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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin

Folio 12a

in years of famine.1  It has been taught: Rabbi says: A man came from Baal Shalisha and brought to the man of God bread of the first fruits; twenty loaves of barley, [bread of the newly ripened crop].2  Now, there was no other place in Palestine where the fruit ripened earlier than in Baal Shalisha; yet, according to this account, only one species had ripened there [by that date]. If you suggest that it was wheat,3  the text reads 'barley'. If again you suggest that it was ripened before the bringing of the Omer, the text reads further: Give unto the people that they may eat, which must have been after the bringing of the Omer.4  We may conclude therefore that the year should have been intercalated.5  But why did Elisha not do so? — For the reason that it was a year of famine6  and all hastened to the threshing floor [to procure food].

Our Rabbis taught: The year may not be intercalated before the New Year,7  and if it be intercalated, the intercalation is invalid. In case of necessity,8  however, a year may be intercalated immediately after the New Year; yet even so, only a [second] Adar is added.9  But is this really so? Was not a message once sent to Raba:10  'A couple [of scholars] have arrived from Rakkath11  who had been captured by an eagle12  whilst in possession of articles manufactured at Luz, such as purple,13  yet through Divine mercy and their own merits they escaped safely. Further, the offspring of Nahshon14  wished to establish a Nezib,15  but yon Edomite16  would not permit it.17  The Members of the Assembly,18  however, met and established a Nezib in the month in which Aaron the Priest died'?19  Yes, the calculations were indeed made, but not published [until after the New Year].

How was it implied that the term Nezib [mentioned in the message] connoted 'month'? — Because is is written, Now Solomon had twelve Officers [Nezibim] over all Israel who provided victuals for the king and his household; each man his month in the year.20  (But is it not written, And one officer [Nezib] that was in the land?21  — Rab Judah and R. Nahman — one holds that one single officer was appointed over all [the other officers]: the other is of the opinion that this refers to the [special officer in charge of the provisions during] the intercalated month.)

Our Rabbis taught: We may not, in the current year, intercalate the following year,22  nor intercalate three years in succession. R. Simeon said: It once happened that R. Akiba, when kept in prison,23  intercalated three years in succession. The Rabbis, however, retorted: 'Is that your proof? The court sat and intercalated each year at its proper time.'24

Our Rabbis taught: We may not intercalate a Sabbatical year25  nor the year following a Sabbatical year.26

But which year was it usual to intercalate? — That preceding the Sabbatical year.27  Those of the House of Rabban Gamaliel, however, used to intercalate the year following the Sabbatical year.28  And this enters into the dispute of the following Tannaim. For it has been taught: Herbs may not be imported from outside the land [of Israel]. But our Rabbis permitted it.29

Wherein do they differ? — R. Jeremiah said: They differ as to whether we apprehend lest the earth attached to them [should also be imported].30

Our Rabbis taught: We may not intercalate a year because of uncleanness.31  R. Judah said: We may intercalate. R. Judah observed: It once happened that Hezekiah king of Judah declared a leap year because of uncleanness, and then prayed for mercy, for it is written, For the multitude of the people, even many of Ephraim and Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun had not cleansed themselves,

