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prepared by Rabbi Eliezer Chrysler
Kollel Iyun Hadaf, Jerusalem

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Sanhedrin 37



(a) Rebbi Acha b'Rebbi Chanina quotes the Pasuk in Shir ha'Shirim "Sharerech Agan ha'Sahar, Al Yechsar ha'Mazeg". The Pasuk refers to the Sanhedrin as ''Sharerech" (which means a navel) - because they sat in the Beis-Hamikdash, which was situated in the center of the world.

(b) "Agan ha'Sahar" means a circular dish. The Pasuk uses the Lashon "Agan" to describe the way they sat - to hint at their function of shielding over the whole world.

(c) "Sahar" mean literally - a prison, which in turn, used to be in the form of a dungeon, circular like a full-moon ('Sihara').

(d) And Rebbi Acha bar Chanina learns from "Al Yechsar ha'Mazeg" - that at least twenty-three judges (one third of the total number of seventy) had to remain in the courtroom, similar to diluted wine ('Mizug'), which was one third wine to two parts water.

(a) We learn from the continuation of the above Pasuk ...
1. ... "Bitnech Areimas Chitin" ('Your stomach is like a pile of wheat) - that everyone benefits from the Sanhedrin, like everyone benefits from a pile of wheat.
2. ... "Sugah ba'Shoshanim" ('fenced with roses') - that K'lal Yisrael are so far removed from sin, that the slightest fence will prevent them from transgressing, like a fence of roses keeping thieves out of an orchard.
(b) Rav Kahana used the latter Pasuk to answer a dubious heretic, who asked him - how it is feasible for a man, who is permitted to be alone with his wife when she is a Nidah, to refrain from sinning with her.

(c) Resh Lakish explained the Pasuk "ke'Pelach ha'Rimon Rakasech" ('Your forehead is like a pomegranate-peel') as a hint - that Yisrael are full of Mitzvos as a pomegranate is of pits.

(d) And Rebbi Zeira explained the Pasuk (in connection with Ya'akov's entry to receive the B'rachos from Yitzchak) "va'Yarach es Re'ach Begadav" - as if it had written "va'Yarach es Re'ach Bogdav" ('and he smelt the smell of the treacherous ones'), teaching us that even the worst among them performs many Mitzvos.

(a) Rebbi Zeira's motive in being Mekarev a group of trouble-shooters was - to influence them to do Teshuvah.

(b) The Rabbanan reacted to that - with annoyance.

(c) The trouble-shooters referred to Rebbi Zeira as 'Charicha Katin Shakeih' - because a. he was short to begin with, and b. because he once jumped into a burning oven to test his level, and slightly scorched his calves in the process.

(d) After his death, realizing that there was nobody left to pray on their behalf - the trouble-shooters did Teshuvah (a fine proof that Tzadikim are sometimes even greater after their death than during their lifetime).

4) If a Talmid-Chacham who moved from his place at the head of the first row in the section of Talmidei-Chachamim, complained that he was now seated in the last place in the last row of the Sanhedrin, they would quote him the adage - that 'it is better to be the tail of a lion than the head of a fox'.


(a) Beis-Din's objective in scaring the witnesses of Diynei Nefashos was - to stop them from presenting false testimony (not to withdraw).

(b) Beis-Din would first ask them whether they were perhaps testifying by estimation, or 'Eid mi'Pi Eid', or whether they did not realize that they would be cross-examined. 'Eid mi'Pi Eid' - is testimony that a witness did not himself see, but that he heard from someone else who did.

(c) Beis-Din would then draw a distinction between Diynei Mamonos - where it was possible to make up for false testimony by reimbursing the person whom one had cheated, and Diynei Nefashos - where the blood of the murdered man and the blood of the offspring that he would have born, cry out forever.

(d) And they would prove their point from the Pasuk in Bereishis (in connection with Kayin) "Kol D'mei Achicha Tzo'akim Alai min ha'Adamah" - with reference to Kayin's blood and that of his descendants, which teaches us a murderer (or someone who is responsible for another's death) will be taken to task, not only for the life that he curtailed, but for the entire future that he and his offspring was destined to live.

(a) Alternatively, the Tana explains that the Torah used the plural in "D'mei Achicha'' - to teach us that Kayin's blood was spattered all over the local trees and stones (as will be explained later).

(b) The Tana gives five reasons for Hashem creating a single man (as opposed to the many animals that He created). First of all, this enables us to earn a great reward or a great punishment - when we realize that saving a fellow-Yisrael (the only nation to fulfill the purpose of the creation, by accepting the Torah) is like saving an entire world, and to kill him, like destroying an entire world.

(c) It also leads to Shalom ha'Beriyos, says the Tana, and shuts the mouths of the heretics. It prevents ...

1. ... strife - inasmuch as nobody is able to claim that his Father (in Heaven) is greater than so-and-so's.
2. ... heresy - inasmuch as the heretics cannot prove the existence of many gods, from the fact that each one created his champion on earth.
(d) And it enhance our awe of Hashem - because unlike man, who makes a mold which inevitably produces identical coins, Hashem created a mold which produces offspring that are all different (as will be explained later).
(a) Finally, we can learn - the deep responsibility that each of us carries, because just as Hashem created the world for the sake of one man, so too, should a person believe that the world was created just for him, and that he is responsible for its upkeep.

(b) The Tana cites all this here - because it is all part of what Beis-Din would tell the witnesses to frighten them into telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

(c) Having explained how Beis-Din warned the Eidim so stringently, we learn from the Pasuk "ve'Hu Eid O Ra'ah O Yada" - that they cannot then withdraw for fear of the consequences, but are obligated to go ahead and testify.

