Sanhedrin 37bסנהדרין ל״ז ב
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37bל״ז ב

מה לנו ולצרה הזאת והלא כבר נאמר (ויקרא ה, א) והוא עד או ראה או ידע אם לא יגיד וגו' ושמא תאמרו מה לנו לחוב בדמו של זה והלא כבר נאמר (משלי יא, י) באבוד רשעים רנה:

Why would we want this trouble? Perhaps it would be better not to testify at all. But be aware, as is it not already stated: “And he being a witness, whether he has seen or known, if he does not utter it, then he shall bear his iniquity” (Leviticus 5:1)? It is a transgression not to testify when one can do so. And perhaps you will say: Why would we want to be responsible for the blood of this person? But be aware, as is it not already stated: “When the wicked perish, there is song” (Proverbs 11:10)?

גמ׳ ת"ר כיצד מאומד אומר להן שמא כך ראיתם שרץ אחר חבירו לחורבה ורצתם אחריו ומצאתם סייף בידו ודמו מטפטף והרוג מפרפר אם כך ראיתם לא ראיתם כלום

GEMARA: The Sages taught in a baraita: How does the court describe testimony based on conjecture? The court says to the witnesses: Perhaps you saw this man about whom you are testifying pursuing another into a ruin, and you pursued him and found a sword in his hand, dripping with blood, and the one who was ultimately killed was convulsing. If you saw only this, it is as if you saw nothing, and you cannot testify to the murder.

תניא א"ר שמעון בן שטח אראה בנחמה אם לא ראיתי אחד שרץ אחר חבירו לחורבה ורצתי אחריו וראיתי סייף בידו ודמו מטפטף והרוג מפרפר ואמרתי לו רשע מי הרגו לזה או אני או אתה אבל מה אעשה שאין דמך מסור בידי שהרי אמרה תורה (דברים יז, ו) על פי שנים עדים יומת המת היודע מחשבות יפרע מאותו האיש שהרג את חבירו אמרו לא זזו משם עד שבא נחש והכישו ומת

It is taught in a baraita that Rabbi Shimon ben Shataḥ said as an oath: I will not see the consolation of Israel if I did not once see one person pursue another into a ruin, and I pursued him and saw a sword in his hand, dripping with blood, and the one who was ultimately killed was convulsing. And I said to him: Wicked person, who has killed this man? Either you or I. But what can I do, since your blood is not given over to me, as the Torah states: “At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is to die be put to death” (Deuteronomy 17:6), and I did not witness you killing him. The One Who knows one’s thoughts shall punish this man who killed another. The Sages said: They did not move from there before a snake came and bit the murderer, and he died.

והאי בר נחש הוא והאמר רב יוסף וכן תני דבי חזקיה מיום שחרב בית המקדש אף על פי שבטלה סנהדרי ארבע מיתות לא בטלו לא בטלו והא בטלו אלא דין ארבע מיתות לא בטלו

The Gemara questions this account: But was this murderer fit to die by being bitten by a snake? But doesn’t Rav Yosef say, and so the school of Ḥizkiyya also taught: From the day that the Temple was destroyed, although the Sanhedrin ceased to be extant, the four types of court-imposed capital punishment have not ceased. The Gemara asks: Have they really not ceased? But they have ceased, as court-imposed capital punishment is no longer given. Rather, the intention is that the halakha of the four types of court-imposed capital punishment has not ceased to be applicable.

מי שנתחייב סקילה או נופל מן הגג או חיה דורסתו מי שנתחייב שריפה או נופל בדליקה או נחש מכישו מי שנתחייב הריגה או נמסר למלכות או ליסטין באין עליו מי שנתחייב חנק או טובע בנהר או מת בסרונכי

The Gemara explains: How so? For one who would be liable to be executed by stoning, either he falls from a roof or an animal mauls him and breaks his bones. This death is similar to death by stoning, in which the one liable to be executed is pushed from a platform and his bones break from the impact of the fall. For one who would be liable to be executed by burning, either he falls into a fire and is burned or a snake bites him, as a snakebite causes a burning sensation. For one who would be liable to be executed by slaying through decapitation by the sword, either he is turned over to the authorities and they execute him with a sword, or robbers come upon him and murder him. One who would be liable to be executed by strangling either drowns in a river and is choked by the water or dies of diphtheria [bisronekhi], which causes his breathing to become constricted. According to this, a murderer, whose verdict in court would be death by slaying, should not be bitten by a snake.

