Berachos 27b-28a records the story of “Bo BaYom,” in which Rabban Gamliel was kicked out from being the Nasi as a result of two separate incidents with Rebbi Yehoshua (Ibid. and RH 24b-25a) and one with Rebbi Tzadok (Bechoros 36a). After reading through this Gemara, I realized that Ein Mishpat (which cites Tur, Shulchan Aruch, Smag, and Rambam when they pasken the Gemara) isn’t quoted at all on that part of the sugya.

This made me wonder: The Gemara certainly details all the wonderful benefits of Rabban Gamliel being forced out temporarily, such as the great influx of Torah. But did the ends justify the means?

Since the Gemara doesn’t cite the story with Acheirim and Yesh Omrim (Horayos 13b), while it does cite others, it seems that that one happened after this story, thus indicating that Rabban Gamliel clearly disagreed with them (as he continued doing exactly what he had been doing that got him fired in the first place). On the other hand, the Gemara also says that Rabban Gamliel, upon seeing all the Torah on that day, had his doubts if he was correct all those years, and Hashem eased his doubts with a dream (though Rabban Gamliel was indeed incorrect for keeping people out of the Beis Midrash). Perhaps he was acting based on that?

What do the poskim have to say about this? If such a situation were to occur today, where the Rav of a community (or worse, a Gadol HaDor) were to publicly humiliate someone as Rabban Gamliel did - perhaps for noble intentions, but still forbidden - is the community allowed to fire the Rav and get a new one in his stead?

Normally I would tack a CYLOR disclaimer on here, but given the topic, I’m going to say see your non-local-but-still-personal Orthodox Rabbi instead.

  • Wonder no replies. I haven't seen Poskim on that, but your second Q is more interesting - how did the Sanhedrin work, namely the elections, rights, bureaucracy, logistics - stay a mystery. We have a tractate named after it that says nothing about how it worked. My direction of answer would be simple - that days they did not have a single obligating Halachic document - each Reb had his own Beis Midrash and the Sanh. didn't function as the High Court. The thin line between Halacha and politics was erased long ago and some become pretty "violent" in their way of talking and their actions.
    – Al Berko
    Feb 2, 2018 at 11:53
  • ... Especially the Nasi hereditary line. And they set the "Halachah de-jure", so we can not judge them "Halachah-wise". Every generation has its own hierarchy of Halachic values - what overrides what and it usually reflects the surrounding culture. We live in a different era with different values, so it's perfectly normal to wonder on that story. Your Third question, about the power of a community is a totally different question, unrelated to the story of R' Gamliel in the Sanhedrin.
    – Al Berko
    Feb 2, 2018 at 12:24
  • I don't understand your comment about no note from the ein mishpat. Is there ever any note when it comes to stories?
    – robev
    Feb 2, 2018 at 14:46
  • @robev I’ll take a look to locate some examples, not including those stories beginning with ההוא גברא or the like which are brought solely to bring down a Halacha. Nevertheless, I think it’s a valid question in any event.
    – DonielF
    Feb 2, 2018 at 16:42
  • @AlBerko What second question did I ask? I asked exactly one question: what do the poskim have to say about this story? Did they act correctly? I phrased it in different words, perhaps, but it’s still one long question. If you’ve ever read through Sanhedrin you’ll know that it tells you exactly how it worked. That said, I believe by Rabban Gamliel’s days (same generation as the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash) the Sanhedrin was defunct anyway (that is, they could no longer judge capital cases). (Con’t)
    – DonielF
    Feb 2, 2018 at 16:45

1 Answer 1


Seems to be a bit complicated. There's a Takanah from Usha that we don't put an av beis din in nidui (Moed Katan 17a), and Hagahos Harosh there says that we don't depose him either. R' Aharon Levin suggests that this Takanah may not have existed yet in Rabban Gamliel's times (he also says that maybe it was introduced by Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel after R' Meir and R' Nosson's attempt to depose him). Which would mean that they were correct in doing it then, but that this precedent isn't valid anymore.

On the other hand, if we say that a nasi is like a king, then Keren Orah (Horayos 11a) says that the people can depose him if they want. Also, a Psak by the Beis Din of Petach Tikvah says that (a) the same is true more generally of a rov, and (b) a nasi has a responsibility to treat the other Chachamim respectfully, and if he doesn't, then that's a valid reason to remove him.

  • Interesting. Thank you for these insights!
    – DonielF
    Mar 6, 2019 at 15:12

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