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Many functions of the Sanhedrin require the group of rabbis descended from an unbroken chain of Semicha from the time of Moshe.

For example I read in Eliyahu Ki Tov's Sefer Hatoda'ah that sanctification of the new moon (Rosh Hodesh) is only done by such a Sanhedrin.

I assume that at this point, we have no way of knowing which rabbis have this chain of semicha.

Thus, when the next Temple is built and a Sanhedrin is re-established, how will they be able to fulfill their duties without this requirement? Or, will, for some reason, this requirement no longer be needed?

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  • 1
    See also this one: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2004_attempt_to_revive_the_Sanhedrin Nov 27 '19 at 18:31
  • (Just to round out the possibilities on this page, the other potential answer if the Rambam is not correct, is there just won't be Semicha. Rosh Chodesh will continue by calculation, there will never again be fines, death penalties, etc. and the world will generally be ok.)
    – Double AA
    Nov 28 '19 at 21:23
  • Smicha as it was known in the times of the First and Second Temples is indeed lost. However, numerous scholars who possessed this original smicha, including Moshe Rabbeinu himself, will eventually be raised from the dead with the coming of Moshiach and establish a new Sanhedrin.
    – ezra
    Nov 28 '19 at 22:16
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Rambam writes in Hilchot Sanhedrin 4:11 that he believes that semichah can be re-instituted if all the sages in Eretz Yisrael agree to bestow it on an individual.

This was in fact attempted in the sixteenth century by Mahari Berab, who was appointed as a musmach by twenty-five Rabbis in Tzfat, and who then proceeded to give semichah to his own students, including R. Yosef Karo.

However, there was opposition to this development, and this chain of semichah fizzled out after a couple of generations.

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  • Are you certain this chain "fizzled out"? I heard a rabbi I know claim that he dated a girl whose father had semicha from this chain. Sadly he is no longer available to ask because he is (justly) in prison. Dec 20 '19 at 17:22
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If it is not possible to restart semicha like the Rambam says, as brought in the previous answer, we will need a musmach from the past. The Radvaz, in his commentary on the Rambam while stating his opposition to the semicha of the Marahi Beirav, says that Eliyahu Hanavi, who will come before Moshiach, can give semicha.

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  • What makes you so sure that it is not possible?
    – tcdw
    Dec 3 '19 at 21:00
  • My leaning is that it is possible, but the Rambam himself wasn't quite sure.
    – Mordechai
    Dec 3 '19 at 21:03

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