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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin

Folio 66a

do not commence with me;1   it is morning; it is new moon; it is the conclusion of the Sabbath.2

    Our Rabbis taught: Ye shall not use enchantments nor observe times.3 This refers to those who practise enchantment by means of weasels, birds, and fish.4


GEMARA. This proves that there is a manner of desecrating the Sabbath for the deliberate committal of which there is no extinction, nor is a sin offering to be brought for its unwitting transgression. What is it? — The law of boundaries, according to R. Akiba,5   and kindling a fire, according to R. Jose.6


GEMARA. Who is meant here by the Sages?8  — R. Menahem, son of R. Jose. For it has been taught: R. Menahem, son of R. Jose said, When he blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall be put to death.9  Why is 'the name' mentioned?10  To teach that he who curses his father or his mother does not incur a penalty unless he employs the Divine Name.11

Our Rabbis taught: [For any man12  that curseth his father or his mother shall surely be put to death: his father and his mother he hath cursed; his blood shall be upon him.13  Now, the Scripture could have said,] A man [ish]; what is taught by any man [ish ish]? — The inclusion of a daughter, a tumtum,14  and a hermaphrodite [as being subject to this law]. 'That curseth his father and his mother:' From this I know only [that he is punished for cursing] his father and his mother; whence do I know [the same] if he cursed his father without his mother or his mother without his father? — From the passage his father and his mother he hath cursed: his blood shall be upon him,15  implying, a man that cursed his father; a man that cursed his mother. This is R. Joshiah's opinion. R. Jonathan said: The [beginning of the] verse alone implies either the two together or each separately unless the verse had explicitly stated 'together'.16  He shall surely be put to death — by stoning. You say: By stoning. But perhaps it means by one of the other deaths decreed in the Torah? — Here it is written, his blood shall be upon him; and elsewhere it is written, [A man also or a woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death; they shall stone them with stones:] their blood shall be upon them:17  just as there stoning is meant, so here too. From this we learn punishment: whence do we derive the prohibition? — From the verse, Thou shalt not revile the judges, nor curse the ruler of thy people.18  Now, if his father is a judge, he is included in the Thou shalt not revile the judges; if a nasi,19  in nor curse the ruler of they people. If neither a judge nor a ruler, whence do we know it? — You may construct a syllogism with these two as premises; the case of a nasi is not analogous to that of a judge, nor of a judge to that of a nasi. Now, the case of a judge is not analogous to that of a nasi, for you art commanded to obey the ruling of a judge, but not of a nasi; whilst the case of a nasi is not analogous to that of judge, for you are enjoined not to rebel against the decree of a nasi, but not of a judge.20  Now, what is common to both, is that they are of 'thy people'21  and you are forbidden to curse them: so I extend the law to thy father, who is of 'thy people', that thou art forbidden to curse him. No; their common characteristic is their greatness, which is the decisive factor. Hence Scripture writes, Thou shalt not curse the deaf;22  thus applying the injunction even to the humblest of thy people. No; in the case of the deaf, his very deafness may be the cause [of the prohibition].23  Then let the nasi and the judge prove otherwise. But in their case their greatness may be the cause: then let the deaf prove the reverse. And thus the argument proceeds in a circle: the particular characteristic of one is lacking in the other, and vice versa.24  What is common to all is that they are of 'thy people', and you are forbidden to curse them: so I include thy father who is of thy people, and you are forbidden to curse him. No! What they have in common is that they are distinguished [from the average person].25  But if so, Scripture should have written either the judge and the deaf or the nasi and the deaf.26  Why then is the judge mentioned? — Since this is superfluous for itself, apply it to one's father. Now, this agrees with the view that elohim is profane; but on the view that it is holy, what canst thou say?27  For it has been taught: Elohim is profane:28  that is R. Ishmael's opinion. R. Akiba said: It is sacred.29  And it has been taught thereon: R. Eliezer b. Jacob said: Whence do we derive a formal prohibition against cursing God's name? From the verse, Thou shalt not revile god?30  — On the view that elohim is profane, the sacred is derived from the profane,31  hence, contrariwise, on the view that elohim is sacred, thou mayest derive the profane from the sacred.32  Now, it is quite correct to say that on the view that elohim is profane, the sacred is derived from it. But on the view that elohim is holy, how canst thou derive the profane from it: perhaps the prohibition is only in respect of the sacred [i.e.. God], but not of the profane at all? — If so, Scripture should have written, elohim lo takel [Thou shalt not revile God],

