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The Babylonian Talmud in Selection, by Leo Auerbach, [1944], at

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Law of Procedure


CASES concerning money matters are decided by three judges. Cases of larceny and injury by three judges. Damages, half damages, double, four-fold or five-fold payments by three judges. The violator, the seducer, and the slanderer are judged by three. Thus, according to Rabbi Meir; but the Sages say: Cases of libel should be judged by twenty-three judges, because they may involve capital punishment. Cases punishable by flogging are judged by three, but according to Rabbi Ishmael they should be judged by twenty-three. . . . Redemption of sacred property by three; Rabbi Yehuda says: One of the judges should be a priest. Real estate by nine and a priest.

Cases involving capital punishment are judged by twenty-three, as are cases of beasts and men who commit unnatural intercourse.

The ox that is to be stoned, by twenty-three, for it was said: (Leviticus xxi, 29) The ox shall be stoned and its owner shall be put to death. Those that have jurisdiction over the owner of the ox shall judge the ox. The

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wolf, the lion, the bear, the leopard, the panther, or the serpent, their death is decided by twenty-three judges. A tribe, a false prophet, or a High Priest is judged by a court of seventy-one.

An offensive war is not to be declared, except by the authority of a court of seventy-one.

The Great Sanhedrin shall consist of seventy-one, while the Small Sanhedrin shall consist of twenty-three.



RABBI Aha ben Rabbi Ika says: According to the Torah, every one is competent to pass on cases of indebtedness, for it was said: (Leviticus xix, 15) In righteousness thou shalt judge thy neighbor. But three are required, since they are laymen. For it is not likely that no one of the three should have no knowledge whatsoever of law.

The Rabbis taught: Cases of money are decided by three. Rabbi says by a vote of five, so that a majority decision may be rendered by three. But when three sit can't there be a verdict rendered by a majority of two? What Rabbi evidently meant was that there must be a concurring decision of at least three. Rabbi Abahu poked fun at this: in that case the Great Sanhedrin would have to be composed of one hundred and forty-one, so that a majority decision of seventy-one could be rendered, and the Small Sanhedrin would have to be composed of forty-five, so that a majority decision of twenty-three could be rendered. But this is not so. The Merciful said: (Numbers xi, 16) Gather unto me seventy men, of the elders of Israel. Seventy at the time of gathering.

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The Rabbis taught: Monetary cases are judged by three, but if one is an experienced judge, he may render a decision alone. Rabbi Nahman said: One, like me, may render a decision alone in a case involving money. And so said Rabbi Hiya.

Come and hear: Mar Zutra the son of Rabbi Nahman judged a case and rendered an erroneous decision. He came before Rabbi Joseph who told him: If both litigants accepted you as their judge, you are not liable, but if not, go and make restitution to the loser. From this it can be inferred that the decision of an unauthorized judge is also valid.

Rab said: If one wishes to judge monetary cases alone, and does not wish to incur liability, he must receive authorization from the Exilarch. And thus said Rabbi Samuel also.

Rabbi Samuel ben Mansya said: If two litigants come before you, before you have heard their case, or if you have heard it, and have not decided to which side the verdict inclines, you may tell them: Go and compromise; but if you have heard their case and have made up your mind as to the verdict, you must not tell them to settle it by a compromise.


THE Rabbis taught: The calendar cannot be set save by a court especially appointed for that purpose.

There was the case of Rabbi Gamaliel who ordered: Send up seven scholars to my upper chamber for this purpose. When he came he found that there were eight. He asked who came here without authorization? Whereupon Samuel the Little arose and said: I am the one who came up here without authorization, but I have come

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not to intercalate the year but to learn how the law is applied in practice. Said Rabbi Gamaliel: You may sit down, my son. You are worthy that every year shall be intercalated by you. The Sages, however, decided that the year may be lengthened only by a court appointed specifically for that purpose.—But it was really not Samuel the Little that had come unauthorized, but another. But because he did not want to shame the other fellow, he arose.


IT HAPPENED once that while Rabbi was lecturing he smelled garlic. He said: Whoever ate garlic, let him leave the room. Whereupon Rabbi Hiya arose and left the room. Then all the other disciples arose one after the other and left the room. Next morning Rabbi Hiya met Rabbi Simon, the son of Rabbi, and was asked: Are you the one that annoyed my father yesterday? He answered: A thing like this should never occur in Israel.

From whom did Rabbi Hiya learn to act like this?—From Rabbi Meir. It was related that a woman came once to the academy of Rabbi Meir and said to him: Rabbi, one of you betrothed me through intercourse. Whereupon the Rabbi arose, wrote out a writ of divorce, and handed it to her. Thereupon all the disciples arose and each in his turn gave her a writ of divorce.

