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Sanhedrin veha’Onashin haMesurin lahem - Chapter 22, Sanhedrin veha’Onashin haMesurin lahem - Chapter 23, Sanhedrin veha’Onashin haMesurin lahem - Chapter 24

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Sanhedrin veha’Onashin haMesurin lahem - Chapter 22

Introduction to Hilchos

"Open your mouth, judge righteously, and render justice for the poor and indigent" Proverbs 31:9

The fourteenth book,

Sefer Shoftim

The Book of Judges

It contains five halachot. They are: Hilchot Sanhedrin V'HaOnshin Hamesurim Lahem - The laws of the courts and the penalties placed under their jurisdiction

Hilchot Edut - The laws of witnesses

Hilchot Mamrim - The laws of the rebellious ones

Hilchot Evel - The laws of mourning

Hilchot Melachim UMilchamotehem - The laws of kings and their wars

1

When two people come before a judge, one soft and one harsh - before he hears their words, or even after he hears their words, but does not know the direction in which the judgment is leaning - he has the license to tell them: "I will not involve myself with you," lest the harsh litigant be held liable and seek vengeance from the judge.

After he hears their words and knows in which direction the judgment is leaning, he does not have the license to tell them: "I will not involve myself with you," as Deuteronomy 1:18 states: "Do not be intimidated by any person." That verse implies that one should not say: "So-and-so is wicked, maybe he will kill my son, set fire to my crops, or cut down my trees." If he was an expert appointed to judge the many, he is obligated to involve himself with them in all circumstances.

א

שְׁנַּיִם שֶׁבָּאוּ לְפָנֶיךָ לְדִין אֶחָד רַךְ וְאֶחָד קָשֶׁה. עַד שֶׁלֹּא תִּשְׁמַע אֶת דִּבְרֵיהֶם אוֹ מִשֶּׁתִּשְׁמַע אֶת דִּבְרֵיהֶם וְאִי אַתָּה יוֹדֵעַ לְהֵיכָן הַדִּין נוֹטֶה אַתָּה רַשַּׁאי לוֹמַר לָהֶם אֵינִי נִזְקָק לָכֶם שֶׁמָּא יִתְחַיֵּב הַקָּשֶׁה וְנִמְצָא רוֹדֵף אַחַר הַדַּיָּן. אֲבָל מִשֶּׁתִּשְׁמַע אֶת דִּבְרֵיהֶם וְתֵדַע לְהֵיכָן הַדִּין נוֹטֶה אִי אַתָּה רַשַּׁאי לוֹמַר אֵינִי נִזְקָק לָכֶם. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים א יז) "לֹא תָגוּרוּ מִפְּנֵי אִישׁ" שֶׁלֹּא תֹּאמַר אִישׁ פְּלוֹנִי רָשָׁע הוּא שֶׁמָּא יַהֲרֹג אֶת בְּנִי שֶׁמָּא יַדְלִיק אֶת גְּדִישִׁי שֶׁמָּא יְקַצֵּץ נְטִיעוֹתַי. וְאִם הָיָה מְמֻנֶּה לָרַבִּים חַיָּב לְהִזָּקֵק לָהֶם:

2

Similarly, if a student was sitting before his master and became aware of a factor that would vindicate a poor person and obligate his rich adversary, he transgresses the above commandment if he remains silent. Concerning such matters, Exodus 23:7 states: "Keep distant from words of falsehood."

What is the source which teaches that a judge should not have an underdeveloped student sit before him? It is written: "Keep distant from words of falsehood."

ב

וְכֵן תַּלְמִיד שֶׁהָיָה יוֹשֵׁב לִפְנֵי רַבּוֹ וְרָאָה זְכוּת לֶעָנִי וְחוֹבָה לֶעָשִׁיר אִם שָׁתַק הֲרֵי זֶה עוֹבֵר מִשּׁוּם (דברים א יז) "לֹא תָגוּרוּ מִפְּנֵי אִישׁ" וְעַל זֶה נֶאֱמַר (שמות כג ז) "מִדְּבַר שֶׁקֶר תִּרְחָק". וּמִנַּיִן לַדַּיָּן שֶׁלֹּא יוֹשִׁיב תַּלְמִיד בּוּר לְפָנָיו תַּלְמוּד לוֹמַר מִדְּבַר שֶׁקֶר תִּרְחָק:

3

What is the source which teaches that a student who sees his teacher erring with regard to a judgment should not say: "I will wait until he renders judgment. Then I will refute his ruling and then construct a new one so that the judgment will be quoted in my name"? It is written: "Keep distant from words of falsehood."

ג

וּמִנַּיִן לְתַלְמִיד שֶׁרָאָה רַבּוֹ שֶׁטּוֹעֶה בַּדִּין שֶׁלֹּא יֹאמַר אַמְתִּין לוֹ עַד שֶׁיִּגָּמֵר הַדִּין וְאֶסְתְּרֵנוּ וַאֲבִינֶנּוּ כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּקָּרֵא הַדִּין עַל שְׁמִי תַּלְמוּד לוֹמַר (שמות כג ז) "מִדְּבַר שֶׁקֶר תִּרְחָק":

4

At the outset, it is a mitzvah to ask the litigants: "Do you desire a judgment or a compromise?" If they desire a compromise, a compromise is negotiated. Any court that continuously negotiates a compromise is praiseworthy. Concerning this approach, Zechariah 8:16 states: Adjudicate a judgment of peace in your gates." Which judgment involves peace? A compromise. Similarly, with regard to King David it is stated: "And David carried out justice and charity for his entire people." When does justice involve charity? When a compromise is made.

When does the above apply? Before a judgment is rendered. Even though the judge has already heard their arguments and knows the direction in which the judgment is heading, it is a mitzvah to negotiate a compromise. Once the judgment is rendered and he declares: "So-and-so, your claim is vindicated; so-and-so, you are liable," he may not negotiate a compromise. Instead, let the judgment pierce the mountain.

