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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin
Our Rabbis taught: And place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties and rulers of tens:4 The rulers of thousands amounted to six hundred;5 those of hundreds, six thousand; those of fifties, twelve thousand; and those of tens, sixty thousand. Hence the total number of judges in Israel was seventy-eight thousand and six hundred.
MISHNAH. THE HIGH PRIEST MAY JUDGE AND BE JUDGED, TESTIFY AND BE TESTIFIED AGAINST. HE MAY PERFORM HALIZAH,6 AND THE SAME MAY BE DONE TO HIS WIFE. THE DUTY OF YIBBUM7 MAY BE PERFORMED TO HIS WIFE; HE HOWEVER, MAY NOT, PERFORM THAT DUTY, SINCE HE IS FORBIDDEN TO MARRY A WIDOW.8
IF A DEATH HAPPENS IN HIS FAMILY, HE MUST NOT WALK IMMEDIATELY BEHIND THE BIER,9 BUT WHEN THEY10 DISAPPEAR,11 HE MAY SHOW HIMSELF;12 WHEN THEY APPEAR [IN ONE STREET], HE MUST BE HIDDEN.13 [IN THIS MANNER] HE MAY GO WITH THEM AS FAR AS THE ENTRANCE OF THE GATE OF THE CITY. SO HOLDS R. MEIR. R. JUDAH SAID: HE MUST NOT LEAVE THE SANCTUARY, BECAUSE IT IS WRITTEN, NEITHER SHALL HE GO OUT OF THE SANCTUARY'.14 WHEN HE CONSOLES OTHERS, IT IS CUSTOMARY FOR THE PEOPLE TO PASS ALONG, ONE AFTER THE OTHER,15 AND FOR THE 'MEMUNNEH',16 TO PLACE HIM BETWEEN HIMSELF AND THE PEOPLE.17 IF HE IS CONSOLED BY OTHERS, ALL THE PEOPLE SAY TO HIM, 'MAY WE BE THY ATONEMENT, AND HE ANSWERS THEM,' BE YE BLESSED OF HEAVEN. AND WHEN THE MOURNERS' MEAL18 IS GIVEN TO HIM, ALL THE PEOPLE ARE SEATED ON THE FLOOR AND HE ON A STOOL.
THE KING MAY NEITHER JUDGE NOR BE JUDGED, TESTIFY NOR BE TESTIFIED AGAINST. HE MAY NOT PERFORM HALIZAH NOR MAY IT BE PERFORMED TO HIS WIFE. HE MAY NOT PERFORM YIBBUM, NOR MAY IT BE PERFORMED TO HIS WIFE. R. JUDAH SAID: IF HE WISHES TO PERFORM HALIZAH OR YIBBUM, HE SHALL BE REMEMBERED FOR GOOD. BUT THEY [THE RABBIS] SAID: [EVEN IF HE WISHES] HE IS NOT LISTENED TO; NOR MAY ANY ONE MARRY HIS WIDOW. R. JUDAH SAID: A KING MAY MARRY A KING'S WIDOW, FOR SO WE FIND IN THE CASE OF DAVID WHO MARRIED THE WIDOW OF SAUL, AS IT IS WRITTEN, AND I GAVE THEE THY MASTER'S HOUSE AND THY MASTER'S WIVES INTO THY BOSOM.19
GEMARA. THE HIGH PRIEST [MAY JUDGE]. But is this not obvious? — It is necessary to state, HE MAY BE JUDGED.20 But that too is obvious, for if he cannot be judged, how can he judge? It is not written, hithkosheshu wa-koshshu,21 which Resh Lakish interpreted: Adorn yourselves first, and then adorn others?22 — But since he [the Tanna] wishes to state: A KING MAY NEITHER JUDGE NOR BE JUDGED, he also, teaches' THE HIGH PRIEST MAY JUDGE AND BE JUDGED. Alternatively, he [the Tanna] informs us of the following: Viz., of what has been taught: If a High priest killed anyone; if intentionally, he is executed, if unintentionally, he is exiled.23 He transgresses positive and negative commandments, and ranks as a hedyot24 in all respects.25
'If intentionally, he is executed.' Is this not obvious? — It is necessary to state, 'If unintentionally, he is exiled.'26 But is not that, too, evident? It is necessary; for you might have thought that I could argue from the verse, And he shall dwell therein until the death of the High Priest27 that only he whose return is provided for,28 is exiled, but one whose return is not provided for, is not exiled. For we learnt:
Sanhedrin 18bOne who killed the High Priest [unintentionally] or the High Priest who [so] killed a person, may never come forth from his place of exile.1 Hence I would say that he should not be exiled. He therefore informs us [that he is]. But perhaps it is indeed so?2 — Scripture states, Every man slayer may flee thither,3 implying even the High Priest.