The Rabbis taught: A year may not be intercalated unless it is necessary for the improvement of roads or the strengthening of bridges, or the repair of the ovens for the Paschal Offering. Or because of the Pilgrims who have left their homes, but have not yet arrived; but not because of the snows or the cold, or the Pilgrims who have not as yet set out from their homes.

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RABBI Yohanan said: Only such are selected for the Sanhedrin as possess stature, appearance, wisdom; and are ripe in years; as have a knowledge of sorcery, and understand seventy languages, so that the Sanhedrin will not have to employ interpreters.

Rabbi Yehuda said, in the name of Rab: In the city where one cannot find two men who speak seventy languages and one who understands them, no Sanhedrin should be appointed there. In the city of Bethar there were three such men, and in Yabnah four: Rabbi Eliezer, Rabbi Joshua, Rabbi Akiba, and Simon the Yemenite, who would discourse while sitting before his masters on the floor.



THE High Priest may judge and may be judged. He may testify and others may testify against him. Halizah may be performed upon him, and one may submit to Halizah by his widow. He cannot contract levirate marriage, for as a Priest he is forbidden to marry a widow. If someone dies in his family, he must not follow the bier. If the bier appears within his sight he must disappear. But he may follow the procession to the gates of the city. Thus according to Rabbi Meir; but Rabbi Yehuda says: He does not venture out of the Temple.

The King does not judge, and no one judges him. He does not testify and one cannot testify against him. He does not submit to Halizah, nor does his wife perform the rite to anyone. He does not contract levirate marriage, nor does anyone contract levirate marriage

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with his widow. Rabbi Yehuda says: If the King is willing to submit to Halizah, or is willing to contract levirate marriage, he merits praise.



"THE High Priest may judge." Is not this quite obvious? This is stated so that we may adduce that he may be judged. But this too is obvious. For how could he judge if he cannot be judged? For it was written: (Zephania ii, 1) Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together. And Resh-Lakish explained: Adorn thyself and then adorn others. Further we are taught: A King does not judge, and no one judges a King, so he also teaches: "The High Priest may judge and may be judged." But if you wish, we may say that what we are taught is really the following lesson: If a High Priest killed anyone intentionally, he is sentenced to death, but if he killed anyone unintentionally, he is exiled. If he transgresses a positive or a negative command, in either case, he receives the same treatment as any ordinary person.

The Rabbis said: Originally the mourner used to stand, while the people passed by, but two families in Jerusalem fought with each other over the privilege of passing first. So the Rabbis instituted the custom of the people standing while the mourners pass by.

"The King does not judge", etc. Rabbi Joseph said: This refers only to the Kings of Israel, but the Kings of the House of David may judge and may be judged. For it was written: (Jeremiah xxi, 12) Oh House of David, thus said the Lord; Execute judgment in the morning. And if the King could not be judged, how could he judge others? Was it not written "Gather and

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be gathered" which, as Resh-Lakish explained, meant "Adorn thyself and then adorn others?" But why not the Kings of Israel? Because of the case of a slave of King Yanai who once killed a man. Simon ben Shetah said to the Sages: Mark the man, and we shall take him to court. They sent word to the King saying: "Your slave has killed a man." He sent the slave to them. They sent word to him: "Thou too must come", for the law says: (Exodus xxi, 29) If it hath been testified to his owners. The owner of the ox must come and stand by his ox. The King came to court and sat down. Then Simon ben Shetah said to him: Stand on thy feet, King Yanai, and let the witnesses testify against thee. Thou art not standing before us, but before Him who spoke and the world was created, art thou standing. As it was written: (Deuteronomy xix, 17) Then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before the Lord. Said the King, "I shall not do as thou sayest, but as thy colleagues say". Simon then turned to his right and saw that they all were looking to the ground. He turned to the left and saw that there, too, all were looking to the ground. Said Simon ben Shetah to them, "Are all of you engrossed in thought? Then let the Master of thought come and call you to account". Instantly Gabriel appeared and smote them to the ground, and they died. Right there and then it was decreed that a King does not judge, and no one judges a King. He does not testify, and no one may testify against him.



THE King may set forth to a voluntary war only upon the decision of a court of seventy-one. He has

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right of domain to establish a road through private property and no one may protest against him. The King's road has no limit. Whatever the people plunder, they must set before him and he takes the first portion.

No one may ride on the King's horse, nor sit on his throne, and no one may make use of his sceptre. No one may gaze upon him while he is having his hair cut, or when he is naked, or when he is in the bath house. For it was said: (Deuteronomy xvii, 15) Thou shalt in everywise set him King over thee. His awe shall be over thee.



RAB Yehuda said in the name of Samuel: All that is said in the chapter of the King, the King may do. Rab said: This whole chapter was brought forth only for the purpose of inspiring awe for him among the people.


