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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin

Folio 88a

that a spreading outbreak [of leprosy] in garments [covering the whole] is clean? Baldness [of the back of the head — karahath] and baldness [of the front — gabahath] are mentioned in connection with human leprosy; and also in connection with leprosy of garments:1  just as in the former, if [the plague] spread over the whole [skin], he is clean, so here too, if it spread over the whole [garment] it is clean.2

'"Matters", — this refers to valuations, haramim and sanctifications'. 'Valuations' is dependent on the dispute of R. Meir and the Rabbis. For we learnt: If one dedicates the value of [an infant] less than a month old, R. Meir rules, he must render its value;3  The Sages maintain, his declaration is null.4

'Haramim' is involved in the dispute of R. Judah b. Bathyra and the Rabbis. For we learnt: R. Judah b. Bathyra said, Unspecified haramim are for the Temple use, as it is written, Every herem ['devoted thing'] is most holy unto the Lord.5  But the Sages say, Unspecified haramim belong to the priests, as it is written, [but the field, when it goeth out in Jubilee, shall be holy unto the Lord] as a field of herem, the possession thereof shall be the priests.6  If so, what is taught by, Every herem is most holy unto the Lord? That it [sc. the vow of herem] is legally binding in respect of objects of the highest or of ordinary sanctity.7

'Sanctifications' — this depends on the dispute of R. Eliezer b. Jacob and the Rabbis. For it has been taught: R. Eliezer b. Jacob said: Even a hook8  of hekdesh requires ten men for its redemption.9

'Contentions' refers to the water ordeal of a sotah, the beheading of the heifer, and the 'purification of a leper'. 'The water ordeal of a sotah, is involved in the dispute of R. Eliezer and R. Joshua. For we learnt: He who warns his wife [against infidelity] — R. Eliezer said: He must warn her in the presence of two witnesses,10  and can subject her to the water ordeal on the testimony of one witness, or on his own.11  R. Joshua said: He must warn her in the presence of two, and cause her to drink on the testimony of two.12

'The beheading of the heifer' — this is dependent on the dispute of R. Eliezer and R. Akiba. For we learnt: Whence was the measurement taken?13  R. Eliezer said: From his [sc. the victim's] navel. R. Akiba said: From his nose. R. Eliezer b. Jacob said: From the place where he becomes a murdered corpse. Viz., the neck.14

'And the purification of a leper' — this depends on the dispute of R. Simeon and the Rabbis. For we learnt: If he [the leper] lacks the thumb of the right hand, the big toe of his right foot, and the right ear, he can never become clean.15  R. Eliezer said: It [sc. the blood and oil] is put upon the place thereof,16  and he thus fulfils the requirements of purification. R. Simeon said: It is placed upon his [corresponding] left [limbs] and he is acquitted [of his obligations].17

"'Within thy gates" — this refers to the gleanings, forgotten [sheaves] and the corner of the field'. 'The gleanings,' even as we learnt: Two ears [that fell down] are gleanings [to be left for the poor], three are not. As to forgotten sheaves — two [forgotten] sheaves are [treated as] 'forgotten' [i.e., must be left for the poor]; three are not. And concerning all these Beth Shammai ruled: Three belong to the poor, four to the landowner.18

'The corner of the field' — this is dependent on the dispute of R. Ishmael and the Rabbis. For it has been taught: The precept of pe'ah ['the corner'] applies [in the first instance] to the standing corn.19  If this was not done, a portion of the [harvested] sheaves should be given; if this was omitted, a part of the stack should be separated, providing it has not yet been evened. But once evened, it must [first] be tithed, and then [the poor man's portion] given to him.20  On the authority of R. Ishmael it was said: It must be separated even from the dough.21

THREE COURTS OF LAW etc. R. Kahana said: If he says, '[I base my ruling] on tradition,' and they say likewise, he is not executed; if he says. 'Thus it appears to use,' and they say, 'Thus it appears to us,' he is not executed; how much more so, if he says, '[I base it] on tradition,' and they say, 'Thus it appears to us'!

