Part 1 - Chapter 2 - Note 11
The portions of the following texts that are the most relevant to the book appear in bold.
The use of the word "Min" (pl. "Minim"), where
highlighted in blue, literally means "heretic" and is used to refer to
people from the Sect of the Nazarene's (Acts 24:5); a fifth major sect of Judaism that
believed in Yeshua as Messiah.
Talmud - Mas. Sanhedrin 37a
AND THREE ROWS OF SCHOLARS SAT 1
IN FRONT OF THEM; EACH KNOWING HIS OWN PLACE.2
IN CASE IT WAS NECESSARY TO ORDAIN [ANOTHER JUDGE],3
HE WAS APPOINTED FROM THE FIRST [ROW] IN WHICH CASE ONE OF THE SECOND [ROW] MOVED UP TO
THE FIRST, ONE OF THE THIRD TO THE SECOND, AND A MEMBER OF THE ASSEMBLED [AUDIENCE]
4 WAS SELECTED AND SEATED IN THE THIRD
[ROW]. HE5 DID NOT SIT IN THE PLACE
VACATED BY THE FIRST6 BUT IN THE
PLACE SUITABLE FOR HIM.7
GEMARA. Whence is this derived? R. Aha Haninah said: Scripture
states, Thy navel is like a round goblet [aggan ha-Sahar] wherein no mingled wine is
wanting.8 Thy navel
that is the Sanhedrin. Why was it called navel? Because it sat
at the navel-point9 of the world. [Why]
aggan? 10 Because it
protects [meggin] the whole world. [Why] ha-Sahar? Because it was moon-shaped.11 [Why] in which no mingled wine is wanting?
I.e., if one of them had to leave, it had to be ascertained if twenty-three,
corresponding to the number of the minor Sanhedrin, were left,12
in which case he might go out; if not, he might not depart.
Thy belly is like a heap of wheat: 13
Just as all benefit from a heap of wheat, so do all benefit from the deliberations of the
Set about with lilies:14
Even through a hedge of lilies they would make no breach.15
In this connexion there is the story of a Min 16 who said to R. Kahana: Ye maintain that a
menstruant woman is permitted yihud [privacy] with her husband: can fire be near tow
without singeing it? He retorted: The Torah testifies this of us: Set about with lilies
even through a hedge of lilies they make no breach. Resh Lakish deduced [the same
answer] from the following verse, Thy temples [rakkathek] are like a pomegranate split
open! 17 Even the emptiest
[rekanin]18 among you are as full
of meritorious deeds as a pomegranate [of seeds].19
R. Zera deduced it from the following verse, And he smelt the smell of his raiment;20 read not begadaw [his raiment] but bogedaw
In the neighbourhood of R. Zera there lived some lawless men. He
nevertheless showed them friendship in order to lead them to repent; but the Rabbis were
annoyed [at his action]. When R. Zera's soul went to rest, 22
they said: Until now we had the burnt man with the dwarfed legs 23 to implore Divine mercy for us; who will do
so now? Thereupon they felt remorse in their hearts and repented.
