בטלו דיני קנסות מישראל שפעם אחת גזרה מלכות הרשעה גזירה על ישראל שכל הסומך יהרג וכל הנסמך יהרג ועיר שסומכין בה תיחרב ותחומין שסומכין בהן יעקרו
the laws of fines would have ceased to be implemented from among the Jewish people, as they would not have been able to adjudicate cases involving these laws due to a lack of ordained judges. This is because at one time the wicked kingdom of Rome issued decrees of religious persecution against the Jewish people with the aim of abolishing the chain of ordination and the authority of the Sages. They said that anyone who ordains judges will be killed, and anyone who is ordained will be killed, and the city in which they ordain the judges will be destroyed, and the signs identifying the boundaries of the city in which they ordain judges will be uprooted. These measures were intended to discourage the Sages from performing or receiving ordination due to fear for the welfare of the local population.
מה עשה יהודה בן בבא הלך וישב לו בין שני הרים גדולים ובין שתי עיירות גדולות ובין שני תחומי שבת בין אושא לשפרעם וסמך שם חמשה זקנים ואלו הן ר"מ ור' יהודה ור' שמעון ור' יוסי ור' אלעזר בן שמוע רב אויא מוסיף אף ר' נחמיה
What did Rabbi Yehuda ben Bava do? He went and sat between two large mountains, between two large cities, and between two Shabbat boundaries: Between Usha and Shefaram, i.e., in a desolate place that was not associated with any particular city so that he not endanger anyone not directly involved, and there he ordained five elders. And they were: Rabbi Meir, and Rabbi Yehuda, and Rabbi Shimon, and Rabbi Yosei, and Rabbi Elazar ben Shammua. Rav Avya adds that Rabbi Neḥemya was also among those ordained. This incident indicates that ordination can be performed by a single Sage.
כיון שהכירו אויביהם בהן אמר להן בניי רוצו אמרו לו רבי מה תהא עליך אמר להן הריני מוטל לפניהם כאבן שאין לה הופכים אמרו לא זזו משם עד שנעצו בו שלש מאות לונביאות של ברזל ועשאוהו ככברה
When their enemies discovered them, Rabbi Yehuda ben Bava said to the newly ordained Sages: My sons, run for your lives. They said to him: My teacher, what will be with you? Rabbi Yehuda ben Bava was elderly and unable to run. He said to them: In any case, I am cast before them like a stone that cannot be overturned; even if you attempt to assist me I will not be able to escape due to my frailty, but if you do not escape without me you will also be killed. People say about this incident: The Roman soldiers did not move from there until they had inserted three hundred iron spears [lunkhiyot] into him, making him appear like a sieve pierced with many holes.
רבי יהודה בן בבא אחריני הוו בהדיה והאי דלא חשיב להו משום כבודו דרבי יהודה בן בבא ור"מ ר' יהודה בן בבא סמכיה והא אמר רבה בר בר חנה אמר רבי יוחנן כל האומר ר"מ לא סמכו ר' עקיבא אינו אלא טועה סמכיה ר' עקיבא ולא קיבלו סמכיה ר' יהודה בן בבא וקיבלו
This proof is refuted: There may have been other Sages performing the ordination with Rabbi Yehuda ben Bava, who were added in order to reach the quota of three Sages, and this fact that they were not mentioned is due to the honor of Rabbi Yehuda ben Bava, who was the greatest among them. The Gemara asks: And with regard to Rabbi Meir, did Rabbi Yehuda ben Bava actually ordain him? But doesn’t Rabba bar bar Ḥana say that Rabbi Yoḥanan says: Anyone who says that Rabbi Akiva did not ordain Rabbi Meir is nothing other than mistaken. The Gemara answers: Rabbi Akiva in fact ordained Rabbi Meir, but the people did not accept the appointment, as Rabbi Meir was still very young. Therefore, some time later, Rabbi Yehuda ben Bava ordained him a second time, and they accepted it.
אמר רבי יהושע בן לוי אין סמיכה בחוצה לארץ מאי אין סמיכה אילימא דלא דייני דיני קנסות כלל בחוצה לארץ והא תנן סנהדרין נוהגת בין בארץ ובין בחוצה לארץ אלא דלא סמכינן בחוצה לארץ
§ Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi says: There is no ordination outside of Eretz Yisrael. The Gemara asks: What is the meaning of: There is no ordination? If we say that they may not adjudicate cases involving laws of fines at all outside of Eretz Yisrael, that is difficult: Didn’t we learn in a mishna (Makkot 7a): The Sanhedrin and its authority functions both in Eretz Yisrael and outside of Eretz Yisrael? Rather, the intention is that we do not ordain judges outside of Eretz Yisrael.
פשיטא סומכין בחוצה לארץ ונסמכין בארץ הא אמרינן דלא אלא סומכין בארץ ונסמכין בחוצה לארץ מאי
The Gemara comments: It is obvious that if those ordaining the new judges were outside of Eretz Yisrael, and those being ordained were inside Eretz Yisrael, we say that they may not perform the ordination. But if those ordaining the new judges were inside Eretz Yisrael, and those being ordained were outside of Eretz Yisrael, what is the halakha? May ordination be conferred from a distance in this situation?
