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prepared by Rabbi Eliezer Chrysler
Kollel Iyun Hadaf, Jerusalem

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Sanhedrin 52



(a) Our Mishnah describes Miysas Sereifah. They would place ...
1. ... the person who was to be 'burned' in dung up to his knees (to prevent him from twisting and turning whilst the actual sentence was being carried out (and getting hurt unnecessarily when the boiling lead falls on his skin). The dung (rather than sand), was in order to shame him (see Tiferes Yisrael).
2. ... the hard cloth that they wound round the condemned man's neck - inside a soft one.
(b) They needed two cloths - because a soft cloth alone would not force his mouth open as quickly a hard one; whereas a hard one would wound the condemned man and cause him unnecessary pain.

(c) After forcing his mouth open - they 'burned' him by pouring boiling lead down his throat.

(d) It was the contact with his stomach - causing it to contract, that was responsible for the condemned man's death.

(a) According to Rebbi Yehudah, they forced his mouth open using a pair of tongs. He objects to the Tana Kama's method - because, he claimed, if the condemned man were to die as the cloth tightened around his neck, they would not have fulfilled the Mitzvah of Sereifah.

(b) According to Rebbi Elazar b'Rebbi Tzadok, burning had to be performed in the literal sense. And he attempts to prove this from an actual case that took place with a Bas Kohen who had committed adultery - and whom Beis surrounded with branches which they set on fire.

(c) The Chachamim counter his proof - by pointing out that that Beis-Din consisted of Tzedokim, who did not accept the oral Torah, and who therefore explained ''Sereifah" literally, like they did the rest of the written Torah.

(a) We learn the method of burning from a 'Gezeirah-Shavah' "Sereifah" "Sereifah" from Adas Korach - which teaches us that, like Adas Korach, the Mitzvah of Sereifah entails burning the insides, and leaving the body intact.

(b) Rebbi Elazar learns the same 'Gezeirah-Shavah', but from - the death of Nadav and Avihu.

(c) The first opinion uses Korach as its source, based on the Pasuk "ve'es Machtos ha'Chata'im ha'Eileh *be'Nafshosam*" (implying their souls, but not their bodies), which Rebbi Elazar interprets to mean - for the pleasure that they received, as we shall now explain.

(d) He bases this on Resh Lakish's interpretation of the Pasuk "be'Chanfei La'agei Ma'og Charak Alav Shineimo", according to which - it was the physical pleasure derived from the food and drink supplied by Korach (to flatter Yisrael into joining his rebellion) that ultimately caused the Angel of Gehinom to sharpen his teeth, following the episode with Korach.

(a) Rebbi Elazar's source is the Pasuk in Shemini "va'Yamusu Lifnei Hashem", which he interprets to mean that they died the same sort of death as Miysas Beis-Din. According to the first opinion - the Pasuk is merely describing how they began to die. The fire however, spread to the rest of their bodies until they were completely burnt.

(b) All this is based on a statement of Aba Yossi ben Dustai, who describes - how two flashes of fire shot out of the Kodesh Kodshim before dividing into four, two of which entered each of the two nostrils of Nadav and Avihu (see Agados Maharsha).

(c) According to the first opinion, the Pasuk "va'Tochal Osam", implying that part of them remained intact, comes to preclude (not their bodies, like Rebbi Elazar, but) - their clothes, which remained intact.

(d) We query the above 'Gezeirah-Shavah' however, as there is a third case where the word "Sereifah" is used, but where the burning is meant literally (and from which we might learn the Din of Sereifah) namely - that of Parim ha'Nisrafin (bulls of Sin-offerings, whose blood is sprinkled inside the Kodesh, and whose flesh is therefore burned outside the camp.

(a) We nevertheless prefer to learn from the Adas Korach or from the B'nei Aharon, because they have in common with the punishment of Sereifah, 'Adam, Chotei, Neshamah and Pigul, 'which Parim ha'Nisrafin do not. 'Neshamah' means - that each of the three cases entailed taking the Neshamah of someone who was alive, unlike the Parim Ha'Nisrafin, which were already dead.

