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Daily Mitzvah

Negative Commandment 310; Positive Commandment 224; Negative Commandment 300

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Negative Commandment 310 (Digest)
Allowing a Sorcerer to Live

"You shall not allow a witch to live"Exodus 22:17.

It is forbidden to allow a sorcerer to live [rather, he must be put to death].

Positive Commandment 224 (Digest)
Punishment by Flogging

"The judge shall make him lean over and flog him in front of him"Deuteronomy 25:2.

Transgressors of certain sins are to be punished with flogging.

Negative Commandment 300 (Digest)
Flogging a Defendant more than He can Bear

"He shall give him forty lashes; he may not exceed"Deuteronomy 25:2-3.

A judge may not sentence a person (found guilty of an offense that calls for flogging) to be flogged even one lash more than his body can physically bear.

A person who is sentenced to flogging is given 39 lashes. However, no person is flogged until [a doctor] estimates how many lashes the defendant can bear—taking in consideration his age, constitution and physique. If the defendant cannot bear the full 39 lashes, he is given as many as he is capable of receiving—not less, however, than three lashes. [In the event that he is only capable of bearing less than three lashes, he is not flogged at all.]

Included in this prohibition is adding even one lash on the 39 requisite lashes [even for one capable of bearing it].

Also included in this mitzvah is the prohibition against striking a fellow Jew. If we are admonished not to strike a sinner [more than he deserves], how much more so the innocent!

It is even forbidden to raise one's hand against a fellow, threatening to strike, even if one has no intention of actually hitting. As our Sages say, "One who [just] raises his hands on his fellow is called evil."


Translation of (the unabridged text of) Sefer Hamitzvot by Rabbi Berel Bell, member of the Rabbinical Court of Montreal and director of Teacher Training for the Jewish Learning Institute.

From "Sefer Hamitzvot in English," published by Sichos in English.
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  –Hayom Yom, Tamuz 22
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