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.

[17a - 52 lines; 17b - 46 lines]

1)[line 1] V'AT BA'HADAIHU- and you (Moshe) together with them [for a total of 71]

2)[line 2] MI'SHUM SHECHINAH- [the elders were to stand with Moshe] (a) [outside of the Ohel Mo'ed,] because of HaSh-m's Presence [which would be inside] (RASHI's first explanation); (b) so that a spirit of prophecy [would extend to them from Moshe] (RASHI's second explanation, see next entry) - but not because Moshe was to join their number

3)[line 3]"[ , , ;] , [ ]""... V'NAS'U ITECHA B'MASA HA'AM..."- "[And I shall descend and speak with you there, and I shall extend from the spirit that is upon you, and place it upon them;] and they shall bear the burden of the nation together with you, [and you will not bear it alone]" (Bamidbar 11:17).

4)[line 4] DOMIN LECHA- that are similar to you (i.e. of pure lineage and without physical blemish - RASHI)

5)[line 2]"[ , ]; , ""... V'HAKEL ME'ALECHA, V'NASE'U ITACH"- "[And they shall judge the nation at all times, and it shall be that any great matter they shall bring to you (Moshe), while any small matter, they shall judge;] and [the burden] will be eased from upon you, and they shall bear it with you" (Shemos 18:22). See Background to Sanhedrin 16:3.

6)[line 5] YALFA SANHEDRI GEDOLAH MI'SANHEDRI KETANAH- we derive that [members of] the Sanhedri Gedolah [must be of pure lineage and without physical blemish] from [the above Pasuk regarding] the Sanhedri Ketanah

7)[line 6]" , [ , , ; ]""VA'YISHA'ARU SHENEI ANASHIM BA'MACHANEH" - "And there remained two [of the] men in the camp, [the name of the first was Eldad, and the name of the second was Meidad, and the spirit (of prophecy) descended upon them, and they were among those written down, but they did not go out to the Tent; and they prophesied in the camp]" (Bamidbar 11:26). (ELDAD AND MEIDAD)

(a)After hearing Bnei Yisrael's complaints at Kivros ha'Ta'avah (see entry #19 below) so soon after they left Har Sinai, Moshe told HaSh-m that he could not lead the people alone. HaSh-m instructed Moshe to gather seventy elders, who would also be granted prophecy (see entry# 3). Eldad and Meidad were among the elders selected, but they felt themselves unworthy of this great position, so they remained behind.

(b)As HaSh-m spoke to Moshe, Moshe's spirit spread to the 70 elders, and they prophesied (see entry #26). Eldad and Meidad were also granted prophecy by Hash-m, and they prophesied in public among the people.

(c)A youth (some say it was Gershom ben Moshe - Rashi to verse 27) ran to Moshe to inform him of this (see entry #29). The news did not find favor in Yehoshua's eyes, and he suggested that Moshe take steps to stop them (see entry #30). "On the contrary," Moshe replied in his humility, "if only all of Bnei Yisrael would attain the level of prophecy!" (See entry #33.)

(d)Our Sugya will discuss the subject of Eldad and Meidad's prophecy.

8)[line 7] BA'KALFEI NISHTAYERU- they (i.e. their lots) remained in the lottery box

9)[line 11]YESEIRIM- extra

10)[line 13] !HAREINI MATIL KIN'AH BEIN HA'SHEVATIM!- I would then be instilling jealousy among the tribes!

11)[line 15]PISEKIN- pieces of parchment (for use as lots)

12)[line 16] HINIACH CHALAK- he left blank

13)[line 16] BALELAN, V'NASENAN BA'KALFEI- he blended them, and placed them in the lottery box

14)[line 19]HA'MAKOM- HaSh-m

15)[line 21]" ..."V'LAKACHTA CHAMESHES CHAMESHES SHEKALIM LA'GULGOLES - "and you shall take five Shekalim from each individual" (Bamidbar 3:47). (THE LEVIYIM ARE SANCTIFIED IN PLACE OF THE FIRSTBORN)

(a)As a result of the sin of the Golden Calf, the firstborn of Bnei Yisrael were disqualified from the Divine Service. In their place, HaSh-m designated the tribe of Levi to serve in and guard the Mishkan.

(b)In Bamidbar 3:40, HaSh-m instructed Moshe to count the firstborn among Bnei Yisrael, from the age of one month and up. Their number totaled 22,273. The number of Leviyim who were to take their place was only 22,000. HaSh-m commanded Moshe that the remaining 273 should redeem themselves by giving five Sela'im to the Kohanim.

