Monday, February 22, 2010

Mevarchin Hachodesh

By: Rabbi Avrohom Adler

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In the sefer Yereim (259) it is written: That which Jews all over the world have the custom to announce the new month on Shabbos before Rosh Chodesh (birchas ha’chodesh), this is not the sanctification of the new month, for we do not have the Rosh Beis Din amongst us and he is an integral and essential part of this mitzvah. The Rishonim established this custom merely as a way of notifying the people when Rosh Chodesh will be.

The Magen Avraham (O:C, 417) writes that it is, nevertheless, the custom to stand by birchas ha’chodesh - specifically when we are saying that “Rosh Chodesh will be on Such-and-such a day,” similar to when Beis Din sanctified the new month, which was done while standing.

Reb Akiva Eiger (ibid) asks: Where is it found that the sanctifying of the month was done standing? On the contrary! It would seem from the beginning of the third perek of Rosh Hashanah that it was done while sitting!?

Reb Moshe Feinstein zt”l (O:C I; 142) answers this question based upon a Gemora in Rosh Hashanah (24a) which states that first the Rosh Beis Din would say, “Mekudash” – “It is sanctified,” and then the entire congregation would say in unison, “Mekudash, mekudash.” And certainly, the entire congregation, who were there at the Beis Din, were not all sitting; they were standing! We find like this by the mitzvah of chalitzah as well, where the Gemora in Yevamos (106a) states that there is a mitzvah for all the people standing there to say “chalutz hana’al.”

Reb Moshe understands that the Rosh Beis Din’s saying “Mekudash” was the p’sak din – the witnesses were fully cross-examined and the Beis Din came to a conclusion with respect of the new month. The Rosh Beis Din announced this ruling. Then, there was a mitzvah on the congregation to sanctify the new month. This, they accomplished, by saying, “Mekudash, mekudash.” He derives this from a Scriptural verse, and it can be inferred from the language of the Rambam, as well.

That which we recite birchas ha’chodesh is based upon the congregation’s saying of “Mekudash, mekudash.” It is not on account of the Rosh Beis Din’s announcement of the judgment, for this was already done by Hillel’s Beis Din (when he arranged the calendar for the future). This is why the custom is to stand. The inference of the Gemora in Rosh Hashanah that they were sitting is only in reference to the Beis Din, not to the people standing there. It also stands to reason that the “Mekudash, mekudash” should be said standing, for this was the mitzvah of sanctifying the new month, and mitzvos (as a general rule) are performed while standing.


Palginan Dibura

The Gemora teaches us that if Reuven testifies in Beis Din that Shimon cohabited with his wife, and with Reuven there is another witness, we can consider them two witnesses and Shimon gets killed. The Gemora explains that it would work only because of palginan dibura (we split his words). Rashi explains that we accept his testimony in regard to Shimon but not in regard to his wife, since she is related to him and he is not a valid witness.

The Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 34:26) has several cases where palginan dibura applies:

1) A loveh (borrower) may testify that the malveh (lender) lent money to him with interest, and although he cannot testify on himself, we enact palginan dibura and we split his sentence. Instead of hearing the entire testimony that the malveh lent money to him with interest, we only listen to part of it; i.e., the malveh lent with interest (S’ma). Therefore, if there would be another witness, Beis Din will disqualify the malveh from being believed when giving testimony in the future (an oveir aveira is disqualify as a witness).

2) Reuven testifies in Beis Din that Shimon sodomized him, we invoke palginan dibura, and if there would be another witness testifying, Beis Din will disqualify him.

3) Similarly, if Reuven testifies in Beis Din that Shimon cohabited with his wife, and there is another witness, Beis Din will disqualify Shimon (the Shulchan Aruch doesn’t state that he gets put to death, because the Shulchan Aruch is talking to our generation, where there isn’t any court-imposed death penalty).

The Rashba distinguishes between the case where he says, “Shimon cohabited with my wife,” and where he said, “I cohabited with Shimon’s wife.” In the latter case, we don’t say palginan dibura.

4) Reuven testifies in Beis Din that Shimon sodomized Reuven’s animal, if there will be another witness, Beis Din will disqualify Shimon. The S’ma points out that this case is different than the above cases, since there is no such concept that Reuven is related to his animal, and therefore, in the times of the Sanhedrin, we would kill the animal as well.

