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Rosh Kollel: Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld

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Sanhedrin 37


(a) Three rows of Chachamim sit in front of the Sanhedrin; each knows his proper place.
(b) If they must give Semichah to one (e.g. one of the Sanhedrin died), they Somech someone in the first row, someone from the second row goes to the first row, someone from the third row goes to the second, and they choose someone else to sit in the last row;
1. He would not sit in the vacated seat, rather, in the place fitting for him.
(c) (Gemara) Question: What is the source of this?
(d) Answer (Rav Acha bar Chanina): "Sharerech Agan ha'Sahar Al Yechsar ha'Mezeg" - "Sharerech" refers to the Great Sanhedrin;
1. It is called Sharerech (navel) because it sits in (Liskas ha'Gazis, in the) middle of the world.
2. "Agan" - because it is Magen (protects) the entire world;
3. "Ha'Sahar" - they sit in a (semi-)circle, like the moon;
4. "Al Yechsar ha'Mezeg" - one may leave the Sanhedrin only if 23 (the size of a small Sanhedrin) will remain.
(e) "Bitnech Aremas Chitim" - just as all enjoy wheat, all enjoy the reasons the Sanhedrin gives.
(f) "Sugah ba'Shoshanim" - Yisrael do not breach even a wall of roses (Rabbinical enactments).
1. A Min: You permit a Nidah to be secluded with her husband - is it possible that a fire will not singe chips?
2. Rav Kahana: The Torah testified about us - "Sugah ba'Shoshanim", we do not breach even a wall of roses.
(g) (Reish Lakish): We learn from "K'Felach ha'Rimon Rakasech" - even Reikim (empty Yisraelim) are full of Mitzvos like a pomegranate (is full of seeds).
(h) (R. Zeira): We learn from "Va'Yarach Es Re'ach Begadav" - we read this "Bogedav" (even betrayers in Yisrael have a nice smell).
(i) Some uncouth people lived in R. Zeira's area; he endeared them in order to encourage them to repent; other Rabanan were upset about this.
1. When R. Zeira died, these people reasoned: until now, R. Zeira used to pray for us - now who will pray for us? They did a proper repentance.
(a) (Mishnah): To frighten the witnesses in capital cases, we bring them in and say: perhaps you are speaking through estimation, or what you heard from other witnesses;
(b) Perhaps you don't know that we will check you with Drishos and Chakiros?
(c) You should know that capital cases are not like monetary cases: in monetary cases (if one testified falsely), he could pay and atone for his sin;
1. If a person killed through false testimony, he is responsible for his blood and that of all the descendants that would have come from him for all generations.
2. Kayin killed Hevel, it says "Demei Achicha (plural)", showing that he is charged for his blood and that of the descendants fitting to come from him.
3. Also, it says *Demei*, because his blood was spilled over wood and stones.
(d) Hash-m originally created only one man, to teach that killing one Yisrael is like destroying an entire world, and saving one Yisrael is like saving an entire world.
(e) Also, this promotes Shalom among people, one cannot say 'My progenitor was created before yours'.
(f) Also, this prevents Minim (heretics) from saying that there are different powers that created.
(g) Also, this shows the greatness of Hash-m: if a person makes a stamp to mint coins, they all look the same;
1. Hash-m made all people in the mold of Adam ha'Rishon, yet no two people look alike.
(h) Therefore, everyone must say 'the world was created for me'.
(i) Perhaps you (the witnesses) will say 'Why should we enter this matter (to kill the defendant)'?