ד

מִצְוָה לוֹמַר לְבַעֲלֵי דִּינִים בַּתְּחִלָּה בְּדִין אַתֶּם רוֹצִים אוֹ בִּפְשָׁרָה. אִם רָצוּ בִּפְשָׁרָה עוֹשִׂין בֵּינֵיהֶן פְּשָׁרָה. וְכָל בֵּית דִּין שֶׁעוֹשִׂין פְּשָׁרָה תָּמִיד הֲרֵי זֶה מְשֻׁבָּח וְעָלָיו נֶאֱמַר (זכריה ח טז) "מִשְׁפַּט שָׁלוֹם שִׁפְטוּ בְּשַׁעֲרֵיכֶם" אֵי זֶהוּ מִשְׁפָּט שֶׁיֵּשׁ עִמּוֹ שָׁלוֹם הֱוֵי אוֹמֵר זֶה בִּצּוּעַ. וְכֵן בְּדָוִד הוּא אוֹמֵר (שמואל ב ח טו) "וַיְהִי דָוִד עשֶֹׁה מִשְׁפָּט וּצְדָקָה לְכָל עַמּוֹ" אֵיזֶהוּ מִשְׁפָּט שֶׁיֵּשׁ עִמּוֹ צְדָקָה הֱוֵי אוֹמֵר זֶהוּ בִּצּוּעַ וְהִיא הַפְּשָׁרָה. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים קֹדֶם גְּמַר דִּין אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁשָּׁמַע דִּבְרֵיהֶם וְיָדַע לְהֵיכָן הַדִּין נוֹטֶה מִצְוָה לִבְצֹעַ אֲבָל אַחֲרֵי שֶׁגָּמַר הַדִּין וְאָמַר אִישׁ פְּלוֹנִי אַתָּה זַכַּאי אִישׁ פְּלוֹנִי אַתָּה חַיָּב אֵינוֹ רַשַּׁאי לַעֲשׂוֹת פְּשָׁרָה בֵּינֵיהֶן אֶלָּא יִקֹּב הַדִּין אֶת הָהָר:

5

Although the litigants agreed to a compromise in court, they have the authority to demand a judgment until they confirm their commitment to the compromise with a kinyan.

ה

אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁרָצוּ בַּעֲלֵי הַדִּין בִּפְשָׁרָה בְּבֵית דִּין יֵשׁ לָהֶם לַחְזֹר וְלִתְבֹּעַ אֶת הַדִּין עַד שֶׁיִּקְנוּ מִיַּד שְׁנֵיהֶם:

6

A compromise has greater legal power than a judgment. If two ordinary people rendered a judgment, their judgment is not binding and the litigants need not accept it. If, however, such individuals negotiated a compromise and the litigants affirmed their agreement with a kinyan, they may not retract.

ו

יָפֶה כֹּחַ פְּשָׁרָה מִכֹּחַ הַדִּין שֶׁשְּׁנֵי הֶדְיוֹטוֹת שֶׁדָּנוּ אֵין דִּינֵיהֶן דִּין וְיֵשׁ לְבַעֲלֵי דִּינִין לַחְזֹר בָּהֶן וְאִם עָשׂוּ פְּשָׁרָה וְקָנוּ מִיָּדָן אֵין יְכוֹלִין לַחְזֹר בָּהֶן:

7

After leaving the court, it is forbidden for any of the judges to say: "I was the one who vindicated you or held you liable and my colleagues differed with me. What could I do? They outnumbered me." If he says this, he is among those to whom the words of censure, Proverbs 11:13,: "He proceeds gossiping, revealing secrets" is applied. An incident occurred with regard to one student who revealed the private conversations in the House of Study 22 years later. The court had him removed from the House of Study and denounced him as "a revealer of secrets."

ז

אָסוּר לְאֶחָד מִן הַדַּיָּנִים כְּשֶׁיֵּצֵא מִבֵּית דִּין לוֹמַר אֲנִי הוּא הַמְזַכֶּה אוֹ הַמְחַיֵּב וַחֲבֵרַי חוֹלְקִין עָלַי אֲבָל מָה אֶעֱשֶׂה שֶׁהֵם רַבּוּ עָלַי וְאִם אָמַר כֵּן הֲרֵי הוּא בִּכְלַל הוֹלֵךְ רָכִיל מְגַלֶּה סוֹד. וּמַעֲשֶׂה בְּתַלְמִיד אֶחָד שֶׁהוֹצִיא דְּבָרִים שֶׁנֶּאֶמְרוּ בְּבֵית הַמִּדְרָשׁ לְאַחַר שְׁתַּיִם וְעֶשְׂרִים שָׁנָה וְהוֹצִיאוּהוּ בֵּית דִּין מִבֵּית הַמִּדְרָשׁ וְהִכְרִיזוּ עָלָיו זֶה מְגַלֶּה סוֹד הוּא:

8

If either of the litigants asks the court to compose a record of the judgment, they write it for him in the following manner: "So-and-so came to this-and-this court with so-and-so, the opposing litigant, claiming this-and-this. He was vindicated" or "...held liable." The record is given to him without it mentioning the names of those who vindicated him or those who held him liable. Instead, it says merely "From the statements of the court of such-and-such, so-and-so was vindicated."

ח

שָׁאַל אֶחָד מִבַּעֲלֵי דִּינִים לִכְתֹּב לוֹ פְּסַק דִּין כּוֹתְבִין לוֹ כָּךְ בָּא פְּלוֹנִי לְבֵית דִּין שֶׁל פְּלוֹנִי עִם פְּלוֹנִי בַּעַל דִּינוֹ שֶׁטְּעָנוֹ בְּכָךְ וְיָצָא זַכַּאי אוֹ חַיָּב וְנוֹתְנִין לוֹ וְאֵין מַזְכִּירִין שֵׁם הַמְזַכִּין וְלֹא שֵׁם הַמְחַיְּבִין אֶלָּא בֵּית דִּין שֶׁל פְּלוֹנִי מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם נִזְדַּכָּה פְּלוֹנִי:

9

This was the custom of the men of Jerusalem: "They would bring the litigants into the court and listen to their statements and claims. They would then bring in the witnesses and listen to their statements. Afterwards, the judges would have all others removed and would debate the matter among themselves until they came to a decision. Afterwards, they would call the litigants in and the judge of the greatest stature declares: "So-and-so, your claim is vindicated; so-and-so, you are liable." In this way, the litigants do no know which judge vindicated him and which judge held him liable.

ט

כָּךְ הָיָה מִנְהָגָם שֶׁל אַנְשֵׁי יְרוּשָׁלַיִם. מַכְנִיסִין בַּעֲלֵי דִּינִין וְשׁוֹמְעִים דִּבְרֵיהֶם וְטַעֲנוֹתֵיהֶם וּמַכְנִיסִים הָעֵדִים וְשׁוֹמְעִים דִּבְרֵיהֶם. וּמוֹצִיאִין כָּל אָדָם לַחוּץ. וְהַדַּיָּנִים נוֹשְׂאִים וְנוֹתְנִים בֵּינֵיהֶם בַּדָּבָר וְגוֹמְרִין אֶת הַדָּבָר וְאַחַר כָּךְ מַכְנִיסִין בַּעֲלֵי דִּינִים וְגָדוֹל שֶׁבַּדַּיָּנִים אוֹמֵר אִישׁ פְּלוֹנִי אַתָּה זַכַּאי אִישׁ פְּלוֹנִי אַתָּה חַיָּב כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יֵדַע אֶחָד מִבַּעֲלֵי דִּינִים אֵי זֶה דַּיָּן הוּא מִי שֶׁזִּכָּה אוֹתוֹ וְלֹא אֵי זֶה דַּיָּן הוּא שֶׁחִיְּבוֹ:

10

When a judge knows that a colleague is a robber or a wicked person, it is forbidden for him to sit in judgment with him, as it is stated: "Keep distant from words of falsehood."