ת"ש דרבי יוחנן הוה מצטער עליה דרב שמן בר אבא דלא הוה גבייהו דליסמכיה ר"ש בן זירוד וחד דעימיה ומנו ר' יונתן בן עכמאי ואמרי לה רבי יונתן בן עכמאי וחד דעימיה ומנו ר"ש בן זירוד חד דהוה גבייהו סמכוהו וחד דלא הוה גבייהו לא סמכוהו
The Gemara clarifies: Come and hear a resolution to the dilemma from the fact that Rabbi Yoḥanan was distressed concerning Rav Shemen bar Abba, as the latter was not with the other Sages at the time they received the consent of the Nasi so that Rabbi Yoḥanan could ordain him. In addition, concerning Rabbi Shimon ben Zeirud and one who was with him, the Gemara interjects: And who is he? Rabbi Yoḥanan ben Akhmai. And some say that it was Rabbi Yoḥanan ben Akhmai and one who was with him; the Gemara interjects: And who is he? Rabbi Shimon ben Zeirud. The Gemara continues: Although these two Sages were equal in stature, the Sages ordained only the one who was with them in Eretz Yisrael, and they did not ordain the other one, who was not with them. This indicates that ordination can be granted only in Eretz Yisrael.
ר' חנינא ורבי הושעיא הוה קא משתקיד רבי יוחנן למיסמכינהו לא הוה מסתייעא מילתא הוה קא מצטער טובא אמרו ליה לא נצטער מר דאנן מדבית עלי קאתינן
The Gemara relates several other incidents with regard to ordination. Rabbi Yoḥanan persistently tried to ordain Rabbi Ḥanina and Rabbi Hoshaya, as they were scholars and righteous people. But he was not successful with regard to the matter, as various incidents repeatedly interfered with his plan, and he was very distressed about this. They said to him: Do not be distressed, our Master, as we come from, i.e., are descendants of, the house of the High Priest Eli.
דא"ר שמואל בר נחמן א"ר יונתן מניין שאין נסמכין לבית עלי שנאמר (שמואל א ב, לב) לא יהיה זקן בביתך כל הימים מאי זקן אילימא זקן ממש והכתיב (שמואל א ב, לג) כל מרבית ביתך ימותו אנשים אלא סמיכה
As Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥman says that Rabbi Yonatan says: From where is it known that there are not to be ordained Sages from the house of Eli? As it is stated with regard to the house of Eli: “And there shall not be an elder in your house forever” (I Samuel 2:32). The Gemara explains: What is the meaning of “elder” in this verse? If we say it means an actual elder, meaning an old person, but isn’t it already written: “And all those raised in your house shall die young men” (I Samuel 2:33)? Rather, the term “elder” is an honorary term for a Sage, and it means that ordination will not be granted to descendants of the House of Eli.
רבי זירא הוה מיטמר למיסמכיה דאמר רבי אלעזר לעולם הוי קבל וקיים כיון דשמעה להא דא"ר אלעזר אין אדם עולה לגדולה אלא א"כ מוחלין לו על כל עונותיו אמצי ליה אנפשיה
The Gemara relates: Rabbi Zeira would habitually hide himself so that they would not ordain him. He did this due to the fact that Rabbi Elazar said: Always be obscure and remain alive, meaning the more humble and unknown you make yourself, the longer you will live. When he heard that which Rabbi Elazar also said: A person does not rise to greatness unless all his sins are forgiven, he understood that there are also benefits to greatness, and he presented himself to the Nasi in order that he would ordain him.
כי סמכוה לר' זירא שרו ליה הכי לא כחל ולא שרק ולא פירכוס ויעלת חן כי סמכוה לרבי אמי ולרבי אסי שרו להו הכי כל מן דין כל מן דין סמוכו לנא לא תסמכו לנא לא מסרמיטין ולא מסרמיסין ואמרי לה לא מחמיסין ולא מטורמיסין
The Gemara relates: When they ordained Rabbi Zeira the Sages who were present at the ceremony sang to him this paean of praise traditionally sung to a bride at her wedding: She wears no blue eye shadow and no rouge on her face and no hair dye, and nevertheless she radiates grace. The bride is described as so beautiful that she does not need any cosmetics or adornments, and metaphorically Rabbi Zeira is praised as exceptionally and recognizably qualified for his appointment. Similarly, when they ordained Rabbi Ami and Rabbi Asi, they sang to them this paean of praise: Anyone like these, anyone like these, ordain for us, as they epitomized the ideal candidate for ordination. But do not ordain for us those counted among the rags [misarmitin] or among the distorters [misarmisin]. And some say that they said: Do not ordain for us those counted among the robbers [meḥamisin] or among the tramplers [miturmisin].
