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Sanhedrin veha’Onashin haMesurin lahem - Chapter 11

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Sanhedrin veha’Onashin haMesurin lahem - Chapter 11

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

What are the differences between cases involving financial matters and cases involving capital punishment? Cases involving financial matters are adjudicated by three judges, while cases involving capital punishment are adjudicated by 23. In cases involving financial matters, we begin the judgment either with a statement to the defendant's detriment or his advancement, while with regard to cases involving capital punishment, we begin with a statement which points towards acquittal, as we explained, and we don't begin with one which points toward his conviction.

In cases involving financial matters, we make a decision based on a majority of one whether it is to the defendant's detriment or in his support, while with regard to cases involving capital punishment, we acquit him on the basis of a majority of one, but convict him only when there is a majority of two. In cases involving financial matters, we retry a judgment whether doing so is to the defendant's detriment or his advancement, while with regard to cases involving capital punishment, we retry a judgment if it will lead to acquittal, but not if it will lead to conviction, as we explained.

In cases involving financial matters, everyone - both the judges or the scholars - is entitled to advance any rationale whether it is to the defendant's detriment or in his support. With regard to cases involving capital punishment, by contrast, everyone - even the students - may advance a rationale leading to acquittal, but only the judges may advance a rationale leading to conviction. In cases involving financial matters, a person who advanced a rationale to the defendant's detriment may change his mind and advance a rationale in his support. Conversely, one who advanced a rationale in the defendant's support may change his mind and advance a rationale to his detriment. With regard to cases involving capital punishment, by contrast, a judge who advanced a rationale for conviction may advance a rationale for acquittal, but a judge who advanced a rationale for acquittal may not change his mind and advance a rationale for conviction. At the time the judgment is being rendered, however, he may vote to be counted among those favoring conviction, as we explained.

Cases involving financial matters are adjudicated during the day, but the verdict may be rendered at night. Cases involving capital punishment are adjudicated during the day and the verdict must also be rendered during the day. The verdict in cases involving financial matters is rendered on that very day, whether it is to the defendant's detriment or in his support. With regard to cases involving capital punishment, by contrast, a verdict of acquittal is rendered on that very day, but a verdict of conviction is not rendered until the following day.

א

מַה בֵּין דִּינֵי מָמוֹנוֹת לְדִינֵי נפָשׁוֹת. דִּינֵי מָמוֹנוֹת בִּשְׁלֹשָׁה דִּינֵי נְפָשׁוֹת בְּעֶשְׂרִים וּשְׁלֹשָׁה. דִּינֵי מָמוֹנוֹת פּוֹתְחִין בֵּין לִזְכוּת בֵּין לְחוֹבָה דִּינֵי נְפָשׁוֹת פּוֹתְחִין לִזְכוּת כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ וְאֵין פּוֹתְחִין לְחוֹבָה. דִּינֵי מָמוֹנוֹת מַטִּין עַל פִּי אֶחָד בֵּין לִזְכוּת בֵּין לְחוֹבָה דִּינֵי נְפָשׁוֹת מַטִּין עַל פִּי אֶחָד לִזְכוּת וְעַל פִּי שְׁנַיִם לְחוֹבָה. דִּינֵי מָמוֹנוֹת מַחֲזִירִין בֵּין לִזְכוּת בֵּין לְחוֹבָה וְדִינֵי נְפָשׁוֹת מַחֲזִירִין לִזְכוּת וְאֵין מַחֲזִירִין לְחוֹבָה כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ. דִּינֵי מָמוֹנוֹת הַכּל רְאוּיִין לְלַמֵּד זְכוּת אוֹ חוֹבָה בֵּין הַדַּיָּנִים בֵּין הַתַּלְמִידִים וְדִינֵי נְפָשׁוֹת הַכּל מְלַמְּדִין זְכוּת וַאֲפִלּוּ הַתַּלְמִידִים וְאֵין מְלַמֵּד חוֹבָה אֶלָּא הַדַּיָּנִים. דִּינֵי מָמוֹנוֹת הַדַּיָּן הַמְלַמֵּד חוֹבָה חוֹזֵר וּמְלַמֵּד זְכוּת וְהַמְלַמֵּד זְכוּת חוֹזֵר וּמְלַמֵּד חוֹבָה דִּינֵי נְפָשׁוֹת הַמְלַמֵּד חוֹבָה חוֹזֵר וּמְלַמֵּד זְכוּת אֲבָל הַמְלַמֵּד זְכוּת אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לַחְזֹר וּלְלַמֵּד חוֹבָה אֶלָּא בִּשְׁעַת גְּמַר דִּין יֵשׁ לוֹ לַחְזֹר וּלְהִמָּנוֹת עִם הַמְחַיְּבִין כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ. דִּינֵי מָמוֹנוֹת דָּנִין בַּיּוֹם וְגוֹמְרִין בַּלַּיְלָה דִּינֵי נְפָשׁוֹת דָּנִין בַּיּוֹם וְגוֹמְרִין בַּיּוֹם. דִּינֵי מָמוֹנוֹת גּוֹמְרִין בּוֹ בַּיּוֹם בֵּין לִזְכוּת בֵּין לְחוֹבָה דִּינֵי נְפָשׁוֹת גּוֹמְרִין בּוֹ בַּיּוֹם לִזְכוּת וּבַיּוֹם שֶׁלְּאַחֲרָיו לְחוֹבָה:

2

For this reason, we do not adjudicate cases involving capital punishment on Fridays, nor on the days preceding festivals. The rationale is that the defendant may be convicted and it is impossible to execute him on the following day, but it is forbidden to postpone his execution until after the Sabbath. Hence, we imprison him and begin his trial on Sunday.

