זוֹ בֵּירָם This is the town called Biram.
מַאי גּוֹלָה אָמַר רַב יוֹסֵף זוֹ פּוּמְבְּדִיתָא מַאי כִּמְדוּרַת הָאֵשׁ תָּנָא כׇּל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד נוֹטֵל אֲבוּקָה בְּיָדוֹ וְעוֹלֶה לְרֹאשׁ גַּגּוֹ § The mishna taught: He 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. The Gemara asks: What is the meaning in this context of the term Diaspora, which certainly cannot be referring to the entire Diaspora across the world? Rav Yosef said: This is referring to the city of Pumbedita in Babylonia. The Gemara further asks. What is the meaning of the phrase: Like one large bonfire? It is taught in a baraita: Each and every individual would take a torch in his hand and ascend to the top of his roof and light it. In this manner, the entire city would present the appearance of a large bonfire.
תַּנְיָא רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן אֶלְעָזָר אוֹמֵר אַף חָרִים וּכְיָיר וּגְדֹר וְחַבְרוֹתֶיהָ אִיכָּא דְּאָמְרִי בֵּינֵי וּבֵינֵי הֲווֹ קָיְימִי אִיכָּא דְּאָמְרִי לְהָךְ גִּיסָא דְּאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל הֲווֹ קָיְימִי מָר חָשֵׁיב דְּהַאי גִּיסָא וּמָר חָשֵׁיב דְּהַאי גִּיסָא It is taught in a baraita that Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar says: Torches were also lit at Ḥarim, and Kayar and Geder, and its neighboring places. There are those who say that the places added by Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar are located between the places mentioned in the mishna, whereas there are those who say that they are located on the other side of Eretz Yisrael, on the side nearer Babylonia. The Sage in the mishna enumerates the places found on one side of Eretz Yisrael, whereas the Sage in the baraita enumerates the places found on the other side.
אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן בֵּין כׇּל אַחַת וְאַחַת שְׁמוֹנֶה פַּרְסָאוֹת כַּמָּה הָווּ לְהוּ תְּלָתִין וְתַרְתֵּין וְהָא הָאִידָּנָא טוּבָא הָווּ אָמַר אַבָּיֵי אִסְתַּתּוֹמֵי אִסְתַּתּוּם לְהוּ דַּרְכֵי Rabbi Yoḥanan said: Between each and every one of the stations there was a distance of eight parasangs. The Gemara asks: How many parasangs are these in total? Thirty-two parasangs. The Gemara further asks: Isn’t the distance from the Mount of Olives to Beit Baltin now much greater than thirty-two parasangs? Abaye said: The direct routes have become blocked, and therefore people nowadays must use indirect routes, making the journey much longer.
דִּכְתִיב לָכֵן הִנְנִי שָׂךְ אֶת דַּרְכֵּךְ בַּסִּירִים רַב נַחְמָן בַּר יִצְחָק אָמַר מֵהָכָא דִּכְתִיב נְתִיבוֹתַי עִוָּה: The Gemara provides a source for this claim. As it is written: “Therefore, behold, I will hedge up your way with thorns, and make a wall against her, that she shall not find her paths” (Hosea 2:8). Rav Naḥman bar Yitzḥak said: It is derived from here, as it is written: “He has made my paths crooked” (Lamentations 3:9), which indicates that over the course of the exile the routes have become longer.
מַתְנִי׳ חָצֵר גְּדוֹלָה הָיְתָה בִּירוּשָׁלַיִם וּבֵית יַעְזֵק הָיְתָה נִקְרֵאת וּלְשָׁם כׇּל הָעֵדִים מִתְכַּנְּסִין וּבֵית דִּין בּוֹדְקִין אוֹתָם שָׁם וּסְעוּדוֹת גְּדוֹלוֹת עוֹשִׂין לָהֶם בִּשְׁבִיל שֶׁיְּהוּ רְגִילִין לָבֹא MISHNA: There was a large courtyard in Jerusalem, which was called Beit Ya’zek. And there all the witnesses coming to testify about the new moon would gather, and the court of seventy-one judges would examine them there. And they would prepare great feasts for them, so that they would be willing and accustomed to coming and submitting their testimony.