(b) We try to counter that however, by citing 'Machshir, le'Doros', which Parim ha'Nisrafin share in common with the punishment of Sereifah, but which the other two do not. 'Machshir' means that they, like the Sereifah of our Sugya, are a Mitzvah, 'le'Doros' - that they are ongoing occurrences (as opposed to the Adas Korach and Nadav and Avihu, which only happened once).

(c) Despite the fact that Parim ha'Nisrafin has certain plus-factors that the other two do not, we do not learn from it that Sereifah must be taken literally - because they have four plus-factors against its two.

(a) We explain that the opinion which learns Sereifah from Adas Korach, declines to learn it from Nadav and Avihu, because their bodies were completely burned. Nevertheless, we cannot learn from them that this is the way Sereifah should be performed - because of the Pasuk in Kedoshim "ve'Ahavta Le'Re'acha Kamocha", which teaches us among other things, to pick the nicest possible death when executing a condemned man, as Rav Nachman Amar Rabah bar Avuhah explains.

(b) Although this is a side Pasuk, which is written in a different context, we nevertheless Darshen it in this way - because it does not really negate the 'Gezeirah-Shavah', but only indicates from which Pasuk to learn it.

(c) Even though we have the S'vara (Pasuk) of Rav Nachman, we still need the 'Gezeirah-Shavah' of "Sereifah" "Sereifah" - because we would otherwise have thought that burning the insides alone does not constitute 'Sereifah'.

(d) We would fulfill the requirement of "ve'Ahavta le'Re'acha Kamocha" even if Sereifah was taken literally - by adding more branches, to ensure that the condemned man dies quickly.

(a) Nadav once say to Avihu, as they once walked behind Moshe and Aharon - 'When will these two old men die, so that we will be able to take over the reigns of leadership'?

(b) Hashem answer them - that it remained to be seen who would bury whom?

(c) Rav Papa quoted the adage - 'There are many old camels laden with the skins of younger camels who died before them'.




(a) If an Am ha'Aretz initially perceives a Talmid-Chacham as a golden water-jug, once the Talmid-Chacham ...
1. ... has talked to him - he perceives him as a silver one.
2. ... has benefitted from him - as an earthenware one ...
(b) ... which has no value once it breaks. Likewise, a Talmid-Chacham who benifitted from an Am ha'Aretz, will forget all his learning, and become valueless.

(c) This is similar to the previous Sugya - which talked about the downfall of the Talmidei-Chachamim who benefited from Korach.

(a) When Imr'sa bas Tali ha'Kohen committed adultery - Rav Chama bar Tuvya surrounded her with branches and set fire to them.

(b) Besides having erred in Rav Masna, who establishes our Mishnah by a strip of lead, he was guilty of another error based on a Beraisa - which learns from the Pasuk "u'Va'sa el ha'Kohanim ve'el ha'Shofet Asher Yih'yeh ba'Yamim ha'Heim" - that Mishpat (incorporating the death-penalty) can only operate as long as the Kohanim are serving in the Beis-Hamikdash, but not after the Churban Beis Hamikdash.

(c) We cannot answer that Rav Chama held like Rebbi Elazar b'Rebbi Tzadok, to dispense with the first error - since he conceded to the Chachamim that he had erred.

(a) Rebbi Elazar b'Rebbi Tzadok in the Beraisa remembered as a child riding on his father's shoulders, witnessing how the Beis-Din had once burned a bas Kohen by surrounding her with branches and setting fire to them.

(b) To which the Chachamim replied - that since he had been a child at the time, his testimony was unacceptable.

(c) We reconcile this with our Mishnah, where they ascribed his testimony to a Beis-Din of Tzedokim - by establishing the Mishnah and the Beraisa as two different episodes.

(d) The episode in our Mishnah must have occurred later than the one in the Beraisa - because otherwise, having refused to accept his testimony when he was a Gadol, why did Rebbi Elazar b'Rebbi Tzadok persist and ask them from when he was a Katan (which they were bound to reject).

(a) According to the Tana Kama, Miysas Sayaf is carried out - by severing the condemned man's head.

(b) Rebbi Yehudah considers this a disgusting death. He therefore advocates - placing his head on the chopping-block and severing it with a hatchet.