MAR Zutra, and some say it was Mar Ukba, said: Originally the Torah was given to the Israelites in Hebrew script and in the Holy Hebrew tongue. Later it was given to them, in the day of Ezra, in the Assyrian script and in the Aramaic tongue. The Israelites then selected the Assyrian script and the Holy tongue, and left the Hebrew script and the Aramaic language for the laymen.


RABBI Jacob said in the name of Rabbi Yohanan: Abishag was allowed to be married to King Solomon, but she was not allowed to Adoniyah. She was allowed to Solomon because he was King, and the King may make use of the King's sceptre. But she was not allowed to Adoniyah because he was an ordinary citizen.

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Said Rabbi Shaman ben Aba: See how hard divorcing was made! King David was allowed to marry Abishag, but he was not allowed to divorce any of his wives.

Rabbi Eliezer said: When a man divorces his wife, even the altar sheds tears for him.

Rabbi Alexandri said: A man whose wife dies while he is alive, is as if the world darkened about him.

Rabbi Samuel ben Nahman said: Everything can be replaced but the wife of one's youth. For it was said: (Isaiah liv, 6) And a wife of youth, when thou wast refused.

Rab Yehuda lectured his son Isaac: A man finds joy only with his first wife. For it was said: (Prov. v, 18) Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.



MONETARY cases are judged by three; each litigant selects one judge and then both together select one. Thus says Rabbi Meir, but the Sages say: The two judges select a third. Each litigant may reject the judge selected by the other. Thus says Rabbi Meir. But the Sages say: The judges may be rejected only if they are related to a litigant or are otherwise disqualified. But if the judges are eligible or are experts they cannot be rejected. Each may reject the witnesses of the other. Thus says Rabbi Meir, but the Sages say: A witness may be rejected if he is a relative or otherwise ineligible, but if they are eligible they may not be disqualified. The following are ineligible: dice-players, usurers, pigeon-fliers, and dealers in produce of the seventh year.


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WHAT sin does a dice player commit? Said Rammi ben Hamma: Because the game is a speculation, and a speculation cannot be binding by law, and thus he receives ill-gotten money. Rabbi Shesheth said: It is not a question of speculation. The reason is, that gamblers are not concerned with the welfare of the people.

Pigeon-fliers. Who is called a pigeon-flier? Here it was explained: A man who says: If your pigeon overtakes mine, you win.

Rabbi Nahman said: One who is suspected of incest is eligible as a witness. Said Rabbi Shesheth: Rabbi, he deserves forty lashes but is still eligible as a witness? Said Raba: Rabbi Nahman admits that he is not eligible as a witness in matrimonial cases. Rabina or Rab Papa said: He is not eligible as a witness in a divorce case, but he may be a witness where marriage is concerned.



HOW are witnesses examined? They used to bring them into a room and they admonished them. Then all were sent out, but one, the eldest, was left, and he was asked: How do you know that so-and-so is indebted to so-and-so? If he answered: He told me "I am indebted to him" or "So-and-so told me that he is indebted to him",—it means nothing. He must say: In our presence he admitted to him that he owes him two hundred zuz. Then they bring in the second witness and he is examined. If they find that their statements agree, the judges discuss the matter. If two say he is not guilty, and one says he is guilty; then he is not guilty. If two say he is guilty and one says he is not guilty, then he is guilty.

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[paragraph continues] If one says, "Guilty" and one says, "Not Guilty", or if two say, "Guilty" or two say, "Not Guilty", and one says, "I have no opinion", they must add to the judges.

When the judges were finished with their work, the litigants were admitted and the senior judge would announce: "So-and-so, you are guilty", or "So-and-so, you are not guilty". And whence do we know that when one of the judges goes out he must not say: "I said 'Not guilty' but my colleagues said 'Guilty', what could I do? They were in the majority". Of such a one it was said: (Lev. xix, 16) Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people. And it was also said: (Prov. xi, 13) A talebearer revealeth secrets.



THE same procedure applies to capital cases as to monetary cases. For it was said: (Lev. xxiv, 22) Ye shall have one manner of law. What is the difference between monetary cases and capital cases? Monetary cases are judged by three, while capital cases are judged by twenty-three. Monetary cases can be opened for acquittal or for conviction, but capital cases must be opened with motions for acquittal and must not be opened with motions for conviction. Monetary cases may be decided by a majority of one for conviction or for acquittal, but capital cases may be decided for acquittal by a majority of one, but for conviction they must be decided by at least a majority of two. In monetary cases the decision may be reversed for either conviction or acquittal. But in capital cases, it may be reversed if a man was convicted but if he was acquitted, it cannot be reversed. In monetary cases everyone may argue for conviction or for acquittal,

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but in capital cases everyone may argue for acquittal, but not everyone may argue for conviction.

