אַרְבָּעָה רָאשֵׁי שָׁנִים הֵם. בְּאֶחָד בְּנִיסָן רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה לַמְּלָכִים וְלָרְגָלִים. בְּאֶחָד בֶּאֱלוּל רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה לְמַעְשַׂר בְּהֵמָה. רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר וְרַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן אוֹמְרִים, בְּאֶחָד בְּתִשְׁרֵי. בְּאֶחָד בְּתִשְׁרֵי רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה לַשָּׁנִים וְלַשְּׁמִטִּין וְלַיּוֹבְלוֹת, לַנְּטִיעָה וְלַיְרָקוֹת. בְּאֶחָד בִּשְׁבָט, רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה לָאִילָן, כְּדִבְרֵי בֵית שַׁמַּאי. בֵּית הִלֵּל אוֹמְרִים, בַּחֲמִשָּׁה עָשָׂר בּוֹ:
They are four days in the year that serve as the New Year, each for a different purpose: On the first of Nisan is the New Year for kings; it is from this date that the years of a king’s rule are counted. And the first of Nisan is also the New Year for the order of the Festivals, as it determines which is considered the first Festival of the year and which the last. On the first of Elul is the New Year for animal tithes; all the animals born prior to that date belong to the previous tithe year and are tithed as a single unit, whereas those born after that date belong to the next tithe year. Rabbi Elazar and Rabbi Shimon say: The New Year for animal tithes is on the first of Tishrei. On the first of Tishrei is the New Year for counting years, as will be explained in the Gemara; for calculating Sabbatical Years and Jubilee Years, i.e., from the first of Tishrei there is a biblical prohibition to work the land during these years; for planting, for determining the years of orla, the three-year period from when a tree has been planted during which time its fruit is forbidden; and for tithing vegetables, as vegetables picked prior to that date cannot be tithed together with vegetables picked after that date. On the first of Shevat is the New Year for the tree; the fruit of a tree that was formed prior to that date belong to the previous tithe year and cannot be tithed together with fruit that was formed after that date; this ruling is in accordance with the statement of Beit Shammai. But Beit Hillel say: The New Year for trees is on the fifteenth of Shevat.
בְּאַרְבָּעָה פְרָקִים הָעוֹלָם נִדּוֹן, בְּפֶסַח עַל הַתְּבוּאָה, בַּעֲצֶרֶת עַל פֵּרוֹת הָאִילָן, בְּרֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה כָּל בָּאֵי הָעוֹלָם עוֹבְרִין לְפָנָיו כִּבְנֵי מָרוֹן, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (תהלים לג) הַיּוֹצֵר יַחַד לִבָּם, הַמֵּבִין אֶל כָּל מַעֲשֵׂיהֶם. וּבֶחָג נִדּוֹנִין עַל הַמָּיִם:
At four times of the year the world is judged: On Passover judgment is passed concerning grain; on Shavuot concerning fruits that grow on a tree on Rosh HaShana, all creatures pass before Him like sheep [benei maron], as it is stated: “He Who fashions their hearts alike, Who considers all their deeds” (Psalms 33:15); and on the festival of Sukkot they are judged concerning water, i.e., the rainfall of the coming year.
עַל שִׁשָּׁה חֳדָשִׁים הַשְּׁלוּחִין יוֹצְאִין, עַל נִיסָן מִפְּנֵי הַפֶּסַח, עַל אָב מִפְּנֵי הַתַּעֲנִית, עַל אֱלוּל מִפְּנֵי רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה, עַל תִּשְׁרֵי מִפְּנֵי תַקָּנַת הַמּוֹעֲדוֹת, עַל כִּסְלֵו מִפְּנֵי חֲנֻכָּה, וְעַל אֲדָר מִפְּנֵי הַפּוּרִים. וּכְשֶׁהָיָה בֵית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ קַיָּם, יוֹצְאִין אַף עַל אִיָּר מִפְּנֵי פֶסַח קָטָן:
In six months of the year the messengers go out from the court in Jerusalem to report throughout Eretz Yisrael and the Diaspora which day was established as the New Moon, the thirtieth or the thirty-first day since the previous New Moon. They go out in the month of Nisan, due to Passover, so that people will know on which day to celebrate it; in the month of Av, due to the fast of the Ninth of Av; in Elul, due to Rosh HaShana, which begins thirty days after the New Moon of Elul; in Tishrei, due to the need to establish the correct dates on which to celebrate the Festivals of Tishrei, i.e., Yom Kippur and Sukkot; in Kislev, due to Hanukkah; and in Adar, due to Purim. And when the Temple was standing, messengers would also go out in the month of Iyyar due to small Passover, i.e., second Pesaḥ, which occurs on the fourteenth of Iyyar. This holiday allowed those who were ritually impure or on a distant journey on the fourteenth of Nisan, and therefore incapable of bringing the Paschal lamb at that time, to bring their Paschal lamb a month later.
