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19

In this particular case R. Lau was upholding the UOR’s ruling. The latter’s ruling (viewable here) was based on Rema (EH 154:21), citing earlier authorities, who permits to withhold any aid to a “sarvan” (one refusing to grant a get) including circumcising or burying his children. Upon this precedent the UOR ruled that preventing the mother’s burial is ...


18

About your second question, defending himself by killing his executioners: Mishneh Lemelech (Hil. Rotze'ach Ushemiras Nefesh 1:15) implies that no. He says that in cases where extrajudicial killing is permitted (e.g., a goel hadam pursuing a murderer, or a zealot attempting to kill a Jew consorting with a gentile woman), then the intended victim may indeed ...


15

The RaMBa"M is likely quoting this directly from the Gemara in Sanhedrin 2A (Hebrew, English): סנהדרין גדולה היתה של שבעים ואחד וקטנה של עשרים ושלשה מנין לגדולה שהיא של שבעים ואחד שנאמר אספה לי שבעים איש מזקני ישראל ומשה על גביהן ר' יהודה אומר שבעים The Great Sanhedrin consisted of seventy-one members; the small sanhedrin of twenty-three. Whence do ...


13

A convert can: Judge a case as part of a beis din that has been accepted by the Yisrael Force a judgment on another convert Force a judgment even on a Yisrael if the converts mother or father was born of a Yisrael A pure convert cannot: Force judgment on another Yisrael These laws are based on the double language of שׂוֹם תָּשִׂים עָלֶיךָ מֶלֶךְ, אֲשֶׁר ...


13

See https://judaism.stackexchange.com/a/48512/21 for more. If we have some magical machine that can tell us that a person is completely sincere about their conversion, then it can't be revoked by their behavior afterwards. But if we have reason to suspect an insincere conversion, then their behavior immediately afterwards could be used as an indication. ...


13

My understanding of the Mishnah is as follows: The court must contain at least 20 members because the court must be able to simultaneously contain an "assembly" of convicters and an "assembly" of pardoners. If it didn't need to have the potential for both simultaneously then we shouldn't need 20 to begin with – e.g. a court of 15 can still put forth an "...


12

According to Rabbi Noson Auerbach, Napoleon's Sanhedrin had no halakhic importance whatsoever. The greatest scholar to be part of the Sanhedrin was R' David Zinsheim, whose works on Shas are edited by R' Noson Auerbach (a descendant of R' Avraham Auerbach, R' Zinsheim's in-law), and in the introduction to one of those works, "Michas Ani" (pg 21-24) he writes ...


11

From TheSanhedrin.org: Etymologically, Sanhedrin is a late Hebrew representation of the Greek word synedrion συνέδριον meaning "sitting together" as a legislative assembly or Senate.


10

From Torah.org (quoting Pischei Choshen, Halvahah 2, note 72): The legal concept of "statute of limitations" is not recognized by the halachah From Daas Torah blog: There is no statute of limitation for crimes in halacha From Matzav.com (concerning loans: In principle, there is no statute of limitations on a loan in halacha (other than sh’mitas ...


10

Bamidbar 27:3, quoting Tz'lofchad's daughters, who were seeking land in Israel: אָבִינוּ מֵת בַּמִּדְבָּר וְהוּא לֹא הָיָה בְּתוֹךְ הָעֵדָה הַנּוֹעָדִים עַל ה׳ בַּעֲדַת קֹרַח כִּי בְחֶטְאוֹ מֵת…‏ Our father died in the desert; he was not among the group who met against God in the group of Korach, but died for his own sin… The Sifre (ad loc.) ...


10

As stated above, the death penalty was exceedingly rare. Just regarding the burning part, fascinatingly the Talmud says that to burn someone at the stake is a violation of "love your fellow like yourself." Instead, a death sentence of "burning" is carried out by pouring molten lead down their throat. Still not fun, but it's seen as I believe less painful (...


10

There's a whole article by Rabbi Yaacov Feit about this in the Journal of Beth Din of America, vol. I called, unsurprisingly, "The Prohibition Against Going to Secular Courts." It begins: The Torah states (Exodus 21:1), “Ve’eleh ha-mishpatim asher tasim lifneihem,” “And these are the statutes which you shall place before them.” The Talmud (Gittin 88b), ...


10

Jastrow supports Yishai's answer, that "סנהדרין" derives from the Greek συνέδριον: ‎‫סַנְהֶדְרִין,‬ ‫סַנְהֶדְרֵי‬ f. (also pl.) (συνέδριον) Sanhedrin, the supreme council of the Jews; ס‫'‬ גדולה the Great S., consisting of seventy-one members; ס‫'‬ קטנה the Small S., a judicial court of twenty-three. Snh. I, 6. Ib. ראויה לס‫'‬ fit to be a seat of the S....


10

I'm a layperson (not a rabbi) who's spoken with and helped teach Reform conversion candidates. This answer is based on that experience; see also the CCAR's guidelines for conversion. The beit din will, nearly universally, require successful completion of an introduction-to-Judaism class early in the process (~3 hours/week for 6 months or so). This class ...