He is executed only when he says, 'Thus it appears to me,' whilst they say, 'We base [our ruling] on tradition', the proof being that Akabia b. Mahalalel was not executed.22  R. Eleazar said: Even if he says. '[I base my ruling] on tradition', and they say, 'Thus it appears to us,' he is executed, that strife may not spread in Israel; and if thou arguest, Why was Akabia b. Mahalalel not executed? Because he did not give a rule for practical guidance.

We learnt : HE STATED, THUS HAVE I EXPOUNDED, AND THUS HAVE MY COLLEAGUES EXPOUNDED, THUS HAVE I TAUGHT, AND THUS HAVE MY COLLEAGUES TAUGHT. Does it not [mean that] he said, '[I base it] on tradition', and they said, 'Thus it appears to us'? — No! He said, 'Thus it appears to me,' and they said, '[We base it] on tradition.'

Come and hear! R. Josiah said: Three things did Ze'ira, an inhabitant of Jerusalem, tell me: [i] If the husband renounced his warnings, they are null;23

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. Leprosy in man: Lev. XIII, 42f; in garments: Ibid 55. In connection with garments, karahath denotes leprosy on the inside (right) of the cloth; gabahath on the front or outside (reverse) thereof.
  2. The Rabbis dispute this. Hence one who touches such a garment is clean according to R. Nathan R. Abtolemos, but unclean according to the Rabbis, v. note 3.
  3. Based on its selling price as a slave. This is not provided for in Lev. XXVII, a month being the lowest age dealt with there. R. Meir maintains that he knew that his dedication was invalid as such, and therefore meant it as an ordinary vow.
  4. Ar. 5a. Since there is no law of dedication for such an age. Now, extinction may result in the following two ways: — (i) If the Temple overseer took a pledge for the infant's value, in R. Meir's opinion this becomes hekdesh (consecrated), in the Rabbis', it does not. Hence according to the latter, if this pledge was used as kiddushin, it is valid; according to R. Meir, it is valid only if so used with the full knowledge that it was hekdesh, but not otherwise, as stated in Kid. 22b — v. p. 579 n. 3 (ii) Since according to R. Meir it is hekdesh, if unwittingly used, a trespass offering must be brought, which if eaten by an unclean person, involves the offender in extinction. But in the view of the Rabbis it is not hekdesh, and the use thereof does not necessitate an offering, and if one erroneously, believing himself to have incurred a liability thereto, brings a trespass offering, the sacrifice is invalid, and consequently the eating thereof by an unclean person does not entail extinction.
  5. Lev. XXVII, 28.
  6. Ibid. 21; Consequently the secular use thereof entails no offering; v. p. 581, n. 11 (ii)
  7. I.e., if one declared an animal herem, which was already dedicated as a sacrifice, whether of the highest degree of sanctity, e.g., a burnt offering, or of the lighter degree of sanctity, e.g.. a peace offering, the declaration is valid, and the value thereof must be given for the Temple.
  8. Used for weaving gold (Rashi); v, supra 14b.
  9. Nine Israelites and one priest must assess it for redemption. If less, the redemption is invalid and it remains hekdesh. The Rabbis hold that only three are necessary for the assessment, and after redemption it loses its sacred character; v. p. 551. n. 11 (ii).
  10. Sotah 2a. The form of the warning was 'Thou shalt not closet thyself with so and so'. If she disregarded the warning, she became forbidden to her husband, unless tried by the water ordeal. But if the warning was not given in the presence of two witnesses, and was disregarded, she remained permitted to him, and he could not compel her to be tried by the 'bitter waters'.
  11. I.e., if one witness or the husband himself testified that she had flouted the warning duly administered in the presence of two witnesses, she had to be tried by the water ordeal.
  12. Now, instead of submitting to the water ordeal, she could demand a divorce, but without the kethubah (marriage settlement). Hence, if there are no witnesses or only one witness and she demands her divorce, in the opinion of R. Eliezer, she is not entitled to the kethubah, whilst in that of R. Joshua she is. Consequently, if she sold the rights in her kethubah to another man, and the latter seizes the amount involved from the husband, it does not belong to the purchaser, according to R. Eliezer, but does according to R. Joshua; v. p. 579, n. 3.
  13. In fulfilment of Deut. XXI, 2.
  14. Sotah 45b. The easiest form of murder is by slitting the throat. Now, if one gives this heifer as kiddushin, it is invalid. Consequently, if of two towns one is nearest the victim's navel, and the other to his nose, and each assigned a heifer (one of which of course is invalid), one is fit for kiddushin, and the other is not; v. p. 579. n. 3.
  15. Since the Torah directs that these shall be anointed Lev. XIV, 14.
  16. I.e., where these limbs would be.
  17. In Neg. IV, 9 the reading is: If it is placed upon his left limbs etc. Hence what renders him clean according to one leaves him unclean according to another Tanna: v. p. 581, n. 3.
  18. Hence, if three fell down, and embroiled the rebellious elder and the Beth Din in a dispute, the question of ownership involves the validity of kiddushin, as explained on p. 579, n. 3.
  19. 3 I.e., a corner of the field should be left unreaped.
  20. But if not given even then, and the wheat was milled, the poor lose their rights.
  21. V. Mak. 16b. Therefore the question of ownership is involved here too, which has a further bearing on kiddushin.
  22. Akabia maintained his view, which he based on the traditions of his teachers, against the Rabbis in the chamber of Hewn Stones ('Ed. V. 6).
  23. V. p. 583. n. 1. If after giving his wife a formal warning he withdrew it, it is null, and hence if she did closet herself with her suspected lover, she is not forbidden to her husband.
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Sanhedrin 88b