עַל שְׁנֵי חֳדָשִׁים מְחַלְּלִין אֶת הַשַּׁבָּת, עַל נִיסָן וְעַל תִּשְׁרֵי, שֶׁבָּהֶן הַשְּׁלוּחִין יוֹצְאִין לְסוּרְיָא, וּבָהֶן מְתַקְּנִין אֶת הַמּוֹעֲדוֹת. וּכְשֶׁהָיָה בֵית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ קַיָּם, מְחַלְּלִין אַף עַל כֻּלָּן מִפְּנֵי תַקָּנַת הַקָּרְבָּן:
Only for the sake of two months may witnesses who saw the new moon desecrate Shabbat, should that be necessary in order for them to offer testimony before the court: For the month of Nisan and for the month of Tishrei, for in these months messengers are sent out to Syria, and by them, i.e., these months, the dates of the major Festivals are set: Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Passover, and Shavuot. And when the Temple was standing, the witnesses desecrated Shabbat for the fixing of the New Moon of all the months, due to the imperative of fixing the proper offering of the New Moon at the correct time.
בֵּין שֶׁנִּרְאָה בַעֲלִיל בֵּין שֶׁלֹּא נִרְאָה בַעֲלִיל, מְחַלְּלִין עָלָיו אֶת הַשַּׁבָּת, רַבִּי יוֹסֵי אוֹמֵר, אִם נִרְאָה בַעֲלִיל, אֵין מְחַלְּלִין עָלָיו אֶת הַשַּׁבָּת:
Whether the new moon was seen clearly [ba’alil] by everyone or whether it was not clearly seen, one may desecrate Shabbat in order to testify before the court. Rabbi Yosei says: If the moon was clearly seen, they may not desecrate Shabbat for it, since other witnesses, located nearer to the court, will certainly testify. If these distant witnesses go to court to testify, they will desecrate Shabbat unnecessarily.
מַעֲשֶׂה שֶׁעָבְרוּ יוֹתֵר מֵאַרְבָּעִים זוּג, וְעִכְּבָן רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא בְלוּד. שָׁלַח לוֹ רַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל, אִם מְעַכֵּב אַתָּה אֶת הָרַבִּים, נִמְצֵאתָ מַכְשִׁילָן לֶעָתִיד לָבֹא:
There was once an incident where more than forty pairs of witnesses were passing through on their way to Jerusalem to testify about the new moon, and Rabbi Akiva detained them in Lod, telling them that there was no need for them to desecrate Shabbat for this purpose. Rabban Gamliel sent a message to him: If you detain the many people who wish to testify about the new moon, you will cause them to stumble in the future. They will say: Why should we go, seeing that our testimony is unnecessary? At some point they will be needed, and no witnesses will come to the court.