This is the practice that would be followed by Jerusalem's men of refined character: They would not sit to participate in a judgment unless they knew who would sit with them. They would not sign a legal document unless they knew who would sign with them. And they would not enter a feast until they knew who would be joining them.

י

דַּיָּן שֶׁהוּא יוֹדֵעַ בַּחֲבֵרוֹ שֶׁהוּא גַּזְלָן אוֹ רָשָׁע אָסוּר לְהִצְטָרֵף עִמּוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כג ז) "מִדְּבַר שֶׁקֶר תִּרְחָק". וְכָךְ הָיוּ נְקִיֵּי הַדַּעַת שֶׁבִּירוּשָׁלַיִם עוֹשִׂין אֵין יוֹשְׁבִין בַּדִּין עַד שֶׁיֵּדְעוּ עִם מִי הֵם יוֹשְׁבִים וְלֹא חוֹתְמִים אֶת הַשְּׁטָר עַד שֶׁיֵּדְעוּ מִי חוֹתֵם עִמָּהֶם וְלֹא נִכְנָסִים לִסְעוּדָה עַד שֶׁיֵּדְעוּ מִי מֵסֵב עִמָּהֶן:

Sanhedrin veha’Onashin haMesurin lahem - Chapter 23

Introduction to Hilchos

"Open your mouth, judge righteously, and render justice for the poor and indigent" Proverbs 31:9

The fourteenth book,

Sefer Shoftim

The Book of Judges

It contains five halachot. They are: Hilchot Sanhedrin V'HaOnshin Hamesurim Lahem - The laws of the courts and the penalties placed under their jurisdiction

Hilchot Edut - The laws of witnesses

Hilchot Mamrim - The laws of the rebellious ones

Hilchot Evel - The laws of mourning

Hilchot Melachim UMilchamotehem - The laws of kings and their wars

1

Deuteronomy 16:19 states: "Do not take a bribe." Needless to say, this command applies if the intent is to pervert judgment. The verse is teaching that it is forbidden for a bribe to be given even to vindicate the just and to obligate the one who is liable; the judge transgresses a negative commandment. Such a person is included in the malediction, Deuteronomy 27:25: "Cursed be he who takes a bribe." He is required to return the bribe if he is demanded to by the giver.

א

(דברים טז יט) "לֹא תִּקַּח שֹׁחַד" אֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר לְעַוֵּת אֶת הַדִּין אֶלָּא אֲפִלּוּ לְזַכּוֹת אֶת הַזַּכַּאי וּלְחַיֵּב אֶת הַחַיָּב אָסוּר וְעוֹבֵר בְּלֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה. וַהֲרֵי הוּא בִּכְלַל אָרוּר לֹקֵחַ שֹׁחַד. וְחַיָּב לְהַחְזִיר הַשֹּׁחַד כְּשֶׁיִּתְבָּעֶנּוּ הַנּוֹתֵן:

2

Just as the recipient transgresses a negative commandment; so, too, does the giver, as [Leviticus 19:14] states: “Do not place a stumbling block before the blind1.”

ב

וּכְשֵׁם שֶׁהַלּוֹקֵחַ עוֹבֵר בְּלֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה כָּךְ הַנּוֹתֵן. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא יט יד) "וְלִפְנֵי עִוֵּר לֹא תִתֵּן מִכְשׁל":

3

Any judge who sits and seeks to amplify his reputation in order to cause the wages of his attendants and scribes to be enhanced is included among those who seek after profit. This is what the sons of Samuel did. Hence I Samuel 8:3 describes them as being "inclined to profit and taking bribery."

The above applies not only to a bribe of money, but a bribe of all things. An incident occurred concerning a judge who stood up in a small boat, as he was crossing a river. A person extended his hand and helped him as he was standing. Later that person came before the judge with a case. The judge told him: "I am unacceptable to serve as a judge for you."

Another incident took place where a person removed a feather of a fowl from a judge's scarf and another person covered some spittle that was lying before the judge and the judge told them: "I am unacceptable to serve as a judge for you." Another incident took place concerning a person who brought one of the presents given to priests to a judge who as a priest. The judge told him: "I am unacceptable to serve as a judge for you."

And another incident took place concerning a sharecropper of a field belonging to a judge who would bring him figs from his field every Friday. Once he came earlier and brought him the figs on Thursday, because he had a judgment over which he desired that the judge preside. The judge told him: "I am unacceptable to serve as a judge for you." This applies although the figs belonged to the judge. Since he brought them earlier than the ordinary time, that favor caused him to be disqualified as a judge.

ג

כָּל דַּיָּן שֶׁיּוֹשֵׁב וּמְגַדֵּל מַעֲלָתוֹ כְּדֵי לְהַרְבּוֹת שָׂכָר לְחַזָּנָיו וּלְסוֹפְרָיו הֲרֵי הוּא בִּכְלַל הַנּוֹטִים אַחֲרֵי הַבֶּצַע. וְכֵן עָשׂוּ בְּנֵי שְׁמוּאֵל וּלְכָךְ נֶאֱמַר לָהֶם (שמואל א ח ג) "וַיִּטּוּ אַחֲרֵי הַבָּצַע וַיִּקְחוּ שֹׁחַד". וְלֹא שֹׁחַד מָמוֹן בִּלְבַד אֶלָּא אֲפִלּוּ שֹׁחַד דְּבָרִים. וּמַעֲשֶׂה בְּדַיָּן אֶחָד שֶׁהָיָה עוֹלֶה בְּדוּגִית קְטַנָּה לַעֲבֹר בַּנָּהָר וּפָשַׁט אֶחָד יָדוֹ וְסִיְּעוֹ בַּעֲלִיָּתוֹ וְהָיָה לוֹ דִּין וְאָמַר לוֹ הַדַּיָּן הֲרֵינִי פָּסוּל לְךָ לָדִין. וּמַעֲשֶׂה בְּאֶחָד שֶׁהֶעֱבִיר אֶבְרָה נוֹצָה שֶׁל עוֹף מֵעַל רְדִיד הַדַּיָּן וְאַחַר כִּסָּה רֹק מִלִּפְנֵי הַדַּיָּן וְאָמַר לוֹ הֲרֵינִי פָּסוּל לְךָ לָדִין. וּמַעֲשֶׂה בְּאֶחָד שֶׁהֵבִיא מַתָּנָה אַחַת מִמַּתְּנוֹת כְּהֻנָּה לְדַיָּן כֹּהֵן וְאָמַר לוֹ פָּסוּל אֲנִי לְךָ לָדִין. וּמַעֲשֶׂה בְּאָרִיס אֶחָד שֶׁל דַּיָּן שֶׁהָיָה מֵבִיא לוֹ תְּאֵנִים מִתּוֹךְ שָׂדֵהוּ מֵעֶרֶב שַׁבָּת לְעֶרֶב שַׁבָּת פַּעַם אַחַת הִקְדִּים וְהֵבִיא בַּחֲמִישִׁי בְּשַׁבָּת מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהָיָה לוֹ דִּין וְאָמַר לוֹ הַדַּיָּן הֲרֵינִי פָּסוּל לְךָ לָדִין אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהַתְּאֵנִים מִשֶּׁל דַּיָּן הוֹאִיל וֶהֱבִיאָן שֶׁלֹּא בִּזְמַנָּם נִפְסַל לוֹ לָדִין:

4

Whenever a judge borrows an article, he is unacceptable to serve as a judge for the person who lent him the article. When does the above apply? When the judge does not have articles to lend him in return. If, however, the judge possessed articles to lend in return, it is acceptable for him to serve as a judge, for that person will also borrow from him.