Not in all cases do we say palginan dibura. The Mordechai (Yevamos) and Tosfos in Kesuvos (18b) rule that cases which are not common, or if you have to add a reason to his sentence, then we don’t say palginan dibura.

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Blackmailing Father

By: Rabbi Avrohom Adler

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And Rav Yosef said: If a man says, “So-and-so committed sodomy with me against my will,” he himself with another witness can combine to testify against the perpetrator. If, however, he said, “So-and-so committed sodomy with me with my consent,” he is a wicked man and the Torah states: Do not use a sinner as a witness.

Rava said: Every man is considered a relative to himself, and he cannot incriminate himself (as a sinner).

The following question was raised to the poskim years ago: A man testified in Beis Din that he married off his minor daughter, but he refused to state the identity of this man. His intention was to put pressure on his wife for her to accept a divorce without receiving any alimony payments and to have equal visitation rights for the children. Do we accept his testimony and consider the girl as a married woman?

Rav Eliyahu Pesach Ramnik, Rosh Yeshiva of Ohavei torah in Far Rockaway applied the principle of ‘a person is not believed to establish himself as an evil person’ as the basis for his ruling. He explained: The father, who is testifying that he married off his minor daughter, is establishing himself as a wicked person for several different reasons. Firstly, if in truth, he has married her off in order to extort money from his wife, using a mechanism of the Torah in this manner causes a tremendous desecration of Hashem’s Name, and if the wife does not concede to his demands, the child will remain an agunah her entire life. This will result in an even bigger chilul Hashem. Secondly, he is transgressing the prohibition of paining another fellow Jew. The pain and the embarrassment that he is causing his wife and daughter to endure is indescribable. Thirdly, the Gemora in Sanhedrin (76a) states that one who marries his daughter to an elderly man transgresses a Biblical prohibition of causing his daughter to sin, since she will not be satisfied in that marriage; certainly in this case, the father will be violating this prohibition, for the daughter does not even know the identity of her true husband. Based on these above reasons, it emerges that by accepting the father’s testimony, he would be rendered a rasha, and therefore, his testimony should not be accepted and his daughter would not be regarded as a married woman.

Rav Yitzchak Zilberstein, in his sefer Chashukei Chemed questions the above conclusion. He cites several Acharonim who rule that when a man has already been established as a rasha regarding other matters, his testimony can still be valid (provided that he is not disqualified from offering testimony) even though it also renders him a rasha. The Chacham Tzvi (responsa 3) rules that if someone has violated a light transgression in our presence, he would still be believed that he has violated an even stricter prohibition. This is because his testimony is not rendering him a rasha; he already has established himself a rasha. It is for this reason that we will be compelled to accept the father’s testimony that he married off his daughter, for this man has already been established as a rasha. He is desecrating the name of Hashem by using the Torah’s mechanisms for evil purposes and by causing pain and grief to his wife and to his daughter.


Eidim P’sulim

The Gemora learns that even if there are a hundred witnesses that witnessed an event, but included in those witnesses were relatives or otherwise disqualified witnesses, then the all the witnesses may not testify. Rebbe clarifies that this is only true when the relatives or otherwise disqualified witnesses also gave the warning, but if they merely witnessed an event along with others, they can’t nullify the testimony of the other witnesses. Rashi explains that by giving the warning, they show that they too want to be considered witnesses, therefore they negate the other witnesses’ testimony, since part of the witnesses are disqualified.

Who is considered disqualified for testimony?

1) Relatives - Relatives: There are many different scenarios; we will only touch on a few.

We learn that relatives cannot be considered witnesses from the verse: Fathers shall not die through their sons. The Chachamim derived from this verse that the father cannot die due to testimony from his son, and vice versa. Aside from a son there are other relatives that cannot testify; a) brothers, b) grandson, c) first cousins, d) second cousins. All these cases apply to females as well, meaning a sister cannot testify on a brother and vice versa etc. (Choshen Mishpat 33:2)

If one cannot testify regarding a woman (for example a sister), he is similarly prohibited from testifying for her husband, and conversely, if one cannot testify for a certain man, he also may not testify for his wife (ibid 33:3). However, he may testify for that spouse’s relative (ibid 33:5).

Mechutanim may testify for each other (ibid 33:6).

