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Kiddush HaChodesh - Chapter Seven

Kiddush HaChodesh - Chapter Seven

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1

[Rosh Chodesh is generally instituted on the day of the conjunction. Nevertheless,] Rosh Chodesh Tishrei1 should never be established on a Sunday, a Wednesday, or a Friday - in symbols, אד"ו - although, according to these calculations, [the conjunction for the month will occur on these days]. Instead, when the conjunction for the month of Tishrei occurs on any of these three days, Rosh Chodesh should be established on the following day.2

What is implied? When the conjunction occurs on Sunday, Rosh Chodesh Tishrei should be established on Monday. When the conjunction occurs on Wednesday, Rosh Chodesh Tishrei should be established on Thursday. When the conjunction occurs on Friday, Rosh Chodesh Tishrei should be established on the Sabbath.3

א

אין קובעין לעולם ראש חדש תשרי לפי חשבון זה לא באחד בשבת ולא ברביעי בשבת ולא בערב שבת. וסימן להם אד"ו. אלא כשיהיה מולד תשרי באחד משלשה ימים האלו קובעין ראש חדש ביום שלאחריו. כיצד הרי שהיה המולד באחד בשבת קובעין ראש חדש תשרי יום שני. ואם היה המולד ברביעי קובעין ראש חדש יום חמישי. ואם היה המולד בששי קובעין ראש חדש בשביעי:

2

Similarly, if the conjunction [for the month of Tishrei]4 takes place at noon or after noon, Rosh Chodesh should be established on the following day.5

What is implied? When the conjunction takes place on Monday, six hours after daybreak or later, Rosh Chodesh is established on Tuesday. If, however, the conjunction takes place before noon, even if only a single unit prior, Rosh Chodesh is established on the day of the conjunction, provided that day is neither Sunday, Wednesday, nor Friday.

ב

וכן אם יהיה המולד בחצי היום או למעלה מחצי היום קובעין ראש חדש ביום שלאחריו. כיצד הרי שהיה המולד ביום שני בשש שעות ביום או יתר על שש שעות קובעין ראש חדש בשלישי. ואם יהיה המולד קודם חצי היום אפילו בחלק אחד קובעין ראש החדש באותו יום המולד עצמו. והוא שלא יהיה אותו היום מימי אד"ו:

3

When the conjunction takes place at noon or after noon, and [Rosh Chodesh Tishrei would be] postponed to the following day - if that following day is either Sunday, Wednesday, or Friday, Rosh Chodesh is postponed again, and is established on the third day after the conjunction.

What is implied? If the conjunction takes place on the Sabbath after noon (in numbers, 7 - 186), in such a year Rosh Chodesh should be established on Monday.7 Similarly, if the conjunction takes place on Tuesday at noon or after noon, Rosh Chodesh should be established on Thursday.

ג

כשיהיה המולד בחצי היום או אחר חצות וידחה ליום שלאחריו. אם יהיה יום שלאחריו מימי אד"ו הרי זה נדחה שלאחריו ויהיה ראש החדש קבוע בשלישי מיום המולד. כיצד הרי שיהיה המולד בשבת בחצות סימן זי"ח קובעין ראש החדש בשנה שמולדה כזה בשני בשבת. וכן אם היה המולד בשלישי בחצות או אחר חצות קובעין ראש החדש בחמישי בשבת:

4

In an ordinary year, when the conjunction [of the month] of Tishrei falls on the night of the third day,8 nine hours and 204 units (in numbers, 3 - 9 - 204) or more after nightfall, Rosh Chodesh is postponed, and instead of being established on Tuesday, it is established on Thursday.9

ד

מולד תשרי שיצא בחשבון זה בליל שלישי בתשע שעות בלילה ומאתים וארבעה חלקים משעה עשירית סימנה ג"ט ר"ד. או יותר על זה. אם היתה שנה פשוטה דוחין את ראש החדש ואין קובעים אותו בשלישי בשנה זו אלא בחמישי בשבת:

5

A similar situation [may arise] in a year that follows a leap year: If the conjunction for Tishrei takes place on Monday, three hours and 589 units or more after daybreak (in numbers, 2 - 1510 - 589), Rosh Chodesh is not established on Monday, but on Tuesday.11

ה

וכן אם יצא מולד תשרי ביום שני בשלש שעות ביום ותקפ"ט חלקים משעה רביעית. סימנה בט"ו תקפ"ט. או יתר על כן. אם היתה אותה השנה מוצאי המעוברת שהיתה השנה הסמוכה לה שעברה מעוברת. אין קובעין ראש החדש בשני בשנה זו אלא בשלישי:

6

If, however, the conjunction of an ordinary year occurs [even] one unit earlier - i.e., were it to be 3 - 9 - 203 or earlier - [Rosh Chodesh] should be established on Tuesday, [rather than postponed until Thursday as mentioned above].

Similarly, if the conjunction of a year following a leap year occurs [even] one unit earlier - i.e., were it to be 2 - 15 - 588 or earlier - [Rosh Chodesh] should be established on Monday.

