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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin
What is R. Jonathan b. Saul's reason? — Because it is written, if men strive [and hurt a woman …] he shall be surely punished … and pay as the judges determine. And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life.5 Whereon R. Eleazar said: The verse refers to attempted murder,6 for it is written, And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life7 and yet the Divine Law states, If no mischief follows, he shall surely be punished. Now this is correct if you say that where the pursued can be saved at the cost of one limb [of the pursuer] the latter may not be slain: hence it is conceivable that he shall be punished [by paying monetary compensation]. But if you maintain that he may be slain, how is it possible for him to be punished!8 Perhaps it is different here, because his liability to death is incurred on account of one person, but his monetary obligation on account of another?9 — That makes no difference. For Raba10 said: If a man was pursuing after his fellow [to slay him]. and broke some utensils, whether of the pursued or of some other person. he is free from liability. Why so? Because he is liable to be killed. If the pursued broke some articles: if they belonged to the pursuer, he is not liable for them; if to someone else, he is. 'If they belonged to the pursuer he is not liable', — because his property is not more precious than his own person.11 But 'if to someone else, he is', — because he saved himself at his neighbour's expense. But if one pursuer was pursuing another pursuer to save him [the latter's victim] and broke some utensils, whether of the pursuer. or the pursued. or of any other person, he is not liable for them. This should not be so in equity12 but if thou wilt not rule thus, no man will save his neighbour from a pursuer.13
BUT HE WHO PURSUES AN ANIMAL [TO ABUSE IT].
It has been taught: R. Simeon b. Yohai said: An idolater may be saved [from sin] at the cost of his own life. This is deduced by reasoning from the minor to the major: If the dishonouring of a human14 being must be averted even at the cost of [the violator's] life, how much more so the dishonouring of the All-Highest.15 But can we punish16 as a result of an ad majus conclusion? — He maintains that we can.
It has been taught: R. Eliezer, son of R. Simeon, said: He who desecrates the Sabbath may be saved [from sin] by his own life. He agrees with his father, that punishment is imposed as a result of an ad majus conclusion, and then he deduces the Sabbath from idolatry by [a gezerah shawah based on the use of] 'profanation' in connection with the Sabbath and idolatry.17
R. Johanan said in the name of R. Simeon b. Jehozadak: By a majority vote, it was resolved in the upper chambers of the house of Nithza in Lydda18 that in every [other] law of the Torah, if a man is commanded: 'Transgress and suffer not death' he may transgress and not suffer death, excepting idolatry, incest, [which includes adultery] and murder.19 Now may not idolatry be practised [in these circumstances]? Has it not been taught: R. Ishmael said: whence do we know that if a man was bidden, 'Engage in idolatry and save your life', that he should do so, and not be slain? From the verse, [Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgements,' which if a man do] he shall live in them:20 but not die by them. I might think that it may even be openly practised. but Scripture teaches, Neither shall ye profane my holy name; but I will be hallowed?'21 — They22 ruled as R. Eliezer. For it has been taught, R. Eliezer said: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.23 Since 'with all thy soul' is stated, why is 'with all thy might' stated? Or if 'with all thy might' be written, why also write 'with all thy soul'? For the man to whom life is more precious than wealth, 'with all thy soul' is written;24 whilst he to whom wealth is more precious than life is bidden, 'with all thy might' [i.e., substance].25
Incest and murder [may not be practised to save one's life], — even as Rabbi's dictum. For it has been taught: Rabbi said, For as when a man riseth against his neighbour, and slayeth him, even so is this matter.26 But what do we learn from this analogy of a murderer? Thus, this comes to throw light and is itself illumined. The murderer is compared to a betrothed maiden: just as a betrothed maiden must be saved [from dishonour] at the cost of his [the ravisher's] life, so in the case of a murderer, he [the victim] must be saved at the cost of his [the attacker's] life. Conversely, a betrothed maiden is compared to a murderer: just as one must rather be slain than commit murder, so also must the betrothed maiden rather be slain than allow her violation. And how do we know this of murder itself? — It is common sense. Even as one who came before Raba27 and said to him, 'The governor of my town has ordered me, "Go and kill so and so; if not, I will slay thee"'. He answered him, 'Let him rather slay you than that you should commit murder; who knows that your blood is redder? Perhaps his blood is redder.'28
When R. Dimi came,29 he said: This was taught only if there is no royal decree,30 but if there is a royal decree, one must incur martyrdom rather than transgress even a minor precept. When Rabin came, he said in R. Johanan's name: Even without a royal decree, it was only permitted in private; but in public one must be martyred even for a minor precept rather than violate it. What is meant by a 'minor precept'? — Raba son of R. Isaac said in Rab's name:
Sanhedrin 74bEven to change one's shoe strap.1 And how many make it public? — R. Jacob said in R. Johanan's name: The minimum for publicity is ten.
It is obvious that Jews are required [for this publicity], for it is written. But I will be hallowed among the children of Israel.2 R. Jeremiah propounded: What of nine Jews and one Gentile? — Come and hear: For R. Jannai, the brother of R. Hiyya b. Abba learned: An analogy is drawn from the use of tok ['among'] in two passages. Here is written, But I will be hallowed among [be-tok] the children of Israel; and elsewhere, separate yourselves from among [mi-tok] this congregation:3 just as there the reference is to ten, all Jews, so here too — ten, all Jews.4 But did not Esther transgress publicly?5 — Abaye answered; Esther was merely natural soil.6 Raba said: When they [sc. the persecutors] demand it for their personal pleasure. it is different.7 For otherwise, how dare we yield to them' [sc. the Parsees or fire worshippers] our braziers [or fire bellows] and coal shovels?8 But their personal pleasure is different;9 so here too [in Esther's case].10 This [answer] concurs with Raba's view expressed elsewhere. For Raba said: If a Gentile said to a Jew. 'Cut grass on the Sabbath for the cattle, and if not I will slay thee', he must rather be killed than cut it; 'Cut it and throw it into the river, he should rather be slain than cut it. Why so? — Because his intention is to force him to violate his religion.
It was asked of R. Ammi: Is a Noachide bound to sanctify the Divine Name or not? — Abaye said, Come and hear: The Noachides were commanded to keep seven precepts.11 Now, if they were commanded to sanctify the Divine Name, they are eight. Raba said to him: Them, and an pertaining thereto.12
What is the decision? — The disciples of Rab13 said: It is written, In this thing, the Lord pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon.14 And it is written, And he said unto him, Go in peace.15
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