2ב׳
1 א

אִם אֵינָן מַכִּירִין אוֹתוֹ, מְשַׁלְּחִין אַחֵר עִמּוֹ לַהֲעִידוֹ. בָּרִאשׁוֹנָה הָיוּ מְקַבְּלִין עֵדוּת הַחֹדֶשׁ מִכָּל אָדָם. מִשֶּׁקִּלְקְלוּ הַמִּינִין, הִתְקִינוּ שֶׁלֹּא יְהוּ מְקַבְּלִין אֶלָּא מִן הַמַּכִּירִים:

If [the judges] didn't know [the witness], others were sent with him to testify about him. At first, testimony about the new moon was received from any one; [but] from when the heretics corrupted [and bribed witnesses to lie], it was ordained, that [testimony] should be received only of those witnesses who were known.

2 ב

בָּרִאשׁוֹנָה הָיוּ מַשִּׂיאִין מַשּׂוּאוֹת. מִשֶּׁקִּלְקְלוּ הַכּוּתִים, הִתְקִינוּ שֶׁיְּהוּ שְׁלוּחִין יוֹצְאִין:

At first, bonfires were lighted on the tops of the mountains [to transmit the appearance of the new moon]; but when the Cutheans [the Samaritans] corrupted [the process], it was ordained that messengers should be sent out.

3 ג

כֵּיצַד הָיוּ מַשִּׂיאִין מַשּׂוּאוֹת, מְבִיאִין כְּלֻנְסָאוֹת שֶׁל אֶרֶז אֲרֻכִּין וְקָנִים וַעֲצֵי שֶׁמֶן וּנְעֹרֶת שֶׁל פִּשְׁתָּן וְכוֹרֵךְ בִּמְשִׁיחָה, וְעוֹלֶה לְרֹאשׁ הָהָר וּמַצִּית בָּהֶן אֶת הָאוּר, וּמוֹלִיךְ וּמֵבִיא וּמַעֲלֶה וּמוֹרִיד, עַד שֶׁהוּא רוֹאֶה אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ שֶׁהוּא עוֹשֶׂה כֵן בְּרֹאשׁ הָהָר הַשֵּׁנִי, וְכֵן בְּרֹאשׁ הָהָר הַשְּׁלִישִׁי:

How were these mountain fires lighted? They brought long staves of cedar wood, and shoots, and sticks from oil trees, and the scraps of flax, which were [all] tied on the top of [the staves] with twine; [with these, the court's agent] went to the top of the mountain, and lighted the fire; and waved them to and fro, upward and downward, until he could see his fellow, [and] that [the latter] was doing the same on the top of the next mountain; and so too, [this process was repeated with regards to the next fellow] on the top of the third mountain.

4 ד

וּמֵאַיִן הָיוּ מַשִּׂיאִין מַשּׂוּאוֹת, מֵהַר הַמִּשְׁחָה לְסַרְטְבָא, וּמִסַּרְטְבָא לִגְרוֹפִינָא, וּמִגְּרוֹפִינָא לְחַוְרָן, וּמֵחַוְרָן לְבֵית בִּלְתִּין, וּמִבֵּית בִּלְתִּין לֹא זָזוּ מִשָּׁם, אֶלָּא מוֹלִיךְ וּמֵבִיא וּמַעֲלֶה וּמוֹרִיד עַד שֶׁהָיָה רוֹאֶה כָל הַגּוֹלָה לְפָנָיו כִּמְדוּרַת הָאֵשׁ:

And from where did they light these mountain fires? From the Mount of Olives to Sartava, and from Sartava to Grofina, and from Grofina to Havran, and from Havran to Beit Biltin; and from Beit Biltin, [the agents] did not move from there, but [rather] he would wave [the flaming brands] to and fro, upward and downward, until he could see the whole Diaspora in front of him [lit up] like a torch fire.