Everyone is eligible to try monetary cases, but not everyone is eligible to try capital cases, only priests, levites and Israelites who are worthy of contracting marriages with priests.



RABBI Hanina said: According to the Torah, there is but one law, which applies alike to monetary and capital cases; and the methods of procedure as regards inquiry and investigation are the same. For it was written: (Leviticus xxiv, 22) Ye shall have one manner of law. But what is the reason that it was decided to have the procedure different in capital cases from that in monetary cases? It was done so that the door would not be locked for borrowers. Then if the judges should err they should not be held responsible.—Then surely the doors would be locked for the borrowers.


Raba said: The Mishna refers to cases of fines, while Rabbi Hanina refers to cases of loans and admissions.



THE Sanhedrin was arranged like a half a circular threshing floor so that the judges could see one another, and the scribes of the court stand before them; one to the right and one to the left of them. They write down the testimony for conviction and for acquittal. Rabbi Yehuda said: Three scribes; one writes down the testimony for acquittal, one writes down the testimony for conviction, while the third writes down the testimony both for conviction and for acquittal.

Three rows of disciples of the Sages sat before

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them; each one had his designated place. If an additional judge was needed they appointed one from the first row, and one of the second row took a place in the first, and one from the third row went to the second, while one from the public was selected and seated in the third row. He was not seated in the place of the former, but in a place that was proper for him.

How were witnesses admonished? In capital cases they brought them in and said to them: Perhaps what you want to say is only supposition or hearsay, or testimony from the mouth of an eye-witness or from a truthful person? Do you know that we shall search and inquire and examine you, and do you know that capital cases are not like monetary cases? In monetary cases a man can repay the money and the error be forgiven, but in capital cases the blood of the convicted and of his potential seed to the end of time are upon you.

Perhaps they will say: What do we want with all this trouble?—Was it not once said: (Leviticus v, 1) And is a witness, whether he hath seen or known of it; if he do not utter it. And if you should say: Why should we be guilty of the man's blood? Was it however not said: (Prov. xi, 10) When the wicked perish, there is shouting.



THE Rabbis taught: What is supposition? The judge said to them: Perhaps it was like this: You saw a man pursuing another fellow into a ruin and you ran after him. You found a sword in his hand and blood trickling from it, and a murdered man was in the throes of death. If that is what you saw—you saw nothing.

Though the Sanhedrin was abolished after the destruction

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of the temple, the four methods of execution were not abolished. How so? They surely were abolished.—The law of the four deaths was not abolished. Those who merited death by stoning, died by falling from a roof or by being trampled to death by wild beasts. Those who merited death by fire, died by perishing in a fire or by a bite from a serpent. Those who merited death by the sword were either handed to the government or robbers beset and killed them. Those who merited death by strangulation, died by drowning in a river. or by suffocating.


THE Rabbis taught: Man was created one. And why? So that the heretics would not say: There are many Lords in heaven. Another reason is that he was created thus for the sake of the righteous and the evil. So that the righteous might not say, we are the children of the righteous, and the evil might not say, we are the children of the evil. Another explanation is that it was done for the sake of the families, so that the families might not quarrel one with another. Now that man was created one, the families quarrel one with another; how much more would they quarrel if there had been two created.

The Rabbis taught: Man was created one to proclaim the greatness of our Lord, the King of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He. For a man stamps many coins with one mould, and each one resembles the other, but the Holy One, blessed be He, stamps each man from the mould of the first man, and not one resembles the other.

Rabbi Meir used to say: In three things a man differs from his fellow man: In voice, in looks, and in mind. In

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voice and in looks for the sake of avoiding incest, and in mind because of robbers and extortioners.

Man was created on Sabbath eve so that heretics might not say that the Holy One, blessed be He, had partners in the creation of the world. Another explanation is that if man gets over-haughty, he may be reminded that the smallest insect preceded him in creation.


ONCE the Emperor said to Rabbi Gamaliel: Your God is a thief. For it is written: (Genesis ii, 21) And the Lord caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam and he slept, etc. The Emperor's daughter interrupted: "Leave him to me and I will answer him." Whereupon she said to the Emperor: "Let me have a duke." "What need have you of a duke?"—She answered: "Robbers came last night and took from us a silver chalice and left in its stead a gold one." Said the King: "I wish that they would come to us like that every day." "Was not Adam satisfied that they took a rib from him, and in its stead gave him a maid to wait upon him?" "Well", replied the King, "what I mean to say is that they could have taken the rib openly." She answered: "Give me a piece of raw meat." When the piece of meat was given to her she put it under her armpit. After a while she took it out and put it before the Emperor and said: "Eat of it." He answered: "It is disgusting." Whereupon she said: "Had they taken the rib openly from Adam, Eve would have been disgusting to Adam."

