During the time of the Holy Temple, the drama of Rosh Hashana began even before the onset of the holy day. This drama involved the sanctification of the new moon. Rosh Hashana occurs on the first day of the month of Tishrei, and therefore, it can't begin until the appearance of the new moon has been established. The commandment to declare the new moon and establish its appearance for all the children of Israel was the first commandment received by the Israelites, even before they emerged from their bondage in Egypt, (Exodus 12:2) It may seem ironic that G-d - the King of the universe - would call upon His people to determine, as it were, on what day He Himself created the universe! But this is, in fact, what G-d, in His love for His people did: he entrusted the children of Israel as "partners" in maintaining and perfecting His creation. Two witnesses who had seen the appearance of the new moon were required to testify before the Great Sanhedrin, which convened in the Chamber of Hewn Stone, which was located on the northern wall of the Inner Courtyard of the Holy Temple. There they would be questioned and cross examined to verify their fitness as witnesses, and the truth of their words. Only when this had been done to the satisfaction of the sages of the Great Sanhedrin, would the Rosh Hashana service in the Holy Temple begin. Great care and effort was invested by the sages to ensure the veracity and efficency of the entire procedure of proclaiming the new moon. Ultimately, it all depended on the willingness of the common people to come forth as witnesses. One can only imagine the sense of obligation and privilege felt by each witness as he made his way to Jerusalem.

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