ד

כָּל דַּיָּן שֶׁשָּׁאַל שְׁאֵלָה פָּסוּל לָדִין לָזֶה שֶׁהִשְׁאִילוֹ. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בְּשֶׁלֹּא הָיָה לוֹ לַדַּיָּן לְהַשְׁאִיל אֲבָל הָיָה לוֹ לְהַשְׁאִיל כָּשֵׁר שֶׁהֲרֵי גַּם זֶה שׁוֹאֵל מִמֶּנּוּ:

5

Whenever a judge takes a wage for adjudicating a case, his judgments are nullified. This applies only when it is not evident that he is receiving compensation for losing his wages. If, however, he was involved in his profession and two people came to him for a judgment and he told them: "Provide me with a person who will work in stead of me and I will adjudicate your case or pay me for the wages that I will forfeit," this is permitted.

This leniency is permitted provided it is evident that the wage is merely in lieu of his hire, but no more and he takes equal payment from both of the litigants, receiving payment from each one in the presence of the other.

ה

כָּל דַּיָּן שֶׁנּוֹטֵל שְׂכָרוֹ לָדוּן דִּינָיו בְּטֵלִים. וְהוּא שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה שָׂכָר הַנִּכָּר. אֲבָל אִם הָיָה עוֹסֵק בִּמְלַאכְתּוֹ וּבָאוּ לְפָנָיו שְׁנַיִם לְדִין וְאָמַר לָהֶן תְּנוּ לִי מִי שֶׁיַּעֲשֶׂה תַּחְתַּי עַד שֶׁאָדוּן לָכֶם אוֹ תְּנוּ לִי שָׂכָר בַּטָּלָתִי הֲרֵי זֶה מֻתָּר. וְהוּא שֶׁיִּהְיֶה הַדָּבָר נִכָּר שֶׁהוּא שְׂכַר הַבַּטָּלָה בִּלְבַד וְלֹא יוֹתֵר. וְיִטּל מִשְּׁנֵיהֶם בְּשָׁוֶה זֶה בִּפְנֵי זֶה. כְּגוֹן זֶה מֻתָּר:

6

A judge may not adjudicate the case of a friend. This applies even if the person is not a member of his wedding party or one of his more intimate companions. Similarly, he may not adjudicate the case of one he hates. This applies even if the person is not his enemy and one whose misfortune he seeks. Instead, the two litigants must be looked upon equally in the eyes and in the hearts of the judges. If the judge does not know either of them and is not familiar with their deeds, this is the fairest judgment that could be.

ו

אָסוּר לַדַּיָּן לָדוּן לְמִי שֶׁהוּא אוֹהֲבוֹ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינוֹ שׁוֹשְׁבִינוֹ וְלֹא רֵעוֹ אֲשֶׁר כְּנַפְשׁוֹ וְלֹא לְמִי שֶׁשּׂוֹנְאוֹ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינוֹ אוֹיֵב לוֹ וְלֹא מְבַקֵּשׁ רָעָתוֹ אֶלָּא צָרִיךְ שֶׁיִּהְיוּ שְׁנֵי בַּעֲלֵי דִּינִים שָׁוִין בְּעֵינֵי הַדַּיָּנִים וּבְלִבָּם. וְאִם לֹא הָיָה מַכִּיר אֶת אֶחָד מֵהֶם וְלֹא מַעֲשָׂיו אֵין לְךָ דַּיַּן צֶדֶק כָּמוֹהוּ:

7

Whenever two Torah scholars hate each other, they are forbidden to act as judges together. For this will lead to a contorted judgment. The hatred each one of them bears for the other will cause him to overturn his colleague's words.

ז

כָּל שְׁנֵי תַּלְמִידֵי חֲכָמִים שֶׁשּׂוֹנְאִים זֶה אֶת זֶה אֲסוּרִין לֵישֵׁב בַּדִּין זֶה עִם זֶה. שֶׁדָּבָר זֶה גּוֹרֵם לִיצִיאַת מִשְׁפָּט מְעֻקָּל. מִפְּנֵי הַשִּׂנְאָה שֶׁבֵּינֵיהֶן דַּעַת כָּל אֶחָד נוֹטָה לִסְתֹּר דִּבְרֵי חֲבֵרוֹ:

8

A judge should always see himself as if a sword is drawn on his neck and Hell is open before him. He should know Who he is judging, before Whom he is judging, and Who will ultimately exact retribution from him if he deviates from the path of truth, as indicated by Psalms 82:1: "God stands among the congregation of the Almighty." And II Chronicles 19:6 states: "See what you are doing. For you are not judging for man's sake, but for God's."

ח

לְעוֹלָם יִרְאֶה דַּיָּן עַצְמוֹ כְּאִלּוּ חֶרֶב מֻנַּחַת לוֹ עַל צַוָּארוֹ וְגֵיהִנֹּם פְּתוּחָה לוֹ מִתַּחְתָּיו. וְיֵדַע אֶת מִי הוּא דָּן וְלִפְנֵי מִי הוּא דָּן וּמִי עָתִיד לְהִפָּרַע מִמֶּנּוּ אִם נָטָה מִקַּו הָאֱמֶת שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (תהילים פב א) "אֱלֹהִים נִצָּב בַּעֲדַת אֵל". וְאוֹמֵר (דברי הימים ב יט ו) "רְאוּ מָה אַתֶּם עוֹשִׂים כִּי לֹא לְאָדָם תִּשְׁפְּטוּ כִּי לַה'":

9

Whenever a judge does not render a genuinely true judgment, he causes the Divine presence to depart from Israel. Whenever a judge expropriates money from one litigant and gives it to the other unlawfully, God exacts retribution from his life, as Proverbs 22:23 states: "He will exact payment from the soul of one who exacts payment."

Conversely, when a judge adjudicates a case in a genuinely true manner for even one moment, it is as if he has corrected the entire world and he causes the Divine Presence to rest within Israel, as implied by the verse: "God stands among the congregation of the Almighty." If a judge will ask: "Why should involve myself in this difficulty?" He should know that it is written: II Chronicles, loc. cit.: "He is with you in the matter of judgment." Nor should the judge worry about erring. A judge may only base his judgment on what his eyes see.