בָּרִאשׁוֹנָה לֹא הָיוּ זָזִין מִשָּׁם כׇּל הַיּוֹם הִתְקִין רַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל הַזָּקֵן שֶׁיְּהוּ מְהַלְּכִין אַלְפַּיִם אַמָּה לְכׇל רוּחַ Initially, when witnesses would arrive on Shabbat from a distant place, they would not move from there all day, as they had left their Shabbat limit, and it was consequently prohibited for them to walk more than four cubits in any direction once they had completed their mission. Concerned that this limitation would discourage witnesses from coming, Rabban Gamliel the Elder instituted that the witnesses be permitted to walk two thousand cubits in each direction.
וְלֹא אֵלּוּ בִּלְבַד אֶלָּא אַף חֲכָמָה הַבָּאָה לְיַילֵּד וְהַבָּא לְהַצִּיל מִן הַדְּלֵיקָה וּמִן הַגַּיִיס וּמִן הַנָּהָר וּמִן הַמַּפּוֹלֶת הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ כְּאַנְשֵׁי הָעִיר וְיֵשׁ לָהֶם אַלְפַּיִם לְכׇל רוּחַ: The mishna continues: And not only these witnesses are granted two thousand cubits from their new place, but this applies also to a midwife who comes to deliver a child, and one who comes to rescue Jews from a fire, from an invasion of gentile troops, from a flooding river, or from the collapse of a building. All these are considered like the inhabitants of the city where they arrive, and therefore they have two thousand cubits in each direction.
גְּמָ׳ אִיבַּעְיָא לְהוּ בֵּית יַעְזֵק תְּנַן אוֹ בֵּית יָזֵק תְּנַן בֵּית יַעְזֵק תְּנַן לִישָּׁנָא מְעַלְּיָא הוּא דִּכְתִיב וַיְעַזְּקֵהוּ וַיְסַקְּלֵהוּ אוֹ דִלְמָא בֵּית יָזֵק תְּנַן לִישָּׁנָא דְצַעֲרָא הוּא כְּדִכְתִיב וְהוּא אָסוּר בָּאזִיקִּים GEMARA: A dilemma was raised before the Sages: What is the correct reading of the mishna? Did we learn: Beit Ya’zek, or did we learn: Beit Yazek? The Gemara explains the difference between these two versions. Did we learn: Beit Ya’zek, which is an lofty term, indicating that it was a fine place where the witnesses had a pleasant experience, as it is written: “And he dug it [vaye’azzekehu] and cleared it of stones” (Isaiah 5:2), which shows that the root a-z-k denotes improvement? Or perhaps we learned: Beit Yazek, which is a term of distress, reflecting the fact that the witnesses who arrived there on Shabbat were not permitted to move from there all day, as it is written: “And he was bound with chains [bazikim]” (Jeremiah 40:1).
אָמַר אַבָּיֵי תָּא שְׁמַע סְעוּדוֹת גְּדוֹלוֹת הָיוּ עוֹשִׂין לָהֶם שָׁם כְּדֵי שֶׁיְּהוּ רְגִילִים לָבוֹא דִּלְמָא תַּרְתֵּי הֲווֹ עָבְדִי בְּהוּ: Abaye said: Come and hear the mishna: They would prepare great feasts for them there, so that they would be accustomed to come and submit their testimony. This indicates that the witnesses were made welcome, in accordance with the name Beit Ya’zek. The Gemara rejects this argument: Perhaps they performed two practices for them, i.e., they provided feasts but they also restricted their movement. Therefore, there is no proof from the mishna for this version of the name.