The Emperor said to Rabbi Gamaliel: I know what your God is doing in heaven and where he sits. Whereupon Rabbi Gamaliel sighed and seemed worried. What is the matter? asked the Emperor. Rabbi Gamaliel answered:

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[paragraph continues] I have a son in the lands overseas, and I am yearning for him. I wish you would tell me about him. Do I know where he is? said the Emperor. Whereupon Rabbi Gamaliel replied: What is going on upon this earth you know not, yet you seem to know what goes on in heaven.

The Emperor said once to Rabbi Gamaliel: "It is written: (Psalm cxlvii, 4) He telleth the number of the stars, etc. What is so remarkable about this? I too can count the stars." Whereupon Rabbi Gamaliel put some quinces into a sieve and spun it around and said to the Emperor: "Count them."—"Hold them still", said the Emperor.—"The stars in heaven are revolving, too", said Rabbi Gamaliel.

Once the Emperor said to Rabbi Tanhum: "Let us all become one people." "That is fine", said Rabbi Tan-hum, "but we who are circumcised cannot become like you. Therefore you must become circumcised, and become like us." The Emperor answered: "You spoke well, but whoever wins in an argument with the Emperor is thrown into the arena." Whereupon he was thrown into the arena but he was not devoured. Then one of the heretics said: "They did not eat him because they are not hungry." So they threw the heretic in, and he was devoured instantly.



IF THE judges find that the witnesses agreed in their evidence they begin with the arguments in favor of the accused. If one of the witnesses arises and says: I have something in favor of the accused, and then one of the disciples arises and says: "I have something to argue

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for his conviction," the disciple is silenced. But if one of the disciples says: "I have something in favor of the accused", he is told to come up and sit with the judges, and he remains there all day. If he has something pertinent to say, they listen to him. If the defendant arises and says, I have something to argue in my own defense, they listen to him, but make sure his words are pertinent to the case.

If they acquitted him, he is set free; but if they found him guilty, they hold the sentence over till the next day. During the day they gather in pairs, they eat little, and drink no wine the whole day, and they discuss the case all night long. The next morning they rise and go to court early. The one who voted for acquittal says: I voted for his acquittal and I stand now for his acquittal. The one who was for conviction says: I voted for his conviction and I still stand for his conviction. One who was for conviction may now favor acquittal, but one who voted for acquittal must not change his stand. If they erred in something, the two scribes remind them of it. If they acquitted him, he is set free; but if not, they take a vote. If twelve are for acquittal, while eleven are for conviction, he is acquitted. If twelve are for conviction and eleven are for acquittal, or even if eleven are for acquittal and eleven are for conviction, while one says I know not, they must add to the judges. How many do they add? By pairs till seventy-one. If thirty-six are for acquittal and thirty-five are for conviction, he is acquitted. If thirty-six are for conviction, while thirty-five are for acquittal, the two sides argue the case till one of those who voted for conviction sees his way to vote for the acquittal.


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RABBI Hisda said: If one says he killed him with a sword while another says he killed him with a dagger, the evidence is contradictory. If one says: His garments were white, while another says his garments were black, their evidence is not held contradictory.

This was objected to. "Certain" means "certain". If one says: He killed him with a sword, while another says he killed him with a dagger, or one said his garments were white; the evidence surely is not certain. Rabbi Hisda explained: This refers to garments with which a man was strangled, in which case they are in the same category as the sword and the dagger.

"The two sides discuss, etc." But if they cannot agree, Rabbi Aha says: He is set free. And thus said Rabbi Yohanan: He is set free. Said Rab Papa to Abaya: Then why did they not set him free in the first place? Said Abaya: Rabbi Yohanan explained that this is done, so that the court will not be adjourned in confusion. Some say that Rab Papa said to Abaya: Why add to the judges? Let the original court discharge him. To which Abaya answered: Rabbi Yosi is of your opinion. For we were taught: Rabbi Yosi says: Just as a court of seventy-one is not increased, thus we need not add to a court of twenty-three.



WHEN the trial is over, the guilty is brought out to be stoned. The place of stoning is situated outside the court house. For it was said: (Lev. xxiv, 14) Bring forth him that hath cursed. One man stands at the door with a scarf in his hand, while another man sits on a horse in the distance but so that the man at the door can

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see him. If someone comes and says: I have something in favor of the condemned, the man at the door waves the scarf and the horseman runs and stops the condemned. Even if the condemned says: I have something to say in my favor, he is brought back to court. Even if it is four or five times, he is brought back, provided he has something pertinent to the case.



