Previous Folio / Sanhedrin Directory / Tractate List / Navigate Site
Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin
It is written, And the Lord said unto Moses, Take all the chiefs of the people.2 If the people had sinned, wherein had the chiefs sinned?3 — Rab Judah said in Rab's name: The Holy One, blessed be He, said unto Moses: Divide them into [many] courts.4 Why? Shall we say, because two [men] may not be tried [and sentenced] on the same day?5 But R. Hisda said: This was taught only with reference to [charges involving] two different modes of execution;6 whereas [cases that involve only] one mode of execution7 may be tried? — But it was so, that the fierce anger of the Lord may turn away from Israel.8
CIVIL SUITS MAY BE CONCLUDED ON THE SAME DAY etc. … Whence is this derived? — R. Hanina said: Scripture saith, She that was full of justice, righteousness lodged [yalin] in her,9 but now, murderers.10 Raba derived it from the following: Ashsheru hamoz11 — i.e., bless12 the judge who reserves13 his verdict. And the other?14 — [He interprets it thus:] Relieve the oppressed,15 not the oppressor.16 And the latter [Raba]: how does he utilize the verse: And she that was full of justice? — Even as R. Eleazar said in the name of R. Isaac. Viz.: If on a fast day, the distribution of alms17 is postponed overnight, it is just as though blood were shed,18 as it is written, She that was full of justice, charity19 etc. This, however, applies only to bread and dates;20 but in the case of money, wheat or barley, [postponement] does not matter.
THEREFORE TRIALS ARE NOT HELD [ON THE EVE OF A SABBATH OR FESTIVAL] etc. Why so? — Because it is impossible, for how could it be done? Should they try him [the accused] on the eve of the Sabbath and pronounce judgment on the same day; perhaps they may find cause for condemnation, and judgment will then have to be postponed overnight.21 Or again, if they try him on the eve of the Sabbath, and pronounce judgment on the Sabbath, and execute him on that day,22 but execution cannot supersede the Sabbath.23 Again, should he be executed in the evening; execution must be carried out 'in the face of the sun.'24 One the other hand, if judgment is pronounced on the Sabbath whist he is executed on the first day of the week [Sunday], they might delay the course of justice.25 If he be tried on the eve of the Sabbath, and the matter concluded on the first day of the week, they might have forgotten their reasons by then, for although two judges' clerks stand before them and write down the arguments of those who would acquit and those who would convict,26 they can but record according to the mouth,27 yet once the heart forgets, it remains forgotten.28 Hence this is impossible.
Resh Rakish said to R. Johanan: Why should not the burial of a Meth-Mizwah29 supersede [the laws of] the Sabbath, reasoning a minori: if the Temple service, which sets aside the Sabbath,30 is itself suspended for the burial of a Meth-Mizwah (as is deduced from, And to his sister, even as it has been taught: To his father and to his mother and to his brother and to his sister:31 What does this teach us?32 [Even] if he [the Nazir] were on his way to sacrifice the Paschal lamb or to circumcise his son,33
Sanhedrin 35band he heard that one of his relatives had died, it might be thought that he should defile himself, but in fact the law1 provides that he should not. Now, it might be thought that just as he may not defile himself for his sister, so may he not defile himself for a Meth-Mizwah: therefore Scripture states, And to his sister, i.e., [only] for his sister may he not defile himself, but he must do so for a Meth-Mizwah). Then the Sabbath, which is abrogated in favour of the Temple service, should surely be set aside for the burial of a Meth-Mizwah! — He answered: Execution2 can prove it [sc. the contrary]: it supersedes the Temple service,3 and yet does not set aside the Sabbath.4 But let execution itself supersede the Sabbath, arguing [likewise] a minori: If the Temple service, which supersedes the Sabbath, is itself set aside for execution, as it is written, Thou shalt take him5 from mine altar that he may die:6 then the Sabbath, which the Temple service sets aside, should surely be set aside by execution! — Said Raba: A Tanna of R. Ishmael's School has already decided this, for a Tanna of the school of R. Ishmael taught: Ye shall not kindle a fire:7 What does this teach?8 'What does this teach?' [askest thou]! According to R. Jose, [it is particularized] in order to constitute it merely a prohibitory command;9 according to R. Nathan in order to teach separation,10 as has been taught: The [singling out of] kindling is to shew that it is subject merely to a negative command: this is the view of R. Jose. R. Nathan said: It is to teach separation. But, said Raba, the Tanna's difficulty is [the word] 'habitations'.11 Why is the word 'habitations'12 stated? For consider: [the observance of the] Sabbath is a personal duty,13 and a personal duty is obligatory both within and without the Land [sc. Palestine]; what then is the purpose of 'habitations', which the Divine Law wrote? — A disciple said on R. Ishmael's authority: Since it is written, And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death and he be put to death,14 I [might] understand it to mean both on week-days and on the Sabbath.15 How then should I interpret, He that profaneth it shall surely be put to death?16 — As referring to other forms of work, but not judicial execution. Or perhaps that is not so, and it does indeed include execution by the Beth din; and how an I to interpret, And he be put to death? — as applying only to week-days, but not to the Sabbath!17 Or perhaps, on the contrary, even the Sabbath is meant?18 — Therefore19 Scripture states: Ye shall not kindle a fire throughout your habitations,20 and elsewhere it says And these things shall be for a statute of judgment for you throughout your generations in all your habitations:21 Just as the word 'habitations' found there,22 refers to [matters concerning] a Beth din, so the word 'habitations' found here refers to [work entailed by a] Beth din.23 And regarding it the Divine Law states: Ye shall not kindle a fire in all your habitations.24
Abaye said: Now that you have concluded that execution does not supersede the Sabbath, it [necessarily] follows that execution does not suspend the Temple service, a minori: If the Sabbath, which is abrogated in favour of the Temple service, is not set aside for execution; then the Temple service, which supersedes the Sabbath, is surely not suspended by execution! And as to the Scriptural verse, Thou shalt take him from mine altar that he may die?25 — this refers only to a private sacrifice,26 which does not suspend the Sabbath.27 Raba said:28 But execution should not suspend [attendance even upon] a private sacrifice, a minori:
- To Next Folio -