2) Oivrei Aveirah - One Who Committed a Sin: If one transgressed any prohibition that is punishable by either death or lashes, he is disqualified for testimony until he repents. It makes no difference if he sinned due to desire, or if he sinned as an act of rebellion (ibid 34:2).

If one transgressed a Rabbinic prohibition, he is disqualified only on a Rabbinic level (there are halachic differences between them).

3) Other P’sulei Eidus: A minor is disqualified for testimony, even if he is very bright. One leaves the status of a minor once he shows signs of physical maturity, usually when he turns thirteen years old.

One who is incoherent in a certain issue is also disqualified (ibid 35:8). If he is mentally deranged, he is also disqualified (ibid 35:10).

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Motzi Sheim Ra

The Gemora discusses what the dispute between the Sages and Rabbi Meir about the number of judges for a case of motzi sheim ra is actually about. Ulla and Rava explain that the dispute is not an inherent dispute of how many judges are needed for this case, but rather depends on an external concern that the Sages have. Ulla says the Sages are concerned with la’az – a rumor, while Rava says that the Sages are concerned with the honor of the originally convened court.

Rashi explains that according to both of these explanations, the issue brought before the court is the husband’s demand to void the wife’s kesuvah, since she was not a virgin at the time of marriage. Rashi explains that the husband is believed to void the kesuvah, as the Gemora in Kesuvos (10a) states, since the Sages, who instituted kesuvah, assumed that a man would not lie about this, since he stands to lose the money spent on his wedding meal.

Ulla is explaining that the Sages are concerned that when this case is brought to court, although the husband is not claiming infidelity, witnesses to infidelity may indeed hear of the case and come forward, transforming this to a capital case. We therefore begin with a court of twenty-three, to account for that possibility.

Rava says the case is where the husband did claim infidelity, but wasn’t able to produce witnesses to prove it. When the court then dispersed, the husband requested that the remaining judges void the kesuvah. The Sages are concerned that adjudicating that with the partial court that remains would be disrespectful the original judges, and therefore they must reconvene.

The Gemora cites a braisa, which states that if t’va’o mamon – he claimed from him money, only three judges are needed, but if t’vao nefashos – he claimed from him a capital crime, twenty-three are needed. According to Rava, the first clause is a case where there was no claim of capital infidelity, and therefore there is no issue of the judges’ honor, leaving a monetary case for three judges. However, according to Ulla, even if the case began as monetary, we should be concerned about witnesses arriving later.

Rava answers that the braisa is a case where the husband produced witnesses that testified to her infidelity, but these were fully refuted by the father’s witnesses, who put the original witnesses in a different place at the time of their testimony. The husband is now liable 100 sela to the father for his false claim. The braisa is stating that to adjudicate the father’s monetary claim, only three witnesses are necessary. According to Rashi, the Gemora is introducing the aspect of the father claiming his monetary damages only at this point in the Gemora. All earlier discussions of monetary judgment were purely of the husband’s claim to void the kesuvah.

Tosfos (8a Motzi) cites Rabbeinu Tam, who disagrees with Rashi’s reading of the Gemora’s first two answers. Rabbeinu Tam challenges Rashi’s reading based on the following points:
1. Motzi sheim ra is listed in the Mishna along with fines paid by a rapist and a seducer, indicating that it similarly is a case of a fine. The husband’s voiding the kesuvah does not fit this pattern, as it is purely a monetary case.
2. Generally, motzi sheim ra is used to refer to the money paid by the husband when his claim is found to be false.
3. The three judges required in the Mishna are experts. However, cases of voiding a kesuvah are routinely judged by non expert judges, outside of Eretz Yisroel, indicating that the Mishna is not discussing such a case.
4. Rashi’s reading translates the la’az of Ulla as the witnesses hearing about the case and coming forward. Generally, la’az has a connotation of being a false rumor, not simply news spreading.
5. In Rava’s explanation, the husband says to the remaining judges, “At least judge the monetary aspect.” According to Rashi, all the husband wants to do is not have to pay the kesuvah, not collect any money. As long as the wife is not claiming it, he has no urgency to adjudicate the matter.
6. The Gemora’s explanation of the braisa according to Rava’s opinion is that the first clause is referring to a husband who is only adjudicating the kesuvah. The braisa says tva’o mamon – if he claimed from him money. According to Rashi, it should say he claimed from her (the wife), and in fact, the husband is not claiming anything, but simply refusing to pay.
7. Finally, when Rava explains the braisa according to Ulla’s opinion, he explains that the second clause of the braisa is stating that at the outset of a husband’s claim – at which point, it may lead to a capital case – twenty-three judges are needed. The simple reading of the Gemora, however, is that it is a different circumstance of the same case as the first clause, not a new case.
8. Rabbeinu Peretz points out that Rabbi Meir, one the opinions discussed, holds that a husband is obligated from the Torah to pay a kesuvah. The Gemora is Kesuvos that states that husband is believed to void his wife’s kesuvah is based on the assumption that the obligation of kesuvah is purely Rabbinic. Therefore, Rabbi Meir may not even agree that a husband may void the kesuvah, so he cannot be disputing how many judges are needed to deal with such a claim.

