [The grain and fruit of the following] three regions [are taken as the standard] for deciding upon the declaration of a leap-year: Judea,12  Trans-Jordania,13  and Galilee.14  The requirements of two of these regions might determine the intercalation, but not those of a single one. All, however, were glad when one of the two was Judea, because the barley for the Omer15  was obtained [by preference] in Judea.16

Our Rabbis taught: The intercalation of a year can be effected [by the Beth din] only in Judea; but if for some reason [it had been decided upon by the Beth din] in Galilee, the decision holds good. Hanania of Oni, however, testified: 'If the intercalation was decided upon in Galilee, it is not valid.' R. Judah the son of R. Simeon b. Pazi asked: What is the reason for the view of Hanania of Oni? — Scripture states, Unto His habitation shall ye seek and thither thou shalt come:17  whatever search18  you have to make shall be only in the habitation of the Lord.19

Our Rabbis taught: A leap-year is to be declared only by day, and if it has been declared by night, the declaration is invalid. The sanctification of a month is to be performed by day, and if it has been performed by night it is not valid. R. Abba says: What passage [proves this]? — Blow the horn at the new moon, at the covering20  of the moon our feast-day.21  Now on which feast is the moon covered? — We must say on the New Year.22  And it is thereupon written, For this is a statute for Israel, a judgment23  of the God of Jacob: Just as judgment is executed by day,24  so also must the sanctification of the month take place by day.

Our Rabbis taught: A year is not to be intercalated

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Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. The Second, called also 'Gamaliel of Jabneh', who was noted for his firmness, and the enforcement of his authority. Cf. R.H. 25a; Ber. 27b; Bek. 36a.
  2. Lit., 'that.'
  3. Tithes were of four classes: (a) the Levitical or First tithe; (b) the Priestly tithe given by the Levites from their own tithe; (c) the Second tithe, and (d) the triennial or Poor tithe. The Second tithe was to be eaten in Jerusalem every year of the septennial cycle, except the third and sixth, when it was replaced by the Poor tithe. The whole series of tithes reached its completion close upon Passover in the fourth and seventh year, and all the tithes which ought to have been paid in the course of the three years, but which, whether through negligence or other circumstances, were not given, had to be removed ([H]) on the eve of Passover, and a prayer of confession ([H]) offered, in accordance with Deut. XXVI, 13. Cf. M. Sh. V, 6.
  4. The chief product of Galilee was olives, and that of the south, wheat.
  5. He thus associated his colleagues with the epistle, whereas his son did not refer to his colleagues, though he was noted for his modesty. Cf. B.M. 85a. 'Rabbi says: There were three humble men, my father (R.S.b.G.) the children of Bathyra and Jonathan the son of Saul.'
  6. He was deprived of his position owing to the great displeasure he aroused in the Assembly by his harsh attack on R. Joshua b. Hanina, a famous pupil of R. Johanan b. Zakkai, but subsequently reinstated as joint-president with R. Eliezer b. Azaria. Cf. Ber. 27.
  7. This species must be ripe in the mouth of Nisan which is known in the Bible as the Abib (Ex. XIII, 44) the month of ears (of corn), in reference to the ripeness of the corn in that month.
  8. Which should, as a rule, ripen close before 'Azereth (Pentecost), the time when the Pilgrims bring the first fruits to Jerusalem (Num. XXVIII, 26). If it happens that the fruit is unripe, the year may be intercalated so as to prevent a special journey.
  9. Lit. 'cycle', 'season'. The Jewish Calendar, while being lunar, takes cognisance of the solar system to which it is adjusted at the end of every cycle of nineteen years. For ritual purposes the four Tekufoth seasons, are calculated according to the solar system, each being equal to one fourth of 365 days, viz. 91 days, 71/2 hours. Tekufah of Nisan (Vernal equinox) begins March 21; Tekufah of Tammuz (Summer Solstice), June 21; Tekufah of Tishri (Autumnal equinox), September 23; Tekufah of Tebeth (Winter Solstice), December 22. Should the Tekufah of Tammuz extend till after the Succoth Festival, or the Tekufah of Tebeth till the sixteenth of Nisan, the year would be intercalated, so that the festivals might fall in their due seasons, viz., Passover in Spring, Succoth in Autumn.
  10. Because if the corn-crop is already ripe and the intercalation prompted by other reasons, the prohibition of new produce till after the Omer Offering (v. p. 50, n. 4) according to Lev. XXIII, 14, would be unduly prolonged for another month.
  11. Because if the Tekufah was in order, and the intercalation had been effected for other reasons, the pilgrims would be subject to wintry weather when returning from Jerusalem after the Succoth Festival.
  12. South of Palestine.
  13. East of Palestine.
  14. Northern Palestine.
  15. A measure of barley (1/10th of an ephah) taken from tender ears, was brought on the 16th day of Nisan to the Temple as a heave-offering. v. Lev. XXIII, 10-11.
  16. For two reasons, firstly, because the grain taken for the Omer offering had to be tender, and this could only be so if it was cut from a field in the proximity of Jerusalem, for if it were brought from a far-off distance, the stalks would become hardened in transit, by the wind. Secondly, according to the Talmudic rule, that one must not forego the occasion of performing a commandment (cf. Yoma 33a), the ripe corn in the vicinity of Jerusalem offered the earliest opportunity of fulfilling the precept (v. Men. 64b). If the grain in Judea, however, gave no cause for intercalation, it would be overripe at the time of the Omer, and so unfit for the purpose.
  17. Deut. XII, 5.
  18. I.e., religious enquiry, or investigation.
  19. I.e., Jerusalem the Capital of Judea, which the Lord (Heb. Makom, lit., 'the Place', v. Glos.) has selected as habitation unto Himself.
  20. [H] (E.V. 'full moon') is taken from [H] 'to cover'.
  21. Ps. LXXXI, 4.
  22. Which alone of all festivals is fixed for the 1st of the month.
  23. E.V. 'ordinance'.
  24. V. infra 32a: 'Money cases are to be tried by day'.

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