THREE ROWS Abaye said: We may infer from this 24 that when one moves they all move.25 But can he 26
not object to them: Until now I used to sit at the head, 27
whilst now ye place me at the tail!28
Said Abaye: They can answer him thus: Better a tail to lions than a head to foxes.29
MISHNAH. HOW WERE THE WITNESSES INSPIRED WITH AWE? WITNESSES IN CAPITAL
CHARGES30 WERE BROUGHT IN AND
INTIMIDATED [THUS]: PERHAPS WHAT YE SAY IS BASED ONLY ON CONJECTURE, 31 OR HEARSAY,32
OR IS EVIDENCE FROM THE MOUTH OF ANOTHER WITNESS, 33
OR EVEN FROM THE MOUTH OF A TRUSTWORTHY PERSON:34
PERHAPS YE ARE UNAWARE THAT ULTIMATELY WE SHALL SCRUTINIZE YOUR EVIDENCE BY CROSS
EXAMINATION AND INQUIRY? KNOW THEN THAT CAPITAL CASES ARE NOT LIKE MONETARY CASES. IN
CIVIL SUITS, ONE CAN MAKE MONETARY RESTITUTION 35
AND THEREBY EFFECT HIS ATONEMENT; BUT IN CAPITAL CASES HE IS HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS
BLOOD [sc. THE ACCUSED'S] AND THE BLOOD OF HIS [POTENTIAL] DESCENDANTS UNTIL THE END OF
TIME,36 FOR THUS WE FIND IN THE
CASE OF CAIN, WHO KILLED HIS BROTHER, THAT IT IS WRITTEN: THE BLOODS OF THY BROTHER CRY
UNTO ME:37 NOT THE BLOOD OF THY
BROTHER, BUT THE BLOODS OF THY BROTHER, IS SAID i.e., HIS BLOOD AND THE BLOOD OF
HIS [POTENTIAL] DESCENDANTS. (ALTERNATIVELY, THE BLOODS OF THY BROTHER, TEACHES THAT HIS
BLOOD WAS SPLASHED OVER TREES AND STONES.)38
FOR THIS REASON WAS MAN CREATED ALONE, TO TEACH THEE THAT WHOSOEVER DESTROYS A
SINGLE SOUL OF ISRAEL, 39
SCRIPTURE IMPUTES [GUILT] TO HIM AS THOUGH HE HAD DESTROYED A COMPLETE WORLD; AND
WHOSOEVER PRESERVES A SINGLE SOUL OF ISRAEL, SCRIPTURE ASCRIBES [MERIT] TO HIM AS THOUGH
HE HAD PRESERVED A COMPLETE WORLD.40
FURTHERMORE, [HE WAS CREATED ALONE] FOR THE SAKE OF PEACE AMONG MEN, THAT ONE MIGHT NOT
SAY TO HIS FELLOW, MY FATHER WAS GREATER THAN THINE, AND THAT THE MINIM 41
MIGHT NOT SAY, THERE ARE MANY RULING POWERS IN HEAVEN; AGAIN, TO PROCLAIM THE GREATNESS OF
THE HOLY ONE, BLESSED BE HE: FOR IF A MAN STRIKES MANY COINS FROM ONE MOULD, THEY ALL
RESEMBLE ONE ANOTHER, BUT THE SUPREME KING OF KINGS, 42
THE HOLY ONE, BLESSED BE HE, FASHIONED EVERY MAN IN THE STAMP OF THE FIRST MAN, AND YET
NOT ONE OF THEM RESEMBLES HIS FELLOW. THEREFORE EVERY SINGLE PERSON IS OBLIGED TO SAY: THE
WORLD WAS CREATED FOR MY SAKE.43
PERHAPS YE WILL SAY:
(1) Also in semi-circular form, but on the floor. Each row
numbered twenty-three, making a total of sixty-nine. They were there for completion
purposes in case there might be a majority of only one for condemnation. Although
forty-eight would have sufficed for that purpose, since the completion goes on till the
number of seventy-one is reached, some difficulty would have been experienced in arranging
that number into rows. It would not have been proper to make two rows of twenty-four,
since these would have been larger than that of the Sanhedrin, nor three rows of sixteen,
which would have seemed too small, nor two rows of twenty-three and a third one only of
two. Hence the sixty-nine (Rashi).
(2) The disciples were seated according to rank.
(3) If a member died, or for completion purposes.
(4) [Behind the rows of the members of the Courts there stood a large audience of
scholars, v. Krauss op. cit.]
(5) Who was chosen from the assembly.
(6) Of the row.
(7) When the one at the head of the row was promoted, all moved one place up, leaving the
last seat for the new member.
(8) Cant. VII, 3.
(9) I.e., the centre. According to Midrashic legend the Temple was situated in the centre
of the world. Cf. Tanhuma, Wayikra. XVIII,23.
akin to idn to enclose. Hence,shield, protect.
they were seated in circular form like a moon.
