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According to this unsubstantiated Wikipedia entry, criminals condemned to death by Beith Din were drugged and rendered senseless prior to being executed.

Is this factually correct (either Halachically or historically)?

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doesn't the gemarah say that if a man is going out to be executed and says to write and give a bill of divorce to his wife it is binding? if he was senseless this would not be the case – user2110 Mar 12 '13 at 16:03
@nikmasi, he could be drugged afterward. – Seth J Mar 12 '13 at 16:11
@Nikmasi, that could have been before he was drugged; more likely, that's discussing a case of someone being taken out for execution by the Greeks or Romans, not Jews! – Shalom Mar 12 '13 at 23:02
up vote 7 down vote accepted

Sanhedrin 43a:

אמר רב חסדא היוצא ליהרג משקין אותו קורט של לבונה בכוס של יין כדי שתטרף דעתו שנאמר (משלי לא) תנו שכר לאובד ויין למרי נפש

Said Rav Chisda: One being taken out to be executed, we give him a drink of a dose of frankincense dissolved in a cup of wine, to discombobulate his mind. As the verse (Proverbs 31) says, "give strong drink to one who is lost, and wine to the bitter of soul."

I don't think it was drugged to the point of unconsciousness, but some type of sedation.

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I had always wondered how to translate discombobulate into Hebrew. – Avrohom Yitzchok Mar 12 '13 at 23:28

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