אמרי ההוא חטא אחריתי הוה ביה דאמר מר מי שנתחייב שתי מיתות ב"ד נידון בחמורה:

The Sages say in explanation: That murderer had another sin for which he deserved execution by burning, and as the Master says: One who is found liable by the court to receive two types of court-imposed capital punishment is sentenced to the harsher of the two, and burning is considered a harsher death than slaying (see 50a).

מאומד וכו': בדיני נפשות הוא דלא אמדינן הא בדיני ממונות אמדינן כמאן כר' אחא דתניא ר' אחא אומר גמל האוחר בין הגמלים ונמצא גמל הרוג בצידו בידוע שזה הרגו

§ The mishna teaches that in cases of capital law the court warns the witnesses not to testify based on conjecture. The Gemara comments: One can infer that it is only in cases of capital law that we do not rule based on conjecture, but in cases of monetary law, we do rule based on conjecture. In accordance with whose opinion is the mishna taught? It is in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Aḥa. As it is taught in a baraita (Tosefta, Bava Kamma 3:6) that Rabbi Aḥa says: If there was a rutting male camel that was rampaging among other camels, and then a camel was found killed at its side, it is evident that this rampaging camel killed it, and the owner must pay for the damage caused. The baraita indicates that Rabbi Aḥa rules that cases of monetary law are decided based on conjecture.

וליטעמיך עד מפי עד דקתני בדיני נפשות הוא דלא אמרינן הא בדיני ממונות אמרינן והתנן אם אמר הוא אמר לי שאני חייב לו איש פלוני אמר לי שהוא חייב לו לא אמר כלום עד שיאמר בפנינו הודה לו שהוא חייב לו מאתים זוז

The Gemara asks: But according to your reasoning, with regard to that which the mishna teaches, that the court warns the witnesses not to provide testimony based on hearsay, should one infer that it is in cases of capital law that we do not say that testimony based on hearsay is allowed, but in cases of monetary law, we do say that testimony based on hearsay is allowed? But didn’t we learn in a mishna (29a): If the witness said: The defendant said to me: It is true that I owe the plaintiff, or if he says: So-and-so said to me that the defendant owes the plaintiff, the witness has said nothing, i.e., his testimony is disregarded. These two statements by witnesses are examples of testimony based on hearsay, yet they are not valid in cases of monetary law. A witness’s testimony is not valid testimony unless he says, for example: The defendant admitted in our presence to the plaintiff that he owes him two hundred dinars, as by admitting the debt in the presence of witnesses he rendered himself liable to pay the amount that he mentioned.

אלמא אף על גב דפסילי בדיני ממונות אמרינן להו בדיני נפשות הכא נמי אף על גב דפסילי בדיני ממונות אמרינן להו בדיני נפשות:

Evidently, although testimony based on hearsay is invalid in cases of monetary law, we tell the witnesses to be aware of this in capital law. Here, too, with regard to testimony based on conjecture, one can say that although testimony based on conjecture is invalid in cases of monetary law, we tell the witnesses to be aware of this in cases of capital law.

הוו יודעים כו': אמר רב יהודה בריה דר' חייא מלמד שעשה קין בהבל אחיו חבורות חבורות פציעות פציעות שלא היה יודע מהיכן נשמה יוצאה עד שהגיע לצוארו

§ The mishna teaches that the court would say: You should know that cases of capital law are not like cases of monetary law, and would reference the murder of Abel by Cain. Rav Yehuda, son of Rabbi Ḥiyya, says: By employing the plural term for blood, “The voice of your brother’s blood [demei] cries out to Me from the ground” (Genesis 4:10), the verse teaches that Cain caused multiple wounds and multiple injuries to his brother Abel. As Cain did not know from where the soul departs, he struck him multiple times. This continued until he came to his neck and struck him there, whereupon Abel died.