10

Tosafot on Sanhedrin 36a s.v. dinei nefashot is bothered by your question as to why we're not concerned that junior judges can't argue on the senior judge in monetary cases. They suggest two possible resolutions: A junior judge is always allowed to argue on the senior judge b'derech she'elah (through asking leading questions, rather than directly ...


9

Introduction What could be contained in this question, and manner in which we answer it, is going to depend on several things. First of all, we should clarify what we're asking about: your specific question mentioned only phrases that needed 'reinterpretation', but there are many more cases that deserve inquiry, such as gezairah shavas (see the Rambam's ...


9

They meant "other than a Kohen, she can marry any Jewish man that a born-Jewess can marry"; her status as a convert poses no additional issues. (In fact, she can marry more men than a born-Jewess, as she can marry a mamzer if she so desires, for whatever that's worth.) That's just how they wrote it, that's how the form is set up (and what the rabbanut will ...


9

According to Rabbi Akiva Eiger, (Shu"t RA"E Mahadura Kama 176, cited here) they are not punished by the hand of man: וגם משום מלקות, נראה דלא לקו, דלא שייך בזה 'לא תענה ברעך' דהא לא העידו כלל על רעהו להפסידו בשום דבר And also with regard to lashes, it would appear that they were not lashed, for [the verse - Exodus 20:12] "though shalt not testify ...


9

The Mishna in Sanhedrin 9:4 says that one can be obligated in a more severe death penalty for a second offence that occurred after being sentenced to a less severe death penalty for a different action. מִי שֶׁנִּתְחַיֵּב בִּשְׁתֵּי מִיתוֹת בֵּית דִּין, נִדּוֹן בַּחֲמוּרָה. עָבַר עֲבֵרָה שֶׁנִּתְחַיֵּב בָּהּ שְׁתֵּי מִיתוֹת, נִדּוֹן בַּחֲמוּרָה. רַבִּי ...


9

As noted in this question, Ohr HaChaim to Shemot 23:2 writes that the 23rd judge must vote guilty, as he believes, even though that will result in the accused going free. He explains the reason behind this: if someone is being wrongly accused in such a way that the judges cannot find any reason to acquit, G-d will orchestrate matters such that all the ...


8

I haven't studies the sources inside, but a couple observations, and some places to do more research: There are several different ways that DNA may be used in Halacha, and these ways may have different laws. There's using DNA for paternity tests in cases of inheritance, which may (or may not) be different than paternity cases that concern Mamzerut. In ...


8

Agreed that a person found guilty should accept their sentence; here's a different source. There are several different Midrashic explanations to Deuteronomy 25:11-12, involving a woman trying to save her husband. Several say the phrase to save her husband from his fellow excludes either saving him from an agent of the courts (carrying out the death penalty),...


8

Encyclopedia Talmudit discusses this question, at the entry "הפקר בית דין," section ד. Some ראשונים hold1, based on the gemara Gittin 36b, that הפקר בית דין can only be done with a בית דין of the caliber of that of רב אמי and רב אסי, and hence it cannot be done today. Others posit that the comparison to רב אמי ורב אסי is not literal, but is really meant ...


8

R' Samson Raphael Hirsch, when describing your case about a thief's slavery, writes that the Torah's system of punishment is much better than the prevailing system of imprisonment, which basically destroys the perpetrator. This implies that jail is never found as a punishment in Judaism. That being said, there are times where someone is guilty of a severe ...


8

Rambam Hilchot Rotzeach 4:3: הַמַּכֶּה אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ בְּאֶבֶן אוֹ בְּאֶגְרוֹף וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן אוֹמְדִין אוֹתוֹ. אִם אֲמָדוּהוּ לְחַיִּים נוֹתֵן חֲמִשָּׁה דְּבָרִים וְנִפְטָר. וַאֲפִלּוּ חָלָה הַמֻּכֶּה וְהִכְבִּיד וּמֵת מֵחֲמַת הַמַּכָּה הֲרֵי זֶה פָּטוּר. וְאִם אֲמָדוּהוּ לְמִיתָה אוֹסְרִין אֶת הַמַּכֶּה בְּבֵית הַסֹּהַר מִיָּד וּמַמְתִּינִים לָזֶה. אִם ...


7

Judicial execution is not the same as murder. The same torah that says "do not murder" also calls for the death penalty for certain transgressions, so there must be a difference. Tractate Sanhedrin discusses capital punishment in a fair bit of detail. There are strict rules, but nonetheless a death sentence is possible and does not violate lo tirtzach.


7

R' Hershel Schachter was quoted in an interview with Ami Magazine, lamenting how Batei Din often (mal)function (emphasis mine): Q: Do you have a problem with the borerim system [in which two of the dayanim are chosen by the litigants and the two dayanim choose a third]? A: The borerim system is also a shanda. A lot of the borerim act like toanim. I ...


7

Punishment doesn't (and didn't) work the way I think you're assuming. Ancient Israel didn't have a "police force" to deal with violations of halacha. Any transgression punishable by a court was acted on only if witnesses came forward to bring an accusation. As part of doing that, the witnesses would certainly have to know if the person they accuse is ...


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