"ONE man stands, etc." It is very clear that the stone with which a man is to be stoned, the gallows on which a man is to be hanged, and the sword with which he is to be put to death or the cloth with which he is to be strangled are all furnished by the community. Indeed, one cannot say to the condemned that he should furnish the necessary things and put himself to death. But then Rab Huna asked: Who furnishes the scarf and the horse? These are for the purpose of saving the man. Or should they be furnished at the expense of the court, since the court is duty bound to endeavor to save him? Furthermore, said Rabbi Hiya ben Ashi in the name of Rab Hisda: When a man is led out to be executed he is to be given a cup of drugged wine so as to becloud his spirit. For it was said: (Prov. xxxi, 6) Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. And it was said that compassionate souls in Jerusalem used to donate and bring these things. But if the women did not furnish them, at whose cost then were they furnished? It is quite evident from this that they must be furnished at public cost.


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IF THEY found something for his acquittal, he is set free, but if not he is led out to be stoned. A herald goes before him and calls: So-and-so is being led to be stoned for such-and-such an offense; such-and-such were his witnesses. Anyone that may know anything in his favor shall come and plead for him.



ABAYA said: They must also say: The crime was committed on such-and-such a day, at such-and-such an hour, at such-and-such a place. So that if one can prove that the witnesses testified falsely, he may come and do so.

"And a herald goes before him." This means right before the execution, but not previously.



WHEN he was about ten ells from the place of stoning, they would say to him: Make your confession. That was the way with all who were to be executed. They would make their confession. For he who makes his confession has a share in the world to come.

When he was four ells from the place of stoning they took off his clothes. The men were covered in front while the women were covered front and back. So said Rabbi Yehuda, but the Sages said: A man is stoned naked, but a woman is not stoned naked.

When the flesh was decomposed, the bones were gathered and were buried in their own place. The relatives came and greeted the judges and the witnesses, as if to say: We bear no grudge against you. You have brought in a just verdict. They did not go into mourning for the executed, but they grieved over him, for grief is a matter of the heart.


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IF A man breaks into a house, he is judged according to the consequences that might have occurred. If he broke a barrel while breaking in and this caused bloodshed, he is guilty, but if there was no bloodshed he is not guilty.



WHAT is the reason for the law of breaking in? Because a man will surely defend his property. So the thief reasons: If I break in, the owner will surely oppose me and will prevent me from stealing. But if he opposes me, I shall kill him. Therefore the law states: If one wants to kill you, you can forestall this by killing him.



THE following should be saved from committing sin, even at the cost of their lives: he who pursues after his neighbor to kill him; he who is after a male or after a girl who is betrothed. But he who pursues after a beast, he who desecrates the Sabbath or he who commits idolatry, these are not saved from committing sin at the cost of their lives.



HOW do Abaya and Rab interpret the verse: (Lev. xix, 29) Do not prostitute thy daughter, to cause her to be a whore? Rabbi Mani says: They mean a man who marries off his daughter to an old man. As we have learned: "Do not prostitute thy daughter, to cause her to be a whore."

Rabbi Eliezer says: This means one who marries off

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his daughter to an old man. Rabbi Akiba says: This means a man who lets his marriageable daughter sit and wait.

Said Rabbi Kahana in the name of Rabbi Akiba: There is no poor man in Israel except the subtly wicked, and the one who lets his marriageable daughter sit. But is not one who lets his marriageable daughter sit, a subtly wicked man? This is the meaning: Which poor man is subtly wicked? He who lets his marriageable daughter sit and wait.



THE following are strangled: He who strikes his father or his mother; he who steals a soul in Israel; an Elder who rebels against the decision of the court; a false prophet; he who prophesies in the name of a pagan god; he who violates another man's wife, and he who bears false testimony against a priest's daughter and her paramour.

An Elder who rebels against the decision of the court. It was said: (Deut. xvii, 8) If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment. There were three courts. One sat at the entrance of the Temple Mount. One sat at the gate of Temple Court and one sat in the chamber of the Hewn Stones. They would come to the court at the entrance of the Temple Mount and say: So I expounded, and thus expounded my colleagues; so I taught and thus taught my colleagues. If the judges knew anything about the problem, they enlightened them, but if not they went to the court at the gate of the Temple Court, and there propounded their problem. If these judges knew anything about it, they enlightened them. If not,

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they all went to the great court at the chamber of the Hewn Stones whence the laws were issued for the whole people of Israel.



THE Elder who rebels is guilty of a deliberate sin, which is punishable by extirpation; but if he sinned through error, he brings a sin offering. These are the words of Rabbi Meir. Rabbi Yehuda says: He is guilty for transgression against a law that is rooted in the Torah, but its interpretation is made by the scribes. Rabbi Simon says: He is guilty even for transgressing only one detail of the interpretation of the scribes.