Thus, the way to determine [the day on which] Rosh Chodesh Tishrei will be established according to these calculations is as follows: One should first determine the day [of the week], the hour of the day - or night - and the number of units of the hour when the conjunction takes place. The day of the conjunction will be the day of Rosh Chodesh, except in the following instances:

a) [The conjunction] takes place on Sunday, Wednesday, or Friday;

b) The conjunction takes place at noon or after noon;

c) In an ordinary year, [the conjunction] takes place on the night of the third day, after 204 units of the tenth hour have passed, or later [that day];

d) In an ordinary year that follows a leap year, the conjunction takes place on Monday past 589 units of the fourth hour after daybreak has passed or later [that day].

If the conjunction occurs in one of these four instances, [Rosh Chodesh] is not established on the day of the conjunction, but rather on the day that follows, or on the day following that, as explained.

ו

היה מולד השנה הפשוטה שאמרנו שתדחה לחמישי פחות חלק אחד. כגון שיצא סימנה ג"ט ר"ג או פחות מזה. קובעין אותה בשלישי. וכן אם היה מולד מוצאי העיבור ביום שני פחות חלק. כגון שהיה סימנה בט"ו תקפ"ח או פחות מזה. קובעין אותה בשני. נמצא דרך קביעת ראש חדש תשרי לפי חשבון זה כך הוא. תחשוב ותדע המולד באי זה יום יהיה ובכמה שעות מן היום או מן הלילה ובכמה חלקים מן השעה. ויום המולד הוא יום הקביעה לעולם. אלא אם כן היה באחד בשבת או ברביעי או בערב שבת. או אם היה המולד בחצות היום או אחר חצות. או אם היה בר"ד חלקים משעה עשירית מליל שלישי או יותר על זה והיתה שנה פשוטה. או שהיה המולד בתקפ"ט חלקים משעה רביעית מיום שני והיתה השנה פשוטה שאחר המעוברת. שאם יארע באחד מארבעה דברים האלו אין קובעין ביום המולד אלא ביום שלאחריו או שלאחר אחריו כדרך שביארנו:

7

Why is [Rosh HaShanah] not established [on the day of the conjunction] when it falls on Sunday, Wednesday, or Friday? Because these calculations determine the conjunction of the sun and the moon only according to their mean [rate of] progress, and do not [necessarily] reflect the true position [of the sun and the moon in the celestial sphere], as explained. Therefore, they instituted that [on] one day [Rosh Chodesh] would be established and on the following day it would be postponed, so that they would ascertain the day when the true conjunction takes place.12

What is implied? [When according to our calculations, the conjunction occurs on] Tuesday, we establish [Rosh Chodesh]. [When it occurs] on Wednesday, we postpone it. [When it occurs] on Thursday, we establish [Rosh Chodesh]. [When it occurs] on Friday, we postpone it. [When it occurs] on the Sabbath, we establish [Rosh Chodesh]. [When it occurs] on Sunday, we postpone it. [When it occurs] on Monday, we establish [Rosh Chodesh].

ז

ומפני מה אין קובעין בחשבון זה בימי אד"ו. לפי שהחשבון הזה הוא לקיבוץ הירח והשמש בהלוכה האמצעי לא במקום האמיתי כמו שהודענו. לפיכך עשו יום קביעה ויום דחייה כדי לפגוע ביום קיבוץ האמיתי. כיצד בשלישי קובעין ברביעי דוחין. בחמישי קובעין בששי דוחין. בשבת קובעין אחד בשבת דוחין. בשני קובעין:

8

This same principle, that the calculations are based on the mean rate of progress, is also the motivating factor for the other four reasons for the postponement [of Rosh Chodesh]. As proof of this, there are times when [according to the calculations] the conjunction takes place on Tuesday, and [Rosh Chodesh] is postponed until Thursday,13 and yet the moon will not be seen Thursday night, nor even Friday night. This indicates that the true conjunction of the sun and the moon did not take place until Thursday.

ח

ועיקר שאר הארבע דחיות אלו הוא זה העיקר שאמרנו שהחשבון הזה במהלך אמצעי. וראיה לדבר שהמולד יהיה בליל שלישי וידחה לחמישי פעמים רבות לא יראה ירח בליל חמישי ולא בליל ששי מכלל שלא נתקבצו השמש והירח קבוץ אמיתי אלא בחמישי

Footnotes
1.

Which is also Rosh HaShanah.

2.

The Rambam mentions the reason for postponing Rosh Chodesh in Halachah 7.

3.

The first day of Rosh HaShanah is therefore celebrated frequently on Monday, Thursday, and the Sabbath, for the holiday is held on these days when the conjunction falls on the day itself or on the previous day. The first day of Rosh HaShanah is rarely celebrated on Tuesday, for the probability of the conjunction falling on that day is merely one out of seven, half that of the other days.

4.

The principle mentioned in this halachah - and indeed, in the entire chapter - applies to Rosh Chodesh Tishrei alone, and not to the other months.

5.

