The Weekly Daf

For the week ending 13 March 2010 / 26 Adar I 5770

Sanhedrin 30 - 36

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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Never On Friday

The Rule: Capital cases cannot be judged on Erev Shabbos or Erev Yom Tov.
The Reason: If the judges reached a decision for acquittal in a capital case they render judgment that very day. If the decision is for conviction they must postpone final judgment till the morrow in order to allow for the possibility of coming up with an argument for acquittal during the course of the night.

Other Options?

  1. Judge him Erev Shabbos?
    No! They may decide he is guilty and will have to postpone final judgment till the next day - Shabbos.
  2. Judge him Erev Shabbos, render final judgment on Shabbos and execute him that same day?
    No! Execution is forbidden on Shabbos and Yom Tov.
  3. Execute him the night after Shabbos?
    No! Executions can only be conducted during the day.
  4. Execute him during the day after Shabbos?
    No! We would be guilty of prolonging the agony of the convicted man awaiting execution.
  5. Judge him Erev Shabbos, render judgment the day after Shabbos and execute him on that same day?
    No! We are concerned lest the passing of an extra day may cause a judge to forget the exact reason for reaching his conclusion regarding acquittal or conviction.
The Conclusion: Don't judge a capital case on Erev Shabbos or Erev Yom Tov.

  • Sanhedrin 35a

The Sanctity of Secrecy

When a court has rendered judgment in any case it is forbidden for a judge to tell the party who lost the case that he ruled in his favor and it was his colleagues who ruled against him. This comes under the category of the tale-bearing prohibited by the Torah, for King Solomon (in Mishlei 11) has already defined one who reveals secrets as a tale-bearer. A student in the yeshiva of the Sage Rabbi Ami was expelled from the yeshiva because he revealed a secret told in the Beis Midrash 22 years earlier. Rabbi Ami who realized that the revelation of even so outdated a matter had an element of lashon hara (evil gossip) in it, declared that there was no place in his yeshiva for one who made public what should have remained private information.

  • Sanhedrin 31a

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