ב

לְפִיכָךְ אֵין דָּנִין דִּינֵי נְפָשׁוֹת לֹא עֶרֶב שַׁבָּת וְלֹא עֶרֶב יוֹם טוֹב שֶׁמָּא יִתְחַיֵּב וְאִי אֶפְשָׁר לְהָרְגוֹֹ לְמָחָר וְאָסוּר לְעַנּוֹת אֶת דִּינוֹ וּלְהַנִּיחוֹ אַחַר הַשַּׁבָּת אֶלָּא אוֹסְרִין אוֹתוֹ עַד אֶחָד בְּשַׁבָּת וּמַתְחִילִין בְּדִינוֹ:

3

According to Scriptural Law, cases involving financial law can be adjudicated at all times, as Exodus 18:22 states: "They shall judge the people at all times." According to Rabbinic Law, cases are not adjudicated on Fridays.

ג

דִּינֵי מָמוֹנוֹת אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁדָּנִין אוֹתָן בְּכָל יוֹם מִן הַתּוֹרָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות יח כב) "וְשָׁפְטוּ אֶת הָעָם בְּכָל עֵת" מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם לָמְדוּ שֶׁאֵין דָּנִין בְּעֶרֶב שַׁבָּת:

4

All of the same laws that apply to cases involving capital punishment apply also to cases involving lashes and exile, except that cases involving lashes are adjudicated by three judges. None of these distinctions are made with regard to the judgment of an ox that is stoned except for one, that the judgment is adjudicated by 23 judges.

ד

אֶחָד דִּינֵי נְפָשׁוֹת וְאֶחָד דִּינֵי מַלְקִיּוֹת וְאֶחָד דִּינֵי גָּלוּת הַדִּינִים הָאֵלּוּ שָׁוִים בָּהֶן אֶלָּא שֶׁהַמַּלְקוֹת בִּשְׁלֹשָׁה וְאֵין אֶחָד מֵהֶן בְּשׁוֹר הַנִּסְקָל חוּץ מִדָּבָר אֶחָד שֶׁדִּינוֹ בְּעֶשְׂרִים וּשְׁלֹשָׁה:

5

The laws which pertain to a mesit, a person who entices others to serve false divinities, differ from those pertaining to others liable for capital punishment. We hide witnesses to observe his act. He does not need a warning as must be given to others who are executed. If he departed from the court after being acquitted, and someone said: "I know a rationale that will lead to his conviction," he is returned and retried. If he was sentenced to death and someone said: "I know a rationale that will lead to his release," he is not retried. The court does not advance arguments in defense of a mesit. An elderly person, a eunuch, and a person who does not have sons are placed on the court which judges him, so that they will not have mercy on him. For cruelty to those who sway the people after emptiness brings mercy to the world, as implied by Deuteronomy 13:19: "so that God will turn away from His fierce anger and grant you mercy."

ה

הַמַּסִּית אֵין דִּינָיו כִּשְׁאָר דִּינֵי נְפָשׁוֹת. מְכַמְנִין לוֹ אֶת הָעֵדִים. וְאֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ הַתְרָאָה כִּשְׁאָר הַנֶּהֱרָגִין. וְאִם יָצָא מִבֵּית דִּין זַכַּאי וְאָמַר אֶחָד יֵשׁ לִי לְלַמֵּד עָלָיו חוֹבָה מַחֲזִירִין אוֹתוֹ. יָצָא חַיָּב וְאָמַר אֶחָד יֵשׁ לִי לְלַמֵּד עָלָיו זְכוּת אֵין מַחֲזִירִין אוֹתוֹ. וְאֵין טוֹעֲנִין לְמַסִּית. וּמוֹשִׁיבִין בְּדִינוֹ זָקֵן וְסָרִיס וּמִי שֶׁאֵין לוֹ בָּנִים כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יְרַחֲמוּ עָלָיו. שֶׁהָאַכְזָרִיּוּת עַל אֵלּוּ שֶׁמַּטְעִין אֶת הָעָם אַחֲרֵי הַהֶבֶל רַחֲמִים הוּא בָּעוֹלָם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יג יח) "לְמַעַן יָשׁוּב ה' מֵחֲרוֹן אַפּוֹ וְנָתַן לְךָ רַחֲמִים":

6

With regard to cases involving monetary matters and similarly questions of ritual purity and impurity, the judge of the greatest stature gives his ruling first and the other judges hear his ruling. With regard to laws involving capital punishment, we begin from the side. The words of the judge of the highest stature are not heard until the end.