ט

כָּל דַּיָּן שֶׁאֵינוֹ דָּן דִּין אֱמֶת לַאֲמִתּוֹ גּוֹרֵם לַשְּׁכִינָה שֶׁתִּסְתַּלֵּק מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל. וְכָל דַּיָּן שֶׁנּוֹטֵל מִזֶּה וְנוֹתֵן לָזֶה שֶׁלֹּא כַּדִּין הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא גּוֹבֶה מִמֶּנּוּ נְפָשׁוֹת שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (משלי כב כג) "וְקָבַע אֶת קֹבְעֵיהֶם נָפֶשׁ". וְכָל דַּיָּן שֶׁדָּן דִּין אֱמֶת לַאֲמִתּוֹ אֲפִלּוּ שָׁעָה אַחַת כְּאִלּוּ תִּקֵּן אֶת כָּל הָעוֹלָם כֻּלּוֹ וְגוֹרֵם לַשְּׁכִינָה שֶׁתִּשְׁרֶה בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (תהילים פב א) "אֱלֹהִים נִצָּב בַּעֲדַת אֵל". וְשֶׁמָּא יֹאמַר הַדַּיָּן מַה לִּי וְלַצָּרָה הַזֹּאת תַּלְמוּד לוֹמַר (דברי הימים ב יט ו) "וְעִמָּכֶם בִּדְבַר מִשְׁפָּט". אֵין לַדַּיָּן אֶלָּא מַה שֶּׁעֵינָיו רוֹאוֹת:

10

At the outset, a judge should always look at the litigants as if they were wicked and operate under the presumption that both of them are lying. He should adjudicate according to his perception of the situation. When they depart, having accepted the judgment, he should view them both as righteous, seeing each of them in a favorable light.

י

ולְעוֹלָם יִהְיוּ בַּעֲלֵי דִּינִין לְפָנֶיךָ כִּרְשָׁעִים וּבְחֶזְקַת שֶׁכָּל אֶחָד מֵהֶן טוֹעֵן שֶׁקֶר וְדוּן לְפִי מַה שֶּׁתִּרְאֶה מִן הַדְּבָרִים. וּכְשֶׁיִּפָּטְרוּ מִלְּפָנֶיךָ יִהְיוּ בְּעֵינֶיךָ כְּצַדִּיקִים כְּשֶׁקִּבְּלוּ עֲלֵיהֶם אֶת הַדִּין וְדוּן כָּל אֶחָד מֵהֶם לְכַף זְכוּת:

Footnotes
1.

As the Rambam states in Hilchot Rotzeach 12:14, this prohibition forbids placing moral stumbling blocks in a person’s path.

Sanhedrin veha’Onashin haMesurin lahem - Chapter 24

Introduction to Hilchos

"Open your mouth, judge righteously, and render justice for the poor and indigent" Proverbs 31:9

The fourteenth book,

Sefer Shoftim

The Book of Judges

It contains five halachot. They are: Hilchot Sanhedrin V'HaOnshin Hamesurim Lahem - The laws of the courts and the penalties placed under their jurisdiction

Hilchot Edut - The laws of witnesses

Hilchot Mamrim - The laws of the rebellious ones

Hilchot Evel - The laws of mourning

Hilchot Melachim UMilchamotehem - The laws of kings and their wars

1

A judge may adjudicate cases involving monetary law bases on factors that he is inclined to regard as true and concerning which he feels strongly in his heart are correct even though he does not have proof of the matters. Needless to say, that if he personally knows that a matter is true, he may judge the case according to his knowledge.

What is implied? A person was obligated to take an oath by the court. A person who the judge regards as trustworthy and upon whose word the judge relies tells him that this person is suspect to take a false oath. The judge may reverse the obligation for the oath and place it on the other litigant, allowing him to take an oath and collect his claim because the judge relied on the statements of this person.

Moreover, even if he regards a woman or a servant as trustworthy, should he feel strongly that the matter about which they are speaking is correct, he may rely on their statement and judge accordingly. Needless to say, if he himself knows that a person is suspect to take a false oath, he may judge accordingly.

Similarly, when a promissory note comes before him and a person upon whom he relies - even a woman or a relative - says that it has been repaid, if he trusts his word, he may tell the bearer of the note: "Payment will be required only when an oath is taken." Similarly, if the alleged debtor is also indebted to another person, the judge may have the debtor pay the creditor whose promissory note was not impugned at all and leave the promissory note that was impugned by the person's testimony unpaid. Or he may reject the promissory note and not consider it in judgment if he sees fit.

Similar laws apply if a person comes and claims that he entrusted an article to so-and-so who died and identified the article with extremely precise descriptive marks. If the claimant did not frequent the home of the deceased, and if the judge knows that the deceased did not have the means to own such an article and he firmly believes that the article did not belong to the deceased, the article may be expropriated from the heirs and given to the person provided he has the means to own it and identified it with descriptive marks. Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.

These matters are solely given over to the heart of the judge to decide according to what he perceives as being a true judgment. Why then did the Torah require two witnesses? Because when two witnesses appear before a judge, he must judge according to their testimony whether or not he knows it to be true.