(j) It says "V'Hu Ed O Ra'ah O Yada Im Lo Yagid" - if you saw, you must testify.
(k) Perhaps you will say 'Why should we be liable for his blood?'
(l) "Va'Avod Resha'im Rinah" - there will not be retribution.
(m) (Gemara - Beraisa) Saying by estimation: perhaps you saw Reuven chasing Shimon to kill him, and you found Reuven holding a sword dripping with blood and Shimon was murdered and still quivering - if so, you saw nothing (to testify about)!
1. (Beraisa - Shimon ben Shetach): I saw Levi chasing Yehudah into a ruin; I ran after him, and I found Levi holding a sword dripping with blood and Yehudah was murdered and quivering. I said 'Rasha - who killed him, me or you? However, I cannot do anything - "Al Pi Shnayim Edim Yumas ha'Mes". The One who knows thoughts will punish one who kills another.'
2. Before he moved, a snake bit Levi and killed him.
(n) Question: This was not the proper death penalty for Levi (a murderer is beheaded)!
1. (Rav Yosef): After the Mikdash was destroyed, even though the Sanhedrin does not sit (in its place, to judge capital cases), the four death penalties did not cease.
2. Objection: Indeed, they ceased!
3. Correction: Rather, death according to the four death penalties did not cease:
i. Someone deserving of stoning (Beis Din throws him down from a height; if he survives, they drop a boulder on him, if necessary, he is stoned) falls from a roof, or a beast tramples him;
ii. Someone deserving of burning falls into a fire, or a snake bites him (the venom burns him);
iii. Someone deserving of the sword, the kingdom kills him (e.g. by a guillotine) or robbers stab him;
iv. Someone deserving of choking drowns in a river or dies of quinsy (a throat sickness).
(o) Answer: Levi had done another transgression worthy of burning.
1. Someone liable for two different Misos Beis Din receives the more severe one.
(p) (Mishnah): By estimation.
(q) Inference: In capital cases, testimony by estimation is invalid - it is valid for monetary cases!
(r) Suggestion: Our Mishnah is like R. Acha.
1. (Beraisa - R. Acha): A dead camel was found next to a camel that is mating (some say - that bites) - we are sure that it killed it.
(s) Objection: We also tell them that Ed mi'Pi Ed (a witness who testifies about what he heard from another witness) is unacceptable - will you also infer that this is Kosher for monetary cases?!
1. (Mishnah): If he says 'Reuven himself told me', or 'Ploni told me', this is not testimony;
2. He must say 'Reuven admitted to him in front of us that he owes him 200'.
(t) Conclusion: Even though it is also invalid for monetary cases, we tell capital witnesses that it is invalid - the same applies to testimony by estimation.
(a) (Mishnah): (...It says *Dmei*, because his blood was on wood and stones.)
(b) (Rav Yehudah brei d'R. Chiya): This teaches that Kayin wounded Hevel in many places, he did not know where to hit him to kill him, until he struck his neck.
(c) (Rav Yehudah brei d'R. Chiya): From the day that the earth opened its mouth to swallow Hevel's blood, it did not open it again - "Mi'Kenaf ha'Aretz Zmiros Shamanu" - from the corner of the earth, not from the mouth.
(d) Question (Chizkiyah): "Va'Tiftach ha'Aretz Es Piha"!
(e) Answer (Rav Yehudah): It opened its mouth for evil, not for good.
(f) (Rav Yehudah brei d'R. Chiya): Galus atones halfway - Kayin's judgment was "Vehayisi Na va'Nod", he only had to fulfill half, "Vayeshev b'Eretz Nod".
(g) (Rav Yehudah): Galus atones for three things: (people who were liable to die) "Ba'Cherev uva'Ra'av uva'Dever...v'Nafal Al ha'Kasdim...Vechayah" (if they are exiled by the Babylonians, they will live).
(h) (R. Yochanan): Galus atones for everything - "Ha'Ish ha'Zeh Ariri...Lo Yitzlach mi'Zar'o...Al Kisei" (Yechonyah will not have children, his throne will not pass to his seed)"; after he was exiled, it says "U'Vnei Yechanyah Asir She'alti'el Beno";
1. His son is called "Asir" because he was conceived in jail;
2. "She'alti'el" - Hash-m planted him in the womb unnaturally - normally, a woman does not get pregnant standing up, but his mother did.
3. Also - "She'alti'el", Hash-m permitted His vow that Yechanyah would not have children.
4. His son is called Zerubavel because he was Nizra (conceived) in Bavel; 5. His son's true name was Nechemyah ben Chachalyah.
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