'He transgresses positive and negative commandments.' But is he bound4 to transgress?5 — What it means is: If he transgressed a positive or a negative commandment, he is in every respect [equal to] a hedyot.6 But is this not obvious? — [No,] I might think, since we learnt: 'A whole tribe, a false prophet or a high priest are not to be judged except by a court of seventy one';7 and R. Adda b. Ahabah said: [This is deduced from the verse,] Every great matter they shall bring unto thee,8 meaning, 'the matters of a great man':9 — therefore (I might think) all matters of a great man [involve trial by the Great Sanhedrin]; the Tanna therefore teaches us [otherwise].10
HE MAY TESTIFY AND BE TESTIFIED AGAINST. He may testify? But has it not been taught: And hide thyself from them;13 there are times when thou mayest hide thyself14 and there are times when thou mayest not. How so?15 — [E.g., when the finder is] a Kohen and it [sc. the object found] is in a grave-yard;16 or an old man, and it is undignified for him;17 or when his work is of greater value than his neighbour's [loss]: in such cases Scripture says, And hide thyself.18 — said R. Joseph: He may be a witness for the king.19 But have we not learnt: HE [THE KING] MAY NEITHER JUDGE NOR BE JUDGED; TESTIFY NOR BE TESTIFIED AGAINST? — But, said R. Zera: He may be a witness for the king's son. But the king's son is a commoner!20 — Rather [say thus]: He may testify in the presence of the king.21 But surely the king may not be given a seat on the Sanhedrin! — For the sake of the High Priest's dignity, he comes and sits down until his evidence is received, after which he leaves and then we deliberate on his22 case.
The text [states]: 'The king may not be given a seat on the Sanhedrin;' nor may the king or the High Priest be members of the board for the intercalation of the year.
'The king [may not be given a seat] in the Sanhedrin,' — because it is written, Thou shalt not speak 'al rib [in a case].23 [meaning], thou shalt not speak against the rab [chief of the judges].24 Again. 'nor may the king or the High Priest be members of the board for the intercalation of the year.' The king, on account of 'Afsanya' [the upkeep of the army];25 the High Priest, because of the [autumnal] cold.26
R. Papa said: This27 proves that the seasons of the year fall in with the normal lunar months.28 But is it so? Were there not three cowherds who were standing conversing, and who were overheard by some Rabbis. One of them said: If the early and late sowing29 sprout together, the month is Adar; if not, it is not Adar.30 The second said: If in the morning frost is severe enough to injure31 an ox, and at mid-day the ox lies in the shade of the fig-tree and scratches its hide,32 then it is Adar, if not, it is not Adar. And the third said: When a strong east wind is blowing and your breath can prevail against it, the month is Adar; if not, it is not Adar. Thereupon the Rabbis intercalated the year?33 — Is it then logical for you to assume that the Rabbis intercalated the year by a simple reliance upon cowherds? But they relied on their own calculations, and the cowherds [merely] corroborated their proposed action.34
HE MAY PERFORM HALIZAH. The Tanna teaches this35 categorically. irrespective of whether [his sister-in-law was widowed] after nesu'in or only after erusin.36 Now, as for a widow after nesu'in, it is correct, since he is interdicted by a positive and a negative command;37
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