אָב וּבְנוֹ שֶׁרָאוּ אֶת הַחֹדֶשׁ, יֵלְכוּ. לֹא שֶׁמִּצְטָרְפִין זֶה עִם זֶה, אֶלָּא שֶׁאִם יִפָּסֵל אֶחָד מֵהֶן, יִצְטָרֵף הַשֵּׁנִי עִם אַחֵר. רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן אוֹמֵר, אָב וּבְנוֹ וְכָל הַקְּרוֹבִין, כְּשֵׁרִין לְעֵדוּת הַחֹדֶשׁ. אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹסֵי, מַעֲשֶׂה בְטוֹבִיָּה הָרוֹפֵא, שֶׁרָאָה אֶת הַחֹדֶשׁ בִּירוּשָׁלַיִם, הוּא וּבְנוֹ וְעַבְדּוֹ מְשֻׁחְרָר, וְקִבְּלוּ הַכֹּהֲנִים אוֹתוֹ וְאֶת בְּנוֹ, וּפָסְלוּ אֶת עַבְדּוֹ. וּכְשֶׁבָּאוּ לִפְנֵי בֵית דִּין, קִבְּלוּ אוֹתוֹ וְאֶת עַבְדּוֹ, וּפָסְלוּ אֶת בְּנוֹ:
If a father and his son saw the new moon, they should both go to the court in Jerusalem. It is not that they can join together to give testimony, for close relatives are disqualified from testifying together, but they both go so that if one of them is disqualified, the second may join together with another witness to testify about the new moon. Rabbi Shimon says: A father and his son and all their relatives are fit to combine together as witnesses for testimony to determine the start of the month. Rabbi Yosei said: There was an incident with Toviyya the doctor. When he saw the new moon in Jerusalem, he and his son and his freed slave all went to testify. The priests accepted him and his son as witnesses and disqualified his slave, for they ruled stringently that the month may be sanctified only on the basis of the testimony of those of Jewish lineage. And when they came before the court, they accepted him and his slave as witnesses and disqualified his son, due to the familial relationship.
אֵלּוּ הֵן הַפְּסוּלִין, הַמְשַׂחֵק בְּקֻבְיָא, וּמַלְוֵי בְרִבִּית, וּמַפְרִיחֵי יוֹנִים, וְסוֹחֲרֵי שְׁבִיעִית, וַעֲבָדִים. זֶה הַכְּלָל, כָּל עֵדוּת שֶׁאֵין הָאִשָּׁה כְשֵׁרָה לָהּ, אַף הֵן אֵינָן כְּשֵׁרִים לָהּ:
The following are unfit to give testimony, as they are considered thieves and robbers: One who plays with dice [kubbiyya] or other games of chance for money; and those who lend money with interest; and those who race pigeons and place wagers on the outcome; and merchants who deal in produce of the Sabbatical Year, which may be eaten, but may not be an object of commerce; and slaves. This is the principle: Any testimony for which a woman is unfit, these too are unfit. Although in certain cases a woman’s testimony is accepted, e.g., to testify to the death of someone’s husband, in the majority of cases her testimony is not valid.
מִי שֶׁרָאָה אֶת הַחֹדֶשׁ וְאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְהַלֵּךְ, מוֹלִיכִין אוֹתוֹ עַל הַחֲמוֹר, אֲפִלּוּ בְמִטָּה. וְאִם צוֹדֶה לָהֶם, לוֹקְחִין בְּיָדָם מַקְּלוֹת. וְאִם הָיְתָה דֶרֶךְ רְחוֹקָה, לוֹקְחִין בְּיָדָם מְזוֹנוֹת, שֶׁעַל מַהֲלַךְ לַיְלָה וָיוֹם מְחַלְּלִין אֶת הַשַּׁבָּת וְיוֹצְאִין לְעֵדוּת הַחֹדֶשׁ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כג), אֵלֶּה מוֹעֲדֵי ה' אֲשֶׁר תִּקְרְאוּ אוֹתָם בְּמוֹעֲדָם:
With regard to one who saw the new moon but is unable to go to Jerusalem by foot because he is sick or has difficulty walking, others may bring him on a donkey or even in a bed, even on Shabbat if necessary. And if the witnesses are concerned that bandits may be lying in wait for them along the road, they may take clubs or other weapons in their hands, even on Shabbat. And if it was a long journey to Jerusalem, they may take sustenance with them, although it is ordinarily prohibited to carry on Shabbat, since for a distance of a walk of a night and a day, the witnesses may desecrate Shabbat and go out to give testimony to determine the start of the month. This is as it is stated: “These are the Festivals of the Lord, sacred gatherings, which you shall declare in their seasons” (Leviticus 23:4). This teaches that, in all cases, the Festivals must be fixed at their proper times, even if it entails the transgression of Torah prohibitions.