Instead, Rabbeinu Tam says that the whole discussion of Motzi sheim ra is of the 100 sela the husband must pay when his claim is disproven. Ulla says the case is when the husband brought witnesses, who were contradicted by the father’s witnesses.

Rabbeinu Tam says that although the witnesses were not refuted (by being placed at a different place at the time of testimony), but simply contradicted in the details of their testimony, the husband still must pay, since his claim was dismissed by the court. (See Tosfos 8b v’haivi for further discussion of this position).

If the father’s witnesses refuted the husbands’ by putting them in a different place at the time of their testimony, we assume no further witnesses will come forward. However, since they only contradicted them, other witnesses may still come. The Sages are concerned that if the twenty-three judges are disbanded, and then a new court of twenty-three will be necessary if new witnesses come, it will lead to la’az - false rumors that the first court was incompetent and replace with the new court. We therefore leave the first court in place. Rabbi Meir is not concerned about such rumors.

Rava says that the case is where the father produced witnesses to refute the husband’s witnesses. Since the husband’s witnesses were trying to kill the wife, they are liable to the same punishment as aidim zomemim – conspiring witnesses. However, the case of the Mishna is where the court of twenty-three dispersed, due to some external event (fear of the government, or another urgent matter they needed to attend to). At that point, the father requested that the remaining judges adjudicate his monetary claim. Rabbi Meir allows this, but the Sages say that this will disrespect the original twenty-three, and they must therefore be reconvened.

Rabbeinu Tam’s reading of the Gemora addresses all of his issues with Rashi’s:
1-3: As it usually does, motzi sheim ra in the Mishna refers to the money paid by the husband to the father, which is a fine. It is therefore listed with rape and seduction, and requires three expert judges.
4: The la’az is the false rumor people may spread about the original court.
5: The request to “At least judge the monetary aspect” is made by the father, who is trying to collect money from the husband.
6: The father is claiming from him (the husband) the money of the fine of motzi sheim ra.
7: The braisa’s first clause is where the father’s witnesses refuted the husband’s before the verdict, and the husband’s false witnesses are therefore not punished by death. However, the second clause is a similar case, but instead of the witnesses being refuted, they are contradicted, leaving the possibility that new witnesses will come, and establish infidelity.
8: Since we are not discussing the kesuvah, whether it is Rabbinic or from the Torah is irrelevant.


Birchas Zimun

The Gemora mentions that zimun needs at least three people. The Gemora in Brachos (47a) derives the concept of zimun from the verses of “gadlu lashem iti”... and “ki shem Hashem ekra havu godel leilokeinu,” and from there, we also learn that a minimum of three is required (since the singular is speaking to the plural and together they equal three).

The person that received the honor of bentching starts off by saying “rabbosai nivarech” (some have the minhag to say it in yiddish “rabbosai mir velen bentchin”), and everyone else responds with “y’hi sheim Hashem mivorach mei’atah v’ad olam.” This originated with the Zohar. (Magen Avraham).

Immediately after that, he continues with “nivarech she’achalnu m’shelo” and the rest answer “baruch she’achalnu m’shelo uv’tuvo chayinu.” After that, he too repeats “baruch she’achalnu m’shelo uv’tuvo chayinu” (Orach Chaim 192:1). There is a machlokes Achronim if the other people bentching should answer amen, the Mishna Berurah writes that the minhag is not to answer.

