THE WOOD USED FOR MAKING THE FIRES
Some say there are four types of cedar wood, others say ten (as discussed).
Light ships are weighted down, tied to coral, and the weights removed so that the rising ship drags up the coral.
(R. Yochanan): Hash-m will eventually return all the beams that the non-Jews took from Yerushalayim, as derived from Pesukim.
Anyone who learns Torah but does not teach it is like a myrtle in the desert.
(Others): Anyone who learns Torah and teaches it in a place lacking Torah scholars is like a beloved myrtle in the desert.
Woe to the non-Jews who have no rectification - who can replace the slaughtered R. Akiva and the others?
THE RELAY STATIONS FOR THE FIRES
The last station, Beis Baltin, was Biram; the region of the Diaspora that could see it was Pumbedisa.
It looked like a bonfire because everyone was waving torches from the roofs.
(R. Shimon ben Elazar): There were also other message relay stations.
Some say these were between the ones listed earlier.
Other say they extended further towards Bavel.
(R. Yochanan): There were 8 parsa'os between each station, 32 altogether.
Question: Surely we see nowadays that it is a greater distance?
Answer: The short paths have become blocked, as we see in Pesukim.
MISHNAH: ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE WITNESSES
(On Shabbos): The witnesses would go to a courtyard called Beis Ya'azek to be cross-examined by Beis Din.
They were served big feasts to encourage them to come.
Originally, they couldn't leave there all day (as they were beyond their Techum Shabbos).
R. Gamliel decreed that they could travel for 2000 Amos in each direction.
This was also applied to a midwife, and people escaping fire, invading soldiers, flooding, and collapsed buildings.
THE ETYMOLOGY OF BEIS YA'AZEK
Question: Was it called Beis Ya'azek (which simply means encircled by a wall) or Beis Yazek (which has the unpleasant meaning of being chained down)?
Answer: We see that there were big feasts served there, so it wasn't an unpleasant experience!
Refutation: Being well fed is not a contradiction to being unpleasantly chained down.
MISHNAH: CROSS-EXAMINING THE WITNESSES
The first group of witnesses to arrive would be examined first.
They would call in the older one and ask him:
Was the moon travelling in front of the sun or behind it?
Was it north of the sun or south of it?
How high up was it?
Which way was it facing?
How wide was it?
If he said that it was in front of the sun, his testimony is worthless.
Then they would call in the second witness and examine him.
If the testimonies matched, they would ask basic questions to all the other witnesses.
This was so as not to discourage them from coming in the future.
THE MOON FACING THE SUN
Question: Aren't the questions about the moon being in front of the sun and north of the sun identical?
Answer: The first question is whether the concave side was facing the sun.
If he says that it was, his testimony is worthless.
R. Yochanan derives from a Pasuk that the sun never faces the concave side of the moon (which would embarrass it) or of a rainbow (which would lead people to think that the sun is shooting arrows at those who deny its power).