16)[line 23] KEVAR PADA'ANI BEN LEVI- a member of the Tribe of Levi has already redeemed me [automatically]

17)[line 27] BA'MACHANEH NISHTAYERU- they remained in the camp

18)[line 30] NISNABE'U U'FASKU- they prophesied and then ceased

19)[line 32] AL ISKEI SELAV - regarding the Selav (KIVROS HA'TA'AVAH)

(a)Soon after leaving Har Sinai, a crisis developed as Bnei Yisrael tearfully complained. They demanded meat, complained about the Man, and expressed fond memories regarding Mitzrayim. The Torah states that this aroused HaSh-m's anger, and Moshe refused to continue alone as the leader of Bnei Yisrael. HaSh-m instructed Moshe to appoint seventy elders to assist him (see entry #7 above) (Bamidbar 11: 4-16).

(b)Concurrently, HaSh-m responded to the complaints of Bnei Yisrael by promising enough meat to last for an entire month, "until it would emerge from their noses." Even Moshe expressed wonder how this would be possible (v. 18-22).

(d)After Moshe and the seventy elders returned to the camp, HaSh-m caused a wind to blow in an astounding amount of Selav (an exceedingly fat type of bird, see Background to Yoma 75:26) from the sea, completely covering the entire camp and its environs.

(e)Bnei Yisrael were punished for the improper manner in which they demanded meat, and as soon as they put the Selav into their mouths, even before they chewed, HaSh-m stuck the nation with a great plague, and many died over the course of a month. The place where this occurred was named Kivros ha'Ta'avah, "The Graves of Desire" (v. 30-34).

20)[line 33] , !ALI, SELAV! ALI, SELAV!- Arise, O Selav! Arise, O Selav!

21)[line 33] GOG U'MAGOG

Magog is first mentioned among the sons of Yefes, son of Noach, in Bereishis 10:2. The prophets Yechezkel (Chapters 38-39) and Zecharyah (14) describe a cataclysmic war, led by Gog of the land of Magog, in which many nations combine forces to wage war against the land of Yisrael. HaSh-m will supernaturally and utterly destroy those armies, and save the Jewish People. It is traditionally assumed that this war will take place at the end of days, at which time HaSh-m will be acknowledged as master of His world. Selections from these portions of the Navi are read as Haftaros on the holiday of Sukos (Megilah 31a).

22)[line 34]" ' -, , ""KOH AMAR HASH-M ELKIM, 'HA'ATAH HU ASHER DIBARTI B'YAMIM KADMONIM B'YAD AVADAI NEVI'EI YISRAEL HA'NIBE'IM BA'YAMIM HA'HEM SHANIM, L'HAVI OSECHA ALEIHEM?'"- "So says HaSh-m El-kim, is it you about whom I spoke in ancient times though My servants, the prophets of Yisrael, who prophesied in those days, many years [ago], to bring you upon them?" (Yechezkel 38:17)

23)[line 36] AL TIKRI "SHANIM," ELA "SHENAYIM"- do not read it as "years," but as "two"

24)[line 36] ?EIZO HEN SHENAYIM NEVI'IM SHE'NISNABE'U B'FEREK ECHAD NEVU'AH ACHAS?- Who are two prophets who simultaneously prophesied one prophecy? As a rule, two prophets do not proclaim identical prophecies; this is considered a sure sign of false prophecy (Sanhedrin 89a). Eldad and Meidad prophesied the same message together at the same location, albeit with different wording (Rashi to Yechezkel loc.cit.).

25)[line 37] KOL HA'NEVI'IM KULAN NISNABE'U U'FAS'KU- all of the other prophets (i.e. the other elders - RASHI) prophesied, and then ceased

26)[line 38]"[ ' , ; ,] ""... VA'YISNABE'U, V'LO YASAFU"- "And HaSh-m descended in the cloud, and spoke to him (Moshe), and He extended from the spirit (of prophecy) that was upon [Moshe] and placed it upon the seventy elders; and as the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied and did not cease" (Bamidbar 11:25).

27)[line 39]"[ ' , ,] ; [ ]""... KOL GADOL V'LO YASAF..."- "HaSh-m spoke these words unto your entire assembly, on the mountain, from amidst the fire, the cloud and the darkness,] a great voice that did not cease; [and He wrote them on two tablets of stone, and He gave them to me]" (Devarim 5:19). This verse, describing the Giving of the Torah, immediately follows Moshe's restatement of the Aseres haDibros in Sefer Devarim.

