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6.8.08

my rosh chodesh story

Rosh Chodesh

JULY 31, 1939
Poland




At the Rosenbloom family in Warsaw, the father, Joel Rosenbloom, was  sad, overwhelmed and disappointed. His first born Yaakov was a brilliant Talmudic scholar, but his second son, Philip had gone off to America and he had lost contact with him completely.
Philip had sent some letters and some packages but after that Yoel did not hear from him.



Let us take closer look at Yaakov for a minute. He was a Talmudic scholar, true. But he also had a hunger for a living inspiration, not just inspiration found in books.
He felt the gross materialism of society was the equivalent of idolatry. He noticed how the verse of the Torah,



He was by any standards brilliant. He went to the Polytechnic University of Zurich for engineering for two terms and graduated and went back to Poland to learn Talmud at the Mir yeshiva.
Yaakov learnt at the Mir Yeshiva for two years then went back to Warsaw.
One foggy, muddy day Yaakov saw something strange about the Jewish calendar; Rosh Hashanah came out two days after the new moon. He found this curious. But he never looked up the Gemara to find out why.


She was in secret love with Yaakov,


Their marriage was set for the next year 1940.
But she thought Yaakov was special. True he was smart but a lot of guys were smart. There was some magical quality about him she could not name or put her finger on. But he enchanted her. He was cheerful, clean, creative, hard working,
 but not a fanatic. But none of these things were the cause of her attraction. Let’s just say he had a aura.
He would not dare say so but he thought she was an angel from heaven. He felt she had the inner moral strength of steel deep inside.


Rivka heard about the plans of the Rosenblooms and decided to follow them.


They got tickets for a train on September 1, 1939. As they were getting ready to leave, a group of Gestapo came to arrest them. As they were stomping up the stairs Yaakov came out of the door, took aim and fired.
The first SS agent fell to the bottom of the stairs.
The Gestapo agents looked up and saw that Yaakov held a .45 Colt Model 1911 A1 ACP pistol. It spewed smoke at the mouth. [note 4] There was deafening silence for about 10 seconds. There were shocked and stunned to find a Jew defending himself. This was beyond human comprehension.
They dived for their guns and all of a sudden, Yoel came from the bottom of the stairs and shouted, "Freeze!! Now you folks drop your guns as slow as if you were molasses. We have got you covered. If I see even the slightest suspicious movement I will personally see to it that you will all go down in history as brave martyrs."
They dropped their weapons and froze.
Yaakov: "I just made a tackless blunder. That was so rude of me. I think I hurt that fine fellow's feelings. Let us try that all over again. Yaakov Rosenbloom. That is with two "O"s. May I help you?"
Yoel called up from the stairs: "You hurt more than his feelings."
One of the agents stuttered: "What are you doing? Why did you shoot him? We weren't coming to do you any harm."
Yaakov raised his gun again. The agent shook with fear. Yaakov aimed at a tin can at the foot of that agent. BAMM!
The tin can landed about 10 yards from where it had been. Yaakov shot again. The can landed at the bottom of the stairs. Again. It went off into a gulley.
Yaakov said, "Why did I shoot him? You see, my mother, may she rest in peace, told me, 'If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything.' I could not think of anything nice to say."
The SS agent asked, "You shot him because you not find something nice to say?"
Yoel called up: "I don't think that is what your mother meant."
Yaakov said to the agents: "Well, don't apologize for disturbing our afternoon tea. Just leave your weapons and go home."
"We are the Gestapo!!! You will pay for this outrage"
"Now would not be the time for you to make threats."
"Don't wave that that pistol at us."
"I am not waving it at you. My mother was always telling me that it is rude to point a gun at someone unless you shoot them."
Yaakov: "Now you have got to be asking yourselves what is this Jew going to do now. Now would be the time to ask yourselves what are you going to do now. I suggest you all leave in an orderly fashion. And don't panic. I won't shoot an unarmed man."
Yaakov told his family to meet him at the train station. He was going to warn Rivka. The Rosenbloom family  went to the train station . Herman and his family got on a train headed for France.
Hendrich Steiner was a member of the SS. Steiner and Yaakov had learnt together engineering in the Polytechnic in Zurich.
Steiner also went to warn Rivka. Steiner and Yaakov both met at her house. Yaakov grabbed his gun and pointed it at Steiner and visa versa.
"What are you doing here?"
"I am trying to warn Rivka."
"Oh I bet. From what? That the Jews are coming?"
"Get off it Yakov. I am no more Nazi than you."
"How can I trust you?"
"I am putting down my gun."
"Now where is she?"
They saw another group of Nazis walking away. They had arrested her.
Yaakov circled behind them.
Steiner went up to them and said, "Halt I have orders to take custody of this prisoner."
"Where are your orders?"
Yaakov came up from behind and shot them all.
He and Steiner grabbed Rivka and made of to the train station
And then the whole Rosenbloom family went to the train station to be in
.
As they were crossing the main street a movement down the road caught Yaakov's attention. A person in uniform- a soldier. At first he could not make him out. Then he saw -- a Nazi in the uniform of the SS. They crouched behind a wagon. They were shivering - and not from the cold. The Nazi shambled along it looked without purpose. He meandered down the street. He got within 100 feet of the wagon and saw that the reinforcements were coming he and started running towards them. They got up and ran. They hid in a side alley. Was he going back to the reinforcements or coming alone? Did he know where they were going? They had to make the train. It was the last one going to the Ukraine. The train station was west of them. They hustled across the next street. Yaakov looked back. He was staring straight at the Nazi. They ran again. The Nazi was fast but he was new to the area. They had lived there their whole lives and knew the terrain. They saw the train and made dash for it. They crammed inside the closing doors just as the Nazi got to them. He ordered the train to stop but the engineer just kept on going. They were safe for the time being. The Nazi told what had happened to his commander. He ordered them to find out where they had gone. To allow Jews who had defended themselves to live was unthinkable.