ו

דִּינֵי מָמוֹנוֹת וְכֵן הַטֻּמְאוֹת וְהַטָּהֳרוֹת מַתְחִילִין מִן הַגָּדוֹל שֶׁבַּדַּיָּנִים וְשׁוֹמְעִין אֶת דְּבָרָיו. וְדִינֵי נְפָשׁוֹת מַתְחִילִין מִן הַצַּד וְאֵין שׁוֹמְעִין דִּבְרֵי הַגָּדוֹל אֶלָּא בָּאַחֲרוֹנָה:

7

With regard to cases involving monetary matters and similarly questions of ritual purity and impurity, a father and his son and a teacher and his student are counted as two judges. With regard to cases involving capital punishment, lashes, and the sanctification of the moon and the declaration of a leap year, a father and his son and a teacher and his student are counted as one.

ז

דִּינֵי מָמוֹנוֹת וְכֵן הַטֻּמְאוֹת וְכֵן הַטָּהֳרוֹת הָאָב וּבְנוֹ הָרַב וְתַלְמִידוֹ מוֹנִין אוֹתָן בִּשְׁנַיִם. וְדִינֵי נְפָשׁוֹת וּמַכּוֹת וְקִדּוּשׁ הַחֹדֶשׁ וְעִבּוּר הַשָּׁנָה אָב וּבְנוֹ אוֹ הָרַב וְתַלְמִידוֹ מוֹנִין אוֹתָן בְּאֶחָד:

8

The concept that a father and a son are counted as one or as two applies when one is a member of the Sanhedrin and the other was one of the students attending the court who said: "I can contribute a rationale that will lead to his vindication," or "...to his being held liable." We listen to his words and enable him to participate in the debate, and he is counted in the polling of the judges.

ח

זֶה שֶׁאָנוּ מוֹנִין הָאָב עִם הַבֵּן בֵּין בְּאֶחָד בֵּין בִּשְׁנַיִם כְּגוֹן שֶׁהָיָה הָאֶחָד מֵהֶן בַּסַּנְהֶדְרִין וְהַשֵּׁנִי הָיָה מִן הַתַּלְמִידִים שֶׁאָמַר יֵשׁ לִי לְלַמֵּד זְכוּת אוֹ חוֹבָה שׁוֹמְעִין דְּבָרָיו וְנוֹשְׂאִין וְנוֹתְנִין עִמּוֹ וְנִמְנִין עִמּוֹ:

9

At the time of the final judgment, relatives are not included. For judges who are related to each other are not acceptable to rule together, as will be explained.

ט

וּבִשְׁעַת גְּמַר דִּין אֵין גּוֹמְרִין אֶת הַדִּין בִּקְרוֹבִים שֶׁהַדַּיָּנִין הַקְּרוֹבִים פְּסוּלִין לְדִין כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר:

10

When a student was wise and understanding but is lacking sufficient knowledge of the tradition, his master may convey to him the tradition which he requires with regard to these laws and then he may serve as a judge even in cases regarding capital punishment.

י

תַּלְמִיד שֶׁהָיָה חָכָם וּמֵבִין וְהָיָה מְחֻסָּר קַבָּלָה הֲרֵי רַבּוֹ מוֹסֵר לוֹ הַקַּבָּלָה שֶׁהוּא צָרִיךְ לָהּ בְּדִין זֶה וְהוּא דָּן עִמּוֹ בְּדִינֵי נְפָשׁוֹת:

11

All individuals are acceptable to judge cases involving financial laws, even a convert, provided his mother is a native-born Jewess.

A convert may judge a fellow convert even if his mother is not a native-born Jewess. Similarly, a mamzer and a person who is blind in one eye are acceptable to adjudicate financial disputes. Cases involving capital punishment, however, may be judged only by priests, Levites, and Israelites with lineage acceptable to marry into the priesthood. not one of them may be blind even in one of his eyes, as we explained.

יא

הַכּל כְּשֵׁרִים לָדוּן דִּינֵי מָמוֹנוֹת אֲפִלּוּ גֵּר וְהוּא שֶׁתִּהְיֶה אִמּוֹ מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל. וְגֵר דָּן אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ הַגֵּר אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין אִמּוֹ מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל וְכֵן הַמַּמְזֵר וְהַסּוּמָא בְּאַחַת מֵעֵינָיו כָּשֵׁר לָדוּן דִּינֵי מָמוֹנוֹת. אֲבָל בְּדִינֵי נְפָשׁוֹת אֵין דָּנִין אוֹתָן אֶלָּא כֹּהֲנִים לְוִיִּם וְיִשְׂרְאֵלִים הַמַּשִּׂיאִין לִכְהֻנָּה וְלֹא יִהְיֶה אֶחָד מֵהֶן סוּמָא אֲפִלּוּ בְּאַחַת מֵעֵינָיו כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ:

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