Rosh Hashana Daf 22
By Susan Suna
Securing the Jewish future is a catch phrase we hear a lot today. But it is not a new concept. On today’s daf as we embark on the second chapter of Rosh Hashana, we find out that Beit Din needs to secure the Jewish future by ensuring that they consecrate the new month at the appropriate time. So they had to change gears in terms of whose testimony could be accepted. In the first Mishna of the chapter we are told that at first all witnesses who came to give testimony regarding the new moon were accepted. However once the Boethusians started sending false witnesses, the Sanhedrin decided to only accept testimony either from someone whom they knew to be trustworthy or else have someone they deemed trustworthy vouch for the witness in order to accept his testimony.
Who were the Boethusians?
Josephus claims that the Boethusians sect are believed to either be descendants from Simon, son of Boethus from Alexandria who bought the position of Kohen Gadol in 25 BCE from Herod. While Encyclopedia Britannica quoting A Roadmap to the Heavens: An Anthropological Study of Hegemony Among Priests, Sages, and Laymen, by Sigalit Ben-Zion
suggests that Boethusians means Beth Essaya, or Essenes the sect who are known today for the Dead Sea Scrolls.
They were well to do and believed in the written Torah, taking certain laws literally. They did not believe in most of Rabbinic law. They denied the immortality of the soul and the world to come. On our daf, they are trying to rig when Rosh Chodesh Nisan would come out in order that the second day of Pesach would be Sunday thereby fulfilling the verse that states that the Omer was brought “the day after Shabbat” (Vayikra 23, 11) which they took literally to mean Shabbat and not Chag.
Teachers: Yehudit Epstein & Dena Rock