וחד מי מהימן והתניא מעשה שבא הוא ועדיו עמו להעיד עליו אמר רב פפא מאי אחר זוג אחר
but is one witness deemed credible? Isn’t it taught in a baraita: There was an incident in which one potential witness came to testify, and his witnesses were with him, as they came to testify about him? The use of the plural indicates that two witnesses are required to establish someone as a valid eyewitness. Rav Pappa said: What is the meaning of the term: Another? It means another pair of witnesses.
ה"נ מסתברא דאי לא תימא הכי אם אינן מכירין אותו מאי אותו אילימא אותו חד וחד מי מהימן (תהלים פא, ה) משפט כתיב ביה אלא מאי אותו אותו הזוג ה"נ מאי אחר זוג אחר
The Gemara comments: This too stands to reason, for if you do not say so, then the opening statement of the mishna: If the members of the Great Sanhedrin are not familiar with that one, is problematic. What is the meaning of the term: That one? If we say it is referring to that one witness, is one witness deemed credible? The word: Judgment, is written with regard to the establishment of the New Moon and Rosh HaShana: “For it is a statute for Israel, a judgment of the God of Israel” (Psalms 81:5), and judgments require two witnesses. Rather, what is the meaning of the term: That one? That pair of witnesses. So too here, what is the meaning of the term: Another? Another pair of witnesses.
וחד לא מהימן והתניא מעשה ברבי נהוראי שהלך אצל העד להעיד עליו בשבת באושא
The Gemara asks: And is one witness not deemed credible to testify about the eyewitness who saw the new moon? Isn’t it taught in a baraita: There was an incident involving Rabbi Nehorai, who went with the witness to testify about him on Shabbat in Usha? Apparently, Rabbi Nehorai offered his testimony alone.
אמרי רבי נהוראי סהדא אחרינא הוה בהדיה והא דלא חשיב ליה משום כבודו של רבי נהוראי רב אשי אמר רבי נהוראי סהדא אחרינא הוה באושא ואזל רבי נהוראי לאצטרופי בהדיה
The Sages say in explanation of this incident: In fact, two witnesses are necessary, and in the case of Rabbi Nehorai there was another witness with him. And the fact that he was not mentioned is due to the honor of Rabbi Nehorai, so as not to indicate that the other was his equal. Rav Ashi said: In the incident involving Rabbi Nehorai, there was already another witness waiting in Usha and Rabbi Nehorai went to join him.
אי הכי מאי למימרא מהו דתימא מספיקא לא מחללינן שבתא קמ"ל
The Gemara asks: If so, what is the purpose of stating this incident at all? The Gemara answers: Lest you say that in a case of uncertainty one does not desecrate Shabbat, i.e., perhaps the witness in Usha would not be present that day, which would mean that Rabbi Nehorai desecrated Shabbat for no reason. Therefore, the Tosefta teaches us that for the important purpose of the New Moon, Shabbat may be desecrated even in a doubtful case.
כי אתא עולא אמר קדשוה לירחא במערבא אמר רב כהנא לא מיבעיא עולא דגברא רבה הוא דמהימן אלא אפי' איניש דעלמא נמי מהימן מ"ט כל מילתא דעבידא לאגלויי לא משקרי בה אינשי תניא נמי הכי בא אחד בסוף העולם ואמר קדשו ב"ד את החדש נאמן:
§ When Ulla came from Eretz Yisrael to Babylonia, he said: They sanctified the New Moon on a certain date in the West, Eretz Yisrael. Although Ulla was the only witness, his testimony was accepted. Rav Kahana said: It is not necessary to say that Ulla, who is a great man, is deemed credible with regard to such testimony. Rather, even an ordinary person is deemed credible in this case, and there is no need for two witnesses. What is the reason for this? With regard to any matter that is likely to be revealed, people do not lie about it.The Gemara comments that this is also taught in a baraita: If one person comes from the other end of the world and says: The court sanctified the new month, he is deemed credible. There is no need for two witnesses.
בראשונה היו מקבלין עדות החדש מכל אדם וכו': תנו רבנן מה קלקול קלקלו הבייתוסין פעם אחת בקשו בייתוסין להטעות את חכמים שכרו שני בני אדם בד' מאות זוז אחד משלנו ואחד משלהם
The mishna taught: Initially, they would accept testimony to determine the start of the month from any person, and this continued until the Boethusians began to corrupt the process. The Sages taught a baraita that describes the decisive incident: What was the manner of the corruption in which the Boethusians engaged? Once, the Boethusians tried to mislead the Sages with regard to the day of the new moon. They hired two people for four hundred dinars to testify falsely that they had seen the new moon on the thirtieth day of the month. One of them was from our own, i.e., a member of the Pharisees and the Sages of Israel, and the other was one of theirs.
שלהם העיד עדותו ויצא שלנו אמרו לו אמור כיצד ראית את הלבנה אמר להם עולה הייתי במעלה אדומים וראיתיו שהוא רבוץ בין ב' סלעים ראשו דומה לעגל אזניו דומין לגדי קרניו דומות לצבי וזנבו מונחת לו בין ירכותיו והצצתי בו ונרתעתי ונפלתי לאחורי ואם אין אתם מאמינים לי הרי מאתים זוז צרורין לי בסדיני
When they went in to testify, their witness submitted his testimony that he had seen the new moon, and then he left. When our witness came to testify, they said to him, in the customary manner: Say how you saw the moon. He said to them: I was ascending in Ma’ale Adumim and I saw that the new moon was crouched between two rocks. Its head was like that of a calf, its ears were like those of a kid, its horns were like those of a deer, and its tail was lying between its thighs. And I looked at it and was frightened and I fell backward. And if you do not believe me that this is what I saw, there are two hundred dinars wrapped in my cloak that were paid to me to deliver this testimony.
