ANSWERS TO REVIEW QUESTIONS
prepared by Rabbi Eliezer Chrysler
Kollel Iyun Hadaf, Jerusalem
Previous daf 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
(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.
2. ... the hard cloth that they wound round the condemned man's neck -
inside a soft one.
(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
(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
(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.
(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
2. ... has benefitted from him - as an earthenware one ...
(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
(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
(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
(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
(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
(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).
2. ... "Asher Yin'af es Eishes *Ish*" - that the Kidushin of a Katan is not
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.
(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