Mevarchim Hachodesh – Sanhedrin 10


By: Rabbi Avrohom Adler

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In the sefer Yereim (259) it is written: That which Jews all over the world have the custom to announce the new month on Shabbos before Rosh Chodesh (birchas ha’chodesh), this is not the sanctification of the new month, for we do not have the Rosh Beis Din amongst us and he is an integral and essential part of this mitzvah. The Rishonim established this custom merely as a way of notifying the people when Rosh Chodesh will be.

The Magen Avraham (O:C, 417) writes that it is, nevertheless, the custom to stand by birchas ha’chodesh – specifically when we are saying that “Rosh Chodesh will be on Such-and-such a day,” similar to when Beis Din sanctified the new month, which was done while standing.

Reb Akiva Eiger (ibid) asks: Where is it found that the sanctifying of the month was done standing? On the contrary! It would seem from the beginning of the third perek of Rosh Hashanah that it was done while sitting!?

Reb Moshe Feinstein zt”l (O:C I; 142) answers this question based upon a Gemora in Rosh Hashanah (24a) which states that first the Rosh Beis Din would say, “Mekudash” – “It is sanctified,” and then the entire congregation would say in unison, “Mekudash, mekudash.” And certainly, the entire congregation, who were there at the Beis Din, were not all sitting; they were standing! We find like this by the mitzvah of chalitzah as well, where the Gemora in Yevamos (106a) states that there is a mitzvah for all the people standing there to say “chalutz hana’al.”

Reb Moshe understands that the Rosh Beis Din’s saying “Mekudash” was the p’sak din – the witnesses were fully cross-examined and the Beis Din came to a conclusion with respect of the new month. The Rosh Beis Din announced this ruling. Then, there was a mitzvah on the congregation to sanctify the new month. This, they accomplished, by saying, “Mekudash, mekudash.” He derives this from a Scriptural verse, and it can be inferred from the language of the Rambam, as well.

That which we recite birchas ha’chodesh is based upon the congregation’s saying of “Mekudash, mekudash.” It is not on account of the Rosh Beis Din’s announcement of the judgment, for this was already done by Hillel’s Beis Din (when he arranged the calendar for the future). This is why the custom is to stand. The inference of the Gemora in Rosh Hashanah that they were sitting is only in reference to the Beis Din, not to the people standing there. It also stands to reason that the “Mekudash, mekudash” should be said standing, for this was the mitzvah of sanctifying the new month, and mitzvos (as a general rule) are performed while standing.


Palginan Dibura

The Gemora teaches us that if Reuven testifies in Beis Din that Shimon cohabited with his wife, and with Reuven there is another witness, we can consider them two witnesses and Shimon gets killed. The Gemora explains that it would work only because of palginan dibura (we split his words). Rashi explains that we accept his testimony in regard to Shimon but not in regard to his wife, since she is related to him and he is not a valid witness.

The Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 34:26) has several cases where palginan dibura applies:

1) A loveh (borrower) may testify that the malveh (lender) lent money to him with interest, and although he cannot testify on himself, we enact palginan dibura and we split his sentence. Instead of hearing the entire testimony that the malveh lent money to him with interest, we only listen to part of it; i.e., the malveh lent with interest (S’ma). Therefore, if there would be another witness, Beis Din will disqualify the malveh from being believed when giving testimony in the future (an oveir aveira is disqualify as a witness).

2) Reuven testifies in Beis Din that Shimon sodomized him, we invoke palginan dibura, and if there would be another witness testifying, Beis Din will disqualify him.

3) Similarly, if Reuven testifies in Beis Din that Shimon cohabited with his wife, and there is another witness, Beis Din will disqualify Shimon (the Shulchan Aruch doesn’t state that he gets put to death, because the Shulchan Aruch is talking to our generation, where there isn’t any court-imposed death penalty).

The Rashba distinguishes between the case where he says, “Shimon cohabited with my wife,” and where he said, “I cohabited with Shimon’s wife.” In the latter case, we don’t say palginan dibura.

4) Reuven testifies in Beis Din that Shimon sodomized Reuven’s animal, if there will be another witness, Beis Din will disqualify Shimon. The S’ma points out that this case is different than the above cases, since there is no such concept that Reuven is related to his animal, and therefore, in the times of the Sanhedrin, we would kill the animal as well.

Not in all cases do we say palginan dibura. The Mordechai (Yevamos) and Tosfos in Kesuvos (18b) rule that cases which are not common, or if you have to add a reason to his sentence, then we don’t say palginan dibura.


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