If there are ten or more people that are bentching together then we add Elokeinu (nivarech Elokeinu, baruch Elokeinu). If he forgot to say Elokeinu and the others didn’t yet respond, then he may say it again properly; once they answered, however, he does not repeat it (ibid).

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Sanhedrin 7

By: Meoros HaDaf HaYomi

The First Question

A person’s judgment starts only with asking him about his learning Torah.

Our sugya cites Rav Hamnuna that a person’s final judgment in the beis din of the World to Come starts with asking him about his learning Torah. However, Tosfos (s.v. Ela) compare this statement to the Gemora in Shabbos (31a), which asserts that a person is first asked if he did business faithfully and only then asked if he set aside fixed times for Torah study.

The Gerer Rebbe, author of Imrei Emes zt”l, answers this question in the spirit of our sages’ interpretation of the verse “And you shall love Hashem” – “that you should cause His name to be loved: One should learn the Torah, serve Torah scholars, do business faithfully and speak softly with people. What do people say about him? “Happy is his father who taught him Torah! Happy is his teacher who taught him Torah! How pitiful are those people who have not learnt Torah. That person who has learnt Torah – see how he exhibits such fine behavior.” But he who learns Torah and serves Torah scholars but fails to do business faithfully or speak nicely with people – what do people say about him? “How pitiful is that person who has learnt Torah!” (Yoma 86a). Hence, even though a person is first judged about the Torah he has learnt, he must first be examined if his Torah caused a sanctification of the Name by practicing business faithfully (Imrei Emes, Likutim).

The Thieves Who Were Not Caught

If the beis din takes his garment as payment for his debt, he should sing a song and go on his way.

Our Gemora says that if a beis din takes a person’s garment in payment for some debt that they ruled he was to remunerate, he should be glad.

The Chafetz Chayim zt”l offered the following parable to explain this statement. A group of experienced bandits enlisted some new members and, so as to easily identify each other, agreed that all the members should wear the same clothing. Once, after a hard night’s work, they went to an inn where they ate and drank to inebriation. After the meal some of them refused to pay and the innkeeper let them go only if they gave him their identifying garments as a pledge. A few days later the police found out about the bandits’ “uniform” and arrested them all, with the exception of those who had left their clothing at the inn. “Aha!” they laughed, “The innkeeper did us a big favor when he forced us to give him our clothing.”

A person should know, says the Chafetz Chayim, that any stolen garment or other purloined article in his possession is a reason for the loss of the rest of his wherewithal. If, then, a beis din takes that garment and gives it to the person to whom he owes a debt, they have done him a big favor as they have saved the rest of his possessions (Ahavas Chesed, II, Ch. 1).

The Talking Tree

If the matter is as clear to you as your sister’s being forbidden to you, pronounce it, but if not, do not pronounce it.

Our Gemora emphasizes a dayan’s duty to seriously consider the ruling he intends to announce and stresses that his decision must be completely clear to him.

Once, the Brisker rav, Rabbi Chayim Soloveichik zt”l, wanted to impress upon his son, who became the next Brisker rav, how clear everything must be to the person who says it. One’s pronouncements, he said, must be the firm and utterly unyielding truth, and he presented the following parable: Imagine you are passing by a tree and that someone there tells you that the tree spoke a few minutes ago. You would immediately conclude that he was unbalanced and even if ten people tell you the same, you would judge them insane. But if a thousand people say the same, you would start to think they were apparently mistaken and if 100,000 insist on it, you must consider that a tree could talk. This means, then, that it was never clear to you that trees can’t speak!

A Fair Trial

This is a warning to the beis din to refrain from hearing one litigant without the presence of the other.

Rabbi A.L. HaLevi Horvitz, author of Rashei Besamim, was required to judge the validity of a beis din that had heard one litigant without the presence of the other and he cited the example of Tzelofchad’s daughters: “And they stood before Moshe and before Elozar the Kohen and before the heads of the tribes and the whole congregation” (Bemidbar 27:2). Why must we know that they stood before the whole congregation? The Torah wants to emphasize that the potential litigants, the tribe of Menasheh, were also present, for if not so, Moshe would not have listened to Tzelofchad’s daughters (Kemotzei Shalal Rav, Parashas Pinchas).


