In Sanhedrin (Dinei Mamonos Bishloshah, Perek Rishon, Zayin, page 7b1), the responsibility for an incorrect judgement is discussed.
In the introductory statement, we are told that the weight of judgement hangs as a chain round the neck of each judge. The Artscroll explanation indicates that this means the responsibility for an incorrect judgement lies not only with each individual Dayan, but also with any other scholars in the court.
Two examples of this show how Rav Huna and Rav Ashi both involved other scholars or experts in their courts 'so that each will receive a chip of the beam'.
Thus, the introductory text seems to indicate that personal responsibility for errors is very serious, and cannot be minimised by hiding behind other Dayanim, while the examples seem to indicate that these two great sages regularly tried to minimise their own personal liability for errors. What is the explanation of this apparent contradiction?
Jonathan Shaw, Melbourne, Australia
Rav Yehoshua ben Levi ("the introductory text") states that all ten are responsible and are to be punished, even the younger scholars who are only observing the judgement. It does not say each one is totally responsible.
The Netziv quotes the Meiri in Avos 1:1 that discusses this Gemara. He explains that when more rabbis participate, less error is expected and that it is everyone's responsibility to minimize the error.
The great rabbis realized the severity of judgement and obviously did their utmost not to err at all.
All the best