28a)[line 39] ?D'LO OSIF HU?- does this mean "it did not continue"?

b)[line 39] !D'LO PASAK HU!- [rather,] it means "it did not cease"!

29)[line 40]"[ , ] []""[ELDAD U'MEIDAD] MISNABE'IM [BA'MACHANEH]"- "[And the youth ran and informed Moshe and said, 'Eldad and Meidad] are prophesying [in the camp]'" (Bamidbar 11:27).

30)[line 41]"[ , ,] ""[VA'YA'AN YEHOSHU'A...] 'ADONI MOSHE, KELA'EIM!'"- "[And Yehoshua bin Nun, attendant to Moshe since his youth, responded,] 'My master Moshe, detain them!'" (Bamidbar 11:28).

31)[line 41] HANACH TARTEI- the other two [opinions]

32a)[line 42] D'LAV ORACH AR'AA- it was unseemly

b)[line 42] K'TALMID HA'MOREH HALACHAH LIFNEI RABO- like a student who teaches a Halachah in the presence of his teacher

33)[line 43]"[ , ; ] [ ' , ' ]""... MI YITEN..."- "[And Moshe said to him, 'Are you jealous for my sake?] If only [all of the nation of HaSh-m would be prophets, for HaSh-m would place his spirit upon them]!'" (Bamidbar 11:29).

34)[line 44] LO SIYEMUHA KAMEI- they did not complete [the report] before him [i.e. they did not tell him the contents of the prophecy]

35a)[line 44] HATEL ALEIHEN TZORCHEI TZIBUR- place upon them the responsibility of serving the public

b)[line 44] V'HEN KALIN ME'EILEIHEN- and they will cease of their own accord (for the Shechinah only rests upon a person who is in a state of happiness - TOSFOS)

36)[line 45] SOF SOF- in the end (after we require three additional judges for the Sanhedri Ketanah, for a total of twenty-three)

37a)[line 46], B'MOSIFIN, V'DIVREI HA'KOL- when we add judges; [this is true] according to both Tana'im. The Mishnah (40a) teaches that if one of the judges declares, "I do not know" in lieu of a verdict, his vote is no longer counted. We add two judges from the ranks of the "Talmidim" who sit before the court (37a), resulting in an even number of 24 judges.

b)[line 46] , UV'SANHEDRI GEDOLAH, V'ALIBA D'REBBI YEHUDAH, D'AMAR SHIV'IM- and in the Sanhedri Gedolah, which numbered seventy, according to Rebbi Yehudah

38a)[line 48] K'MAN D'ISEI DAMI- he is still deemed present

b)[line 48] , V'IY AMAR MILESA, SHAM'INAN LEI- and if he [later] presents reasoning, we should consider it

39a)[line 49] SANHEDRI SHE'RA'U KULAN L'CHOVAH- a court [case] in which every judge was inclined towards conviction

b)[line 49] POTRIN OSO- we dismiss the defendant [and end the trial]

40)[line 50] HALANAS DIN

All court cases must convene during the day. The verdict in a case of Dinei Nefashos must likewise be issued during the day. If a Beis Din finds itself leaning towards convicting the defendant on the opening day of a capital case, the judges must adjourn and postpone the verdict until the next day, and deliberate in pairs over the course of the night. In this way, there is more of a chance to find evidence of his innocence, or a reason for acquittal (Sanhedrin 34b).

41a)[line 50] BA'ALEI KOMAH- men of stature

b)[line 51] BA'ALEI MAR'EH- men of [awe-inspiring] appearance

c)[line 51] BA'ALEI KESHAFIM- masters of sorcery; (a) to combat sorcerers who might attempt to use their sorcery to evade punishment in Beis Din; (b) to expose sorcerers who lead the public astray towards idolatry (RASHI)

42)[line 51]METURGEMAN- an interpreter

43)[last line] MI SHE'YODE'A L'TAHER ES HA'SHERETZ MIN HA'TORAH - one who knows how to [argue] that a Sheretz should be Tahor, based on Torah reasoning (TUM'AS SHERETZ)

(a)A dead Sheretz (one of the eight types of crawling pests listed in Vayikra 11:29-30 - see Background to Shabbos 107:5), or a piece of dead Sheretz the size of an Adashah (lentil bean), is an Av ha'Tum'ah. It makes a person, object or food item Tamei through Maga (contact), whether the Sheretz was touched willingly or unwillingly. A dead Sheretz found inside an oven (or other earthenware vessel) makes the oven and all food or drink items that are inside of it Teme'im, whether the Sheretz touches them or not.