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. I.e., if a tax-collector comes to him, he asks him to collect first from someone else, as it is a bad omen to be the first to pay taxes.
  2. He declines to pay his debts on these occasions, regarding it as a bad omen to start the week or day or month by paying debts. — All these superstitions are forbidden under the term menahesh.
  3. Lev. XIX, 26.
  4. Var. lec.: 'and stars'.
  5. According to Biblical law, as deduced by the Rabbis, one was not to go more than 12 mil (a mil = 1,000 cubits) beyond the town boundaries on the Sabbath (the Rabbis reduced this to 2,000 cubits). R. Akiba maintained that if this law was violated the offender was liable neither to extinction nor to a sin offering.
  6. V. supra 62a.
  7. E.g., The Merciful, the Gracious, the Almighty.
  8. This anonymous term did not necessarily represent the view of many Sages; it frequently connoted a single scholar.
  9. Lev. XXIV, 16.
  10. Since the beginning of the same verse explicitly states that the reference is to the Name: And he that blasphemeth the Name of the Lord shall surely be put to death.
  11. For 'the name' being unnecessary here, is applied to a different law. V. supra p. 365, n. 7.
  12. Lit. 'a man, a man', [H]
  13. Lev. XX, 9.
  14. A person whose genitals are hidden or undeveloped, and hence of unknown sex.
  15. At the beginning of the sentence that curseth is in immediate proximity to his father; at the end, cursing is mentioned nearest to his mother, shewing that each is separate.
  16. I.e., the conjunctive waw implies both conjunction and separation. Hence, the first half of the sentence is sufficient to shew that the law applies to each separately. The second half is employed for a different purpose. V. infra 85b.
  17. Lev. XX, 27.
  18. Ex. XXII, 27.
  19. The Patriarch or chief of the great sanhedrin in Jerusalem and of its successors in Palestinian places. In earlier times, the princes of the tribes; v. Num. VII, 12-89.
  20. I.e., each has a measure of authority which the other lacks: the judge to give his verdict in disputes, the nasi make decrees. Now, considered separately, it might be argued that one is forbidden to curse either the nasi or the judge on account of the particular authority he enjoys. But when they are examined in conjunction, it is seen that the particular authority of each is not the decisive factor, since the other lacks it. Hence they must base something in common as the final factor, and the same law will apply to whomever shares it with them.
  21. This is taken to mean that they conform to the laws of Judaism (Yeb. 22b; B.B. 4a).
  22. Lev. XIX, 14.
  23. I.e., one may not take advantage of his infirmity.
  24. At this stage, the judge and the nasi are one proposition, the deaf another.
  25. The judge and the nasi by their greatness; the deaf by his infirmity.
  26. Had the Torah forbidden the cursing of the deaf and either a judge or a nasi, the other could have been deduced. For their common feature is that they are distinguished from other people; consequently, by analogy, the same law applies to either a judge or a nasi.
  27. Ex. XXII, 27: Thou shall not revile elohim (translated above 'the judges'); but that itself is the subject of a dispute.
  28. I.e., its meaning is 'judge', the root idea of elohim being power, authority.
  29. I.e., it means literally 'God'.
  30. Soferim IV, 5. On this latter view, elohim is not superfluous, to be applied to one's father, and the question remains, whence is derived the prohibition of cursing a father?
  31. Though elohim means judge, nevertheless the same law applies to God, by deriving the latter from the former. Such derivation is warranted, since Scripture expresses 'judge' by a word normally meaning God (Tosaf.).
  32. Thus, even if elohim means 'God', yet the same applies to a judge, by analogy. Now, since a nasi could have been deduced from a judge and the deaf, it is superfluous, and consequently must be applied to one's father. Hence, the general argument is as before, but the nasi, and not the judge, is now, regarded as unnecessary.
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Sanhedrin 66b

why [write] lo tekallel?1  — That both [God and judge] may be understood therefrom.


GEMARA. Our Rabbis taught: If a na'arah [damsel] that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband;5  na'arah excludes a bogereth;6  'virgin' excludes one who is no longer a virgin; 'betrothed' excludes a nasu'ah; [because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore] in her father's house7  — this excludes one whom her father has given over to her husband's messengers [to take to her new home].

Rab Judah said in Rab's name: This [our Mishnah] is R. Meir's view, but the Sages maintain that by a betrothed damsel even a minor8  is understood.9  R. Aha of Difti said to Rabina: Whence do we know that the Mishnah is as R. Meir only, the term na'arah excluding a minor too; perhaps it agrees even with the Rabbis, whilst na'arah is intended to exclude a bogereth, but none else? — He replied: If so, instead of saying: HE IS NOT PUNISHED UNTIL SHE IS A NA'ARAH, A VIRGIN, AND BETROTHED, the Mishnah should have said: He is punished only for a na'arah, a virgin, and a betrothed.10  No further argument is possible!

