4

In Bamidbar 15, the text speaks of someone who commits an intentional sin (mentioning idolatry and blasphemy) and says that kareit is the punishment (if there was no warning) etc. Then the story of the man who was found gathering stick on Shabbat is related and his punishment is a death penalty.

The Stone chumash notes that in the first cases, one cannot atone through an offering (and no other method of atonement is discussed) but in pasuk 31, the phrase "עֲו‍ֹנָה בָהּ" is understood by Rashi to mean that excision from the community lasts until the person does teshuva - so there must be an atonement process (also cited in Sanhedrin 90b). So it seems that doing teshuva can stop kareit which has already started.

But is repentance an effect of having received a punishment or is it separate from that? Can I repent sincerely and avoid punishment in the first place? If the man gathering wood on Shabbat, after having been warned and in the presence of witnesses, hears his death sentence and then truly repents (not out of fear but maybe out of a realization that he did wrong on a grand scale and a wish to be a better person), must the death penalty be carried out because it is a required consequence or is the penalty eliminated because of teshuva? Can the intentional idolater change the divine decree of kareit before it takes place (if, for example,one understands Kareit to be "dying young")?

[One cannot repent after having been killed but if one does repent before his execution then he can still have his share in olam haba (as per the Sifre on pasuk 31, cited in the Stone).]

  • the Beit Din below looks at the deed not the intent. – ray Jul 3 '16 at 18:39
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    Kareis or a heavenly death sentence can be averted through repentance, but a death sentence from a court cannot (Makkos 13b, "ר"ע אומר חייבי כריתות ישנו בכלל מלקות ארבעים שאם עשו תשובה ב"ד של מעלה מוחלין להן חייבי מיתות ב"ד אינו בכלל מלקות ארבעים שאם עשו תשובה אין ב"ד של מטה מוחלין להן"). – Fred Jul 3 '16 at 20:12
  • The function of warning is to verify that the man will continue despite a good knowledge, there is an opinion in Tanayim in masechet Macot which said that Talmid Chacham doesn't need warning. But it seems that if the warned answer to the warners "OK, right I stop it." there is no punishment and Teshuva is good. After this Teshuva is good but Dine adam can't keep in count intrapsychic condition of man. He need to pay. From Achan we learn Viduy the condamned needs viduy. it is a part of Teshuva. Mishna in Sanhedrin explained that after the Viduy Achan was not cuted off from Olam Haba – kouty Jul 5 '16 at 13:55
  • @kouty the Rambam paskenes that talmidei chachamim do need hasraah. Because אין התראה אלא להבחין בין שוגג למזיד. – Shoel U'Meishiv Jul 5 '16 at 19:02
  • @Mefaresh I know, this is Rabi Yosi and chachamim are opponed – kouty Jul 5 '16 at 19:06
7

There is a disagreement between the Rambam and the Raavad regarding the Ir Hanidachas - wayward city, whether it is possible to remove the punishment if the town did indeed repent.

The Rambam (עבודת כוכבים פרק ד׳ - הלכה ו׳)

ו והיאך דין עיר הנדחת. בזמן שתהיה ראויה להעשות עיר הנדחת. בית דין הגדול שולחין ודורשין וחוקרין עד שידעו בראיה ברורה שהודחה כל העיר או רובה וחזרו לעבודת כוכבים אחר כך שולחים להם שני תלמידי חכמים להזהירם ולהחזירם אם חזרו ועשו תשובה מוטב

We send two Torah scholars to chastise them and warn them, and if they reverse their wicked ways and repent it is fitting.

The Raavad in his gloss on the Rambam questions this seemingly strange halacha:

טוב הדבר שתועיל להם התשובה אבל לא מצאתי תשובה מועלת אחר התראה ומעשה עכ"ל

It is fine that their repentance is effective, but where do we find that repentance helps for a sin that was forewarned.

The Ralbag explains the disagreement between the Rambam and Raavad revolves around the concept of repentance. The Ralbag explains that according to the Rambam repentance is an act that qualitatively changes the essence of the person. To the extent that one becomes a different person.

According to this, the town which has fully repented undergoes a complete change, thus, the Gzar Din - decree of punishment that was issued was not said on this "new town" it is as if it decreed upon a different city altogether.

According to this Ralbag (although it appears to be explicitly against the Gemara in Makkos 13b that states that repentance does not absolve sins that have decreed to death - דאין תשובה מועלת למיתת בי"ד) it would appear to suggest that repentance does absolve punishment (at least regarding an Ir Hanidachas).