א

יֵשׁ לַדַּיָּן לָדוּן בְּדִינֵי מָמוֹנוֹת עַל פִּי הַדְּבָרִים שֶׁדַּעְתּוֹ נוֹטָה לָהֶן שֶׁהֵן אֱמֶת וְהַדָּבָר חָזָק בְּלִבּוֹ שֶׁהוּא כֵּן אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין שָׁם רְאָיָה בְּרוּרָה וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר אִם הָיָה יוֹדֵעַ בְּוַדַּאי שֶׁהַדָּבָר כֵּן הוּא שֶׁהוּא דָּן כְּפִי מַה שֶּׁיּוֹדֵעַ. כֵּיצַד. הֲרֵי שֶׁנִּתְחַיֵּב אָדָם שְׁבוּעָה בְּבֵית דִּין וְאָמַר לַדַּיָּן אָדָם שֶׁהוּא נֶאֱמָן אֶצְלוֹ וְשֶׁדַּעְתּוֹ סוֹמֶכֶת עַל דְּבָרָיו שֶׁזֶּה הָאִישׁ חָשׁוּד עַל הַשְּׁבוּעָה יֵשׁ לַדַּיָּן לַהֲפֹךְ הַשְּׁבוּעָה עַל שֶׁכְּנֶגְדוֹ וְיִשָּׁבַע וְיִטּל הוֹאִיל וְסָמְכָה דַּעְתּוֹ שֶׁל דַּיָּן עַל דִּבְרֵי זֶה. אֲפִלּוּ הָיְתָה אִשָּׁה אוֹ עֶבֶד נֶאֱמָנִים אֶצְלוֹ הוֹאִיל וּמָצָא הַדָּבָר חָזָק וְנָכוֹן בְּלִבּוֹ סוֹמֵךְ עָלָיו וְדָן. וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר אִם יָדַע הוּא עַצְמוֹ שֶׁזֶּה חָשׁוּד. וְכֵן אִם יָצָא שְׁטַר חוֹב לְפָנָיו וְאָמַר לוֹ אָדָם שֶׁסָּמַךְ עָלָיו אֲפִלּוּ אִשָּׁה אוֹ קָרוֹב זֶה פָּרוּעַ הוּא אִם סָמְכָה דַּעְתּוֹ עַל דְּבָרָיו יֵשׁ לוֹ לוֹמַר לָזֶה לֹא תִּפָּרַע אֶלָּא בִּשְׁבוּעָה. אוֹ אִם הָיָה עָלָיו שְׁטַר חוֹב לְאַחֵר יִתֵּן לְזֶה שֶׁלֹּא נִפְגַּם שְׁטָרוֹ כְּלָל וְיַנִּיחַ זֶה שֶׁנִּפְגַּם שְׁטָרוֹ בְּדִבְרֵי הָאֶחָד אוֹ יַשְׁלִיךְ הַשְּׁטָר בְּפָנָיו וְלֹא יָדוּן בּוֹ כְּפִי מַה שֶּׁיִּרְאֶה. וְכֵן מִי שֶׁבָּא וְטָעַן שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ פִּקָּדוֹן אֵצֶל פְּלוֹנִי שֶׁמֵּת בְּלֹא צַוָּאָה וְנָתַן סִימָנִין מֻבְהָקִין וְלֹא הָיָה זֶה הַטּוֹעֵן רָגִיל לְהִכָּנֵס בְּבֵית זֶה הָאִישׁ שֶׁמֵּת. אִם יָדַע הַדַּיָּן שֶׁזֶּה הַמֵּת אֵינוֹ אָמוּד לִהְיוֹת לוֹ חֵפֶץ זֶה וְסָמְכָה דַּעְתּוֹ שֶׁאֵין זֶה הַחֵפֶץ שֶׁל מֵת מוֹצִיאוֹ מִן הַיּוֹרְשִׁין וְנוֹתְנוֹ לְזֶה הָאָמוּד בּוֹ וְנָתַן סִימָנִים. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה שֶׁאֵין הַדָּבָר מָסוּר אֶלָּא לְלִבּוֹ שֶׁל דַּיָּן לְפִי מַה שֶּׁיֵּרָאֶה לוֹ שֶׁהוּא דִּין הָאֱמֶת. אִם כֵּן לָמָּה הִצְרִיכָה תּוֹרָה שְׁנֵי עֵדִים שֶׁבִּזְמַן שֶׁיָּבוֹאוּ לִפְנֵי הַדַּיָּן שְׁנֵי עֵדִים יָדוּן עַל פִּי עֵדוּתָן אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ אִם בֶּאֱמֶת הֱעִידוּ אוֹ בְּשֶׁקֶר:

2

All of the matters mentioned above are the fundamental standard of law. Nevertheless, when courts which were not fitting - not necessarily courts which were not upright, but even those whose deeds were just, but whose judges were not sufficiently wise and masters of understanding - proliferated, the majority of the courts among the Jewish people agreed not to reverse oaths unless there was clear proof that a litigant was suspect of taking a false oath. Similarly, they agreed not to disqualify a promissory note on the basis of the testimony of a woman or an unacceptable witness, nor accept their testimony with regard to all other judgments, nor to judge according to the inclinations of one's thoughts without firm knowledge.

The rationale for this stringency is to prevent any simple person from saying: "My heart trusts this person's words and my mind relies on this." Similarly, we do not expropriate property from orphans unless there is clear proof . We do not rely on the judge's opinion, the evaluation of the deceased's financial capacity, or that of the claimant. Even though a trustworthy person delivered testimony concerned a certain matter and the mind of the judge was inclined to believe that he was telling the truth, he should hesitate in judgment. He should not reject his testimony. Instead, he should mediate between the litigants until they accept the testimony of the witness or agree to a compromise. Alternatively, the judge may withdraw from the case.

ב

כָּל אֵלּוּ הַדְּבָרִים הֵן עִקַּר הַדִּין. אֲבָל מִשֶּׁרַבּוּ בָּתֵּי דִּינִין שֶׁאֵינָן הֲגוּנִים וַאֲפִלּוּ הָיוּ הֲגוּנִים בְּמַעֲשֵׂיהֶם אֵינָן חֲכָמִים כָּרָאוּי וּבַעֲלֵי בִּינָה הִסְכִּימוּ רֹב בָּתֵּי דִּינֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁלֹּא יְהַפְּכוּ שְׁבוּעָה אֶלָּא בִּרְאָיָה בְּרוּרָה. וְלֹא יִפְגְּמוּ שְׁטָר וְיַפְסִידוּ חֶזְקָתוֹ בְּעֵדוּת אִשָּׁה אוֹ פָּסוּל וְכֵן בִּשְׁאָר כָּל הַדִּינִין וְלֹא יָדוּן הַדַּיָּן בִּסְמִיכַת דַּעְתּוֹ וְלֹא בִּידִיעָתוֹ כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יֹאמַר כָּל הֶדְיוֹט לִבִּי מַאֲמִין לְדִבְרֵי זֶה וְדַעְתִּי סוֹמֶכֶת עַל זֶה. וְכֵן אֵין מוֹצִיאִין מִן הַיְתוֹמִים אֶלָּא בִּרְאָיָה בְּרוּרָה לֹא בְּדַעַת הַדַּיָּן וְלֹא בְּאֻמְדַּן הַמֵּת אוֹ הַטּוֹעֵן. וְאַף עַל פִּי כֵן אִם הֵעִיד אָדָם נֶאֱמָן בְּדָבָר מִכָּל הַדְּבָרִים וְנָטְתָה דַּעַת הַדַּיָּן שֶׁאֱמֶת הוּא אוֹמֵר מַמְתִּין בַּדִּין וְאֵינוֹ דּוֹחָה עֵדוּתוֹ וְנוֹשֵׂא וְנוֹתֵן עִם בַּעֲלֵי דִּינִין עַד שֶׁיּוֹדוּ לְדִבְרֵי הָעֵד אוֹ יַעֲשׂוּ פְּשָׁרָה אוֹ יִסְתַּלֵּק מִן הַדִּין:

3

What is the source which teaches that a judge who knows that a claim is contrived should not say: "I will deliver a judgment and the responsibility will lie with the witnesses"? It is written Exodus 23:7: "Keep distant from words of falsehood."

What shall he do? He should question and cross-examine the witnesses exceedingly, following the cross-examination process employed in cases involving capital punishment. If it appears to him according to his understanding that there is no deception, he should deliver a judgment. If, however,

a) he still has hesitations because he feels that deception is involved,

b) he does not rely on the testimony of the witnesses although he cannot disqualify them,

c) he feels that one of the litigants is a deceiver and a beguiler and misled the witnesses even though they are fit to testify and testified honestly, it is only that the litigant led them astray, or

d) that from the things that were said, he feels that there are hidden factors which they do not desire to reveal,

in these and in all similar matters, it is forbidden for him to deliver a ruling. Instead, he should withdraw from this judgment and allow it to be decided by someone whose heart is at peace with the matter. These matters are given over to a person's heart. Concerning these Deuteronomy 1:17 states: "Judgment is God's."

