The Chain of Power and Responsibility
1 א

כל מי שאפשר למחות לאנשי ביתו ולא מיחה נתפס על אנשי ביתו באנשי עירו נתפס על אנשי עירו בכל העולם כולו נתפס על כל העולם כולו

אמר רב פפא והני דבי ריש גלותא נתפסו על כולי עלמא כי הא דאמר רבי חנינא מאי דכתיב (ישעיהו ג, יד) יי במשפט יבא עם זקני עמו ושריו

אם שרים חטאו...

Anyone who had the capability to effectively protest the sinful conduct of the members of his household and did not protest, he himself is apprehended for the sins of the members of his household and punished. If he is in a position to protest the sinful conduct of the people of his town, and he fails to do so, he is apprehended for the sins of the people of his town. If he is in a position to protest the sinful conduct of the whole world, and he fails to do so, he is apprehended for the sins of the whole world.

Rav Pappa said: And the members of the household of the Exilarch were apprehended and punished for the sins of the whole world. Because their authority extends across the entire Jewish world, it is in their hands to ensure that nobody commit a transgression. As indicated by that which Rabbi Ḥanina said: What is the meaning of that which is written: “The Lord will enter into judgment with the Elders of His people and its princes, saying: It is you who have eaten up the vineyard; the robbery of the poor is in your houses” (Isaiah 3:14)?

The question arises: If the princes sinned by committing robbery,

2 ב

זקנים מה חטאו אלא אימא על זקנים שלא מיחו בשרים רב יהודה הוה יתיב קמיה דשמואל אתאי ההיא איתתא קא צווחה קמיה ולא הוה משגח בה א"ל לא סבר ליה מר (משלי כא, יג) אוטם אזנו מזעקת דל גם הוא יקרא ולא יענה א"ל שיננא רישך בקרירי רישא דרישיך בחמימי הא יתיב מר עוקבא אב ב"ד דכתיב (ירמיהו כא, יב) בית דוד כה אמר יי דינו לבקר משפט והצילו גזול מיד עושק פן תצא כאש חמתי ובערה ואין מכבה מפני רוע מעלליהם וגו'

*א"ל ר' זירא לר' סימון לוכחינהו מר להני דבי ריש גלותא א"ל לא מקבלי מינאי א"ל אע"ג דלא מקבלי לוכחינהו מר

what did the Elders, i.e., the Sages of that generation, do that was considered a sin? Rather, say: God will enter into judgment with the Elders because they did not protest the sinful conduct of the princes. The Gemara relates: Rav Yehuda was sitting before Shmuel when this woman came and cried before Shmuel about an injustice that had been committed against her, and Shmuel paid no attention to her. Rav Yehuda said to Shmuel: Doesn’t the Master hold in accordance with the verse: “Whoever stops his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard” (Proverbs 21:13)? He said to him: Big-toothed one, your superior, i.e., I, your teacher, will be punished in cold water. The superior of your superior will be punished in hot water. Mar Ukva, who sits as president of the court, is responsible for those matters. And from where is it derived that this responsibility is incumbent upon the house of the Exilarch? As it is written: “House of David, so says the Lord: Execute judgment in the morning, and deliver him that is robbed out of the hand of the oppressor, lest My fury go forth like fire, and burn so that none can quench it because of the evil of your doings” (Jeremiah 21:12). The Exilarch is a direct descendant of the house of David.

*With regard to the issue of reprimand, it was related that Rabbi Zeira said to Rabbi Simon: Let the Master reprimand the members of the house of the Exilarch, as Rabbi Simon had some influence over them. Rabbi Simon said to him: They will not accept reprimand from me. Rabbi Zeira said to him: Let my master reprimand them even if they do not accept it.