Mount Sartova – A Rosh Chodesh Signal
This Shabbat there will be a special Torah reading called Parshat Hachodesh which recalls the first mitzvah given to the Jewish People – the sanctification of the new month.
Once the Sanhedrin in Yerushalayim determined, on the basis of testimony by witnesses who had sighted the new moon, that a particular day was to be Rosh Chodesh, it was necessary to communicate this information to the Jews living in Babylon. This was achieved by waving large flaming torches on high places whose fire could be seen from one place to another until the message finally reached Babylon.
Mount Sartova, about 830 meters above sea level, was the second station after Mount of Olives where the first torch was waved. It was followed by another three stations, the last of which was Beit Baltin, from which the torch waver could see a part of Babylon lit up with fires, indicating that the message of the new moon had been received.