ר' אבהו כי הוה אתי ממתיבתא לבי קיסר נפקי מטרוניתא דבי קיסר ומשריין ליה רבה דעמיה מדברנא דאומתיה בוצינא דנהורא בריך מתייך לשלם:
Since the songs composed for various Sages were mentioned, the Gemara also recounts that when Rabbi Abbahu would come from the yeshiva to the house of the emperor, the ladies from the emperor’s house would go out and sing before him: O great one of his people, leader of his nation, illuminating candle, may your arrival be blessed in peace.
עריפת עגלה בשלשה: ת"ר (דברים כא, ב) ויצאו זקניך ושופטיך זקניך שנים שופטיך שנים ואין ב"ד שקול מוסיפין עליהן עוד אחד הרי כאן חמשה דברי ר' יהודה רבי שמעון אומר זקניך שנים ואין ב"ד שקול מוסיפין עליהם עוד אחד הרי כאן שלשה
§ The mishna teaches that the breaking of the heifer’s neck is performed in front of a panel of three judges, and that Rabbi Yehuda says there must be five judges. The Sages taught in a baraita: The verse states: “And your elders and your judges shall go out and they shall measure to the cities that are around the corpse” (Deuteronomy 21:2). “Your elders” is in the plural, which indicates a minimum of two, and “your judges” is also plural, indicating another two, and as a court may not be composed of an even number of judges, they add an additional one to them, so there are five judges here; this is the statement of Rabbi Yehuda. Rabbi Shimon says: “Your elders,” indicate two, and as a court may not be composed of an even number of judges, they add an additional one to them, so there are three judges here.
ור"ש האי שופטיך מאי עביד ליה ההוא מיבעי ליה למיוחדין שבשופטיך ור' יהודה מזקני זקניך נפקא
The Gemara asks: But according to Rabbi Shimon, what does he do with this extra expression: “Your judges”? The Gemara answers: He requires it to teach that these judges must be of the unique ones among your judges, meaning that they must be members of the Sanhedrin. The Gemara asks: And how does Rabbi Yehuda derive the halakha that the judges must be members of the Sanhedrin? He derives it from the fact that the verse did not merely state: “Elders,” but rather: “Your elders,” which indicates the elders that are unique to all of the Jewish people, meaning the Sages of the Sanhedrin.
ור"ש אי מזקני הוה אמינא זקני השוק כתב רחמנא זקניך ואי כתיב זקניך הוה אמינא סנהדרי קטנה כתב רחמנא ושופטיך ממיוחדין שבשופטיך ורבי יהודה גמר זקני זקני מוסמכו זקני העדה את ידיהם מה להלן מיוחדין שבעדה אף כאן מיוחדין שבזקניך
And how does Rabbi Shimon respond to this claim? He holds that had the verse written only: “Elders,” I would say that the verse is referring to any elders in the marketplace who are not members of the Sanhedrin. Therefore, the Merciful One writes: “Your elders.” And if it was written: “Your elders,” I would say that it is referring to members of a lesser Sanhedrin. Therefore, the Merciful One writes: “And your judges,” to indicate that they must be of the unique ones among your judges. And how would Rabbi Yehuda respond to this claim? He learns it by means of a verbal analogy from the word “elders” written in this verse and the word “elders” written in the verse: “And the elders of the congregation shall lay their hands on the head of the bull” (Leviticus 4:15). Just as there it is referring to the unique ones of the congregation, so too here, it is referring to the unique ones among your elders.
אי יליף לילף כולה מהתם זקניך ושופטיך למה לי אלא וי"ו ושופטיך למניינא ורבי שמעון וי"ו לא דריש
The Gemara asks: If he learns this verbal analogy, he should learn all of it, i.e., the entire halakha, including the number of judges as well as their rank, from there, i.e., the verse in Leviticus, and if so why do I need the extra expressions: “Your elders” and: “And your judges”? Rather, certainly he does not accept this verbal analogy. Rather, he holds that the additional letter vav, corresponding to the word “and” in the expression: “And your judges,” is there for the tally, meaning that the expression “your judges” teaches that they must be members of the Great Sanhedrin, and the additional vav serves to add an additional two to the number of judges. And how does Rabbi Shimon respond to that? He does not expound the additional letter vav.
אלא מעתה ויצאו שנים ומדדו שנים לרבי יהודה הרי תשעה לרבי שמעון שבעה ההוא מיבעי ליה לכדתניא ויצאו הן ולא שלוחן ומדדו שאפילו נמצא
The Gemara asks: If that is so, if the verbs in the plural form are each understood as adding an additional two judges, then the expression: “And they shall go out,” in the continuation of the verse (Deuteronomy 21:2) indicates another two, and the expression: “And they shall measure,” adds another two, meaning that according to Rabbi Yehuda there should be nine judges, and according to Rabbi Shimon, seven. The Gemara answers: He needs this exposition for that which is taught in a baraita: The verse states: “And they shall go out,” to emphasize that they must go out, and not their agents, and the verse states: “And they shall measure,” to teach that this measurement is itself a mitzva, such that even if the corpse is found