[ii] if the father and mother wished to pardon a 'stubborn and rebellious son',1  they may do so, and [iii] the [local] Beth din may pardon a rebellious elder, if they desire it. But when I went to my colleagues of the South,2  they agreed to the [first] two but not to the rebellious elder, that contention might not increase in Israel.3  This is all [unanswerable] refutation.

It has been taught; R. Jose said; Originally there were not many disputes in Israel, but one Beth din of seventy-one members sat in the Hall of Hewn Stones, and two courts of twenty-three sat, one at the entrance of the Temple Mount and one at the door of the [Temple] Court, and other courts of twenty-three sat in all Jewish cities. If a matter of inquiry arose, the local Beth din was consulted. If they had a tradition [thereon] they stated it; if not, they went to the nearest Beth din. If they had a tradition thereon, they stated it, if not, they went to the Beth din situated at the entrance to the Temple Mount; if they had a tradition, they stated it; if not, they went to the one situated at the entrance of the Court, and he [who differed from his colleagues] declared, 'Thus have I expounded, and thus have my colleagues expounded; thus have I taught, and thus have they taught.' If they had a tradition thereon, they stated it, and if not, they all proceeded to the Hall of Hewn Stones, where they [i.e., the Great Sanhedrin] sat from the morning tamid4  until the evening talmid; on Sabbaths and festivals they sat within the hel.5  The question was then put before them: if they had a tradition thereon, they stated it; if not, they took a vote: if the majority voted 'unclean' they declared it so; if 'clean' they ruled even so. But when the disciples of Shammai and Hillel, who [sc. the disciples] had insufficiently studied, increased [in number], disputes multiplied in Israel, and the Torah became as two Toroth.6  From there [the Hall of Hewn Stones] documents were written and sent to all Israel, appointing men of wisdom and humility7  and who were esteemed by their fellowmen as local judges. From there [sc. the local Beth din] they were promoted to [the Beth din of] the Temple Mount,8  thence to the Court, and thence to the Hall of Hewn Stones.

They sent word from there,9  Who is destined for the world to come? He who is meek, humble, stooping on entering and on going out, and a constant student of the Torah without claiming merit therefor. [Thereupon] the Rabbis cast their eyes upon R. 'Ulla b. Abba [as endowed with all these qualities].

