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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin
'"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
'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
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.
MISHNAH. THERE IS GREATER STRINGENCY IN RESPECT TO THE TEACHINGS OF THE SCRIBES THAN IN RESPECT TO THE TORAH. [THUS,] IF ONE [A REBELLIOUS ELDER] SAYS, THERE IS NO PRECEPT OF TEFILLIN, SO THAT A BIBLICAL LAW MAY BE TRANSGRESSED, HE IS EXEMPT.14 [BUT IF HE RULES THAT THE TEFILLIN MUST CONTAIN] FIVE COMPARTMENTS, THUS ADDING TO THE WORDS OF THE SCRIBES,15 HE IS LIABLE.
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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