Since Yom Tov is based on a calendar date, and the
dates of the months were established by the court, the court controlled
the occurrence of Yom Tov.
We have seen how Rosh Hashanah is unique, in that
it specifically coincides with the occurrence of the new moon. It is the
only holiday that is observed for two days, even in Jerusalem.
Last week, we discussed the Rabbinic decree that,
if the witnesses of the new moon were delayed until afternoon, two days
would be declared sanctified: one with a Torah status, one with a Rabbinic
status. This decree introduced a new concept.
There has always been a notion of two days of Yom
Tov for those out of communication with the court, due to doubt. (See Rabbenu
Bachaye to Parshas Bo, Asarah Ma’amaros [quoted in Magen Avraham, Hilchos
Shavous].) However, the decree of two days of Rosh Hashanah which we are
referring to, was much different. Here, the two days were not imposed as
a matter of doubt, but by a definite enactment.
According to Rashi, if the witnesses were late, the
new law would not allow them to come to court on the first day. By preventing
the witnesses from coming to court, the decree forced the sanctity of Rosh
Hashanah to take affect the second day. At the same time, the first day
would also have a degree of sanctity. What is the nature of this split
Tzafnas Pane’ach shows how the calendar date was
counted from the first day, and the shofar was sounded then, but the sacrifices
were essentially brought the second day. (See Rav Moshe Sternbuch, Mo’adim
Uzmanim, Vol. 6 #9)
As Rav Sternbuch points out, this helps us to understand
the two days of Rosh Hashanah today; the second day, too, has great significance.
Actually, according to the original decree, the second day was sanctified
according to Torah Law, and should have been the more significant one.
Close to the time of the destruction of the Beis
Hamikdash, the court moved to Yavneh, and again allowed the witnesses to
appear any time the first day. The first day returned to be the more significant
day from the Torah. Nonetheless, after much debate, the Talmud concludes
that the decree of two definite days remains in effect. (Tractate Beitza,
4b - 5b)
What is Required
The Alter of Slabodka (Rav Noson Tzvi Finkel) urged
his students to strive for unlimited greatness; as we know, in this endeavor
he was extremely successful. Especially at this time of year -- the Alter
would say -- we should not be satisfied with our spiritual levels. "(In
the next world) we will be required to be complete in all spiritual areas
-- never be satisfied!" (See Ohr Tzafon, vol. 3, p. 73.) No matter
our age and backround, it is never too late to get started.
What to Bring at Rosh Hashanah
At each Yom Tov, a special offering was given, concerning
the material judged at that particular festival. For example, there is
a judgment regarding water at Sukkos, and there are special water libations
at that time. (Tractate Rosh Hashanah 16a.) At Rosh Hashanah, when the
judgment regards man in general -- he should have to bring himself! (Rav
Shlomo Brevda, published in Am Hatorah)
Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein
11 Kiryas Radin
Spring Valley, NY 10977
Phone: (914) 362-5156