5 ה

חָצֵר גְּדוֹלָה הָיְתָה בִירוּשָׁלַיִם, וּבֵית יַעְזֵק הָיְתָה נִקְרֵאת, וּלְשָׁם כָּל הָעֵדִים מִתְכַּנְּסִים, וּבֵית דִּין בּוֹדְקִין אוֹתָם שָׁם. וּסְעוּדוֹת גְּדוֹלוֹת עוֹשִׂין לָהֶם בִּשְׁבִיל שֶׁיְּהוּ רְגִילִין לָבֹא. בָּרִאשׁוֹנָה לֹא הָיוּ זָזִין מִשָּׁם כָּל הַיּוֹם, הִתְקִין רַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל הַזָּקֵן שֶׁיְּהוּ מְהַלְּכִין אַלְפַּיִם אַמָּה לְכָל רוּחַ. וְלֹא אֵלּוּ בִלְבַד, אֶלָּא אַף הַחֲכָמָה הַבָּאָה לְיַלֵּד, וְהַבָּא לְהַצִּיל מִן הַדְּלֵקָה וּמִן הַגַּיִס וּמִן הַנָּהָר וּמִן הַמַּפֹּלֶת, הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ כְאַנְשֵׁי הָעִיר, וְיֵשׁ לָהֶם אַלְפַּיִם אַמָּה לְכָל רוּחַ:

There was a large courtyard in Jerusalem and it was called Beit Ya'azek; it was there that all the witnesses gathered, and the court would examine them there. Large meals were made for them, in order that they be accustomed to come [and testify]. At first, they did not move from [that courtyard] all day [on Shabbat. Later,] Rabban Gamliel the Elder ordained that they would [be permitted to] go two thousand amot [a specific unit of length] on every side; and it is not only [witnesses that were given this dispensation on Shabbat], but also the midwife, who comes to deliver [a baby]; and one who comes to save [others] from a fire, or from [the attack of a hostile] troop, or from a [flood], or from under the ruins of fallen buildings; behold they are considered as inhabitants of that town [to which they arrived on Shabbat], and [hence] they have two thousand amot on every side [of the town in which they are allowed to move].

6 ו

כֵּיצַד בּוֹדְקִין אֶת הָעֵדִים. זוּג שֶׁבָּא רִאשׁוֹן, בּוֹדְקִין אוֹתוֹ רִאשׁוֹן. וּמַכְנִיסִין אֶת הַגָּדוֹל שֶׁבָּהֶן וְאוֹמְרִים לוֹ, אֱמֹר, כֵּיצַד רָאִיתָ אֶת הַלְּבָנָה, לִפְנֵי הַחַמָּה אוֹ לְאַחַר הַחַמָּה, לִצְפוֹנָהּ אוֹ לִדְרוֹמָהּ, כַּמָּה הָיָה גָבוֹהַּ וּלְאַיִן הָיָה נוֹטֶה, וְכַמָּה הָיָה רָחָב. אִם אָמַר לִפְנֵי הַחַמָּה, לֹא אָמַר כְּלוּם. וְאַחַר כָּךְ הָיוּ מַכְנִיסִים אֶת הַשֵּׁנִי וּבוֹדְקִין אוֹתוֹ. אִם נִמְצְאוּ דִבְרֵיהֶם מְכֻוָּנִים, עֵדוּתָן קַיָּמֶת. וּשְׁאָר כָּל הַזּוּגוֹת שׁוֹאֲלִין אוֹתָם רָאשֵׁי דְבָרִים, לֹא שֶׁהָיוּ צְרִיכִין לָהֶן, אֶלָּא כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יֵצְאוּ בְּפַחֵי נֶפֶשׁ, בִּשְׁבִיל שֶׁיְּהוּ רְגִילִים לָבֹא:

How were witnesses examined? The pair that came first were examined first. [The judges] would bring in the eldest of them, and say to him: "Say [to us], how did you see the moon; was it [with the crescent turned] towards the sun, or away from the sun? To the north or to the south [of the sun]? What was its elevation and towards which side was it inclining? And how wide was it?" If he said [the crescent was turned] towards the sun, he did not say anything [of value and is dismissed]. Afterwards, they would bring in the second witness and examine him; if their words were found to match, their testimony stood [and was accepted]. And [then] all the other pairs of witnesses would be asked [questions in outline form], not because the [judges] would need them, but only that they not leave with bitter spirits, in order that they be accustomed to come [and testify in the future].

