[San 6b: We begin on the last line of 6a, and continue our discussion of compromise.]
The Rabbis taught [a b'raita]: Just judgement is by (a court of) three, so is compromise (effected) by (a court of) three. Once a verdict has been reached, it is not permitted to compromise.
R. Eliezer b. R. Yosei ha-G'lili says that a judge cannot compromise [Rashi: once the litigants appear in court seeking a judgment, the court cannot recommend a compromise, but must issue a legal judgment]. And a judge who compromises [under those circumstances] is a sinner, and anyone who praises a judge who compromises is a blasphemer. And on this it is said (Ps 10:3) "And the covetous vaunteth himself, though he contemn the Lord."
[As it appears above (Old J.P.S. Translation), the word "botzea`" is translated as "covetous" (cf. Jeremiah 6:13 and Proverbs 1:18, where "botzea` betza`" is given as "greedy for gain") and "bereikh" ("blessed" or "praised") is read reflexively as "self praise". In mishnaic Hebrew "botzea`" means "compromiser", so the verse could be interpreted as "One who praises a compromiser blasphemes God."]
Instead, let justice pierce the mountain [i.e., rule according to the law], as it says (Deut 1:17) "for the judgment is God's." Similarly, Moses would say "Let justice pierce the mountain".
But Aaron loves peace, and pursues peace, and makes peace between men [Rashi: Before they could approach his for a legal judgment, he would preemptively pursue them and forge a compromise].
As it is said (Malachi 2:6): "The law of truth was in his mouth, and unrighteousness was not found on his lips, he walked with Me in peace and uprightness, and did turn many away from iniquity."
[The b'raita above interpreted "botzea` bereikh" in Ps 10:3 to mean "one who praises a compromiser." The gemara now presents an alternative interpretation. The reference to separating challah refers to the biblical requirement to separate a portion of dough for a kohen.]
R. Eliezer says: One who obtained a se'ah of wheat by robbery, milled it, baked it, and separated challah from it -- how can he recite the blessing? Such a person is not blessing, but blaspheming! On this it is said (Ps 10:3): "A robber [botzea`] who blesses [bereikh] blasphemes God."
R. Meir says [yet a third explanation of the verse]: The word botzea` was said only in reference to Judah, as it says (Gen 37:26): "And Judah said unto his brethren: What profit [betza`] is it if we slay our brother?" [Rashi: Once he realized that his brothers would take his advice, Judah should have told them to return Joseph to his father.] And anyone who praises Judah is a blasphemer, for of this it is said "One who praises [bereikh] a profiteer [botzea`] blasphemes God."
R. Yehoshua b. Korha says: It is a mitzva to compromise, as it says (Zech 8:16) "Execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates." But where there is judgment there is no peace, and where there is peace there is no judgment! [A legal judgment will necessarily leave one party dissatisfied.] Instead, what judgment is there that has peace? I say this is a compromise. [Peace implies that both litigants are satisfied, as in the case of a compromise.]
And so it was said regarding David (2 Sam 8:15): "And David executed justice and righteousness unto all his people." But wherever there is judgment there is no righteousness, and [where here is] righteousness, no judgment? Instead, what judgment is there that includes righteousness? I say this is compromise.
Let us return to the first tanna [R. Eliezer b. R. Yosei haG'lili who forbade judicial compromise as inconsistent with strict legal liability -- how does he explain David's "justice and righteousness?"]. He [David] would rule according to the law, and find the innocent not liable, and find the liable party liable, and if he saw that the liable party was poor, he [David] would pay out of his own assets. This is "judgment and righteousness" -- judgment for one and righteousness to the other. Justice to one, for he returned the money. And righteousness to the other, for he paid out of his own assets.
Rabbi had difficulty with this, for it says [regarding David] "unto all his people" -- it should have said "unto the poor people." Instead, Rabbi said, even though he did not pay out of his own assets, it was both judgment and righteousness, judgment to one and righteousness to the other. Judgment to the one, for his money was returned. And righteousness for the other [the liable party], for he [David] removed robbed items from him.
R. Shimon b. Menasya says: If two litigants come before you for judgement, if you have not yet heard their arguments, or if you have heard them but do not yet know in which direction the judgment tends, you can tell them to go out and compromise. But once you have heard their statements and know in which direction the judgment tends, you are not allowed to tell them to go and compromise, as it says (Prov 17:14) "The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water; therefore leave off contention before the quarrel break out." Before the quarrel breaks out you can leave off contention [i.e., compromise], but once the quarrel breaks out, you cannor leave off contention.
And Resh Lakish said: Two litigants who come for judgment, one amenable and the other intransigent, if you have not yet heard their arguments, or if you have heard them but do not yet know in which direction the judgment tends, you can say "I will not get involved with you", lest the intransigent one be found liable and will pursue [Rashi: will try to get the judge to reverse the ruling]. But once you have heard their statements and know where the judgment tends, you are not permitted to say "I will not get involved with you," as it says (Deut 1:17) "Ye shall not be afraid of the face of any man."
[Resh Lakish -- R. Shimon b. Lakish - was an amora who lived much too late to be cited in the b'raita. Therefore, many source correct the text to refer to one of two lesser known tanna'im, either Yeshoshua b. Lakish or Yehudah b. Lakish.]
R. Yehoshua b. Korchah says: A student sitting before his teacher who sees a reason for acquitting a poor man or for holding a wealthy man liable ... from where do we know that he cannot be silent? As it says: "Ye shall not be afraid of the face of any man." R. Chanin says: Do not restrain your words for any man [Rashi: even out of respect for your teacher].
And the witnesses should know with Whom they are testifying [Rashi: God, whose presence they have invoked by coming to court.] and before Whom they are testifying, and Who will exact punishment from them [if they testify falsely], as it says (Deut 19:17) "And both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before the Lord."
And the judges should know with Whom they are judging and before Whom they are judging, and Who will exact punishment from them [if they judge wrongly], as it says (Ps 82:1) "God standeth in the congregation of God; in the midst of the judges he judgeth."
And similarly regarding Yehoshafat (2 Chron 19:6): "And [he] said to the judges: 'Consider what ye do, for ye judge not for man, but for the Lord." Lest a judge say "Why do I need this trouble?" [Rashi: Why should I risk punishment for making a judicial error?] Scripture says (2 Chron 19:6): "and [He is] with you in giving judgment" -- a judge only has what his eyes can see [i.e., a judge can only use the evidence before him, and doing so, he is immune from punishment].
What is "reaching a verdict" [the first part of the extended b'raita said that once a verdict is reached, a judge cannot call for a compromise]? Rav Yehudah said in the name of Rav: [When the judge rules] "So and so is liable, so and so is not liable."
[We end on the next-to-the-last line of the page.]
Return to the Talmud page.