The Weekly Daf

For the week ending 24 April 2010 / 9 Iyyar 5770

Sanhedrin 72 - 78

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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Whose Blood is Redder?

"The non-Jewish ruler of my city ordered me to murder a fellow Jew and if I fail to do so he will murder me. What should I do?"

This is the question which was put to the Sage Rabbah.

"Allow yourself to be killed rather than commit murder," answered Rabbah. "Who says that your blood is redder than that of the other fellow?"

According to this logic if a group of Jews is commanded to deliver one if its members to enemies who intend to kill him and failure to do so will result in all of them being killed it would seem that they should be permitted to do so. But the halacha, as stated in the Jerusalem Talmud and recorded by Rambam (Yesodei Hatorah 5:5), requires the entire group to give up their lives rather than be guilty of being active accomplices to the murder of one of their members.

Rabbi Yossef Caro, in his Kessef Mishneh commentary on the Rambam, explains that the law requiring a Jew to give up his life rather than commit murder was received by Moshe at Sinai and passed down to us by oral tradition. The "blood not redder" idea is a logical explanation for this law provided by our Sages which fits most cases but was never intended to limit the application of the rule to only those situations.

  • Sanhedrin 74a

Two Sides of the Same Coin

A preemptive execution is legislated for the rebellious son whose undisciplined actions indicate an inevitable degeneration towards becoming a murderer. He is considered better off dying before he reaches this level of guilt.

Death for the wicked, conclude our Sages, is a benefit for them and for the world while death for the righteous is bad for them and bad for the world. Sleep and wine for the wicked are benefits for them and for the world, while for the righteous they are bad for them and bad for the world. Tranquillity for the wicked is bad for them and bad for the world while for the righteous it is a benefit for them and for the world, (for they have the opportunity to study Torah and perform mitzvos - Rashi). Disunity for the wicked is a benefit for them and for the world while for the righteous it is bad for them and bad for the world.

  • Sanhedrin 72a

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