Also, whether to the rama or the shuchan aruch we have a problem. two are suspected on oaths. One loans ten cents to the other; then comes to beit din and says the guy owes him ten million dollars. He can take all the that persons money without an oath. How can we poskin like R. Meir that the shavua returns to him who is obligated [to R. Aba's explanation of r. Meir] and he can't take it so he has to pay what ever is being demanded of him? why does not the gemara notice this. And the Rema who did notice this why does he say that then the guy can only take half the other guys money. We are talking about a character that we recognize has nothing better to do all day than to think up ways of defrauding and stealing all the money he can from his neighbors.




Avraham said: The rosh yeshiva at the Mir Yeshiva never claimed to have any answers. He said learn Torah and that is that. There was no promise that everything would work out or that learning Torah would solve anything. It was just a statement of purpose along with an implicit faith that by doing so, somehow things would find an equilibrium that you could survive and find some relative peace and happiness in.

Shmuel asked him one day, "You hang around here yet you don't follow all the things people say one is supposed to do. so what is your path? How do you decide things. Do you just make a beef stew of a lot of different opinions?"
Avraham: "I keep the Torah like explained in the Talmud and in the mediaeval authorities. But when the later authorities fix the Torah to their liking, I won't pay attention to that. God gave the Torah to keep it, not to change it. And He said, 'I am making a covenant with you according to these words.' And it says, "I am writing this down so you will know and keep it.' G-d never gives authority to people to change what he says."

