Thursday, 27 July 2017

Sanhedrin 11: Anything to Prevent One From Feeling Shame; Intercalation of the Year

The Gemara shares a number of stories that demonstrates the rabbis' dealings with shame.  One of these involves excluding a person who had not been invited to examine the intercalation of the year.  One rabbi said that he was the one who had not been invited just to share the other rabbi from shame. 

Another example tells of Rebbi asking a person to leave when he smelled garlic during his lecture.  First Rabbi Chiyya left, and then all others followed him.  In the end, Rabbi Chiyya was also leaving simply to save others from shame.  A barista tells of a woman who says that one of the men in Rabbi Meir's Bet Midrash had engaged her.  After Rabbi Meir wrote her a get, every other man present wrote her a get as well.  A number of other stories also demonstrate the great importance that the rabbis place on honouring and respecting all people.

When is it permitted for us to intercalate the year?  A number of restrictions are suggested:

  • when the nasi wants it
  • when it is required for repairs (ex. roads, drying ovens, etc.) in time for Pesach
  • we do not do this for exiled people who are late, for weather-related delays, or to bring excess (sacrifices, etc.)
  • in one circumstance and extra 29 or 30 days may have been added to the year because the animals were not well enough for the ceremonies
A story is shared about Rabbi Gamliel.  He asked Yochanan the scribe to write three letters.  The first wished shalom to those in the upper and lower Galil and reminded them that it was time to tithe the olives.  The second repeated the wishes of the first but this time to those in the south of HaAretz, reminding them to tithe the sheaves.  

The third letter wished shalom to those chutz laAretz and explained that because the animals and the spring had not yet come, there would be a 30 day delay before Pesach.  He noted that he and his colleagues agreed on this.   The rabbis discuss why he added his colleagues to the picture.  It is suggested that the year is intercalated for three reasons: a delayed spring, delayed fruits of the trees, and for the tefuka, cycle, of the year.

Our daf ends with a discussion about further limitations on intercalating the year.  Must this be agreed upon in HaAretz?  Or in the Galil?  Must all investigations be in Jerusalem?  What about time of day - is daytime required, or is a nighttime decision considered to be reasonable?  The rabbis discuss different holidays and whether we should learn from them about what must be present for a decision to be ratified.

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