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 they don’t know him [the one who came to testify], they send another with him to testify concerning [his reliability]. Originally testimony concerning the new moon was accepted from anyone. When the minim disrupted this, it was decreed that testimony should be received only from persons known [to the court].

2 ב

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

Originally they used to light torches [to signal that the new month had been decreed]. When the Samaritans disrupted this, they decreed that messengers should go 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 did they light the torches? They used to bring long poles of cedar and reeds and olive wood and flax fluff and they tied them all together with a string. And someone used to go up to the top of a mountain and light them with fire and wave them back and forth and up and down until he saw the next one doing the same thing on the top of the second mountain; and so 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:

At what places did they light the torches? From the Mount of Olives [in Jerusalem] to Sartaba, and from Sartaba to Gripina, and from Gripina to Havran, and from Havran to Bet Biltin. From Bet Biltin they did not move, but rather waved [the torch] back and forth and up and down until he saw the whole of the diaspora before him lit up like one bonfire.

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 Bet Yazek. There all the witnesses used to assemble and the court would examine them there. They would make large feasts for them there so that they would have an incentive to come. Originally they used not to leave the place the whole day, but Rabban Gamaliel decreed that they could go two thousand cubits from it in any direction. And these were not the only ones [who could go two thousand cubits in any direction], but also a midwife who has come to deliver a child, or one who comes to rescue from a fire or from bandits or from a river in flood or from a building that has fallen in all these are like residents of the town, and may go two thousand cubits [on Shabbat] in any direction.

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 do they test the witnesses?The pair which arrives first, they test them first. They bring in the older of them and they say to him, “Tell us, how did you see the moon in front of the sun or behind the sun? To the north of it or to the south? How high was it, and in which direction was it inclined? And how broad was it?” If he says [he saw it] in front of the sun, his evidence is rejected. After that they would bring in the second and test him. If their accounts were the same, their evidence was accepted. And the other pairs were only questioned briefly, not because they were required at all, but so that they should not go out disappointed, so that they would be regular in coming [to testify].

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 says, “Sanctified,” and all the people answer after him, “Sanctified, sanctified.” Whether the new moon is seen at its proper time or not at its proper time they sanctify it. Rabbi Elazar bar Zadok says that if it is not seen as its proper time they do not sanctify it for heaven has already sanctified it.

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 Gamaliel had diagrams of the moon on a tablet [hung] on the wall of his upper chamber, and he used to show them to the unlearned and say, “Did it look like this or this?” It happened that two witnesses came and said, “We saw it in the morning in the east and in the evening in the west.” Rabbi Yohanan ben Nuri said: they are lying witnesses. When they came to Yavneh Rabban Gamaliel accepted them. On another occasion two witnesses came and said, “We saw it at its proper time, but on the night which should have been the new moon it was not seen,” and Rabban Gamaliel accepted their evidence. Rabbi Dosa ben Harkinas said: they are lying witnesses. How can they testify that a woman has given birth when on the next day her belly is between her teeth (swollen)? Rabbi Joshua to him: I see your argument.

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:

Rabban Gamaliel sent to him: I order you to appear before me with your staff and your money on the day which according to your count should be Yom Hakippurim. Rabbi Akiva went and found him in distress. He said to him: I can teach that whatever Rabban Gamaliel has done is valid, because it says, “These are the appointed seasons of the Lord, holy convocations, which you shall proclaim at their appointed times” (Leviticus 23:4), whether they are [proclaimed] at their proper time or not at their proper time, I have no other appointed times save these. He [Rabbi Joshua] then went to Rabbi Dosa ben Harkinas. He said to him: if we call in question the court of Rabban Gamaliel we must call in question the decisions of every court which has existed since the days of Moses until now. As it says, “Then Moses and Aaron, Nadav and Avihu and seventy of the elders of Israel went up” (Exodus 24:9). Why were the names of the elders not mentioned? To teach that every group of three which has acted as a court over Israel, behold it is like the court of Moses. He [Rabbi Joshua] took his staff and his money and went to Yavneh to Rabban Gamaliel on the day which according to his count should be Yom Hakippurim. Rabban Gamaliel rose and kissed him on his head and said to him: Come in peace, my teacher and my student my teacher in wisdom and my student because you have accepted my decision.