מַתְנִי׳ כֵּיצַד בּוֹדְקִין אֶת הָעֵדִים זוּג שֶׁבָּא רִאשׁוֹן בּוֹדְקִין אוֹתוֹ רִאשׁוֹן וּמַכְנִיסִין אֶת הַגָּדוֹל שֶׁבָּהֶן וְאוֹמְרִין לוֹ אֱמוֹר כֵּיצַד רָאִיתָ אֶת הַלְּבָנָה לִפְנֵי הַחַמָּה אוֹ לְאַחַר הַחַמָּה לִצְפוֹנָהּ אוֹ לִדְרוֹמָהּ כַּמָּה הָיָה גָּבוֹהַּ וּלְאַיִן הָיָה נוֹטֶה וְכַמָּה הָיָה רָחָב אִם אָמַר לִפְנֵי הַחַמָּה לֹא אָמַר כְּלוּם MISHNA: How do they examine the witnesses who come to testify about the new moon? They deal with them in order, as the pair of witnesses that arrives first they examine first. They bring in the greater of the two witnesses, and they say to him: Say how you saw the moon. Was it in front of the sun or behind the sun? To its north or to its south? How high was the moon over the horizon, and in which direction did it tilt? And how wide was it? If, for example, he said that he saw the moon in front of the sun, he has not said anything of substance, as this is impossible and therefore he is either mistaken or lying.
וְאַחַר כָּךְ הָיוּ מַכְנִיסִין אֶת הַשֵּׁנִי וּבוֹדְקִין אוֹתוֹ אִם נִמְצְאוּ דִּבְרֵיהֶם מְכֻוּוֹנִים עֵדוּתָן קַיֶּימֶת וּשְׁאָר כׇּל הַזּוּגוֹת שׁוֹאֲלִין אוֹתָן רָאשֵׁי דְבָרִים לֹא שֶׁהָיוּ צְרִיכִים לָהֶם אֶלָּא כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יֵצְאוּ בְּפַחֵי נֶפֶשׁ בִּשְׁבִיל שֶׁיְּהוּ רְגִילִים לָבוֹא: And after they finish hearing the first witness’s testimony, they would bring in the second witness and examine him in a similar manner. If their statements match, their testimony is accepted and the court sanctifies the New Moon. And the court then asks all the other pairs of witnesses certain general matters, without probing into all the details. They do this not because they require the additional testimony, but so that the witnesses should not leave disappointed, and so that the witnesses should be accustomed to coming to testify, and will not hesitate to come the next time, when they might be needed.
גְּמָ׳ הַיְינוּ לִפְנֵי הַחַמָּה הַיְינוּ לִצְפוֹנָהּ הַיְינוּ לְאַחַר הַחַמָּה הַיְינוּ לִדְרוֹמָהּ אָמַר אַבָּיֵי פְּגִימָתָהּ לִפְנֵי הַחַמָּה אוֹ לְאַחַר הַחַמָּה אִם אָמַר לִפְנֵי הַחַמָּה לָא אָמַר כְּלוּם GEMARA: The Gemara asks: In front of the sun is the same as to its north, and behind the sun is the same as to its south. Why would the court ask the witnesses both sets of questions? Abaye said: The first question does not refer to the moon’s position relative to the sun, but to the concave side of the moon, whether it was before the sun, pointing toward it, or behind the sun, pointing away from it. If he said that it was before the sun, he has said nothing.
דְּאָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן מַאי דִּכְתִיב הַמְשֵׁל וָפַחַד עִמּוֹ עוֹשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם בִּמְרוֹמָיו מֵעוֹלָם לֹא רָאֲתָה חַמָּה פְּגִימָתָהּ שֶׁל לְבָנָה וְלֹא פְּגִימָתָהּ שֶׁל קֶשֶׁת פְּגִימָתָהּ שֶׁל לְבָנָה דְּחָלְשָׁה דַּעְתַּהּ פְּגִימָתָהּ שֶׁל קֶשֶׁת דְּלָא לֵימְרוּ עוֹבְדֵי הַחַמָּה As Rabbi Yoḥanan said: What is the meaning of that which is written: “Dominion and fear are with Him, He makes peace in His high places” (Job 25:2)? It means that the sun has never seen the concave side of the new moon, nor has it ever seen the concave side of a rainbow, both of which always face away from the sun. It has never seen the concave side of the moon, as the moon would be distressed by a sense of inadequacy if its concave side faced the sun. Therefore the sun sees only the full roundness of its convex side. In this way He makes peace in His high places between the sun and the moon. Furthermore, the sun has never seen the concave side of a rainbow, so that the worshippers of the sun not say, as though the sun is a god,