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Kollel Iyun Hadaf, Jerusalem

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Sanhedrin 18

***** Perek Kohen Gadol *****



(a) A Kohen Gadol, says our Mishnah, can both judge and be judged. He can perform Chalitzah and his wife is subject to Chalitzah. Although his brother may perform Yibum with his wife, he cannot perform Yibum with his brother's wife - because he is forbidden (through an Asei and a Lo Sa'aseh) to marry an Almanah.

(b) According to Rebbi Meir, he is permitted to attend the Lavayah of his wife. To avoid rendering himself Tamei however, he must remain out of sight of the coffin. He only enters a street after the pall-bearers have left it, and the moment they enter a street where he is, he must leave it. Once the coffin reaches the city gates, he is obligated to turn back.

(c) Rebbi Yehudah interprets the Pasuk "u'Min ha'Mikdash Lo Yeitzei" literally to mean - that the Kohen Gadol does not even leave the Beis-Hamikdash, but continues with the Avodah as if nothing would have happened.

(d) Rebbi Meir interprets the Pasuk - to mean that he is not permitted to 'forsake his Kedushas Kehunah, by becoming Tamei Meis.

(a) The Shurah (the row, following the burial) differed in the days of the Mishnah from today - inasmuch as the people would file past the Aveilim, and not vice-versa.

(b) And a Kohen Gadol comforting mourners differed from other comforters - inasmuch as the Memuneh (the deputy Kohen-Gadol) would walk on his right as he walked past the Aveil, who was standing on his left.

(c) If he was the Aveil ...

1. ... the people would say to him - 'We are your atonement' (meaning that they were willing to accept all misfortune that were due to come upon you'.
2. ... he would respond - 'May you be blessed'.
(d) The Se'udas Havra'ah (the first meal after the burial) of the Kohen Gadol differed from a regular one - inasmuch as the people sat on the floor, whilst the Kohen Gadol himself sat on a bench (or a chair).
(a) The Din of king differs from that of a Kohen Gadol with regard to judging, Chalitzah and Yibum - inasmuch as the former can neither judge nor be judged, perform neither Chalitzah nor Yibum, nor is Chalitzah or Yibum performed with his wife.

(b) The king is not permitted to perform ...

1. ... Yibum - because it is undignified for him to stand in for brother.
2. ... Chalitzah - because it is undignified for a king to be spat at.
(c) This is the opinion of the Tana Kama. Rebbi Yehudah disagrees with him however. According to him - a king who permits Chalitzah or Yibum is praiseworthy.

(d) The king's brother may not perform Yibum with the king's Almanah - because she is not permitted to remarry (and a woman who cannot marry is not subject to Chalitzah either).

4) Rebbi Yehudah also disagrees with the Tana Kama, who forbids anyone to marry the widow of a king. He proves otherwise from the Pasuk, where the Navi said to David - "And I shall give you your master (Shaul)'s house, and your master's wives in your bosom".


(a) We refute the initial suggestion that the Tana writes 'Kohen Gadol Dan' (which is not a Chidush), because of 'Danin Oso' (which is) - on the basis of the Pasuk "Hiskosheshu ve'Koshu", from which Resh Lakish learns that a person must rectify himself before he can rectify others ('Practice what you preach!')

(b) This applies to our case - inasmuch as, by the same principle, a person can only judge others if he is himself able to be judged.

(c) And the reason that the Tana inserts the Din of a Kohen Gadol is - to stress the difference between him and a king.

(a) Alternatively, the Chidush lies in a Beraisa. The Tana rules there that a Kohen Gadol who kills ...
1. ... on purpose - is sentenced to death.
2. ... inadvertently - has to run to a city of refuge.
(b) The Chidush in this Beraisa is - that we might have otherwise thought that a Kohen Gadol does not need to go into exile - since he can never go free.

(c) Besides a Kohen Gadol who killed someone inadvertently, the Mishnah in Makos denies - someone who killed the Kohen Gadol the right ever to go free?

(d) We learn that a Kohen Gadol goes into Galus from the Pasuk - "la'Nus Shamah *Kol* Rotze'ach".




(a) When the Tana writes 'Over al Asei ve'al Lo Sa'aseh' - he means that if he did transgress an Asei (see Aruch la'Ner) or a Lo Sa'aseh, he is judged for Malkos by a Beis-Din of three (and not of seventy-one).

(b) The Chidush is - that we do not Darshen 'Kol Devarav shel Gadol', to require a Beis-Din of seventy-one for all rulings that concern him.