(b)A person who becomes Tamei by touching a Sheretz may not eat Terumah or Kodshim. However, he can immediately immerse in a Mikvah. After nightfall, he becomes Tahor and may eat Terumah or Kodshim.


44a)[line 1] MAH NACHASH SHE'MEIMIS U'MARBEH TUM'AH- If a snake, which can kill and generate Tum'ah (i.e. Tum'as Meis)

b)[line 1]TAHOR- is nonetheless Tahor (a snake is not one of the eight Sheratzim listed in Vayikra 11:29-30)

45a)[line 2] SHERETZ, SHE'EINO MEIMIS U'MARBEH TUM'AH- a Sheretz, which does not kill and generate Tum'ah (Tum'as Meis)

b)[line 2] ?EINO DIN SHE'YEHEI TAHOR?- is it not logical (a Kal va'Chomer) that it should also be Tahor?

46)[line 3] MIDI D'HAVAH A'KOTZ B'ALMA- the same as with a mere thorn (although it can kill, it is Tahor)

47)[line 5] SHNAYIM L'DABER V'ECHAD LI'SHMO'A- two [judges] that can speak [seventy languages], and one more that understands [even if he cannot respond]

48a)[line 6]BEITAR

(a)The Gemara in Gitin (58a) portrays the staggering size of the city of Beitar at its peak, and the scope of its Torah study, as follows: there were 400 Batei Keneses (synagogues) in Beitar, each one of which had 400 Torah teachers, and each teacher was assigned 400 children.

(b)At the time of the Churban Beis ha'Mikdash (70 CE), Yerushalayim was destroyed and razed to the ground. The Romans oppressed the Jews remaining in Eretz Yisrael, and prohibited the observance of a number of commandments, e.g. Shabbos, circumcision, family purity, and Keri'as Shema. These decrees brought on the revolt of Bar Kochva (in about 3883/123 CE), which lasted for nine years.

(c)When the Romans started to advance on the Jewish positions, Bar Kochva and his troops withdrew to Beitar, a large city to the southwest of Yerushalayim, where the fighting continued for some three and a half years.

(d)Eventually, Bar Kochva accepted a slanderous accusation against his uncle, the sage Rebbi Elazar ha'Moda'i, who had been praying all along for the salvation of Beitar, and killed him in a fit of rage. Afterwards, Beitar fell to the Romans, and Bar Kochva was slain, along with the entire population of the city (YERUSHALMI Ta'anis 4:5). At first, the Roman government did not let the Jews bury the bodies. After quite some time, the next emperor allowed the bodies to be buried. It was seen as a sign of favor from HaSh-m that the Romans changed their minds, and that the bodies did not decompose before they were buried. The Chachamim established the Berachah of ha'Tov veha'Metiv to commemorate these miracles.

(-From History of the Jewish People/From Yavneh to Pumbedisa, Artscroll Publishers, Brooklyn, New York, 1986, by Meir Holder)

b)[line 7]YAVNEH

A city along the coast of Eretz Yisrael, near present-day Rechovot. Yavneh was the first of ten seats of the Sanhedrin, after it went into exile just prior to the destruction of the Beis ha'Mikdash (Rosh Hashanah 31 a-b).

49a)[line 7] SHIMON HA'TIMNI- Shimon from Timnas/Timnah (RASHI to Beitzah 21a DH ha'Timni), identified with the village Tibnah, located on the road between Beis Shemesh and Yavneh. At the time of Bayis Sheni it was the major city of the district.

b)[line 8] DAN LIFNEIHEM BA'KARKA- would argue before them on the ground (where he sat with the students, for he had not received Semichah - RASHI)

50)[line 9], SHELISHIS, CHACHAMAH- A Sanhedrin in which three judges can speak 70 languages is considered wise (which implies that this is the minimum acceptable number - RASHI)

51a)[line 11] LEMEIDIN LIFNEI CHACHAMIM- "those who learn before the Sages." The Gemara now lists various titles by which it occasionally refers to specific Amora'im, and tells us to which Amora'im each title refers.

b)[line 00] DANIN LIFNEI CHACHAMIM- "those who argue before the Sages"

52)[line 15] SHIMON SHIMON V'SHIMON- Shimon ben Azai, Shimon ben Zoma, as well as Shimon ha'Timni

