This answer describes a scenario where if a sin (relations with a non Jew for purposes of marriage) is committed without witnesses, one gets punished with kares, but if there are witnesses he gets only lashes.

This seems strange since

  1. It goes against the generally established paradigm that the presence of witnesses results in equal or more severe punishment. Examples : desecration of Shabbos w/o witnesses = kares, with witnesses = capital punishment. For virtually every transgression, the presence of witnesses and warning enables an earthly court to take action, but it does not lessen the punishment!

  2. Not only is the punishment lessened quantitatively, but also qualitatively : Kares implies death and possibly also loss of world to come, while after lashes the transgressor continues to live and still has his world to come. Such a qualitatively significant reduction in punishment simply because there were witnesses who witnessed the crime (which ought to make it worse, not better), seems to run counter to how this works for other sins.

Is there something missing here?


1 Answer 1


Rambam Hilchot Sanhedrin 1.7

יז,יא [ז] כל מי שחטא ולקה, חוזר לכשרותו: שנאמר "ונקלה אחיך לעיניך" (דברים כה,ג)--כיון שלקה, הרי הוא אחיך. אף כל מחוייבי כרת בלבד שלקו, נפטרו מידי כרתן.‏

Similarly, all those obligated for kerait who received lashes are absolved for kerait.

The source is a Mishna in the third chapter of Maccot.

כל חייבי כריתות שלקו נפטרו ידי כריתתם שנאמר (דברים כה) ונקלה אחיך לעיניך כשלקה הרי הוא כאחיך דברי רבי חנניה בן גמליאל ואמר רבי חנניה בן גמליאל מה אם העובר עבירה אחת נוטל נפשו עליה העושה מצוה אחת על אחת כמה וכמה שתנתן לו נפשו ר"ש אומר ממקומו הוא למד שנאמר &rlml;(ויקרא יח) ונכרתו הנפשות העושות וגו' ואומר

The Bartenura adds, "if they did Teshuva". This is equivalent to Yisurim and teshuva as says the Gemara in Yoma 86a

עבר על כריתות ומיתות בית דין ועשה תשובה תשובה ויוה"כ תולין ויסורין ממרקין שנאמר (תהילים פט) ופקדתי בשבט פשעם ובנגעים עונם

  • As a side question, the Mishnah in Makot learns this from Devarim 25:3 : “Then your brother shall be dishonored before you”, which (in context) seems to talk only about one liable for lashes in the first place, not kares. But I'll ask that separately.
    – user9806
    Commented Nov 6, 2019 at 21:31
  • Just asked - judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/109514/…
    – user9806
    Commented Nov 6, 2019 at 21:43
  • Also, according to that Mishnah and the Rambam, can someone who is mechalel Shabbos without witnesses (and is thus obligated for kares) get lashes? No, because there were no witnesses. So is it only talking about sins which obligate one for kares (and not for capital punishment) even with witnesses (e.g. intercourse with a niddah)?
    – user9806
    Commented Nov 6, 2019 at 21:55
  • This is entirely post facto if the witnesses/court made a mistake. There's still no reason to think the OP's is possible from the outset as was implied in the linked answer
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 6, 2019 at 21:56
  • The bet din would not be the shaliach for his yisurin, may be someone else mishamayim or himself by sigufin
    – kouty
    Commented Nov 6, 2019 at 21:57

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