The Lubavitcher Rebbe repeats this idea of the Ralbag mentioned above here:

לפי כל האמור לעיל יובן פסקו של הרמב״ם ״אם חזרו ועשו תשובה, מוטב״, למרות שתשובה אינה מועילה לביטול עונשי בית דין של מטה - כי כאשר חוזרים אנשי עיר הנדחת בתשובה הם הופכים להיות שוב ״יחידים״, ומתבטלת המציאות של ״ציבור״ של ״יושבי העיר. ולכן מובן, שההלכה ״אם חזרו ועשו תשובה, מוטב״ אינה סותרת לכלל ״חייבי מיתות בית דין, אם עשו תשובה, אין בית דין של מטה מוחלין להן״ - כי תשובתם של אנשי עיר הנדחת אינה מבטלת את עונשם, אלא היא מבטלת את עצם מציאותם כ״ציבור יושבי העיר״, ואז מתבטל העונש מאליו

Futher, there is an interesting disagreement between the Noda B'Yehuda and the Chid'a regarding this very question.

The Noda B'Yeduda (Shu't Kama Orach Chaim 35) asks why doesn't full Teshuva help to absolve one from their punishment? He answers that is a Gezeiras Hakasuv, a biblical decree, that repentance does not remove the punishment.

However the Chida (in his Sefer Ein Zocher - Erech Malkus, Letter כ) disagrees, writing that in truth Teshuva can remove the punishment, but being that repentance is something that is "masur Le'lev" dependent and only visible with the hearts realm, the court cannot know if the person has undergone true Teshuva, only G-d can know, therefore Beis Din does not have the authority or ability to remove a punishment from the person.

See also the Aruch Hashulchan Ha"asid (Hilchos Sanhedrin 58:2)

The Ralbag can be seen here: enter image description here

  • אחר התראה ומעשה Raavad said if they make a maasse after hatraa. It is clear that the machloket between Raavad and Rambam is if the maasse is after the end of hatraa. See Kessef Mishne – kouty Jul 5 '16 at 20:18
  • Thank you. I understand that there are a plethora of ways to explain the Rambam. That the Rambam is going before hasraah, or is only a chiddush within Ir Hanidachas. The point of my post was to quote the Ralbags approach. Which I concede is difficult to understand according to the Gemara in Makkos – Shoel U'Meishiv Jul 5 '16 at 20:25
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    This Ralbag is very impressive, where can I read it? – kouty Jul 5 '16 at 20:38
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    It is quoted in Hegyonei Halacha from Rav Yitzchak Mirsky in an essay. though frustratingly without an actual source verse and chapter. – Shoel U'Meishiv Jul 5 '16 at 20:49
  • +1 very impressive. the quote is from the Lubavitcher Rebbe? – kouty Jul 5 '16 at 21:08
3

The function of warning is to verify that the man would continue despite a good knowledge, there is one opinion in Tanayim in masechet Macot (Rabbi Yosi) which said that Talmid Chacham doesn't need warning.

But it seems that if the warned man will answer to the warners one "OK, right I stop it." there is no punishment and Teshuva is good. We are talking about a case that there is no new sin activity after the warning.

Even after this step, after the irreversible decision to punish, Teshuva is valuable but Bet Din Shel Mata ("earth" tribunal) cannot keep in count the intra psychic condition of a man. The condemned will be eliminated. From Achan we learn Viduy the condemned need to say viduy. It is a part of Teshuva. Mishna (6, 2) in Sanhedrin explained that after the Viduy Achan was not cut off from Olam Haba :

הָיָה רָחוֹק מִבֵּית הַסְּקִילָה כְּעֶשֶׂר אַמּוֹת, אוֹמְרִים לוֹ הִתְוַדֵּה, שֶׁכֵּן דֶּרֶךְ הַמּוּמָתִין מִתְוַדִּין, שֶׁכָּל הַמִּתְוַדֶּה יֶשׁ לוֹ חֵלֶק לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא. שֶׁכֵּן מָצִינוּ בְעָכָן שֶׁאָמַר לוֹ יְהוֹשֻׁעַ, בְּנִי שִׂים נָא כָבוֹד לַה' אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְתֶן לוֹ תוֹדָה וְגוֹ' וַיַּעַן עָכָן אֶת יְהוֹשֻׁעַ וַיֹּאמַר אָמְנָה אָנֹכִי חָטָאתִי לַה' אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְכָזֹאת וְגוֹ' (יהושע ז). וּמִנַּיִן שֶׁכִּפֶּר לוֹ וִדּוּיוֹ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שם) וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוֹשֻׁעַ מֶה עֲכַרְתָּנוּ יַעְכָּרְךָ ה' בַּיּוֹם הַזֶּה. הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה אַתָּה עָכוּר, וְאִי אַתָּה עָכוּר לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא. ‏

When he is about ten cubits away from the place of stoning, they say to him, "confess!", for such is the practice of all who are executed, that they [first] confess, for he who confesses has a portion in the world to come. Even so we find in the case of Achan, that Joshua said unto him, my son, give, I pray thee, glory to the Lord, the god of Israel, and make confession unto him. And Achan answered Joshua and said, of a truth, I have sinned against the Lord the God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done. And whence do we know that his confessions made atonement for him? - From the words, and Joshua said: why hast thou troubled us? The lord shall trouble thee this day, i. e. , this day art thou to be troubled, but thou shalt not be troubled in the next world.

