Learning the [beginning of the] Sanhedrin tractate is difficult for me to see the never-ending disagreements between the Tannoyim and/or Ammoroyim (any combination) about the very procedure of jurisprudence. For example, the number of judges, odd/even number, what the majority is needed and how to add additional judges.

Keep in mind, that all of those discords were in the times when the Sanhedrin was functional (even after the destruction of the Temple). Also, keep in mind that practically all the Halochos we accept today were instituted hundreds of years after the Gemmorah.

I was wondering, given those disputes, how judging someone in Sanhedrin was possible if there was no agreement on the procedure? Should they vote on the procedure before the trial?

  • _Keep in mind, that all of those discords were in the times when the Sanhedring was functional _. Wrong. UNtil the Zugos there was only 1 single unsettled disagreement. Until Hille-Shammai upped it to 3. We're discusssing "what was" since nobody remembers. Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 9:26
  • Maybe because there was no functional Sanhedrin at all - no S. no discord. Maybe there were no discords because nobody collaborated - everyone learned to himself, as Rambam says everyone was writing his own Mishnayos. Even if we accept this as a fact - there are numerous explanations for it.
    – Al Berko
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 11:33
  • So the 2nd of each pair of Zugos was an Av Bet Din of a non-functional Sanhedrin. I don't buy that. Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 12:24
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    @DannySchoemann I'm working hard to consolidate all I know about Sanhedrin in one consistent picture and I can't. Since S. is thought to be a real thing it is very improbable that sages living in the same lifespan didn't know exactly how it works and having such contradicting debates.
    – Al Berko
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 12:53
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    @DannySchoemann Even with that definition, the OP's question about tana'im and amora'im in general doesn't imply anything about the zugot. And the sanhedrin still functioned in the time of the amora'im, even if it didn't execute people (nothing in the question mentions execution)
    – b a
    Commented Aug 5, 2018 at 8:30

1 Answer 1


Actually, the procedures are well defined and the cases you bring are corner cases, as far as I can tell.

But more to the point, if members of a Sanhedrin would have an internal dispute or doubt about a procedure, they would surely vote on it - and the majority vote would be the deciding factor.

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