וא"ר יהודה בריה דר' חייא מיום שפתחה הארץ את פיה וקיבלתו לדמו של הבל שוב לא פתחה שנאמר (ישעיהו כד, טז) מכנף הארץ זמירות שמענו צבי לצדיק מכנף הארץ ולא מפי הארץ איתיביה חזקיה אחיו (במדבר טז, לב) ותפתח הארץ את פיה א"ל לרעה פתחה לטובה לא פתחה

And Rav Yehuda, son of Rabbi Ḥiyya, says: From the day the earth opened its mouth and received the blood of Abel, its mouth has not opened again, as it is stated: “From the corner of the earth have we heard songs: Glory to the righteous” (Isaiah 24:16): One can infer that the songs are heard “from the corner of the earth,” but not from the mouth of the earth, as the earth never again opened its mouth. Ḥizkiyya, Rav Yehuda’s brother, raised an objection to Rav Yehuda, son of Rabbi Ḥiyya: The verse states concerning Korah and his assembly: “And the earth opened her mouth and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods” (Numbers 16:32). Rav Yehuda, son of Rabbi Ḥiyya, said to him: It opened again for a deleterious purpose; it did not open again for a constructive purpose.

וא"ר יהודה בריה דרבי חייא גלות מכפרת עון מחצה מעיקרא כתיב (בראשית ד, יד) והייתי נע ונד ולבסוף כתיב (בראשית ד, טז) וישב בארץ נוד

And Rav Yehuda, son of Rabbi Ḥiyya, says: Exile atones for half of a sin. As initially it is written in the verse concerning Cain that he said: “And I shall be a fugitive [na] and a wanderer [vanad ] in the earth” (Genesis 4:14), and ultimately it is written: “And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod” (Genesis 4:16). Rav Yehuda, son of Rabbi Ḥiyya, equates “Nod” with “nad,” and understands that Cain was given only the punishment of being a wanderer. Exile atoned for half his sin, thereby negating the punishment of being a fugitive.

אמר רב יהודה גלות מכפרת שלשה דברים שנאמר (כה אמר ה' וגו') היושב בעיר הזאת ימות בחרב ברעב ובדבר והיוצא ונפל אל הכשדים הצרים עליכם יחיה והיתה לו נפשו לשלל

Rav Yehuda says: Exile atones for three matters, i.e., three types of death, as it is stated: “So says the Lord: Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death. He that abides in this city shall die by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence; but he that goes out, and falls away to the Chaldeans that besiege you, he shall survive, and his life shall be for him for a prey” (Jeremiah 21:8–9), indicating that exile from Jerusalem will save one from those three deaths.

ר' יוחנן אמר גלות מכפרת על הכל שנאמר (ירמיהו כב, ל) (כה אמר ה') כתבו את האיש הזה ערירי גבר לא יצלח בימיו כי לא יצלח מזרעו איש יושב על כסא דוד ומושל עוד ביהודה ובתר דגלה כתיב (דברי הימים א ג, יז) ובני יכניה אסיר (בנו) שלתיאל בנו אסיר שעיברתו אמו בבית האסורין שלתיאל ששתלו אל שלא כדרך הנשתלין גמירי שאין האשה מתעברת מעומד

Rabbi Yoḥanan says: Exile atones for all transgressions and renders a sinner like a new person, as it is stated concerning the king Jeconiah, a descendant of King David: “So says the Lord: Write you this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days; for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling anymore in Judah” (Jeremiah 22:30). And after Jeconiah was exiled it is written: “And the sons of Jeconiah, the same is Assir, Shealtiel his son” (I Chronicles 3:17). The verse employs the plural “sons of” although he had only one son, Shealtiel. “Assir,” literally, prisoner, teaches that his mother conceived him in prison. “Shealtiel,” literally, planted by God, teaches that God planted him in a way atypical of most plants [hanishtalin], i.e., people. It is learned as a tradition that a woman does not conceive when she is standing during sexual intercourse,