So Avraham came over when he heard Shmuel talking with some new comers about the calendar.
________________________________________________

Avraham: Hi Shmuel. How is a Jew doing? How was your trip from Warsaw?
Shmuel: "Hi Avram. It is a pleasure seeing you!"
Avraham: Up till about 250 C.E., there was no need for a calendar. We set the dates by the beit din receiving witnesses. Even after that the Resh Galuta (the acknowledged leader of the Jewish people) established the dates.
Later after the yeshivot were closed it became necessary to establish fixed dates and the best calendar around at that time was from a Greek astronomer Meton. For in Athens they used to have a lunar calendar but it got out of kilter. Spring festivals were supposed to come out in spring-- not winter.] So they used to put in an extra month every so often by decree. But that was not systematic. So Meton came along in 234 B.C.E and made a calendar that is identical with the Jewish one. An exact 19 year cycle with an extra month every 3, 6, 8, 11, 13, 15, 17, and 19th year. The Jewish calendar is not even mentioned in the Talmud that was completed after 359 C.E. That would be about a hundred years after Hillel II.

Shmuel: Well, he got it from the Jews.
Avraham: Maybe. But it is no big deal. Just find a common multiple of the solar and lunar year. But the years with an extra month are the same. And the first written account of such a calendar in Jewish sources is about 1100 years later. And if we had been going by this calendar, you would think it might have been mentioned in the Gemara. And if Hillel II came along and established it for all Israel then such a stupendous event ought to have been mentioned in the Gemara. No. Nothing. Not a whisper.
If it had been in use you would think it might have been mentioned in the Talmud or Mishna, or Yerushalmi, or Tosefta, or Midrash Raba, or Tana debe Eliyahu or Sifra, or Sifri, etc. and so forth.
In fact a different cycle is mentioned in pirkei de R. Eliezer, a twenty one year cycle. Are we trying to say that R. Eliezer did not agree with a halacha to moshe from Sinai or was unaware of it?