IF HE RETURNED TO HIS TOWN AND TAUGHT AGAIN etc. Our Rabbis taught: He is not liable unless he [himself] acts upon his ruling, or states his ruling to others, who act thereon. Now, as for stating his ruling to others, who act upon it, it is well: before [receiving the decision of the Great Beth din] he was not liable to death, [since he personally committed no wrong] whilst now he is [for flouting its authority]. But [as for the proviso that] he himself must act upon his ruling — even before [the decision was rendered in the Hall of Hewn Stones] he was liable to death! Now, there is no difficulty if his ruling referred to forbidden fat and blood, since before he was not liable to death,10  whilst now he is. But if he ruled

    on a matter involving the death penalty at the hands of Beth din, he would have been liable to death even before! — Before, he needed a formal warning;11  now he does not.12  But what of a mesith, for whom no warning is required?13  — Before, had he stated a reason [excusing or justifying his action], it might have been accepted; but now, even if he stated a reason, it would not be accepted.


GEMARA. R. Eleazar said in R. Oshaia's name: He is liable only for a matter of which the fundamental law is Biblical, whilst its interpretation is of the Scribes, and in which there is room for addition, which addition, however, is the equivalent of subtraction. Now, the only precept [fulfilling these conditions] is that of tefillin.16  Now, this statement was made according to R. Judah.17  But is there not the lulab,18  the fundamental law of which is Biblical.19  the interpretation Rabbinical,20  there being room for addition,21  which addition amounts to subtraction?22  — Now, what is our opinion? If we hold that the lulab need not be bound [with the other two species],23  each stands apart.24  Whilst if we maintain that the lulab needs binding, it is defective from the very outset.25  But is there not the law of fringes, the basic precept of which is Biblical,26  the interpretation Rabbinical, there is room for addition,27  whilst such addition amounts to subtraction?28  — What is our opinion? If we maintain that the upper knot is not required by Biblical law, they are separate from each other;29  whilst if we hold

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Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. Even after all the necessary warnings had been given.
  2. [I.e., R. Meir, R. Judah and R. Jose among others, v. Halevy, op. cit., II, p. 180].
  3. Since this is the reason, it proves that he is executed even if he based his ruling on tradition and they on reason.
  4. The daily continual burnt offering.
  5. A place within the fortification of the Temple (Jast.). They changed their locale, lest they should appear to be giving judgments, which is forbidden on these days.
  6. Pl. of Torah. There being many conflicting rulings.
  7. Lit., 'of lowly knee.'
  8. When a vacancy occurred through death.
  9. Palestine. This expression always refers to R. Eleazar b. Pedath (supra 17b).
  10. An offence in connection with these does not involve capital punishment.
  11. Cf. supra pp. 494-5.
  12. Since he is punished not for actually committing the offence, but for flouting Beth din.
  13. If he acted as an inciter to idolatry, but maintained that his words did not purport thus, and the Great Beth din ruled that they did, it is shewn that he was liable to death even before and without a warning, which is unnecessary for a mesith.
  14. Since all know that the Bible commands the wearing of tefillin, the words of the elder will be ineffective.
  15. Who required only four in the head-tefillin.
  16. The fundamental law of wearing tefillin is Biblical. By Rabbinic interpretation, the head-tefillin must contain four compartments, with inscriptions in each. Hence it is possible to rule that it should consist of a greater number. But if this is done, the tefillin is unfit, so that the addition amounts to subtraction of its fitness.
  17. V. supra 87a. where R. Meir, R. Judah, and R. Simeon are in dispute.
  18. The palm branch, which was to be taken with other species of plant life on the Festival of Tabernacles.
  19. Lev. XXIII, 40.
  20. I.e., that it must be taken together with three other species, viz., the citron, myrtle, and willow.
  21. I.e., more than three species can be added.
  22. For if there are more than three species in all, the combination is invalid for the fulfilment of the precept.
  23. The citron, though taken together with the other species, is not bound with them.
  24. So that the combination is quite valid.
  25. I.e., as soon as more than the three species are bound together, the combination is invalid. But in the case of phylacteries, when four compartments are made, the head-tefillin is valid; when a fifth is added, it becomes invalid.
  26. Num. XV, 38f.
  27. By placing more than the requisite number of threads.
  28. Since the fringes become invalid thereby.
  29. The fringes are inserted through a hole and knotted near the edge of the garment. It is disputed whether this is really necessary by Biblical law. If not, then even when made the fringes are regarded as hanging apart and distinct. Consequently, if five instead of four were inserted and knotted, four fulfil the precept, whilst the fifth may be disregarded entirely, without rendering the rest invalid.
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