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SHEBAṬ (A. V. "Sebat"; Hebrew, ; Greek, Σαβάτ; Assyrian, "Shabaṭu"):

Eleventh ecclesiastical and fifth civil month of the Jewish year (Zech. i. 7); I Macc. xvi.), corresponding to January-February, and always consisting of thirty days. The 1st of Shebaṭ, according to the school of Shammai, or the 15th, according to the school of Hillel, is the New-Year for Trees with respect to the tithe (R. H. i. 1). This month was chosen because most of the annual rains occur before Shebaṭ; so that the trees which blossom afterward are considered as belonging to another year (ib. 14a). As the school of Hillel is the standard authority, the 15th of Shebaṭ has continued to be observed as a semiholy day. When a community institutes a fast for Mondays and Thursdays, it must not be observed if one of those days falls on the 15th of Shebaṭ ("Mordekai" on R. H., beginning).

There is a tradition that when a goose is killed in Shebaṭ the shoḥeṭ must eat its heart; otherwise he will die. According to another tradition, a goose should not be eaten on the 8th of Shebaṭ (Isserles in Shulḥan 'Aruk, Yoreh De'ah, 11, 4; Simeon Duran, "Tashbeẓ," No. 101). The reason given in the "Sefer ha-Ḳanah" is that in Shebaṭ the demons prevail; so that he who slaughters a goose in that month is likely to die himself ("Be'er Heṭeb" on Shulḥan 'Aruk, l.c.).

Bibliography:
  • Lampronti, Paḥad Yiẓḥaḳ, s.v. ;
  • Schürer, Gesch. 3d ed., i. 745.
A. M. Sel.
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