53a)[line 19]PUMBEDISA

Pumbedisa was a town in Bavel (lit. Mouth of Bedisa, a canal of the Euphrates), the location of a great Yeshiva that existed for approximately 800 years. The scholars of Pumbedisa were known for their keen intellect (Bava Metzia 38b). To emphasize its importance as a Torah center, Rabah and Rav Yosef stated that just as one is prohibited from leaving Eretz Yisrael to Chutz la'Aretz, so, too, is one prohibited to leave Pumbedisa (Kesuvos 111a).

b)[line 20]NEHARDE'A- - a town in Babylon, seat of the Yeshiva founded by Shmuel

c)[line 20]SURA- Sura was a town in Southern Bavel between the canals, the seat of the great Yeshiva founded by Rav.

54a)[line 22]CHARIFEI- the sharp ones

b)[line 23]AMORA'EI- the public teachers of Torah (See Background to Sanhedrin 7:74)

55)[line 25] AMREI BEI RAV- "they said in the Beis Midrash"

56)[line 27]MA'ARAVA- Eretz Yisrael (which is west of Bavel)

57)[line 27] SHAL'CHU MI'TAM- "they sent [a ruling] from there (from Eretz Yisrael)"

58)[line 28] MACHAKU ALAH- "they laughed at it"

59)[line 35] SHALOSH SHUROS SHEL ESRIM U'SHELOSHAH- three rows of twenty-three [students] each. The Mishnah (36b-37a) describes the arrangement in which a Sanhedrin would sit. Three rows of Talmidim would sit before the judges, so that if it became necessary to add judges to the case (see entry #37a), they would be promoted from the ranks of Talmidim.

60)[line 36] ASARAH BATLANIN SHEL BEIS HA'KENESES- (a) ten people supported by the community to stay in the Beis Keneses throughout the day and be available to make a Minyan for prayer (RASHI Bava Kama 82 and in Megilah 5a and 21a); (b) ten people who work during the day but arrive at the Beis Keneses early in the morning and stay late in the evening to be available to make a Minyan for prayer (RAN Megilah 5a)

61)[line 37] SHNEI SOFERIM- two scribes (to record the various arguments presented by the judges towards acquittal or conviction)

62)[line 37] SHNEI CHAZANIM- two bailiffs (to administer Malkos and to summon litigants to court)

63a)[line 38] SHNEI ZOMEMIN - two witnesses [capable of discrediting the original two witnesses against the defendant as being] Edim Zomemin

(a) If two witnesses testify to a crime or an event, and a later set of witnesses contradict their testimony by saying that the crime or event did not take place exactly as the first set of witnesses testified, all of the witnesses are termed Edim Mukchashim (contradictory witnesses), and Beis Din cannot use either testimony.

(b)If, however, two witnesses testify to a crime or an event and a later set of witnesses disqualify their testimony by saying that the first set of witnesses were with them in a different place at the time that the first set of witnesses claim that the act took place, the first witnesses are termed Edim Zomemin (conspiring witnesses). The Torah commands that the second set of witnesses be believed, rather than the first. In general, Edim Zomemin are punished with the punishment they tried to cause (Devarim 19:16-21, see MISHNAH Makos 5a).

(c)Testimony that cannot possibly be disqualified in such a manner is generally deemed invalid. Our Gemara requires two additional people in the city to serve as a deterrent against such conspiracy.

b)[line 39] SHNEI ZOMEMEI ZOMEMIN- two witnesses [who can discredit the latter two witnesses as] Edim Zomemin [in their testimony, in which they tried to discredit the original two witnesses against the defendant as] Edim Zomemin


(a)Every Jewish community must appoint representatives to collect and distribute Tzedakah to the poor. The Gemara in Bava Basra (8a) refers to both a monetary fund ("Kupah") and a collection of food to be distributed daily ("Tamchuy").

(b)No less than two representatives must be appointed for the collection of "Kupah" funds, as it is a position of authority over the public. Three additional representatives are appointed to distribute the funds, because the funds must be allocated based on need, and this deliberation is akin to Dinei Mamonos (which requires three judges).

(c)Our Gemara therefore counts five additional people towards the minimum size of a city.

65)[line 44] BEIS HA'KISEI- designated facilities for relieving oneself

66a)[line 44]ROFEI- a Mohel (RASHI)

b)[line 44]UMAN- a bloodletter

c)[line 44]LAVLAR- a scribe

d)[line 44] MELAMED TINOKOS- a teacher [of Torah] to children (see Bava Basra 21a). One person can fill all of these four roles (RASHI).