7 ז

רֹאשׁ בֵּית דִּין אוֹמֵר מְקֻדָּשׁ, וְכָל הָעָם עוֹנִין אַחֲרָיו מְקֻדָּשׁ מְקֻדָּשׁ. בֵּין שֶׁנִּרְאָה בִזְמַנּוֹ בֵּין שֶׁלֹּא נִרְאָה בִזְמַנּוֹ, מְקַדְּשִׁין אוֹתוֹ. רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר בְּרַבִּי צָדוֹק אוֹמֵר, אִם לֹא נִרְאָה בִזְמַנּוֹ, אֵין מְקַדְּשִׁין אוֹתוֹ, שֶׁכְּבָר קִדְּשׁוּהוּ שָׁמָיִם:

The head of the court [then] said, "[The new month is] consecrated" and all the people answered after him, "Consecrated, consecrated." Whether [the new moon] had been seen at its time [meaning, on the first of the two possible days] or whether it had not been seen at its time, it was consecrated. Rabbi Eliezer bar Tsadok, said, "If it had not been seen at its time, it was not consecrated, because it had already been consecrated by the Heavens [on the second day]."

8 ח

דְּמוּת צוּרוֹת לְבָנוֹת הָיוּ לוֹ לְרַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל בַּטַּבְלָא וּבַכֹּתֶל בַּעֲלִיָּתוֹ, שֶׁבָּהֶן מַרְאֶה אֶת הַהֶדְיוֹטוֹת וְאוֹמֵר, הֲכָזֶה רָאִיתָ אוֹ כָזֶה. מַעֲשֶׂה שֶׁבָּאוּ שְׁנַיִם וְאָמְרוּ, רְאִינוּהוּ שַׁחֲרִית בַּמִּזְרָח וְעַרְבִית בַּמַּעֲרָב. אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן בֶּן נוּרִי, עֵדֵי שֶׁקֶר הֵם. כְּשֶׁבָּאוּ לְיַבְנֶה קִבְּלָן רַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל. וְעוֹד בָּאוּ שְׁנַיִם וְאָמְרוּ, רְאִינוּהוּ בִזְמַנּוֹ, וּבְלֵיל עִבּוּרוֹ לֹא נִרְאָה, וְקִבְּלָן רַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל. אָמַר רַבִּי דוֹסָא בֶּן הַרְכִּינָס, עֵדֵי שֶׁקֶר הֵן, הֵיאָךְ מְעִידִין עַל הָאִשָּׁה שֶׁיָּלְדָה, וּלְמָחָר כְּרֵסָהּ בֵּין שִׁנֶּיהָ. אָמַר לוֹ רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ, רוֹאֶה אֲנִי אֶת דְּבָרֶיךָ:

Rabban Gamliel had, on a tablet, and on the walls of his loft, various drawings of the moon, which he showed to simple witnesses, and said, "Was it like this [drawing] that you saw, or like [the other one]?" It happened once, that two witnesses came and said, "We saw [the moon] in the East in the morning, and in the evening in the West." [In that case,] Rabbi Yochanan ben Nuri said, "They are false witnesses." [But] when they came to Yavneh, Rabban Gamliel accepted [their testimony. It] also [happened once that] two witnesses came and said, "We saw the moon at its time [meaning, on the first of the two possible days], but it was not [to be] seen [afterwards] on the evening of its intercalation," and Rabban Gamliel accepted [their testimony]. Rabbi Dosa ben Harkinus said, "They are false witnesses; how can they testify that a [certain] woman gave birth [on a certain day], and, on the next day that her 'womb was between her teeth' [and the fetus still inside]?" [Then] Rabbi Yehoshua said to him, "I perceive [the truth of] your words."