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. So as not to prolong the prohibition of using the new produce for another month, v. supra p. 49, n. 6.
  2. II Kings IV, 42.
  3. Which is late in ripening.
  4. When alone the new produce is permitted.
  5. Owing to the delay of most of the crops in ripening.
  6. Cf. II Kings IV, 38: And there was a dearth in the land.
  7. I.e., Beth din may not declare before Tishri that a second Adar shall be added six months later, because in the meantime it may be forgotten and so the prohibition of leaven on the Passover be infringed through misdating.
  8. When possibly no intercalatory Board will be available later on, or it is feared that the Roman authorities may forbid intercalation, v. p. 52 n. 9.
  9. But not, e. g., a second Tishri.
  10. From Palestine.
  11. Tiberias, v. Meg. 6a.
  12. [H] aquila, the eagle as the principal standard of the Roman legions; hence, Roman.
  13. I.e., the fringes for four-cornered garments, v. Num. XV, 38.
  14. The Nasi of Palestine, descendant of Nahshon, the first of the Princes of Judah. Cf. Ex. VI, 23.
  15. Nezib means month as well as officer; v. infra. Hence, they wished to intercalate one month.
  16. Primarily name given to Esau (Cf. Gen. XXV, 30; XXXVI, 1). [H] (Edom) is used by the Talmudists for the Roman Empire, as they applied to Rome every passage of the Bible referring to Edom or Esau. In the middle ages it came to be used symbolically of Christianity, and that accounts for the substitution of [H] 'Aramean' in censored editions.
  17. The above messages were sent in this obscure form to prevent them from being stopped by the Government under the reign of Constantius II (337-361 C.E.) when the persecutions of the Jews reached such a height that, as in the days of Hadrian, all religious exercises, including the computation of the Calendar, were forbidden under pain of severe punishment. Cf. Graetz, Geschichte, IV, 332 seq. pp. 402 seq.
  18. The Sanhedrin.
  19. The month of Ab. It is thus seen that the decision to intercalate may, in case of emergency, be made before the New Year, i.e. before Tishri.
  20. I Kings IV, 7. Nezib (sing. of Nezibim) can thus be employed as metonymy of 'month'.
  21. Ibid. IV, 19.
  22. I.e., make the necessary calculations and arrive at the decision to intercalate. So Tosaf. Rashi: One may not intercalate one year instead of the following. Maim. (Yad, Kid. Hahodesh IV, 13) agrees with the former.
  23. Akiba was kept in prison several years before being finally martyred for practising and teaching the Jewish religion. V. Ber. 61b.
  24. R. Akiba only made the calculation of the next three leap years, since he was the accepted authority on the computation of the calendar and the Rabbis always employed his aid in this matter, but the leap years were not in three successive years.
  25. Cf. Lev. XXV, 1-7. So as not to prolong the prohibition against tilling the soil.
  26. For the reason that the prohibition of the use of the new produce would be prolonged.
  27. To give an additional month for working the soil.
  28. They did not apprehend a shortage of provisions during the Sabbatical year, since importation from outside Palestine, which they held permissible (cf. Ned. 53b, and below), would prevent it.
  29. V. n. 7.
  30. Foreign soil was declared unclean. V. Shab. 14b.
  31. Even if it should involve the risk of offering the Paschal lamb in uncleanness. E.g. if the Nasi were dangerously ill, and it was judged that he would die less than a week before Passover, in which case the community, by attending the obsequies in his honour, would become unclean. (Rashi). Cf. Pes. 66b.

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Sanhedrin 12b

yet did they eat the Passover otherwise than it is written,1  for Hezekiah had prayed for them, saying: May the Lord in His goodness pardon everyone.2  R. Simeon said: If the intercalation was actually on the ground of uncleanness, it holds good. Why then did Hezekiah implore Divine mercy? — Because only an Adar can be intercalated and he intercalated a Nisan in Nisan.3  R. Simeon b. Judah said on behalf of R. Simeon, that it was because he had persuaded Israel to celebrate a Second Passover [unduly].4

The Master has said: 'R. Judah said: We may intercalate [on the ground of uncleanness].' Hence R. Judah holds that [the law of] uncleanness, in the case of an entire Community, is only suspended [and not abrogated].5  But has it not been taught: The ziz,6  whether it is on his [the Priest's] forehead or not, propitiates. So said R. Simeon. R. Judah said: Only when it is on his forehead does it propitiate, but not otherwise. R. Simeon thereupon said to him: The case of the High Priest on the Day of Atonement affords proof, seeing that it propitiates even when it is not worn on his forehead.7  And R. Judah answered him: Leave the Day of Atonement aside,8  for the [laws concerning] impurity are entirely abrogated in the case of a whole Community?9  — But even according to this reasoning,10  is there not a contradiction within the passage itself? [Thus:] R. Judah said: We may intercalate [on account of uncleanness]; and then he himself relates what happened in the case of Hezekiah, king of Judah, who intercalated a year because of uncleanness, but implored Divine mercy on himself [for his action]?11  But the text is evidently defective, and should read as follows: 'We may not intercalate a year on account of uncleanness, but if it has been intercalated, the decision holds good. R. Judah maintained that the intercalation is not valid,12  and R. Judah observed: It once happened with Hezekiah etc.

