Why are there four types of execution? Wouldn't it be enough if there were only one type of execution? Lashes for example are only of one type and the standard 40 lashes.

  • There's only one kind of burning. – Double AA Oct 21 '13 at 19:56
  • Why are there about a dozen kinds of Korban? – Double AA Oct 21 '13 at 20:02
  • what does korban have to do with corporeal punishment? – ray Oct 21 '13 at 20:05
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    It shows how arbitrary your categories are. – Double AA Oct 21 '13 at 20:06
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    have heard once that it is related to being pogem in one of the four letters of the shem Havaya but not clear. – ray Oct 22 '13 at 5:29

There are different types of execution to highlight the various severities of the sin for which the sinner is being executed for.

As the Rambam writes (הלכות סנהדרין פרק יד):

סקילה חמורה מן השריפה, ושריפה חמורה מן הסיף, והסיף חמור מן החנק.

"Stoning is more severe than burning, burning is more severe than beheading, beheading is more sever than strangulation."

Similarly there are various types of "heavenly killing", e.g. כרת, מיתה בידי שמים, ערירי depending on the severity of the crime.

There are also different types of Korbanot, depending on the sin.

Even in monetary restitution we find that sometimes you pay what you damaged/stole and sometimes you pay more (חצי נזק) and sometimes you pay more; double, 4 or 5 times, and sometimes you get fined.

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  • so why on other corporal punishments (lashes) is it the same regardless? this was part of the question. thnx alot. – ray Oct 31 '13 at 11:46
  • I guess all 3 categories of people who deserve lashes (as defined in the Rambam in הלכות סנהדרין פרק יח) are considered to be of similar severity. – Danny Schoemann Nov 5 '13 at 12:32
  • 1. why do you bring rambam and not the original gemmorah? 2. While the punishment is ordered the Mitzvos aren't, therefore I think your answer completely misses the question of WHY. If you'd prove that the Mitavos are ordered from less severe to more severe that would work. Maybe we can learn postfactum, based on the punishment about a Mitzvah... – Al Berko Dec 26 '18 at 15:21
  • This is a good beginning as it points out the relationship between the consequence of the sin (the type of execution by level as discussed by Rambam) and the variation of corresponding korbanot for each of the 4 general categories of transgression. Both type of execution and type of korban are about repairing the damage done (like all forms of monetary restitution found in Seder Nezikin). But you need to bring out why this relates specifically to 4 categories. This is because the 4 categories correspond to the 4 letters of each of G-d's names (יהוה, אדני and אהיה). See Siddur HaRamchal. – Yaacov Deane Dec 26 '18 at 17:12
  • Volume for days of the week and Rosh Chodesh, page 60. It is explaining part of the kavannot for Kriat Shema and one of the things to have in mind when you recite the "Dalet" of the word 'Echod' in the first sentence of Shema. – Yaacov Deane Dec 26 '18 at 17:12
  1. I think we should start off with the very idea of punishment. As we all know, the Jewish approach is not to punish for the sake of punishment or even threaten the rest of the nation, but to give the sinner the atonement he deserves.

  2. As we also know, a sin's harm is two-fold: it does a damage to the world as well as to the sinner. I learned that there are 3 levels of personal spiritual "damage" to reflect the severity of the transgression:

    • External (monetary): as person's possessions are his "outer self" (therefore the money is called דמים as blood), some "low-level" sins can be simply repaid.

    • Surface: lashes are given as a "skin-deep" punishment for a "higher-level" sins.

    • Internal: the capital punishment is given for the "high-level" sins.

  3. The corporal punishment (as I remember from some Kabbalic books, a clear source needed) is further divided into four to reflect the type of damage according to the 4 constituent elements of the human body (traditionally): fire, air, water, and dust. So if the sin comes from a person's "spiritual fire" or "damages his fire part", the fix/atonement would be שריפה, if it was the air - that would be חנק, the others are סקילה for the dust and הרג for water (never realized why the last).

I admit, even if I understand the analogy I couldn't understand the division of the sins into those four, for example, "הבא על נערה המאורסה אינו חייב עד שתהא נערה תולה מאורסה, והיא בבית אביה. באו עליה שניים - הראשון בסקילה, והשני בחנק:"

NB As Danny noticed the Gemorrah (Sanh 50) tries to figure out the hierarchy of those four types also.

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  • "as person's possessions are his "outer self" (therefore the money is called דמים as blood)" how is blood considered outer self? – robev Dec 26 '18 at 23:26
  • @robev Money is called דמים to emphasize that a person's possessions are a part of his (bigger/outer) soul, just as blood is a part of his body. Sort of. Hence such importance of the monetary laws. I didn't say blood is outer self, I said money is outer self/outer soul. – Al Berko Dec 27 '18 at 0:38
  • Yes but you said therefore money is the same word as blood – robev Dec 27 '18 at 1:26

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