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Mamrim - Chapter 3

Mamrim - Chapter 3

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Halacha 1

A person who does not acknowledge validity of the Oral Law is not the rebellious elder mentioned in the Torah. Instead, he is one of the heretics and he should be put to death by any person.

Halacha 2

Since it has become known that such a person denies the Oral Law, he may be pushed into a pit and may not be helped out. He is like all the rest of the heretics who say that the Torah is not Divine in origin, those who inform on their fellow Jews, and the apostates. All of these are not considered as members of the Jewish people. There is no need for witnesses, a warning, or judges for them to be executed. Instead, whoever kills them performs a great mitzvah and removes an obstacle from people at large.

Halacha 3

To whom does the above apply? To a person who denied the Oral Law consciously, according to his perception of things. He follows after his frivolous thoughts and his capricious heart and denies the Oral Law first, as did Tzadok and Beitus and those who erred in following them.

The children of these errant people and their grandchildren whose parents led them away and they were born among these Karaities and raised according to their conception, they are considered as a children captured and raised by them. Such a child may not be eager to follow the path of mitzvot, for it is as if he was compelled not to. Even if later, he hears that he is Jewish and saw Jews and their faith, he is still considered as one who was compelled against observance, for he was raised according to their mistaken path. This applies to those who we mentioned who follow the erroneous Karaite path of their ancestors. Therefore it is appropriate to motivate them to repent and draw them to the power of the Torah with words of peace.

Halacha 4

The "rebellious elder" mentioned in the Torah, by contrast, is one of the sages of Israel who has received the tradition from previous sages and who analyzes and issues ruling with regard to the words of Torah as do all the sages of Israel. His rebellion involves an instance when he has a difference of opinion in one of the Torah's laws with the Supreme Sanhedrin and did not accept their views, but instead issued a ruling to act in a different manner. The Torah decreed that he should be executed. He should confess his sin before being executed so that he will be granted a portion in the world to come.

Even though he analyzes and they analyze; he received the tradition and they received the tradition, the Torah granted them deference. Even if the court desires to forgo their honor and allow him to live, they are not allowed so that differences of opinion will not arise within Israel.

Halacha 5

A "rebellious elder" is not liable for execution unless he is a sage, erudite enough to issue halachic judgments who has received semichah from the Sanhedrin and who differs with that court with regard to a matter whose willful violation is punishable by kerait and whose inadvertent violation requires a sin offering or with regard to tefillin. He must direct others to act according to his ruling or act according to his ruling himself, and differ with the Sanhedrin while they hold session in the Chamber of Hewn Stone.

When, by contrast, a student who has not attained a level of erudition that enables him to issue halachic rulings, but, nevertheless, issues a ruling, he is not liable. This is derived from Deuteronomy 17:8 which states: "If a matter of judgment exceeds your grasp...." Implied is that the passage concerns only a scholar who is unable to grasp something which is exceedingly difficult to comprehend.

Halacha 6

If he found the Supreme Sanhedrin outside their place and rebelled against their ruling, he is not liable. This is derived from ibid.:8 which states: "And you shall arise and ascend to that place," implied is that the place is the cause for capital punishment.

All of the individuals mentioned above who are not executed and anyone who acts in a similar manner, although they are not liable for execution, the Supreme Sanhedrin should place them under a ban of ostracism, separate them from the community, subject them to corporal punishment, and prevent them from teaching their interpretation of the matter.

Halacha 8

How is the law applying to a rebellious elder adjudicated? When a matter is undecided because of its difficulty and a sage who is erudite enough to issue rulings whether with regard to a matter which he arrived at through his own reasoning or which he received from his teachers. He and the sages who differ with him ascend to Jerusalem and come to the court which holds sessions at the entrance to the Temple Mount.

The court tells them: "This is the law." If the elder listens and accepts the ruling, it is desirable. If not, they all go to the court which holds sessions at the entrance to the Temple Courtyard. They also say: "This is the law." If the elder listens and accepts the ruling, they go their ways. If not, they all go to the Supreme Sanhedrin in the Chamber of Hewn Stone from which the Torah emanates to the entire Jewish people, as Deuteronomy 17:10 states: "From that place which God has chosen." The Supreme Sanhedrin tell them: "This is the law" and the all depart.

If the elder returns to his city and continues to interpret the law as he did previously and teaches this interpretation to others, he is not liable. If he gave a directive for action or acted according to his conception himself, he is liable for execution. There is no need for a warning. Even if he offers a rationale to explain his conduct, we do not heed him. Instead, once witnesses come and testify that he acted according to his own directive or that he directed others to perform a deed, we sentence him to death in his local court. We take hold of him and bring him from that place to Jerusalem. For we do not execute him in the presence of his local court, nor in the presence of the Supreme Sanhedrin who left Jerusalem, but instead, bring him to the Supreme Sanhedrin in Jerusalem. Until the next pilgrimage festival, he is kept under watch. During the pilgrimage festival, he is executed by strangulation, as implied by ibid.:13: "And all Israel shall hear and become fearful." This indicates that his execution must be announced.

There are four transgressors whose execution must be announced publicly: a rebellious elder, lying witnesses, a person who entices others to worship idols, and a wayward and rebellious son. For with regard to all of them, the Torah states: "so that they will hear and become afraid."

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