But if so, [when] R. Simeon says: If the year is intercalated for the sake of [avoiding] uncleanness, the decision holds good, is [he not merely repeating] the opinion of the first Tanna? — Said Raba: They differ as to whether [it may be intercalated] at the outset.13  It has been taught likewise: A year may not be intercalated at the outset because of uncleanness. R. Simeon said: It may be intercalated. Why then did he [Hezekiah] pray for mercy? — Because only an Adar can be intercalated, whereas he intercalated a Nisan in Nisan.

The Master has said: 'Because only an Adar can be intercalated, whereas he intercalated a Nisan in Nisan.' But did not Hezekiah agree [that the verse], This month shall be unto you the beginning of months,14  [implies], only this month can be Nisan [once proclaimed], and no other?15  — He erred on a ruling of Samuel, for Samuel said: The year is not to be intercalated on the thirtieth day of Adar, since it is eligible to be appointed [the first day of] Nisan.16  He [Hezekiah] however thought that we do not consider its eligibility [to belong to Nisan].17  It has been taught likewise: The year may not be intercalated on the thirtieth day of Adar, since it is eligible to be appointed [the first day] of Nisan.

[It was stated above:] 'R. Simeon b. R. Judah said on behalf of R. Simeon that it was because he had [wrongfully] persuaded the people to celebrate a Second Passover [that Hezekiah prayed to be forgiven].' How did it happen?18  — R. Ashi said: E.g., half of Israel19  were clean and half unclean, but the women20  made up the number of the clean and turned it into a majority. Now, at first he held that women too are bound [to offer the lamb] on the first [Passover],21  so that only a minority22  was unclean; and a minority is relegated to the Second Passover.23  But later he adopted the view [that the participation of] women in the First [Passover celebration] is only voluntary,24  so that the unclean were in a majority, and a majority is not relegated to the Second Passover.25

The text [states]: 'Samuel said, The year is not to be intercalated on the thirtieth day of Adar, since it is eligible to be appointed [the first day of] Nisan.' But what if it were intercalated? — 'Ulla said: The month must not be sanctified.26  But what if it were sanctified? — Raba said: Then the intercalation is invalid. R Nahman said: Both the intercalation and the sanctification are valid.

Raba said to R. Nahman: Let us consider! Between Purim27  and the Passover there are thirty days, and from Purim we begin to lecture on the laws of Passover, as has been taught: People must begin to inquire into the Passover laws thirty days before the Festival. R. Simeon b. Gamaliel said: A fortnight before. If, then, it [sc. Passover] is postponed at the beginning of the month [of Nisan],28  people29  will be liable to disregard30  the law regarding leaven [on Passover].31  — He [R. Nahman] answered him: It is well-known that the intercalation of a year depends on [minute] calculations, hence they would say that [the declaration was not made until the thirtieth day] because the Rabbis had not completed their calculation until then.

Rab Judah said in Samuel's name: A year is not to be intercalated32  unless the [summer] Tekufah33  is short of completion by the greater part of the month.34  And how much is that? — Sixteen days: so holds R. Judah.