Shmuel: But the Gemara says in Rosh HaShanah that witnesses were not sent out for Adar II. But would people have not needed to know if it was a year with an extra month? Doesn't that prove they had a 19th year cycle that everyone knew about?
Avraham: No. It shows they held like the Gemara in Rosh HaShanah that they knew when there was going to be an extra Adar for when the 16th of Nissan came out before the spring equinox.
Yaakov: So that is what do you do on Rosh Hashanah?
Avraham: The Torah says to have Rosh Hashanah on the first day of the month. In my humble opinion that is when Rosh Hashanah is. A few years ago I remember when Rosh Hashanah on the calendar came out three days after the Molad.
A calendar not even mentioned in the Gemara can not  cancel out an explicit command of the Torah.
Shmuel: The Sages tell us how to keep the mitzvot. According to R, Akiva if they say Rosh Chodesh is on a different day, then it is.
And just because the calendar is not mentioned in the Gemara that does not mean they were not following it. After all it is called "sod haibur" (the secret of inter-calculation) that is only given over to the greatest sages.
Avraham: What sages? There is historical evidence that the Jewish calendar was not in use even in the time of the geonim (authorities from c. 600 C.E. - c. 1000 C.E.) until about 900 C.E. There are dates in letters from Rav Sheria Geon [in 988] that places the yarzeit of a person from the 5th century  that does not match our calendar.
Also a letter from the Reish Galuta (Leader of the exiles) [dated in 836] based on the ruling  in Israel sets the date of Passover that year different than our calendar. The Reish Galuta was the head of the Jews in Babylon. That means all the Jews in Babylon and in Israel celebrated Passover on a different time that year than our calendar sets.
Pirkei de R. Eliezer [chapters 6-8] and Braita DeShmuel [chapter 5] mention cycles and dates for the new moon that are not like the calendar. The lunar cycle in Pirkei de R. Eliezer is twenty one years.
Shmuel: But the Gemara in Tractate Baba Metzia says, "The Torah is not in heaven ("lo bashamayim hi") and we have to do like the Sages tell us (in the story of the oven of Achnai).
Avraham: First of all who says the halacha is like that story? That story is an agadata that says that the Sages can establish a law though Hashem says they are wrong. Then they use a verse to prove their point-- a non existence verse. The actual Verse says, "Don't go by a majority to do evil." How can you prove from a verse that does not exist that God does not understand Torah? And the Gemara almost never uses the majority to decide a halacha.
And we find the Gemara itself does not follow that rule since it says the halacha is like Beit Shamai in three cases in the beginning of tractate Eiduyot [tractate Testimonies]. That is against the majority opinion of Beit Hillel, yet the Gemara says it is the halacha in direct contradiction to the rule of going by the majority and in direct contradiction to the story about the oven of Achnai. Also we see Beit Shamai did not hold by majority rule, since Beit Shamai did according to their own ruling like R. Yochanan says in Yevamot (14:a). And Tosphot right there says anyone can do like Beit Shamai if they are consistent in doing that way all the time.
Furthermore even if someone in the time of the Gemara had fixed a calendar and sanctified all subsequent dates on it, it would make no difference since the Gemara in Sanhedrin (10:b) we find that Rava says Beit Din has authority to sanctify the moon only on the day of the conjunction. If nobody sees it that day, the beit din in heaven sanctifies that day anyway.
This is what Rashi says Rava means.
I think Rav Ashi holds a stronger version of this opinion. But I did not see Rashi explain him like he did Rava.
Yaakov: "What does Rav Ashi [a rav in Babylon in about 350 A.C.E.] say?"
Avraham: "That the Sanhedrin never sanctifies the new moon. Sanhedrin calculates when it comes out. It seems to me that is very close to Rava. For it means we still have to know if the conjuction falls on day 30 or 31 and set that day as Rosh Chodesh.
Yaakov: " But I thought the average month is 29 1/2 and 44 minutes."
Avraham: "Yes. That means 29 complete days. So Rosh chodesh is always on the thirtieth or after two months when the halves accumulate, it comes out on the thirty first.'
Shmuel: "But how do you know Rava (a rav in Babylon in about 250 C.E.) is talking about the conjunction of the sun and moon? Perhaps he means that when the moon can be seen which is about 18 hours later."
Avraham: Because Tosphot [commentaries on the Talmud in about 1200 C.E.] brings a some say opinion (and Rashi [commentary on Talmud in about 1100 C.E.] [According to the way the Maharsha [commentary on Talmud in about 1700 C.E.] explains him]) that Rava is talking about to the molad.
Shmuel: But how can the Beit Din (court) in Heaven make Rosh Chodesh before the Beit Din in this world? For according to that Rashi Heaven always makes Rosh chodesh (New moon) the day of the molad (conjunction). But the earthly Beit Din does it according to when people see it that is always much later.
Avraham: Because this Gemara goes like the Gemara in Mesechta (tractate) Chagigah 17:b "Count days and make Rosh Chodesh". These Gemaras hold that the day of the new moon does not at all depend on seeing the moon.
They figure when it comes out - and that is that.
Shmuel: Well at least we see that R. Nachman (in Tractate Rosh Hashanah and in Tractate Sanhedrin) goes by seeing the moon. For R. Nachman said to sailors, "When the moon equals the size of the sun [i.e. when it is full.] get rid of leavened bread." The Gemara asks, "But isn't that the 15th?!" It answers, "To sailors the world [sky] is clear so they see the full moon on the 14th." That means in Jerusalem the Sanhedrin sanctifies the moon about a day later than the molad. That is, in fact, about right since the usual time of seeing the new moon is about 18 hours after the conjunction.
Avraham: But even that is not like the current calendar that goes by the average molad and sometimes has the molad in fact on Rosh Chodesh -- meaning the sailors would be doing biur Chametz (getting rid of leavened bread) the night of the 16th!!
But in fact that Gemara is like R. Nachman ( in Babylon) about 300 C.E.) which is different than Rava or Rav Ashi.