So, Teshuva cannot cancel a decided punishment of Rabbinic tribunal because it is a Ben Adam Lamakom issue, and Teshuva apparently does be sufficient without punishment.

But there is a notion of "Four subgroups of atonement" (Gemara Yoma 86a), and for sin with Kareth, Teshuva does not be sufficient. He needs to endure suffering.

שאל ר' מתיא בן חרש את ר' אלעזר בן עזריה ברומי שמעת ד' חלוקי כפרה שהיה רבי ישמעאל דורש אמר שלשה הן ותשובה עם כל אחד ואחד עבר על עשה ושב אינו זז משם עד שמוחלין לו שנאמר (ירמיהו ג) שובו בנים שובבים עבר על לא תעשה ועשה תשובה תשובה תולה ויוה"כ מכפר שנאמר (ויקרא טז) כי ביום הזה יכפר עליכם מכל חטאתיכם עבר על כריתות ומיתות בית דין ועשה תשובה תשובה ויוה"כ תולין ויסורין ממרקין שנאמר (תהילים פט) ופקדתי בשבט פשעם ובנגעים עונם אבל מי שיש חילול השם בידו אין לו כח בתשובה לתלות ולא ביוה"כ לכפר ולא ביסורין למרק אלא כולן תולין ומיתה ממרקת שנאמר (ישעיהו כב) ונגלה באזני ה' צבאות אם יכופר העון הזה לכם עד תמותון ‏

Rabbi Matthia Ben Heresh asked Rabbi Eleazar Ben Azariah in Rome: have you heard about the four kinds of sins, concerning which Rabbi Ishmael has lectured? He answered: They are three, and with each is repentance connected - If one transgressed a positive commandment , and repented , then he is forgiven, before he has moved from his place; as it is said: Return, O backsliding chiidren. If he has transgressed a prohibition and repented,then repentance suspends [the punishment] and the Day of Atonement procures atonement, as it is said : For on this day shall atonement be made for you. from all your sins. If he has committed [a sin to be punished with] extirpation or death through the Beth din, and repented, then repentance and the Day of Atonement suspend [the punishment thereon], and suffering finishes the atonement, as it is said: Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with strokes. But if he has been guilty of the profanation of the Name, then penitence has no power to suspend punishment, nor the Day of Atonement to procure atonement, nor suffering to finish it, but all of them together suspend the punishment and only death finishes it , as it is said : And the Lord of hosts revealed Himself in my ears; surely this iniquity shal not be expiated by you till ye die.

After this review of two Chazal,

is repentance an effect of having received a punishment or is it separate from that?

--> Separated.

hears his death sentence and then truly repents (not out of fear but maybe out of a realization that he did wrong on a grand scale and a wish to be a better person), must the death penalty be carried out because it is a required consequence or is the penalty eliminated because of teshuva?

--> You see in the paradigmatic case of Achan and Yehoshua, that teshuva and punishment are independent issues. It seems that Yehoshua "objectivized" teshuva of Achan, therefore the issue was not different.

So, tribunal acts only following an objective world (does not use prophecy, Ruach hakodesh {Remember Tanuro shel Achan [not the same achan] in Baba Metsia}) and Teshuva is not counted as an objective event.

I hope that through this, we can answer the Pshat of Gemara Makot 13b quoted by @Fred

"חייבי מיתות ב"ד אינו בכלל מלקות ארבעים שאם עשו תשובה אין ב"ד של מטה מוחלין "

(" whereas those who have become liable to death by sentence of the [human] Court are not subject to the punishment of 'forty lashes' because, [even] if they should do penance, the Earthly Tribunal would not grant them remission").

The Earthly Tribunal has nothing to do with the world of Teshuva, so teshuva does not exist in its world, not that Teshuva is not valuable, it is indistinguible.

But about Psuley Edut, if we know that someone stopped bad activities, he will being again a Kosher witness. Therefore Psule edut is not a condemnation.

  • The Gemara in Yoma is talking about repentance averting heavenly punishment/culpability for any sins that would've made a person liable for a court imposed death penalty had he been caught and convicted. If he was actually convicted by a court, repentance wouldn't prevent the court from carrying out the execution (though the condemned man should repent anyway). – Fred Jul 5 '16 at 19:36
  • @Fred Yes See my post, your comment is included speaking about rabbinic tribunal – kouty Jul 5 '16 at 19:40
  • fixed the explanation of Achan and Yehoshua – kouty Jul 5 '16 at 20:35

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