[San 7b. We begin on the fifth line.]

R. Yoshiah, and others say R. Nachman b. Yitzchak, taught: What is the meaning of (Jer 21:12) "O house of David, thus saith the Lord: Execute justice in the morning, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor?" Does one judge in the morning but not the entire day? Rather, if the matter is as clear to you as the morning, say it [i.e., issue the ruling], but if not, do not say it.

R. Hiyya b. Abba said in the name of R. Yonatan: It is from here (Prov 7:4): "Say unto wisdom 'Thou art my sister.'" If the matter is as clear to you as (the rule that) your sister is forbidden to you, say it. But if not, do not say it.

R. Yehoshua b. Levi said: If ten sit in judgment, a chain hangs on the neck of each of them [i.e., each is responsible for an error in judgment].

[The gemara asks:] Isn't this obvious?

[The gemara answers:] No. It [the statement] is required only when a student is in the presence of his teacher [Rashi: if the teacher issues a ruling, and the student knows that it is erroneous, the student is obligated to express his disagreement].

When a case came before Rav Huna, he would bring ten scholars from the study hall. He said that this was so that each would receive a chip of the beam [i.e., that they would share the blame for >any erroneous judgment].

When a treifah [an animal that was slaughtered for food, but that had a specific defective organ that made it nonkosher] was brought before Rav Ashi, he would assemble all the butchers of Mehasya. [The butchers were experts at the defects that would render an animal rteifah. Mehasya was the town in which Rav Ashi lived.] He said: So that each will receive a chip of the beam.

When Rav Dimi came [to Babylonia], Rav Nachman b. Kohen taught: What is the meaning of (Prov 29:4) "The king by justice establisheth the land; but he that exacteth gifts overthroweth it?" If a judge is like a king who does not need anything, he upholds the world. But if he is like a Kohen who searches the threshing houses [to get his Priestly t'rumah], he overthrows it. [Rashi explains that the king who does not need anything refers to a king who is wise. Tosafot suggests that the reference may be to a king who is wealthy, and thus is immune from bribes. The contrast between the king and the Kohen seems more consistent with the Tosafist's interpretation.]

[The text below refers to an interpreter ("meturgeman", etymologically related to "targum": translation. The term "amora" is sometimes used in this sense as well}. In the talmudic era, the scholar would speak in a relatively soft voice, and the interpreter would repeat the material aloud for the audience, with additional explanations as necessary.]

The Patriarchate [the office of the Nasi, the political and social leader of the Palestinian Jewish community] once appointed an unlearned judge. He [the Nasi] said to Yehudah b. Nachmani, the interpreter for Resh Lakish: Serve as his [the new judge's] interpreter He [Yehudah b. Nachmani] leaned over [the judge], but he [the judge] didn't say anything. He [Yehudah b. Nahmani] began and said (Hab 2:19): "Woe unto him that saith to he wood 'Awake,' to the dumb stone 'Arise!' Can this teach? Behold it is overlaid with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it." And the Holy One, blessed be He, will make retribution to those who appoint [unlearned judges], as it says (Hab 2:20): "But the Lord is in His holy temple; let all the earth keep silent before him."

Resh Lakish said: Anyone who appoints an unqualified judge, it is as if he planted an Asherah [a tree worshipped by idolateors] in Israel, as it says (Deut 16:18): "Judges and officers shalt thou make thee," adjacent to where it says (Deut 16:21): "Thou shalt not plant thee an Asherah of any kind of tree."

Rav Ashi said: [If one appoints an unqualified judge] in a place where there are scholars, it is as if he planted [the Asherah] near the altar, as it says [at the end of the previously cited verse] "beside the altar of the Lord thy God."

It is written (Ex 20:20): "Ye shall not make with Me -- gods of silver or gods of gold." Only gods of silver and gods of gold? -- Are gods of wood permitted?! Rather, a judge appointed because of silver, or a judge appointed because of gold. [Reminder: "elohim" can be read as either "gods" or "judges".]

When he entered the courthouse, Rav would say: By his own free will he [i.e., Rav himself] faces death [i.e., risks the death penalty for an error in judgment], and he does not perform household duties, and he returns to his house empty-handed [i.e., he is not paid for his judicial service], and may his return to his house be like his leaving his house [Rashi: just as he left his house without sin, so may he return without sin].