Yaakov: But I thought the time of the full moon is not constant from the new moon. It varies on a 14 month cycle because of the elliptic orbit of the moon. Maybe that day it was shorter? So the sailors could have been celebrating Pesach the right time?
Avraham: It was not two days shorter.
Shmuel: But R. Yochanan [note 6] (in Rosh Hashanah) needs the entire day of Rosh Chodesh to be after the visible molad. The only possible opinion like you is Resh Lakish that (at least the way Rashi explains him there) you can have Rosh Chodesh on the day of the molad even though the old one was seen at the beginning of the night.
So though I agree the calendar has some problems but it still is according to all Rishonim (Mediaeval authorities from 1100 C.E.-1500 C.E.) while your opinion is no where in the Talmud except for a "some say" that anyway Tosphot pushes off completely.
So you are on thin ice. Who supports you? A "some say" in a Tosphot that Tosphot smashes to pieces, and a Rashi on an opinion of Resh Lakish when R. Yochanon disagrees with it and we always go like R. Yochanan in such cases. [And it is only by the fact that Rashi makes no distinction between before and after midnight in Reish Lakish's opinion that you have a support there. But to R. Channanel and the Meor, Reish Lakish needs the new moon to be at least some time before midnight for that day to count like rosh chodesh.]
Avraham: Ok I admit you have won the fight. But you agree the calendar is not right.
Shmuel: But like you said to me once, the Rashba (Medieval Talmudic Authority in about 1250 A.C.) says that the community has the din of the great Sanhedrin in Jerusalem so by their keeping the calendar like it is, means it is the same like the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem sanctifying the moon on the days of the calendar; and even you admit that to most opinions in the Gemara, the Sanhedrin has the authority to do so; --- i.e. Rava and Abyee and Rabban Gamiel and R. Akiva.
As you said all the Rishonim agree with the calendar and so I don't see at this point any reason to change it.
But what makes your opinion interesting is the fact that there is no Beit Din to set the new moon. And in such a case Rava says that Heaven sets it. There is something very attractive about the idea in such a case of going by the time the moon hits the sun itself.
And anyway nowadays we should in fact draw up a new calendar since the real conjunction is different than the average conjunction.
And I did not really win the fight since all Israel is going by the calendar on a false premise. They think Hillel the second fixed it. that is not true and a sanhedrin can also make a mistake as we find sacrifices for a sanhedrin that makes a mistake.




1941 spring

At this point Yaakov joined the discussion and asked, "What do you do to make Pesach in spring?"
Avraham: Rashi and Tosphot need that the first day of Pesah should be in spring and the Rambam (c. 1130 C.E.) and R. Chananel (c. 1100) need that the 16th of Nisan should be in spring. [To R. Chananel it is the morning of the 16th] If not one adds an extra Adar( 12th month of year). I might just go by the 16th because that is what the Gemara (Talmud) says in tractate Rosh Hashanaha and it also makes sense since the 15th is till the first part of the month. I also thought to calculate the exact middle of the month and say that if that exact second is in winter then to add an extra Adar.
Another important point about spring is the question of whether it is when the day and night are equal or when the sun enters the zodiac of Nisan. [This is in the winter when the sun rises furthest south and in the summer when it rises furthest north] There is a difference.
I say it is when the sun enters the zodiac of Nissan like the Ramabm says and also Rashi.
Yaakov: Isn't that itself a proof against the calendar that sometimes has Pesach before the spring equinox?
Avraham: I don't think that ever happens. But if it does you are right.




The next day Yaakov asked him again.


Yaakov: I have heard a lot of bad rumors about you. But you seem to be a pretty nice guy.