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Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. I.e., not at the prescribed time, the 14th day of Nisan. Cf. Ex. XII, 9.
  2. II Chron. XXX, 18.
  3. I.e., after it had already been sanctified as Nisan, he reconsidered it and sanctified the month as the second Adar.
  4. Instead of intercalating, to render this unnecessary.
  5. There is a dispute whether uncleanness, in the case of a community, is entirely permitted, as though there were no prohibition at all against it, or whether it is merely suspended on account of the communal need. On the latter view, it is disregarded only when unavoidable, but not here, where it may be avoided by intercalation.
  6. [H] The golden front-plate. V. Ex. XXVIII, 36-38. It atoned for sacrifices offered in a state of uncleanness, and rendered them acceptable.
  7. The High Priest did not officiate in the interior, i.e., the Holy of Holies, on the Day of Atonement, robed in garments that had gold interwoven, as that would recall the sin of the golden calf. Cf. Lev. XVI, 3-4; R.H. 26a.
  8. It is no proof in this case.
  9. As on the Day of Atonement, when offerings for the whole Community are made. Hence the above inference of R. Simeon is contradicted.
  10. That even in a case involving a whole Community, as that of the Passover Offering, the year should be intercalated so as to avoid the state of uncleanness.
  11. Surely, according to the said argument, his action was lawful!
  12. Since there was no need at all for intercalation, the laws of impurity being withdrawn for the sake of a whole Community. Hezekiah, in intercalating the year, therefore prayed for forgiveness.
  13. According to R. Simeon it may be intercalated even at the outset, but he speaks of the case as if the act were already performed, merely in contradistinction to R. Judah.
  14. Ex. XII, 2.
  15. I.e., once Nisan has been proclaimed, it cannot be re-proclaimed Adar, making the ensuing month Nisan.
  16. When Adar is deficient.
  17. Hence he intercalated the year on that day. But afterwards, coming to agree with the standpoint represented by Samuel, and so realising his mistake, he prayed for forgiveness.
  18. That in the first place he thought it right to intercalate the year, but subsequently repented of his earlier decision?
  19. I.e., the male population. From the context, it is seen that the clean were not actually half, but a minority.
  20. Who were clean.
  21. As is the opinion advanced by R. Judah and R. Jose. Cf. Pes. 91b.
  22. Sc., of males, for whom the offering is compulsory.
  23. Therefore he intercalated the year, to obviate the necessity of this.
  24. As R. Simeon holds (ibid.).
  25. Hence the intercalation was unnecessary.
  26. As the second Adar. The succeeding month, however, will he sanctified as Nisan, the current month remaining unnamed.
  27. Feast celebrated on the fourteenth of Adar in commemoration of the deliverance of the Jews from the plot of Haman, as recorded in the Book of Esther.
  28. Through the institution of a second Adar, the lecturing on Passover laws having already begun.
  29. Not believing the report of the messengers that an intercalation had been made. — Raba's assumption that the messengers might be disbelieved, would seem to show that there were enemies of the Jews who might seek to upset the Calendar. Cf. p. 52, n. 9 on the attitude of the Roman authorities to intercalation.
  30. Lit., 'treat lightly'.
  31. Because they will not treat the Passover fixed by the Rabbis as such, having already celebrated it a month before.
  32. On account of the Tekufah. V. supra 11b.
  33. The solar year which consists of three hundred and sixty-five and a quarter days is divided into four equal parts, each period consisting of ninety-one days and seven and a half hours. These are called respectively the Nisan (vernal), Tammuz (summer), Tishri (autumnal), Tebeth (winter) Tekufoth. The lunar year which forms the basis of our calendar comprises altogether three hundred and fifty-four days. Though according to Biblical tradition our months are to be lunar (cf. Ex. XII, 2), yet our Festivals are to be observed at certain agricultural seasons; Passover and Pentecost in the Spring; Tabernacles, or Feast of Ingathering, in the autumn. In order to harmonise the lunar and solar years, a second Adar is intercalated once in two or three years. Our text lays down certain principles by which the Intercalators are to be guided.
  34. Tishri. I.e., the greater part of Tishri must be taken in to complete the Tekufah of Tammuz.

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