Rosh Hashanah 8 - When do animals give birth
Every year one must tithe his animals: all of them born this year are gathered into a pen with an opening large enough for only one animal to pass through. The owner then stands at this opening and counts, marking every tenth one with red dye. The animals thus designated are brought as offerings in the Temple, and their meat is eaten by the owner and his guests in Jerusalem. We must therefore know when is the New Year for animal tithe.
There are two opinions: first of Elul, or thirty days later, first of Tishrei. Both are based on a phrase from the psalms, " The meadows (really, the ewes) are covered with flocks (really, by rams); the valleys are covered with corn, they shout and sing ." The first teachers asks, "When do sheep become pregnant? - When valleys are covered with corn. And when is that? - In Adar. It turns out that the sheep give birth in Av, and their New Year is in Elul." The second teacher gives a different answer: "When do sheep become pregnant? When the stalks of corn sing with rustling sound. This is a month later, in Nisan, and therefore sheep give birth a month later, in Elul, and their New Yeas is in Tishrei." However, the Talmud finds a difficulty with this reading and goes on to the second explanation.
Now all agree that animals give birth before Elul. Rather, the question is, do we compare the two tithes - animal and grain - and give them the same New Year, that is Tishrei? Or, do we compare them in that their New Year immediately follows the crop - and for animals that would be Elul.
Art: Cornfield By Berthe Morisot