Avraham: I do have different opinions about things than is the politically correct party line. I also have the annoying habit of saying my opinions. Some of my friends I think have similar thoughts but keep it to themselves. They say, "There is no percentage in opening up your mouth."
Yaakov: I have noticed a Tiferet Israel in the Mishnayot that says strange things about evolution.
Avraham: Yeah, you see he wrote that piece right after they had discovered dinosaurs. So he said that we have been saying all along that the world is ancient. The kabalists put our age in the fourth day of creation. Then like R. Issac from Aco says every day of is a thousand years, so we get billions of years.
Then the Christians decided that Darwin was against the Bible. So we decided also to be frumer than the pope, so it became the official  doctrine that Darwin is against the Torah.
Hendrich Steiner saw some of his old buddies the SS in plain clothing  he went to warn his friends Yaakov Leah and their friends.
Hendrich saw her on the street and warned her that the Gestapo had learned the whereabouts of Yaakov and was about to set up an attack.
They both ran to the shul hoping to get there before the Gestapo.
The Gestapo agents burst into the synagogue and started shooting. Everyone was taken by surprise and thought they were doomed. Leah and Hendrich came in behind them and shot them.
After a year he told to Rivka his deeply kept secret. The mother of his mother was Jewish.
He married Leah Feynman.
Avraham and Yaakov both married her friends that had come with her. Avrham married Rachel and Yaakov married Rivkah.

1941 June

After two years they all decided to go to Israel to escape the coming Nazi Army. They got a train bound for Odessa. But at 4:00 P.M. the train stopped for a 30 minute break and they got out to take a walk for a few minutes. As they were walking a snow storm started up. At first it was beautiful but then the wind picked up and the snow started falling horizontally. They started back towards the train but there was so much snow in the air they cold not see the way.
They plodded on. They looked up again and could not see a thing. It was the Russian winter. They went on. Visibility was down to ten meters. They had no idea where they were or if they were even walking in the right direction.
Evening comes early in that part of the world. It got to be evening and it was so dark you could have made chocolate cake from it. They were sure the train would already have left. Avraham encouraged the group. He said: "Only if you are lost can you really find out where are."
But when they arrived the train was still there.
After they boarded the incognito Gestapo also came on board looking for them.
But Hendrich Steiner recognized them and went to their cabin. He closed the door behind himself and asked "Do you recognize me?" They were so shocked they delayed a split second and he shot them.
There was a shoot out that all the SS were killed in.
But then came into the room one guard who had recognized him. There was another shoot out. Steiner was wounded. A Gestapo agent tried to get to Steiner's wife. Steiner crawled after him and grabbed his foot. The agent turned around to kill him. Leah Feynman hit him with her suitcase, grabbed his gun and shot him.
Steiner decided to tear up his Jewish papers and go back to Germany with his old SS papers. He told his wife, "I am going to end this war."[To this day it is no known what he intended to do.]
How are you going to do that? How can you leave me? Will I ever see you again?"
"I promise you I will come back and find you. Make sure you don't change your name and keep a post office box."
He left and made his way back to Germany.
The group remained on the train trying to get to Israel.
Then the Nazis blew up the tracks in front of the train.
Nazi army bombed the railway right in front of the train. They went on as got their belongings. But then had no where to go or wheels to go on. They sat down on the side of the railway. Just then the saw a Ukrainian peasant approach them.
"What are you folks doing here?"
"We are Polish Jews and are escaping the Nazis. We wanted to get to Israel."
"Well, the British won't let you in. They will at best send you back here or worse to Poland."
"What should we do?"
"Come first to my home and warm up. Let's think about it. Maybe after all you are here you could join the Red Army?"
They all joined the Red Army and were sent to Poland to fight and also like translators. They were caught by the Nazis and by their ID it was discovered they were Jewish. They were sent by train to a concentration camp. But just before they arrived, a fighter pilot, Philip, blew up the bridge.
David Irving and another twelve guys from the 78th Infantry captured the area around the bridge that the train was going through. This American unit had started out with 70 guys. They were down to thirteen. Philip was shot down and he parachuted down from his burning plane. When the train arrived they surrounded it and ordered all the soldiers to surrender. Then they freed the prisoners. The USAF fighter pilot Philip Rosenbloom, Yoel's lost son.
There was no transportation to Israel, so they all decided to go to America to the city Philip was living in at the time- Asbury Park, New Jersey.