ג

וּמִנַּיִן לְדַיָּן שֶׁהוּא יוֹדֵעַ בְּדִין שֶׁהוּא מְרֻמֶּה שֶׁלֹּא יֹאמַר אֶחְתְּכֶנּוּ וְיִהְיֶה הַקּוֹלָר תָּלוּי בְּצַוְּארֵי הָעֵדִים. תַּלְמוּד לוֹמַר (שמות כג ז) "מִדְּבַר שֶׁקֶר תִּרְחָק". כֵּיצַד יַעֲשֶׂה. יִדְרשׁ בּוֹ וְיַחְקֹר הַרְבֵּה בִּדְרִישָׁה וּבַחֲקִירָה שֶׁל דִּינֵי נְפָשׁוֹת אִם נִרְאֶה לוֹ לְפִי דַּעְתּוֹ [שֶׁאֵין בּוֹ רַמָּאוּת חוֹתֵךְ אֶת הַדִּין עַל פִּי הָעֵדוּת אֲבָל אִם הָיָה לִבּוֹ נוֹקְפוֹ] שֶׁיֵּשׁ בּוֹ רַמָּאוּת אוֹ שֶׁאֵין דַּעְתּוֹ סוֹמֶכֶת עַל דִּבְרֵי הָעֵדִים אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְפָסְלָן אוֹ שֶׁדַּעְתּוֹ נוֹטָה שֶׁבַּעַל דִּין זֶה רַמַּאי וּבַעַל עָרְמָה וְהִשִּׁיא אֶת הָעֵדִים אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֵם כְּשֵׁרִים וּלְפִי תֻּמָּם הֵעִידוּ וְזֶה הַטַּעַם אוֹ שֶׁנִּרְאֶה לוֹ מִכְּלַל הַדְּבָרִים שֶׁיֵּשׁ שָׁם דְּבָרִים אֲחֵרִים מְסֻתָּרִין וְאֵינָן רוֹצִים לְגַלּוֹתָם. כָּל אֵלּוּ הַדְּבָרִים וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן אָסוּר לוֹ לַחְתֹּךְ אוֹתוֹ הַדִּין אֶלָּא יְסַלֵּק עַצְמוֹ מִדִּין זֶה וִידִינֶנּוּ מִי שֶׁלִּבּוֹ שָׁלֵם בַּדָּבָר. וַהֲרֵי הַדְּבָרִים מְסוּרִים לַלֵּב וְהַכָּתוּב אוֹמֵר (דברים א יז) "כִּי הַמִּשְׁפָּט לֵאלֹהִים הוּא":

4

A court has the authority to administer lashes to a person who is not required to receive lashes and to execute a person who is not liable to be executed. This license was not granted to overstep the words of the Torah, but rather to create a fence around the words of the Torah. When the court sees that the people have broken the accepted norms with regard to a matter, they may establish safeguards to strengthen the matter according to what appears necessary to them. All the above applies with regard to establishing directives for the immediate time, and not with regard to the establishment of halachah for all time.

An incident occurred where they had a man lashed for engaging in relations with his wife under a tree. And an incident occurred concerning a person who rode on a horse on the Sabbath in the era of the Greeks and they brought him to the court and had him stoned to death. And an incident occurred and Shimon ben Shetach hung 80 women on one day in Ashkelon. All of the required processes of questioning, cross-examination, and warnings were not followed, nor was the testimony unequivocal. Instead, their execution was a directive for that immediate time according to what he perceived as necessary.

ד

יֵשׁ לְבֵית דִּין לְהַלְקוֹת מִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ מְחֻיַּב מַלְקוֹת וְלַהֲרֹג מִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ מְחֻיַּב מִיתָה וְלֹא לַעֲבֹר עַל דִּבְרֵי תּוֹרָה אֶלָּא לַעֲשׂוֹת סְיָג לַתּוֹרָה. וְכֵיוָן שֶׁרוֹאִים בֵּית דִּין שֶׁפָּרְצוּ הָעָם בַּדָּבָר יֵשׁ לָהֶן לִגְדֹּר וּלְחַזֵּק הַדָּבָר כְּפִי מַה שֶּׁיֵּרָאֶה לָהֶם הַכּל הוֹרָאַת שָׁעָה לֹא שֶׁיִּקְבַּע הֲלָכָה לְדוֹרוֹת. מַעֲשֶׂה וְהִלְקוּ אָדָם שֶׁבָּעַל אִשְׁתּוֹ תַּחַת אִילָן. וּמַעֲשֶׂה בְּאֶחָד שֶׁרָכַב עַל סוּס בְּשַׁבָּת בִּימֵי יְוָנִים וֶהֱבִיאוּהוּ לְבֵית דִּין וּסְקָלוּהוּ. וּמַעֲשֶׂה וְתָלָה שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן שֶׁטַח שְׁמוֹנִים נָשִׁים בְּיוֹם אֶחָד בְּאַשְׁקְלוֹן וְלֹא הָיוּ שָׁם כָּל דַּרְכֵי הַדְּרִישָׁה וַחֲקִירָה וְהַהַתְרָאָה וְלֹא בְּעֵדוּת בְּרוּרָה אֶלָּא הוֹרָאַת שָׁעָה כְּפִי מַה שֶּׁרָאָה:

5

Similarly, at any time, and in any place, a court has the license to give a person lashes if he has a reputation for immorality and people gossip about him, saying that he acts licentiously. This applies provided the rumor is heard continuously, as we explained, and he does not have any known enemies who would spread this unfavorable report. Similarly, a person with such an unsavory reputation may be humiliated and scorn may be heaped on his mother in his presence.

ה

וְכֵן יֵשׁ לְבֵית דִּין בְּכָל מָקוֹם וּבְכָל זְמַן לְהַלְקוֹת אָדָם שֶׁשְּׁמוּעָתוֹ רָעָה וְהָעָם מְרַנְּנִים עָלָיו שֶׁהוּא עוֹבֵר עַל הָעֲרָיוֹת וְהוּא שֶׁיִּהְיֶה קוֹל שֶׁאֵינוֹ פּוֹסֵק כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ וְלֹא יִהְיוּ אֵלּוּ אוֹיְבִים יְדוּעִים שֶׁמּוֹצִיאִין עָלָיו שְׁמוּעָה רָעָה. וְכֵן מְבַזִּין אֶת זֶה שֶׁשְּׁמוּעָתוֹ רָעָה וּמְחָרְפִין אֶת יוֹלַדְתּוֹ בְּפָנָיו:

6

Similarly, at all times, a court has the prerogative to declare money belonging to others as ownerless. It may destroy those funds or give them to whomever they see fit to close any breaches in the faith and to strengthen its observance or to penalize a stubborn and difficult person. The Book of Ezra 10:8 states: "Whoever fails to come in three days according to the advice of the officers and the elders will have all of his property confiscated." From this we learn that when a court declares property ownerless, their declaration is effective.