(d) And we finally quote the Pasuk "ba'Avod Resha'im Rinah" - to demonstrate to the witnesses that far from being destructive, their testimony is of great benefit to mankind.




(a) The example given by the Beraisa of witnesses in a murder case testifying by estimation is - of the witnesses running after Reuven who is chasing Shimon with intent to kill him, and they arrive in time to see him, sword dripping blood in hand, standing over Shimon who is lying on the ground breathing his last.

(b) When Rebbi Shimon ben Shetach encountered just such a scenario, he said to the murderer 'Rasha, is it you or I who killed this man (there is nobody else other than the two of us, and I certainly didn't kill him)? But what can I do (since there are no witnesses, there is nothing I can do').

(c) And he quoted him the Pasuk - "al-Pi Shenayim Eidim Yumas ha'Meis".

(a) He pronounced - that Hashem who knows the thoughts of man would punish the man who murdered his friend. The two of them were still standing there when a snake came and bit the murderer and killed him.

(b) We query the fact that he died from snakebite - on the grounds that the punishment due to a murderer is death by the sword, for which snakebite is not the equivalent, as we shall now see.

(c) This is based on a statement of Rav Yosef as well as Tana de'Bei Chizkiyah, who both say - that someone who is Chayav Miysas Beis-Din nowadays will die in one of two ways both of which are similar to the one that he would have received at the hands of Beis-Din.

(d) The alternative death that a person who is Chayav ...

1. ... Sekilah (stoning) will suffer other than falling off a roof (or a cliff) is - being knocked down and trampled by a wild beast.
2. ... S'reifah (burning) will suffer other than being burned alive is - being bitten by a snake.
3. ... Hereg (killed by the sword) will suffer other than being captured and killed by the ruling power is - being attacked and killed by armed robbers.
4. ... Chenek (strangled) will suffer other than choking - is drowning.
10) The reason that the murderer in the case of Rebbi Shimon ben Shetach was ...
1. ... bitten by a snake and not slain by the ruling power or by robbers is - because he must have performed another sin that was punishable by S'reifah.
2. ... punished by the equivalent of S'reifah and not of Hereg (for which he was now eligible) is - because someone who deserves two Miysos Beis-Din, receives the more stringent of the two, as we shall learn later in 'Eilu Hein ha'Nisrafin' (and S'reifah is more stringent than Hereg).
(a) Rebbi Acha rules that if a camel is walking around biting the other camels (or mating all the females), and a dead camel is found lying beside it - then we presume it to be the guilty animal, and charge the owner accordingly.

(b) We try and prove from there - that our Mishnah, which forbids such assumptions regarding Diynei Nefashos, seemingly does accept circumstantial evidence in cases of Diynei Mamonos (in which the author is Rebbi Acha).

(c) We refute this however, by citing a Mishnah that we already learned in 'Zeh Borer'. The Tana rules there - that 'Eid mi'Pi Eid' by Diynei Mamonos is not believed (despite that the fact that it is mentioned in our Mishnah by Diynei Nefashos).

(d) So we conclude - that the two are not interdependent, as we thought, but that the Tana mentions the P'sul of circumstantial evidence by Diynei Nefashos, even though (like 'Eid mi'Pi Eid') it is unacceptable by Diynei Mamonos, too.

(a) Kayin inflicted many wounds on Hevel before killing him - because he did not know from which part of his body his soul would depart. So he struck him in many areas, until finally, he hit him on the neck, and fatally wounded him.

(b) Rebbi Yehudah B'rei de'Rebbi Chiya (the author of the previous statement) also says that from moment the earth from the moment it opened its mouth to accept Hevel's blood - it never opened it again.

(c) We reconcile this with the Pasuk in Korach "vaTiftach ha'Aretz es Piyhah" - by restricting that to opening it for a bad purpose (swallowing Korach and his men alive), whereas Rebbi Yehudah B'rei de'Rebbi Chiya is speaking about opening it for the good (such as singing Shirah to Hashem).

(d) The same author extrapolates from the two Pesukim "Na va'Nad Tih'yeh ba'Aretz" and "va'Yeishev be'Eretz Nod" - that exile atones half of one's due punishment (so that "Nod" still stood, but not "Na" which had been atoned for on account of the Galus).

(a) Rav Yehudah Amar Rav extrapolates from the Pasuk "ha'Yoshev ba'Ir ha'Zos Yamus be'Cherev, be'Ra'av, u've'Daver, ve'ha'Yotze ve'Nafal el ha'Kasdim ha'Tzarim Aleichem Yichyeh ... " (from the fact that whoever surrenders to the Kasdim and is taken into exile will survive) - that Galus atones for death by the sword, starvation and pestilence.

(b) Rebbi Yochanan goes still further. According to him - Galus atones for everything.

(c) And he learns that from Yechonyah ha'Melech - who had been previously told by the Navi that he would have no children to succeed him on the throne, yet after going into Galus, his wife gave birth to a son ...

(d) ... whom they called Asir She'altiel - Asir, because he was conceived in prison, and She'altiel (the acronym of 'she'Shaslo Keil', meaning planted by G-d) - because, based on the fact that, due to the narrowness of the prison cell, they were forced to have relations standing (which cannot normally result in childbirth), the conception was nothing short of a miracle.

(a) He may also have been called She'altiel, because he was born after the Heavenly Court released Hashem's oath ('Nish'al al Alaso') - that Yechonyah would not have children.

(b) She'altiel's son was called Zerubavel - because he was sown (conceived) in Bavel.

(c) Zerubavel is better known as - Nechemyah (in which case She'altiel's real name was Chachalyah).

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