R. Jacob b. Ada asked of Rab: What if one has intimate connexion with a betrothed minor, according to R. Meir's view? Does he exclude a minor entirely,11  or only from stoning?12  — He replied: It is reasonable to assume that he excludes him only from stoning. But is it not written. [If a man be found lying with a woman married to a husband,] then they shall both of them die,13  implying that they must both be equal?14  Rab remained silent.15  Samuel said: Why was Rab silent? He should have answered him: [It is written, But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field …] then the man only that lay with her shall die.16

This question is disputed by Tannaim: Then they shall both of them die: this teaches that they must both be equal. That is R. Joshiah's view. R. Jonathan said: Then the man only that lay with her shall die.17  And the other [R. Jonathan] — what does he deduce from 'then they shall both die'? — Raba answered: It excludes the mere whetting of one's lust.18  But the other?19  — He regards such excitation as of no consequence.20  And the other [R. Joshiah] — how does he interpret 'alone'? — Even as it has been taught: If ten men cohabited with her, yet leaving her a virgin,21  they are all stoned. Rabbi said: The first is stoned, but the others are strangled.22

Our Rabbis taught: And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself [tehel]23  by playing the whore.24  — Rabbi said: It implies the first,25  and thus it is also written, Then the man only that lieth with her shall die. What does this mean? — R. Huna the son of R. Joshua said: Rabbi agrees with R. Ishmael,26  viz., that only in arusah, the daughter of a priest, is singled out for burning; but not a nesu'ah [who is strangled, just as an Israelite's daughter]. And this is what he says: If her first coition is adulterous [i.e., if she is an arusah at the time] she is burnt; otherwise she is stoned.27  What is meant by 'and thus etc.'? — It is as there; just as there, Scripture refers to her first coition, so here too.28

R. Bibi b. Abaye said to him: The Master has not said thus (Who is it?29  — R. Joseph), but that Rabbi agreed with R. Meir who held that if a priest's daughter married one who was unfit for her [and then committed adultery], she is strangled [instead of burnt],30  and this is what Rabbi says: If her first profanation is through adultery, she is burnt; otherwise she is stoned.31  Then what is meant by 'and thus etc.'?32  —

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Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. [H], tekallel, though having the same meaning as [H], takel, is a heavier form, being more emphatic, and hence of wider application.
  2. V. Glos.
  3. This excludes a maiden who had been given over to the messengers of her husband to be taken to her new home (Rashi).
  4. The first unnaturally, so that she was still as virgin.
  5. Deut. XXII, 23.
  6. V. Glos.
  7. Ibid. 21. This is quoted from a previous section dealing with slander. The subject being the same — a betrothed maiden — it is linked up with the present passage
  8. [H] before the age of twelve.
  9. V. Keth. 29a.
  10. He is not punished until she is (Heb. [H] the imperfect of the verb 'to be') definitely implies that she must reach the state of a na'arah.
  11. I.e., that the whole law of Deut XXII, 23f. decreeing death for intimate connexion with a betrothed maiden, does not apply if she is a minor.
  12. I.e., the seducer is not stoned, as he would be for a na'arah, but executed in another way.
  13. Ibid. 22.
  14. Both must be of a responsible age: but if one is not, as in this case, both are exempt.
  15. I.e., he could not answer this objection.
  16. Ibid. 25. Now, only is superfluous, for the next verse distinctly states, But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing. Hence it teaches that sometimes the man alone is punished, even when the betrothed consented, viz., if she was a minor.
  17. V. n. 3.
  18. On a woman's body, without coming into contact with her sexual organ. This is deduced from 'both': both must enjoy sexual gratification. (Aruch reads [H], i.e., 'the doing of Herod' with reference to B.B. 3b. V. Derenbourg, J. Essai 152, n. 1.]
  19. R. Joshiah — why does be reject that interpretation?
  20. It is not an offence at all in the sense that it should be necessary to teach that no punishment follows.
  21. The connections having been unnatural.
  22. That is deduced from 'alone': though all of them committed adultery with a virgin, 'alone' shows that only the first is stoned, stoning being ordained in that passage.
  23. [H],
  24. Lev. XXI, 9.
  25. He derives tehel from tehilah, 'the beginning', and thus renders the verse, If she begin by playing the whore.
  26. Supra 51b.
  27. And in each case, her paramour's punishment is the same.
  28. I.e., just as a betrothed maiden is excepted from the punishment of a nesu'ah, viz., strangulation, being stoned instead, which exception applies to her seducer too, and that only for the first coition (the word 'only' showing that her second paramour is strangled, even if she was still a virgin), so also, in the case of the priest's daughter, the exception is made only for her first coition, viz., if she is an arusah, but not if a nesu'ah.
  29. The Master referred to.
  30. V. supra 51b.
  31. I.e., if she was married to one who was fit for her, so that only though her adultery does she profane herself, the law of Lev. XXI 9, applies viz., that she is burnt. But if she first profaned herself not through adultery, but through marrying a person forbidden to her and then committed adultery, she is strangled.
  32. For the explanation given above will not fit in with this interpretation.
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