(12) The actual number required for capital cases is twenty-three, roughly a third of
seventy-one, the remaining two-thirds being for completion purposes. The Aggadists
therefore compare the court to mingled wine, a mixture of one-third of wine and two-thirds
of water. Cf. B M. 60a; Tanhuma. Bamidbar IV.
(13) Cant. VII ,3.
(15) Metaphorically: the lightest barrier sufficed to keep them from sin.
a sectarian. v. Glos.
(17) Cant. VI, 7.
(18) ihbehr from ehr (empty, void: a play on l,er). Even those who by comparison are
emptiest of good deeds.
(19) So there is no fear of their infringing the prohibition.
(20) Gen. XXVII, 27.
(21) The consonants of both words are the same uhsdc I.e., even those who are traitors to
the teachings of Judaism diffuse the fragrance of good deeds. Maharsha: Isaac was able to
trace in Jacob his original character even though he appeared before him in disguise, so
even in his apparently unworthy descendants their good qualities are discernible.
(22) I.e., when he died.
(23) V. B M. 85a for the reason for this nick-name.
(24) The statement in the Mishnah that the member chosen from the assembled audience does
not occupy the seat just vacated.
(25) V. p. 231, n. 7.
(26) The promoted member of the rows of scholars.
(27) E.g., of the second row.
(28) Of the first row.
(29) Aboth IV, 15.
(30) [Ms. M: How are witnesses in capital charges intimidated? They were brought in, etc.]
(31) I e.. from circumstantial evidence.
(32) [A general rumour (Yad Ramah).]
(33) [Each one of you has heard it from a separate witness (Yad Ramah).]
(34) [You both heard it from the same trustworthy person.]
(35) If he causes financial loss through giving false testimony.
(36) Lit., the world, i.e., not only for the death of the accused himself, but
of his potential descendants for all time.
(37) Gen.IV,10; hns is plural.
(38) This is obviously not part of the caution, but interpolated. V. Krauss,
(39) OF ISRAEL is absent in some texts.
(40) Since all mankind originated from one man.
(41) V. p. 211, n. 8, and p. 239, n. 9; here, however, it is more probable that the
allusion is to the Gnostics and their doctrine of the Demiurgus; v. Krauss, op. cit. a.l.
(42) Lit., the King of the Kings of the Kings.
(43) How grave the responsibility therefore of corrupting myself by giving false evidence,
and thus bringing the moral guilt of murder upon a whole world.
Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 134b
daily all delight (Prov. VIII, 30), where the word amon (nursling) may also be
read oman (architect, designer). When God was about to create man the Torah
remonstrated, saying: Should man be created and then sin and be brought to trial
before Thee, the work of Thy hand will be in vain, for he will not be able to endure Thy
judgement. Whereto God replied: I had already fashioned repentance before
creating the world. When God created the world, He said to it: O world, world!
Thou and thy order are founded only upon the Torah, and therefore I have created man in
thee that he may apply himself to its study; otherwise I will turn thee into chaos
again. Hence Scripture says: I have made the earth and created man upon
it (Is. XLV, 12). The Torah in truth continually calls to the sons of men to devote
themselves to its study, but none gives ear. Yet whoever labours in the Torah upholds the
world, and enables each part to perform its function. For there is not a member in the
human body but has its counterpart in the world as a whole. For as man's body consists of
members and parts of various ranks all acting and reacting upon each other so as to form
one organism, so does the world at large consist of a hierarchy of created things, which
when they properly act and react upon each other together form literally one organic body.
Thus the whole is organised on the scheme of the Torah, which also consists of sections
and divisions which fit into one another and, when properly arranged together, form one
organic body. This reflection led David to exclaim: How manifold are thy works, O
Lord! In wisdom hast thou made them all; the earth is full of thy creatures(Ps. CIV,
24). The Torah contains all the deepest and most recondite mysteries; all sublime
doctrines, both disclosed and undisclosed; all essences both of the higher and the lower
grades, of this world and of the world to come are to be found there, but there is no one
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