This condition is referred to as a molad zaken, literally, "an aged conjunction." The rationale for postponing Rosh HaShanah in such a situation can be explained as follows: In principle, Rosh Chodesh is dependent on the sighting of the moon, not on the conjunction. As is explained in the subsequent chapters of the text, the new moon does not become visible until several hours after the conjunction between the moon and the sun. Thus, if the conjunction takes place after noon, it is impossible for the moon to be sighted on that day. Therefore, Rosh HaShanah is celebrated on the following day. (See Rosh HaShanah 20b and commentaries.)

There is a slight difficulty in the Rambam's statements, for based on Chapter 15, Halachah 2, it would appear that at certain times it is possible to sight the moon only five hours after conjunction.

6.

I.e., after the eighteenth hour of the seventh day.

7.

It should not be established on the Sabbath, because of the principle of molad zaken. Nor should it be established on Sunday, as stated in Halachah 1.

8.

I.e., the night between Monday and Tuesday.

9.

The rationale for the postponement of Rosh HaShanah in such a situation can be explained as follows: As explained in the following chapter, the maximum length of a lunar year is 355 days. As mentioned previously, 4 days, 8 hours, and 876 units is the remainder of a normal year. To calculate the conjunction of Tishrei in the following year, this figure should be added to 3 - 9 - 204 (the day and the time mentioned by the Rambam above). The result is 12:00 noon on the Sabbath.

As explained above, when the conjunction takes place at 12:00 noon or later, the celebration of Rosh HaShanah is postponed to the following day. In this instance, however, the following day is Sunday, and Rosh HaShanah never begins on that day. Thus, the holiday would have to be celebrated on Monday. If Rosh HaShanah had been celebrated on Tuesday of the previous year, there would have been a six-day difference between the days on which the holiday was celebrated in these two successive years, producing a year of 356 days, one day longer than the maximum length of an ordinary year. To avoid this, Rosh HaShanah is not celebrated on Tuesday. Since it also is never celebrated on Wednesday, it is postponed until Thursday, producing a lunar year of 354 days (Tur, Orach Chayim 428).

10.

For three hours after daybreak is 15 hours after the beginning of the day.

11.

The rationale for the postponement of Rosh HaShanah in such a situation can be explained as follows: As explained in the following chapter, the minimum length of a lunar leap year is 383 days. As mentioned previously, the remainder of a leap year is five days, twenty-one hours, and 589 units. When, in an effort to calculate the time of the conjunction of the leap year, this figure is subtracted from 2 - 15 - 589 (the day and the time mentioned by the Rambam), the result is Tuesday at noon.

As mentioned, when the conjunction takes place at 12:00 noon or later, the celebration of Rosh HaShanah is postponed to the following day. In this instance, however, the following day is Wednesday, and Rosh HaShanah never begins on that day. Thus, in the leap year, Rosh HaShanah began on Thursday. If Rosh HaShanah were celebrated on Monday in the year after the leap year, this would produce only a four-day difference between the days on which the holiday was celebrated in these two successive years, causing the length of the year to be only 382 days. To avoid this, in the year following the leap year Rosh HaShanah is celebrated on Tuesday, rather than on Monday, causing the leap year to be 383 days long (Tur, Orach Chayim 428).

12.

The Rambam's statements have stirred the attention - and often the indignation - of the Ra'avad and other commentaries, because they appear to ignore the explanations given by Rosh HaShanah 20a why Rosh HaShanah never begins on these days. The Talmud states that if Rosh HaShanah falls on either Wednesday or Friday, Yom Kippur will fall on either Friday or Sunday, and thus there would be two consecutive days, Yom Kippur and the Sabbath, when it would be forbidden to bury the dead. In the Talmudic era, this could have caused a corpse to deteriorate, detracting from its honor and respect.

Alternatively, the Sages state that if Rosh HaShanah fell on any of these three days, there would be two successive days when it would be forbidden to pick fresh vegetables, and the people would be unable to celebrate the festivals or the Sabbath properly.

Sukkah 43a gives another reason why Rosh HaShanah is not held on Sunday: were this to be the case, Hoshana Rabbah, the seventh day of Sukkot, would fall on the Sabbath. In such an instance, restrictions were placed on the willow ritual in the Temple. (See Hilchot Shofar, Sukkah V'Lulav 7:21-22.) To avoid such an instance, the Sages structured the calendar so that Rosh HaShanah never falls on Sunday.

In defense of the Rambam's position, it must be noted that both earlier (Rabbenu Chanan'el) and subsequent (the P'nei Yehoshua) Talmudic commentaries understood the reasons given by the Talmud as being merely the external dimension of the rationale for the calendar's adjustment, while the inner meaning is associated with the actual position of the sun and the moon in the heavenly sphere.

Even according to this perspective, there is, however, a difficulty with the Rambam's statements. Although it is correct that the true positions of the sun and the moon often differ from the position determined by calculating their mean movement, the concept of postponing the celebration of Rosh HaShanah on these three days appears arbitrary and without any obvious connection to the movement of these bodies in the celestial sphere. The commentaries note that explanations why Rosh HaShanah is not celebrated on these days are found in the Kabbalah.

13.

The instance mentioned in Halachah 4.

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