ו

וְכֵן יֵשׁ לַדַּיָּן תָּמִיד לְהַפְקִיר מָמוֹן שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ בְּעָלִים וּמְאַבֵּד וְנוֹתֵן כְּפִי מַה שֶּׁיִּרְאֶה לִגְדֹּר פְּרָצוֹת הַדָּת וּלְחַזֵּק הַבֶּדֶק אוֹ לִקְנֹס אַלָּם זֶה וַהֲרֵי הוּא אוֹמֵר בְּעֶזְרָא (עזרא י ח) "וְכל אֲשֶׁר לֹא יָבוֹא לִשְׁלֹשֶׁת הַיָּמִים כַּעֲצַת הַשָּׂרִים וְהַזְּקֵנִים יָחֳרַם כָּל רְכוּשׁוֹ" מִכָּאן שֶׁהֶפְקֵר בֵּית דִּין הֶפְקֵר:

7

Similarly, a judge may apply a ban of ostracism or excommunication to a person to whom these measures would not ordinarily be applied according to his perception of what is necessary at that time. He should state that he is ostracizing him or excommunicating him on his own conviction and should publicize his transgression in public. This is indicated by Judges 5:23: "'Curse Meroz,' said the angel of G‑d. 'Curse him. Those who dwell with him are cursed, because they did not come to the aid of God's people.'"

ז

וְכֵן יֵשׁ לַדַּיָּן לְנַדּוֹת וּלְהַחֲרִים מִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ בֶּן נִדּוּי כְּדֵי לִגְדֹּר פֶּרֶץ כְּפִי מַה שֶּׁיֵּרָאֶה לוֹ וְהַשָּׁעָה צְרִיכָה לְכָךְ וְיֹאמַר שֶׁנִּדָּהוּ וְהֶחְרִימָהוּ עַל דַּעְתּוֹ וִיפַרְסֵם חֶטְאוֹ בָּרַבִּים שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שופטים ה כג) "אוֹרוּ מֵרוֹז אָמַר מַלְאַךְ ה' אֹרוּ אָרוֹר ישְׁבֶיהָ כִּי לֹא בָאוּ לְעֶזְרַת ה'":

8

Similarly, a judge may enter into a controversy with a person with whom it is necessary to enter into controversy, cursing him, having him beaten, having his hair pulled out, and compelling him to take an oath to God against his will so that he will not perform or that he did not perform a specific action, as Nechemiah 13:25 states: "I entered into controversy with them; I cursed them; I beat people among them; I tore their hair out, and I made them take an oath to God."

ח

וְכֵן יֵשׁ לַדַּיָּן לַעֲשׂוֹת מְרִיבָה עִם הָרָאוּי לָרִיב עִמּוֹ וּלְקַלְּלוֹ וּלְהַכּוֹתוֹ וְלִתְלֹשׁ שְׂעָרוֹ וּלְהַשְׁבִּיעַ בֵּאלֹהִים בְּעַל כָּרְחוֹ שֶׁלֹּא יַעֲשֶׂה אוֹ שֶׁלֹּא עָשָׂה. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (נחמיה יג כה) "וָאָרִיב עִמָּם וָאֲקַלְלֵם וָאַכֶּה מֵהֶם אֲנָשִׁים וָאֶמְרְטֵם וָאַשְׁבִּיעֵם בֵּאלֹהִים":

9

Similarly, he may have a person's hands and feet bound. He may imprison him and have him pushed to the ground and dragged, as Ezra 7:26 states: "Judgment will be speedily administered to him, to be executed, to be uprooted, to be punished by a loss of property, and to be imprisoned."

ט

וְכֵן יֵשׁ לוֹ לִכְפּוֹת יָדַיִם וְרַגְלַיִם וְלֶאֱסֹר בְּבֵית הָאֲסוּרִים וְלִדְחֹף וְלִסְחֹב עַל הָאָרֶץ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (עזרא ז כו) "הֵן לְמוֹת הֵן לִשְׁרשִׁי הֵן לַעֲנָשׁ נִכְסִין וְלֶאֱסוּרִין":

10

All of the above measures should be applied according to the judge's perception that it is appropriate that the violator be punished in this manner or the situation at large requires it. All of his deeds should be for the sake of heaven and the honor of people at large should not be light in his eyes. For consideration of their honor overrides the observance of a Rabbinic prohibition. Certainly, this applies with regard to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who uphold the Torah of truth. He must take care not to ruin their honor and act only to increase the honor of the Omnipresent. For whenever a person debases the Torah, his person will be degraded for people at large. Conversely, when a person honors the Torah, his person will be honored by people at large. And there is no other honor for the Torah except to follow its statutes and judgments.

י

כָּל אֵלּוּ הַדְּבָרִים לְפִי מַה שֶּׁיִּרְאֶה הַדַּיָּן שֶׁזֶּה רָאוּי לְכָךְ וְשֶׁהַשָּׁעָה צְרִיכָה. וּבַכּל יִהְיוּ מַעֲשָׂיו לְשֵׁם שָׁמַיִם וְאַל יִהְיֶה כְּבוֹד הַבְּרִיּוֹת קַל בְּעֵינָיו שֶׁהֲרֵי הוּא דּוֹחֶה אֶת לֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה שֶׁל דִּבְרֵיהֶם וְכָל שֶׁכֵּן כְּבוֹד בְּנֵי אַבְרָהָם יִצְחָק וְיַעֲקֹב הַמַּחֲזִיקִין בְּתוֹרַת הָאֱמֶת שֶׁיִּהְיֶה זָהִיר שֶׁלֹּא יַהֲרֹס כְּבוֹדָם אֶלָּא לְהוֹסִיף בִּכְבוֹד הַמָּקוֹם בִּלְבַד שֶׁכָּל הַמְבַזֶּה אֶת הַתּוֹרָה גּוּפוֹ מְחֻלָּל עַל הַבְּרִיּוֹת וְהַמְכַבֵּד אֶת הַתּוֹרָה גּוּפוֹ מְכֻבָּד עַל הַבְּרִיּוֹת. וְאֵין כְּבוֹד הַתּוֹרָה אֶלָּא לַעֲשׂוֹת עַל פִּי חֻקֶּיהָ וּמִשְׁפָּטֶיהָ:

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The Mishneh Torah was the Rambam's (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon) magnum opus, a work spanning hundreds of chapters and describing all of the laws mentioned in the Torah. To this day it is the only work that details all of Jewish observance, including those laws which are only applicable when the Holy Temple is in place. Participating in one of the annual study cycles of these laws (3 chapters/day, 1 chapter/day, or Sefer Hamitzvot) is a way we can play a small but essential part in rebuilding the final Temple.
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