(c) The Chachamim consider that no less disgusting, to which Rebbi Yehudah concedes. However - in his opinion, the consideration of "u've'Chokoseihem Lo Seleichu" (not to follow the customs of Nochrim, who execute by severing the head with a sword), overrides that of ''ve'Ahavta le'Re'acha Kamocha".

(d) The Chachamim disagree - on the grounds that the Torah specifies sword, in which case it is not from the Nochrim that we learn it, but from the Torah.

(e) And they prove their point from a Beraisa - which prescribes burning a king's property after his death, despite the fact that were it not for the Pasuk (in connection with Tzidkiyahu) that supports it, it would be forbidden because of "u've'Chukoseihem Lo Seleichu".

(a) The Mishnah in 'ha'Nisrafin' lists a murderer and the inhabitants of Ir ha'Nidachas as those who receive Sayaf. We know that the Anshei Ir ha'Nidachas receive Sayaf - from the Pasuk which specifically writes "l'Fi Charev".

(b) The Torah writes (in connection with someone who killed an Eved) "Nakom Yinakem". We know that this refers to death by the sword - from the Pasuk in Bechukosai "ve'Heveisi Aleichem Cherev N'kam B'ris", an indication that wherever the word "Nokem" is used, it refers to death by the sword.

(c) We reject the suggestion that Sayaf is performed by piercing the condemned man in the stomach or in his throat, on the basis of the Pasuk "l'Fi Charev", which, based on the Pasuk in Tehilim "ve'Cherev Pifiyos (a two-bladed sword) be'Yadam"- means death by the *blade* of the sword, and not by its point.

(d) We know that Sayaf does not constitute making him a Gistera (cutting him two down the middle) - from the Pasuk "ve'Ahavta le'Re'acha Kamocha"?

(a) We initially learn that someone who kills a fellow Yisrael receives Sayaf - from a 'Kal va'Chomer' from an Eved.

(b) The Beraisa Darshens from the Pasuk "ve'Atah Te'va'er ha'Dam ha'Naki mi'Kirbecha" - 'Hukshu Kol Shofchei Damim le'Eglah Arufah', which is killed by cutting its neck with the sword.

(c) In spite of the above Kal-va'Chomer, this D'rashah is necessary - according to Rebbi Shimon, who considers Chenek more stringent than Sayaf (in which case, we need the D'rashah to preclude killing a fellow Yisrael with Chenek (seeing as S'tam Miysah generally means Chenek).

(d) In spite of the D'rashah from Eglah Arufah, we know that Sayaf is not performed with a hatchet from the back of the neck - from the Pasuk "ve'Ahavta le'Re'acha Kamocha".

(a) Miysas Chenek is performed - by first placing the convicted man in dung up to his knees, and then placing a hard cloth inside a soft one, which they would wind around his neck (exactly as we explained by Sereifah, only there two people would pull the two ends of the cloth to the point that he opened his mouth, whereas here, they would pull until he died.

(b) We learn from the Pasuk ...

1. ... "*ve'Ish* Asher Yin'af ... " - that a Katan is Patur from the death-penalty.
2. ... "Asher Yin'af es Eishes *Ish*" - that the Kidushin of a Katan is not valid.
3. ... "Asher Yin'af es Eishes *Re'eihu*" - to preclude the death sentence for committing adultery with the wife of a Nochri (synonymous with the principle 'Ein Ishus le'Nochri').
4. ... "Mos Yumas" - that the murderer receives death by the sword.
(c) Rebbi Yashiyah ascribes this latter ruling to the fact that, for lack of a clear directive, one may only give him the most lenient death. According to Rebbi Yonasan - this ruling has nothing to do with being more lenient, but is a 'Gezeiras ha'Kasuv' (as we shall now see).

(d) Rebbi explains Rebbi Yonasan's opinion. He extrapolates that S'tam Miysah bi'Yedei Adam means Chenek - because we compare it to Miysah bi'Yedei Shamayim, which leaves no wound.

(e) Rebbi knows that Miysah she'Ein Bah Roshem pertains to Chenek and not Sereifah, which also leaves no wound - since the Torah prescribes Sereifah for a bas Kohen, indicating that the punishment for a bas Yisrael is not Sereifah.

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