(c) Based on Rav Ada bar Ahavah, who Darshens "Kol ha'Davar ha'Gadol Yavi'u Eilecha", 'Kol Devarav shel Gadol' (as we learned earlier), we do not Darshen that, too - because the Torah writes "Davar ha'Gadol" and not "Divrei ha'Gadol", insinuating that it is only major rulings that require the Beis-Din ha'Gadol (i.e. capital punishment), but not minor ones (corporal punishment).

(a) The Beraisa learns from the Pasuk "ve'His'alamta Meihem" - that sometimes a person is exempt from the Mitzvah of 'Hashavas Aveidah'. Among other cases, this pertains to a 'Zakein ve'Eino Le'fi Kevodo' (an elder for whom returning it is undignified), into which category a Kohen Gadol falls.

(b) The problem this creates with our Mishnah, which obligates a Kohen Gadol to testify, is - why he should not be exempt from appearing in court (seeing as both the litigants and the judges are of a lower status than he is).

(c) We cannot establish the case with regard to testifying for ...

1. ... a king - because we learned in our Mishnah that 'Melech Lo Dan ve'Lo Danin Oso'.
2. ... the son of a king - because the son of a king is no different than anybody else.
(d) We conclude that the Tana is referring to testifying in front of a king. In spite of our Mishnah, which forbids a king to judge - , the king would be asked to attend the court-hearing, to obligate the Kohen Gadol to testify, following which, he would go home and Beis-Din would proceed to discuss the case.
(a) A king cannot sit on the Sanhedrin - because since he is greater than all the other members of the Sanhedrin, they would not be able to contradict his opinion, seeing as the Torah writes "ve'Lo Sa'aneh al Riv" (which we explain to mean 've'Lo Sa'aneh al Rav' [meaning that a member of Beis-Din is not permitted to argue with his superior]). Consequently, once the king declared someone guilty, no-one would be able to proclaim him innocent.

(b) The Beraisa also forbids the seven judges who decide Ibur Shanah to include ...

1. ... a king - because a king tends pay his soldiers on an annual basis, in which case he has a vested interest in declaring every year a leap-year (so that he gains a month [and a person who is prejudiced cannot be a judge]).
2. ... a Kohen Gadol - because he is prejudiced the other way, due to the fact that he Tovels in a cold Mikveh on Yom-Kipur, and would therefore prefer it to fall earlier in the year, when the weather is warmer.
(c) Rav Papa extrapolates from here that 'Shata Basar Yarcha Azil', by which he means - that the seasons follow the original months, and therefore change with the leap-year (so that, following a leap-year, the cold of Mar-Cheshvan will occur in Tishri).
(a) We query Rav Papa's statement however, from 'those three cowhands', who overheard the Chachamim say that if the ground is sufficiently warm ...
1. ... to cause both the early seed (the wheat that was planted at the beginning of Adar) and the late seed (the barley that is only planted at the end of the month) to grow together, then it is really Adar; if not, it should have been Sh'vat (and it will be necessary to declare Adar Sheini).
2. ... for the ox to die of cold in the morning due to the snow, and yet it needs to seek shade from the heat of the midday sun - then it is really Adar ... .
3. ... for a person's breath to dispel the cold of the east wind, then it is indeed Adar ... .
(b) We learn from from there that - the seasons follow the leap-year (and not the original months, as Rav Papa explained).

(c) We cannot however, take the cowhands testimony too seriously anyway - since they are not the most reliable of people.

(d) The Chachamim declared a leap-year following their testimony - because according to their reckoning, it was due to be a leap-year anyway, and the leap-year just happened to coincide with the seasons too (though this was not usually the case).

(a) We establish the ruling of our Mishnah prohibiting the Kohen Gadol to perform Yibum, irrespective of whether the Yevamah fell to him from his brother's marriage to her or from the betrothal. This prohibition is easily understood in respect of the former, which constitutes an Asei ("ki-Im Besulah me'Amav Yikach Ishah") and a Lo Sa'aseh ("Almanah Lo Yikach" [which cannot override the Asei of "Yevamah Yavo Alehah"), but not of the latter - which is only a Lo Sa'aseh, and which the Asei of Yibum ought therefore to override.

(b) We resolve this She'eilah - by establishing the La'av as a Rabbinical prohibition, who forbade the first Bi'ah (which acquires the Yevamah) on account of the second Bi'ah, which is forbidden min ha'Torah.

(c) The Beraisa rules - that if the Kohen Gadol performed Yibum (Bi'ah Rishonah) with an Almanah from betrothal, he will have acquired her, but he is not permitted to perform Bi'ah Sheniyah with her, bearing out Rav Papa's ruling.

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