9 ט

שָׁלַח לוֹ רַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל, גּוֹזְרַנִי עָלֶיךָ שֶׁתָּבֹא אֶצְלִי בְּמַקֶּלְךָ וּבִמְעוֹתֶיךָ בְּיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים שֶׁחָל לִהְיוֹת בְּחֶשְׁבּוֹנְךָ. הָלַךְ וּמְצָאוֹ רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא מֵצֵר, אָמַר לוֹ, יֶשׁ לִי לִלְמוֹד שֶׁכָּל מַה שֶּׁעָשָׂה רַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל עָשׂוּי, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כג), אֵלֶּה מוֹעֲדֵי יְיָ מִקְרָאֵי קֹדֶשׁ, אֲשֶׁר תִּקְרְאוּ אֹתָם, בֵּין בִּזְמַנָּן בֵּין שֶׁלֹּא בִזְמַנָּן, אֵין לִי מוֹעֲדוֹת אֶלָּא אֵלּוּ. בָּא לוֹ אֵצֶל רַבִּי דוֹסָא בֶּן הַרְכִּינָס, אָמַר לוֹ, אִם בָּאִין אָנוּ לָדוּן אַחַר בֵּית דִּינוֹ שֶׁל רַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל, צְרִיכִין אָנוּ לָדוּן אַחַר כָּל בֵּית דִּין וּבֵית דִּין שֶׁעָמַד מִימוֹת משֶׁה וְעַד עַכְשָׁיו, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כד), וַיַּעַל משֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן נָדָב וַאֲבִיהוּא וְשִׁבְעִים מִזִּקְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל. וְלָמָּה לֹא נִתְפָּרְשׁוּ שְׁמוֹתָן שֶׁל זְקֵנִים, אֶלָּא לְלַמֵּד, שֶׁכָּל שְׁלשָׁה וּשְׁלשָׁה שֶׁעָמְדוּ בֵית דִּין עַל יִשְׂרָאֵל, הֲרֵי הוּא כְבֵית דִּינוֹ שֶׁל משֶׁה. נָטַל מַקְלוֹ וּמְעוֹתָיו בְּיָדוֹ, וְהָלַךְ לְיַבְנֶה אֵצֶל רַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל בְּיוֹם שֶׁחָל יוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים לִהְיוֹת בְּחֶשְׁבּוֹנוֹ. עָמַד רַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל וּנְשָׁקוֹ עַל רֹאשׁוֹ, אָמַר לוֹ, בֹּא בְשָׁלוֹם, רַבִּי וְתַלְמִידִי, רַבִּי בְחָכְמָה, וְתַלְמִידִי שֶׁקִּבַּלְתָּ דְּבָרָי:

[Upon hearing this,] Rabban Gamliel sent [Rabbi Yehoshua] word, saying, "I decree upon you to come to me with your staff and your money on the day that comes out to be Yom Kippur, according to your calculation." Rabbi Akiva went to [Rabbi Yehoshua], and found him grieving; he said to him, "I have with what to teach, that all that Rabban Gamliel has done is [bindingly] done, as it is stated (Leveticus 23:4), 'These are the feasts of the Lord, holy convocations which you shall proclaim;' whether at their [proper] time, or whether not at their [proper] time, I have no holy convocations except [for the ones proclaimed by the court." When Rabbi Yehoshua] came to Rabbi Dosa ben Harkinus, [the latter] said to him, "If we are to [question the decisions] of the court of Rabban Gamliel, we must [also question the decisions] of all the courts which have stood, from the days of Moshe until [today]; as it is stated, (Exodus 24:2), 'Moshe, Aharon, Nadav, Avihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up.' Why were the names of the elders not specified? Rather [it was] to teach, that every three men that form ‏a court [to be responsible] over Israel, behold [that court] is to be [considered] like the court of Moshe." [After this], Rabbi Yehoshua took his staff and his money in his hand, and went to Yavneh to Rabban Gamliel on the day that came out to be Yom Kippur, according to his calculation. [At that point], Rabban Gamliel stood up, and kissed him on his head, [and] he said to him, "Come in peace, my teacher and my disciple! My teacher — in wisdom; and my disciple — in that you accepted my words."