San 8a: We begin 7 lines from the top.] "Ye shall not be afraid of the face of any man" (Deut 1:17). R. Hanan said: Do not restrain your words because of a man.

[The verse continues:] "For the judgment is God's." R. Hama b. R. Hanina said: The Holy One blessed be He said: It is not enough that wicked [judges] take money from one person and give it to another illegally, but they force Me [i.e., God] to return the money to it's owner.

[The verse continues:] "And the cause that is too hard for you, ye shall bring it unto me [Moses] and I will hear it." R. Hanina, and some say R. Yoshiah, said: Because of this, Moses was punished, as it says (Num 27:5, regarding the daughters of Zelophehad, who wanted to inherit their father's property) "And Moses brought their cause before the Lord." [Rashi: Moses should not have instructed the people to bring difficult cases to him; they should have been brought before God. Moses' punishment was that he was not taught the laws of inheritance, and could not rule in the case of the daughters of Zelophehad.]

Rav Nahman b. Yitzhak objected: Did it (Deut 1:17) say "I will cause you to hear it" (implying that Moses himself would decide the case)? It said "and I will hear it" -- if I learned it, then I learned it, and if not, I will go and learn it.

[If Moses had not mis-spoken, then why did he have to ask God about the daughters' inheritance?]

Rather, the laws of inheritance should have been written by Moses our teacher. But because the daughters of Zelophehad were meritorious, it was written for them [i.e., not taught until they made their claim]. Similarly, the section of the stick- gatherer [Num 15:32-36, in which a man violated the Shabbat, but Moses had to approach God to determine the punishment] should have been written through Moses our teacher, but because the stick-gatherer was guilty, it was written through him. This is to teach that guilt is transmitted by the guilty, and the benefit is transmitted by the meritorious.

[The biblical exegesis continues with Deut 1:16:]: "And I [Moses] charged your judges at that time." But it is written (Deut 1:18) "And I commanded you at that time." [There is an apparent contradiction between verses 16 and 18; were the judges commanded or were the people?]

R. Elazar said in the name of R. Simlai: It (v. 18) is a warning to the people to fear the judges, and (v. 16) a warning to the judge to tolerate the people. To what extent [must the judge be tolerant]? [Citing Num 11:12, in which Moses rhetorically asks God how he should relate to the Israelites:] "As a nursing-father carrieth the sucking child."

It is written (Deut 31:7, when Moses tells Joshua to lead the Israelites) "for thou shalt go [with these people into the land]" (treating Joshua as one of the people), and it is written (Deut 31:23) "for thou shalt bring [the children of Israel into the land]" (describing Joshua as a leader, not one of the people). R. Yohanan said: Moses said to Joshua [in verse 7] "you and the elders of the generation with them [the people]." Ihe Holy One blessed be He said to Joshua [in v. 23, in effect] "take your cane and hit them on their heads, there can be one leader in a generation, not two leaders in a generation".

A b'raita: Zimun requires three.

What is Zimun? If you say it refers to the blessing of Zimun [the practice of beginning Grace After Meals with "Rabotai n'varech" {let us recite Grace After Meals], we learned in a b'raita: Zimun and the blessing of Zimun require three [implying that the two are different].

And if you will say that this is simply an explanation -- what is Zimun?, the blessing of Zimun -- we learned in a different b'raita: Zimun is with three and the blessing of Zimun is with three [so it cannot simply be an explanation].

So what is Zimun? Summoning a person to court. As Rava said: When three judges are sitting as a court, and a court-appointed messenger summons a person in the name of only one judge, he [the messenger] has said nothing [i.e., the summons is not binding] until the summons is in the name of all [three judges].

This applies on a day when the court does not normally convene. But on a day when the court normally convenes, it does not matter [if the summons is issued in the name of only one of the judges]. [Courts normally convened on Mondays and Thursdays, and summons issued on those days should be assumed to be binding; one who fails to respond to such a summons would presumptively be in contempt of court, even if the names of the three judges were not explicitly announced.]

[Our mishna:] Double compensation [are judged by a court of three]. [A thief must repay the value of the stolen item plus a fine equal to the value of the stolen item -- thus, a double compensation. If a sheep or a goat was stolen, slaughtered and sold, a four-fold penalty was imposed. If an ox was stolen, slaughtered, and sold, the a five-fold penalty was imposed (Ex 21:37).]

Rav Nahman bar Rav Hisda sent a question to Rav Nahman bar Yaakov: Will our master teach us the laws of fines [i.e., how many judges are required to rule in cases of fines (knasot), i.e., punitive compensation that exceeds the value of the stolen item. Note: the question was academic, as both of the Rav Nahmans lived in Babylonia, where courts were not empowered to impose fines.]

What is he asking? We just learned in our mishna that three [judges are required]! Rather, he was asking whether [the requirement of three judges refers to laymen but] a single expert judge can rule in cases of fines.

He said to him [i.e., Rav Nahman bar Yaakov responded to the question posed by Rav Nahman bar Rav Hisda]: You learned this [in our mishna]: Two-fold, four-fold, and five-fold payments are by a court of three. What kind of three? If it refers to three common [i.e., inexpert] judges, your father's father said in the name of Rav that even ten judges, if they are commoners, are ineligible to rule on fines, so our mishna must be referring to experts, and three are required [whereas one judge, even if an expert, cannot rule].

[Again quoting our mishna:] The Sages say: And a slanderer is judged by a court of twenty-three.

[In our mishna R. Meir requires only three. The slanderer refers to a man who testifies that his wife was not a virgin at the time of marriage (Deut. 22:13-21). If the charge is proved false, the slanderous husband is fined 100 dinar, However, if there were witnesses to her adultery {i.e, that she committed adultery after bethrothal (erusin) but before full marriage}, she would be liable to capital punishment; this would certainly require a court of 23 judges. However, where there are no such witnesses, if the husband can prove that his bride was not a virgin at the time of marriage , the most he can demand is a reduction of the marriage contract from 200 to 100 dinar. If not, and he is convicted of slander he has to pay a 100 dinar's fine to his bride's father. In either circumstance it is a monetary case, so R. Meir requires only three judges.]

But if capital punishment is possible, so what? [This is _not_ a capital case, since there are no witnesses. Why do the Sages require twenty-three?]

Ulla said: They [R. Meir and the Sages] disagree over whether we are concerned about gossip [people will hear about the case, and witnesses will come forth, thus changing the case from a monetary one to a capital case [in which case twenty judges will have to be added to the tribunal]. R. Meir says that we are not concerned about gossip, but the Sages say that we are concerned about gossip [so there should be twenty-three judges to begin with].

Rava [emended to Rabbah] said: Everyone agrees that we are not concerned about gossip [i.e., if the original charge is monetary three judges are suficient], but that we are concerned about the honor of the first judges [in the following circumstance]. We are discussing a case in which a court of twenty-three was convened to judge a capital case [i.e., the husband was going to bring witnesses to his wife's adultery, but he failed to find any] and the court disbanded, and he [Rashi: the husband, or Tosafot: the father] said [to three remaining judges]: Rule in this as a monetary case.

R. Meir sees no offence to the twenty dismissed judges in leaving the matter to be judged by the remaining three, but the Sages feel that once the court of twenty-three has been convened, it should not be dissolved unless the case is completely dismissed.]

[We end with the last words on San 8a.]

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