Epilogue

After the war, Philip, Steiner and other the friends all worked at Fort Mammoth
In the meantime the cold war had started. Senator McCarthy decided to start weeding out the communists from government. And where do you think he decided to start? Fort Mammoth--of all places! He made a press conference outside the building and said he had evidence that there were communists there working on secret government projects.
Monday morning, Philip and his buddy Bernie Marcus showed up for work. The place was almost empty. Every single Jew had been fired including Steiner, plus another fellow whose wife was Jewish. That was about fifty people. Philip and Bernie were the chief engineers so the army couldn't afford to fire them.
When asked about it, McCarthy said the common factor of all those fired was they learnt at the University of Michigan. (He could not say they were all Jewish and then be accused of anti-Semitism.)
Later everyone was reinstated, and McCarthy lost his job. I am not gloating because he probably got another one after that just as good. But there is a certain irony of fate here.
In the meantime Stalin got a new toy - the H Bomb and started using it all over Russia. The Americans were worried that he might try to find a new sand box. The secretary of the Navy recommended to Eisenhower to attack Russia before Stalin attacked them first.
The problem was a simple one of trust. Stalin had already broken every agreement he had made. So the next simple question was to find out if in fact he was planning any attack on America or if he was just playing with nukes in his own backyard. It was crucial to find out.
President Eisenhower instituted a crash program to invent a super light spy plane that could go over Russia territory undetected and take pictures to find out if there was any major military build up getting ready for an invasion. Philip Rosenbloom was put in charge of the task of inventing the camera for the plane. He had already invented a type of camera that could see through fog and mist twelve miles away.
So Philip and Bernie, Steiner all headed out West to the U-2 project. Yaakov and Yoel stayed in New Jersey.
He was flown out every Monday to a secret location to work on the plane and returned home only on weekends.
They created the plane in one year after a year the plane flew many missions. They discovered that there was plenty of military build up in Russia but nothing that looked like anything directed towards the USA. I.e. there was technology build up but no mobilization.
After that began the slow but steady appeasement of Russia and the USA under Krushchev
Later they all worked on the Star Wars program and made satellites and laser communication between satellites for NASA.



[note 1] Molad. The conjunction of the sun and moon. We won't let a silly little detail of the earth going around the sun bother us. For now let's assume the sun goes around the earth. Then there is the daily path of the stars that remains fixed in a sphere called the celestial sphere. Inside of that is a wheel that the sun revolves on that goes backwards. Inside of that is another wheel of the moon. The sun on its sphere takes a year to go around its path. The moon overtakes it once a month. Every time the moon over takes it and both are on the same longitude that is called molad [astronomers call it the dark moon.]
[note 2] This had come hidden in the package from America.

[note 3] Nisan corresponds roughly with the zodiac of Aries. It is the first month of spring. If spring comes out after the 16th, one has to make an extra month of Adar, the month before Nisan. That is why there is sometimes an Adar II.
[note 4] [It was illegal to own a gun. It had been smuggled in the original package that Philip had sent from America.]
[note 5] Ptolemy does not say that he worked this all out by himself. The dates and times for lunar eclipses he gets from Babylonian sources. The value 29-12-793/1080 Ptolemy gets from Hipparchus [c. 190 BCE-120 BCE]. He worked out the average times between eclipses and came up with this value. It is probable the Babylonians before him did so also but came up with a less accurate figure.



This value may have been from Jewish sources. But to say such a thing involves certain problems.
There is no record in Jewish sources until 500 years later of the average value of the lunar month. And the issue is not who had some traditional value. The point is the Greeks were actively involved in measuring exact times for all phenomenon related to astronomy.
They made instruments to do so; the astrolbion, the armillary sphere, the astrolabe and the scaphion. Hipparchus complied extensive tables of exact times for every possible phenomenon, for exact positions of every visible star and planet. This was in 135 BCE. In Jewish sources we find nothing of all this. And even there is no record of any activity of this sort. Just a value pulled out a hat that Rabban Gamliel could simply have looked up in a book. Of course if he had said he got it as a tradition from Sinai then fine. But as most other things attributed to the Talmud, if you look it up you find it says something completely different that the person quoting it says.