"Three courts, etc." Said Rabbi Kahana: If the elder gives a ruling based upon tradition and the court says: We base our ruling on tradition, he is not executed. If he says: That is how it appears to me and they say: That is how it appears to us, he is not executed. So much the more if he says: "My ruling is based on tradition", while they say: "So it appears to us." He is not executed unless he says: "This is how it appears to me", while they say: "We base our ruling on tradition." This can be deduced from the fact that Akiba ben Mahalael was not executed. Rabbi Eliezer said: Though the elder says: My ruling is based on tradition, while they say: This is how it appears to us; he is executed. Because controversy must not spread in Israel.

But why was not Akiba ben Mahalael executed? Because he did not give his ruling for the purpose of practical application. We were taught: So I taught and so taught my colleagues. Does this not mean that he said: I base my ruling on tradition and they say: That is how

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it appears to us?—No, he said, that is how it appeared to me, while they say, Our ruling is based on tradition.

Come and hear. Rabbi Josiah said: Three things were told to me by Zeira in the name of the man from Jerusalem. When a husband withdraws his warning, it is void. A rebellious son whom the parents are willing to forgive is forgiven. A rebellious elder, whom the court wishes to forgive, is forgiven. But when I came to the South, they agreed to the first two, but they did not agree as to the rebellious elder, because controversy must not be spread in Israel.

At first there were not many quarrels in Israel. The court of seventy-one sat in the Hall of Hewn Stones, and the two courts of twenty-three sat, one at the entrance of the Temple Mount, and the other at the gate of Temple Court. While other courts of twenty-three sat in all cities of Israel. If a problem arose, it was asked of the local court. If they knew of a traditional ruling, they gave it. If not, they asked a ruling from a court in the nearest city. If they knew of a traditional ruling, they gave it; if not, they went to the court at the Temple Mount. If they knew the ruling, they gave it; if not, they went to the court at the gate of the Temple Court. The judges would say: So I expounded and so expounded my colleagues; so I taught and so taught my colleagues. If they knew of a traditional ruling, they gave it; if not, they all went to the court at the Hall of Hewn Stones, where they convened from early in the morning till evening. And on the Sabbath and Festival days they sat on the hel. The problem was then stated to them. If they knew the ruling, they gave it to them, if not, they took a vote. If the majority said it was "clean", it was declared

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[paragraph continues] "clean"; if the majority voted "unclean", it was declared "unclean". But when the disciples of the Houses of Hillel and Shamai, who were not very experienced, multiplied, the quarrels began to spread, and the Law became like two Laws. From there communications were written and sent to all places. Whoever was wise and modest and enjoyed the esteem of his fellow townsmen was appointed as local judge. From there he was elevated to the court at the Temple Mount and from there to the court at the Gate, and from there to the court at the Hall of Hewn Stones.



MORE emphasis is placed on the words of the scribes than on the words of the Torah. If a man says: There is no need of phylacteries, he is transgressing a precept of the Torah, and he is not guilty; but if he says the phylacteries must have five compartments, thus he adds to the words of the scribes, and he is guilty.



ALL of Israel have a share in the world to come, for it was said: (Isaiah lx, 21) Thy people also shall be all righteous: They shall inherit the land forever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified. And the following have no share in the world to come. He that says that no resurrection is stated in the Bible; he that says that the Bible does not come from Heaven. The heretic. Rabbi Akiba said: also he that reads proscribed books, and he that whispers charms over a wound and says: (Exodus xv, 26) I will put none of these diseases upon thee which I have brought 

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upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee. Abba Saul says: He also who pronounces the Name of the Lord with all of its letters.



SAID Rabbi Yohanan: Where is a resurrection indicated in the Bible?—It was said: (Numbers xviii, 28) And ye shall give thereof the Lord's heave offering to Aaron the priest. Does Aaron live forever? Why, he did not even enter the land of Israel. Can the offering then be given to him? This means that he is to be resurrected, and Israel will give him the offering. From this we infer that resurrection is indicated in the Torah. The school of Rabbi Ishmael taught: To Aaron, means as Aaron. As Aaron was a scholar, so his sons are to be considered scholars. Rabbi Samuel ben Nahman said in the name of Rabbi Jonathan: How do we know that the offering must not be given to a priest who is ignorant? (II Chronicles, xxxi, 4) Moreover he commanded the people that dwelt in Jerusalem to give the portion of the priests and the Levites, that they might be encouraged in the law of the Lord. He who holds to the Law of the Lord has a share: whoever does not hold to the Law has no share. Said Rab Aha ben Adda in the name of Rab Yehuda: Whoever gives the Offering to an ignorant priest is as if he had given it to a lion. Just as of a lion we are not sure whether he will tear and eat it, or will not tear and eat it, so of an ignorant priest we are not sure whether he will eat it in cleanliness or in uncleanliness. Rabbi Yohanan says: One may even cause him death. For it was said: (Lev. xxii, 9) And die therefore, if they profane it. The school of Rabbi Eliezer ben Jacob taught: He also leads him into transgression, for

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it was said: (Lev. xxii, 16) Or suffer them to bear the iniquity of trespass when they eat their holy things.