אמרו לו מי הזקיקך לכך אמר להם שמעתי שבקשו בייתוסים להטעות את חכמים אמרתי אלך אני ואודיע להם שמא יבואו בני אדם שאינם מהוגנין ויטעו את חכמים
Realizing that the testimony of the first witness was also false, the Sages said to him: Who persuaded you to act in this manner? He said to them: I heard that the Boethusians were seeking to mislead the Sages, and I said to myself: I will go and hire myself out to give false testimony, and I will inform the Sages of the truth, lest unworthy people come and mislead the Sages.
אמרו לו מאתים זוז נתונין לך במתנה והשוכרך ימתח על העמוד באותה שעה התקינו שלא יהו מקבלין אלא מן המכירין:
The Sages said to him: The two hundred dinars that you received from the Boethusians are given to you as a gift. Although you did not carry out your mission, the court is authorized to declare the money ownerless and award it to you. And the one who hired you shall be stretched out on the post for flogging. At that time the Sages instituted that they would accept testimony about the new moon only from those men who were familiar to the Great Sanhedrin as qualified witnesses.
מתני׳ בראשונה היו משיאין משואות משקלקלו הכותים התקינו שיהו שלוחין יוצאין
MISHNA: Initially, after the court sanctified the new month they would light torches on the mountaintops, from one peak to another, to signal to the community in Babylonia that the month had been sanctified. After the Samaritans [Kutim] corrupted and ruined this method by lighting torches at the wrong times to confuse the Jews, the Sages instituted that messengers should go out to the Diaspora and inform them of the start of the month.
כיצד היו משיאין משואות מביאין כלונסאות של ארז ארוכין וקנים ועצי שמן ונעורת של פשתן וכורך במשיחה ועולה לראש ההר ומצית בהן את האור ומוליך ומביא ומעלה ומוריד עד שהוא רואה את חבירו שהוא עושה כן בראש ההר השני וכן בראש ההר השלישי
The mishna asks: How would they light the torches during that earlier period? They would bring items that burn well, e.g., long poles of cedar, reeds, pinewood, and beaten flax, and tie them together with a string. And someone would then ascend to the top of the mountain and light the torch on fire with them, and wave it back and forth and up and down, until he would see his colleague doing likewise on the top of the second mountain. In this manner he would know that the next messenger had received the message and passed it on. And similarly, the second torchbearer would wait for a signal from the one on the top of the third mountain, and so on. In this manner the message would reach the Diaspora.
ומאין היו משיאין משואות מהר המשחה לסרטבא ומסרטבא לגרופינא ומגרופינא לחוורן ומחוורן לבית בלתין ומבית בלתין לא זזו משם אלא מוליך ומביא ומעלה ומוריד עד שהיה רואה כל הגולה לפניו כמדורת האש:
And from which mountains would they light the torches? They would transmit the message from the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem to Sartava, and from Sartava to Gerofina, and from Gerofina to Ḥavran, and from Ḥavran to Beit Baltin. And from Beit Baltin they would not move to light torches in any other predetermined location. Rather, the one who was appointed for this task would wave the torch back and forth and up and down, until he would see the entire Diaspora before him alight like one large bonfire, as they would light torches to continue transmitting the message from place to place all the way to the farthest reaches of the Diaspora.
גמ׳ מאי משמע דמשיאין לישנא דיקוד הוא דכתיב (שמואל ב ה, כא) וישאם דוד ואנשיו ומתרגמינן ואוקדינן דוד
GEMARA: The mishna taught that they would light torches [masi’in]. The Gemara asks: From where may it be inferred that the term masi’in is an expression of burning? As it is written: “Vayisa’em David and his men” (II Samuel 5:21), and we translate the verse as: And David and his men burned them.
ת"ר אין משיאין משואות אלא על החדש שנראה בזמנו לקדשו ואימתי משיאין לאור עיבורו
The Sages taught in a baraita: Torches were lit only for a new month whose moon was seen at its proper time, i.e., on the thirtieth day of the outgoing month, to sanctify the upcoming New Moon on that date and declare the previous month as containing twenty-nine days. In this case, the thirtieth day would be declared the first day of the following month. And when would they light the torches? It was on the eve of its additional day, the one that would have been added had it been a full, thirty-day month, i.e., on the eve of the thirty-first day of the outgoing month.
למימרא דאחסר עבדינן אמלא לא עבדינן מ"ט א"ר זירא גזירה משום ר"ח חסר שחל להיות בערב שבת אימת עבדי באפוקי שבתא דאי אמרת נעביד נמי אמלא אתו
The Gemara asks: Is this to say that for the conclusion of a deficient month of twenty-nine days one performs the sequence of lighting torches, but for a full month one does not perform it? What is the reason for this? Rabbi Zeira said: This is a rabbinic decree that was instituted due to the case of a New Moon following a deficient, twenty-nine-day month that occurs on Shabbat eve. In that case, when do they perform the lighting? At the conclusion of Shabbat, as it is prohibited to light a fire on Friday night. The reason for the decree is that if you say that one performs the lighting of torches for a full, thirty-day month as well, people might come