When Rav saw a crowd of scholars following him, he would say (Job 20:6-7) "Though his excellency mount up to the heavens ... yet he shall perish forever like his own dung" [as an expression of personal humility].

When Mar Zutra was carried on the Shabbat of a festival, he would say (Prov 27:24) "For riches are not for ever, and doth the crown endure for all generations?" [Rashi: On the Shabbat before a festival, the rabbis would speak to large groups. Mar Zutra Hasida was old, and walked slowly; rather than have the crowd stand in respect for a long time, Mar Zutra's servants would carry him quickly.]

Bar Kappara taught: From where do we learn that rabbis should be deliberate in judgment? It is written (Ex 20:23) "Neither shalt thou go up by steps [unto mine Altar]" and next it is written (Ex 21:1) "Now these are the ordinances." [Rashi: People climb steps quickly and forcefully; they ascend ramps more deliberately. The Torah is thus hinting that we should judge deliberately, just as we ascend the ramp to the Altar.]

[The gemara continues the verse:] "[Now these are the ordinances] which thou shalt set before them." It should have said "Which thou shalt teach." R. Yirmiyah, and some say R. Hiyya bar Abba said: These [the things to be "set"] are the tools of the judges. Rav Huna, when he would go to judge, would say "Take out the tools of my trade, my cane, strap, shofar, and sandal. [Rashi: The cane was for beating those who refused to abide by judicial decisions, the strap for biblically-prescribed lashes, the shofar for excommunication, and the sandal for the ritual of halitza in the case of a levirate marriage.]

"And I charged your judges at the time" (Deut 1:16): R. Yohanan said: You should be assiduous using the stick and the strap. [Rashi: A b'raita says that whenever the Torah uses the word "tzav" {"charge"}, it implies assiduous application.]

[The verse continues:] "Hear the cause between your bretheren and judge righteously." R. Hanina said: This is a warning to the court not to hear the statement of one litigant before the other litigant arrives. It is also a warning to one litigant not to present his case to the court before the other litigant arrives, for it (the verse) can be read "Make [your word] heard between your brothers."

Rav Kahana said: From (Ex 23:1) "Thou shalt not utter [a false report]" -- [which can be read] "Thou shalt not cause [a false report] to be accepted."

[The verse continues:] "And judge righteously." Resh Lakish said: Ensure the righteousness of the verdict, and then deliver it.

[The verse continues:] "Between a man and his brother." Rav Yehudah said: Even between a house and the upper floor. [Rashi: This refers to a case in which two brothers inherit a house. Rather than give one brother the first floor and give the other brother the upper floor {both floors might make fine residences, but there might be some difference in value}, assess the value and equalize the distribution on that basis.]

[The verse continues:] "And the stranger that is with him." Rav Yehudah said: Even between an oven and a stove. [Rashi: This is based on word-play, in which "geiro" {the stranger} is related to "magor" {dwelling}. As in the case of the upper and lower floor, the judge should ensure equal value of the distribution of the furniture, not simply give the oven to one inheritor and the stove to another.]

[We continue with the next verse:] "Ye shall not respect persons in judgment." Rav Yehudah says: Do not recognize him [i.e., do not favor a litigant that you like]. R. Elazar says: Do not treat him like a stranger. [A play on words between "takiru" {recognize} and " t'nakrei'hu" {make him a stranger}. Do not rule against someone because you do not like him.]

Rav's landlord Rav for judgment. He said "Aren't you my tennant? He [Rav] said: Yes. He [the landlord] said: I have litigation [implicitly asking Rav to serve as a judge]. He [Rav] said: I am disqualified to serve as a judge for you. He [Rav] then said to Rav Kahana: Go judge [this case]. He [Rav Kahana] saw that the man was overly confident [of his relation to Rav], and said [to the landlord]: If you are prepared to accept (my) judgment then accept it, but if not, I will remove Rav from under your influence [Rashi: by excommunicating you].

[The verse continues:] "Ye shall hear the small and the large alike." Resh Lakish said: That a case involving one prutah [a small coin] should be as dear to you as a case involving 100 maneh.

To what does this apply? If it implies that you must carefully examine even a small case, it's obvious! Rather, it applies to precedence. [Rashi: If the one-prutah case came to court first, judge that case first, even if the 100-maneh case must wait.]

[We end on the seventh line of 8a.]

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