Rabbi Simai said: How do we infer resurrection from the Bible?—For it was said: (Exodus vi, 4) And I have also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan. It is not said to you, but to them. From this, too, we infer resurrection is indicated in the Torah.

Rabbi Gamaliel was asked by the Saducees: Whence do we know that the Lord will resurrect the dead? He answered them: From the Torah, the Prophets and the Hagiographa; but they would not accept it. From the Torah, for it is written: (Deut. xxxi, 16) And the Lord said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers and rise up. But, said they to him: Do we not read: And this people will rise up? From the Prophets (Isaiah xxvi, 19): Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.—Perhaps those are the dead that Ezekiel resurrected? From the Hagiographa, as is written: (Cant. vii, 9) And the roof of thy mouth like the best wine for my beloved, that goeth down sweetly, causing the lips of those that are asleep to speak. Perhaps this means only that the lips were moving. This is according to Rabbi Yohanan, for Rabbi Yohanan taught, in the name of Rabbi Yehozadak: If a ruling is quoted in the name of one departed, his lips whisper in his grave. For it was said: Causing the lips of those that are asleep to speak. Not until he quoted to them the following verse: (Deut. xi, 21) Which the Lord sware unto your fathers to give them. It is not said to "you",

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but to "them". Thus resurrection is stated in the Torah. Others say, he quoted the following verse: (Deut. iv, 4) But ye that did cleave unto the Lord, your God, are alive every one of you this day. As you are alive today, even though those that live today shall be dead, you will be alive. As you are alive today, so will you be alive in the world to come.

Queen Cleopatra asked of Rabbi Meir: I know that the dead shall be resurrected, for it is written: (Psalms lxxii, 16) And they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth. Will they arise naked or garbed? He answered: This is deduced by a fortiori argument from a grain of wheat: While a grain of wheat is put into the ground naked, it emerges in many garbs. The righteous who are buried in their garments will so much the more arise dressed.

Caesar said to Rabbi Gamaliel: You say that the dead will come to life again, but the dead turn to dust. How can dust come to life again? Said the emperor's daughter: Let me answer him: We have two pottery makers in our town. One moulds from water; the other from clay. Which one is the more praiseworthy? Said Caesar: The one who moulds from water. If he can mould from water, he surely can mould from clay, answered his daughter.

A heretic said once to Rabbi Ammi: You say that the dead will arise again, but the dead turn to dust. How can they arise again? He answered: I will tell you a fable: This is like unto a King of flesh and blood who said to his servants: Go and build for me a great Palace in a place where there is no earth nor water. They went and they built him a palace, but in a few days the palace

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collapsed. Thereupon the King commanded them to build him a palace in a place where there was earth and water. This we cannot do they said. The King scolded them: In a place where there was no earth and no water, you built a palace; but in a place where there is earth and water you surely can build. But if you don't believe, go into the dale and observe the mouse. Today half of it is dust and half flesh. On the morrow it is all developed, and is entirely of flesh. But if you should say that this takes a long time, go into the mountains and you will find a single snail. On the morrow a rain will fall, and the place will be filled with snails.

A heretic said once to Gebiha ben Pesisa: "Woe unto you, you wicked people! You say that the dead will live again. If even those who are alive shall die, how shall the dead live?" He replied: "Woe unto you, you wicked people! You say that the dead will not live again. If those who do not exist as yet, will live, how much more shall those live who exist now?" "You call me wicked," said the heretic—"If I give you a kick I'll knock the hump off your back." "If you would do that," replied ben Pesisa, "you would be known as a great physician and you would receive a large fee."


THE Rabbis said: There was a story of two men who were taken captive on Mount Carmel, and the captor walked behind them. Said one of them to the other: The camel that is walking in front of us is blind in one eye. It is loaded with two kegs; one is filled with wine, the other with oil. Of the two men that are leading it one is a Jew and one is a heathen. "You stiff-necked people"—said the captor to them—"How do you know all

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this?" They answered: The camel eats the grass on the side that it can see; on the side it cannot see, it does not eat. It is loaded with two kegs one of wine and one of oil. Wine drips and sinks into the ground, while oil drips and remains on the surface. And the two men that are leading it, one is a Jew, the other a heathen. The heathen attends to his call of nature in the middle of the road, while the Jew steps aside. He ran after them and found that it was really so. He came back and kissed his captives, and made them guests in his home.


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