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SANHEDRIN 17 (10 Av) - Dedicated by Mrs. G. Kornfeld, in memory of her father, Reb Yisrael Shimon ben Shlomo ha'Levi Turkel. Isi Turkel, as he was known, loved Torah and worked to support it literally with his last ounce of strength. He passed away on 10 Av 5740.


1. The judges of the Sanhedrin must be similar to Moshe Rabeinu.
2. Moshe Rabeinu picked the seventy Zekeinim by drawing lots.
3. There were two hundred and seventy-three more Bechoros than there were Leviyim in the Midbar.
4. With the exception of Eldad and Meidad, the seventy Zekeinim prophesized only temporarily.
5. If one of the judges on a Beis Din is unable to render a verdict in a Din Torah, two more judges must be added to the Beis Din.
6. If the judges on a Beis Din decide unanimously that a person is Chayav Misah, he is Patur.
7. The judges of the Sanhedrin must know all seventy languages.
8. If only two people in a city are able to speak all seventy languages, there is a dispute between the Tanaim as to whether a Sanhedrin may be established there.
9. There is a dispute amongst the Tanaim as to whether a Beis Din may be established in a city which has only one hundred twenty residents.


1. Just as Moshe Rabeinu's lineage was Kosher and he did not have any Mum, the judges of both the Sanhedri Gedolah and the Sanhedri Ketanah must have Kosher lineage and must be free of any Mum.
2. Moshe was instructed to appoint seventy Zekeinim, but he knew that he would not be able to choose an equal number of Zekeinim from each Shevet, and he feared that if he chose the Zekeinim himself, the Shevatim with fewer Zekeinim would be jealous. Moshe therefore selected six Zekeinim from each Shevet, for a total of seventy-two Zekeinim, and he placed seventy-two lots in a box. Seventy of the lots had the word "Zaken" written on them, and two were blank. Each potential Zaken was told to draw a lot. If he received one that said "Zaken," Moshe told him that he had been sanctified in Shamayim, but if he received a blank lot, Moshe told him that Hashem had not chosen him.
3. Each Bechor in the Midbar was redeemed by a Levi, but there were two hundred seventy-three fewer Leviyim than Bechoros. The Bechoros that were not able to be redeemed by Leviyim were obligated to give five Shekalim. In order to determine which Bechoros would have to pay and which ones could be redeemed by the Leviyim, Moshe Rabeinu arranged a lottery. He wrote the words "Ben Levi" on twenty-two thousand lots, and on the remaining two hundred seventy-three lots he wrote the words "five Shekalim." All of the Bechoros drew lots, and those who received the lots that said "Ben Levi" were not required to give five Shekalim.
4. The Gemara cites three different opinions as to the content of the prophecy of Eldad and Meidad. According to one opinion, they predicted that Moshe Rabeinu was going to die and Yehoshua was going to bring Klal Yisrael into Eretz Yisrael. Another opinion maintains that their prophecy pertained to the Selav. A third opinion maintains that their prophecy was about the war of Gog and Magog.
5. If one of the judges on a Beis Din is unsure how to rule in a Din Torah, his presence on the Beis Din is completely disregarded and it is considered as if he is not a member of the Beis Din. Even if he offers an argument in favor of a particular ruling, Beis Din must ignore his argument. In order to meet the minimum number of judges, two more judges must be added to the Beis Din. Consequently, the Beis Din will consist of an even number of judges.
6. If all of the judges on a Beis Din decide that a defendant is Chayav, they must exempt him from punishment. The reason is that when a Beis Din decides to rule that a person is Chayav, the judges are required to wait overnight before announcing their decision so that they will have time to find a reason to overturn their decision. If all of the judges on a Beis Din decide unanimously that the defendant is Chayav, they will be unable to find any reason to overturn their decision. Therefore, they are not permitted to rule that he is Chayav.
7. The judges must be able to understand testimony that is presented before them in any language. If the judges are unable to understand a foreign language and need to rely on an interpreter when dealing with witnesses who speak that language, they are not permitted to accept those witnesses' testimony at all. A Beis Din is not permitted to accept secondhand testimony, and testimony that is given through a translator is considered secondhand testimony because Beis Din does not hear it from the actual witnesses themselves.
8. According to one Tana, if two people in a city are capable of speaking all seventy languages and there is a third person who is capable of understanding all of the languages, even if he cannot speak them, the city is sufficiently large for a Sanhedrin. A different Tana maintains that any city in which a Sanhedrin is established must contain at least three people who actually speak all seventy languages.
9. The Tana Kama of the Mishnah maintains that a city must have at least 120 residents in order to establish its own Beis Din. The Gemara explains how the Tana arrived at this number. The city must have enough residents to form a Beis Din of twenty-three judges and to fill another three rows of twenty-three students each (from which additional judges can be appointed to the Beis Din). That requirement yields a minimum number of ninety-two. In addition, the city must possess ten Batlanim (people who sit in the Beis Keneses all day long), two scribes who will record the proceedings in Beis Din, two assistants to Beis Din who will summon the defendants to court and enforce the Beis Din's rulings, two Ba'alei Dinim, two witnesses, two Edim Zomemim, and two Zomemei Zomemim. Another five people are needed for the collection and distribution of Tzedakah, and one more person is needed to serve as a Mohel, bloodletter, scribe (of Sifrei Torah and the like) and schoolteacher. This calculation yields a total of 120 residents.

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