Being a Dayan

The Gemora discusses the responsibilities of a dayan (judge). The Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 10:1) exhorts a dayan to be patient when judging what the halachah is, and not to answer flippantly. A dayan should make 100 percent sure in his mind that this is indeed the halachah before paskening, and a dayan that doesn’t do so is labeled a shoteh, rasha and a haughty person.

Similarly if a dayan compares the question that he is asked to another case, and doesn’t ask a Torah scholar who is greater than him for his opinion, he too is categorized as a rasha that is a haughty person.

The Torah does not look favorably on a Torah scholar who is not on the level of being a dayan, and yet judges cases. Nor does it appreciate a scholar of high caliber who abstains from becoming a dayan. However, if he abstains due to the fact that there is another dayan in town, then he is to be commended.

A dayan should always try to make a compromise rather than to judge the case, even if he is one hundred percent sure of the halachah.

A dayan has an obligation to treat each case brought before him, even if it involves a negligible amount of money, with his full attention and seriousness.

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Sanhedrin 5

Mother's Name

The Seder Hadoros (erech: Rav Shmuel bar Marsa) writes that he is uncertain if the name Marsa is the name of a man or the name of a woman.

In the Teshuvos Hageonim it is written: You asked regarding Yoav ben Tzeruyah – why was he called by the name of his mother? And what was his father’s name? His father’s name is known, for it is written (Divrei Hayamim I: 4, 14): and Serayah begot Yoav, the leader of Gei Harashim. And since his mother (Tzeruyah) was the sister of King David, he was called after her name.

This also explains why Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi was called after his mother’s name, for she was the daughter of Rabbi Chiya, as we learned in Yevamos (65b).

Rabbah bar Chanah as well can be explained in this manner, for Chanah was the sister of Rabbi Chiya.

Rav Yitzchak bar Shmuel bar Marsa is also explained in this manner, for Marsa was the sister of Rabbi Chiya, as it was taught in Sanhedrin (5a) that Aivu (Rav’s father), Chanah (Rabbah’s father), Shila, Marsa and Rabbi Chiya were all the children of Abba bar Acha Karsela of Kafri.

In other Teshuvos Hageonim, it is stated like that as well that Marsa was the mother of Shmuel and the sister of Rabbi Chiya.

Rabbeinu Gershom in Bava Basra
(52a) writes that Marsa is a woman’s name.

The Rashbam learns that Marsa is the name of a scholar, the brother of Rabbi Chiya.

Seder Hadoros cites a Zohar that Pazi was the father of Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi, not his mother.

“The scepter will not be removed from Yehudah” (Bereishis 49:10).

The Continuation of Jewish Sovereignty in Exile

By: Meoros HaDaf HaYomi

Our Gemora explains that the leaders of the Jewish exile in Babylonia, descended from the tribe of Yehudah, derived their might from Yaakov’s blessing: The scepter will not be removed from Yehudah.

Rambam adds that “the leaders of the Babylonian exile take the place of our kings and should rule the Jews everywhere and judge them, whether willingly obeyed or not, as we have been told: The scepter will not be removed from Yehudah; these are the leaders of the Babylonian exile (Hilchos Sanhedrin, 4:13).

The description of Yehudah as a “law-giver” later in the same verse is expressed by the fact that the Nesiim of Eretz Yisroel were descended from Yehudah.

Yaakov’s prophecy served as a weapon for anti-Semitic Christians for many centuries as they tried to point out “inexactitudes” in the Torah and public debates with the Christians featured the repeated question that, after all, the Torah promises eternal sovereignty to Yehudah’s descendants. “Where is Yehudah’s sovereignty and kingdom?”

Addressing this question, Ramban (on Bereishis 49:10) quotes the verse in Devarim 28:36: Hashem will lead you and your king, whom you will appoint over you, to a people unknown by you and your fathers. The Torah itself, he asserts, does not exclude the possibility that Yehudah’s sovereignty will be interrupted. “The scepter will not be removed from Yehudah” therefore means that as long as there is a Jewish kingdom, kings must be appointed only from Yehudah’s descendants, but there is no promise for a continuous monarchy. Indeed, those who ignored this commandment and crowned kings not descended from Yehudah were harshly punished. “And this,” writes Ramban, “was the punishment of the Hasmoneans, who reigned in the era of the Second Temple. They were exceedingly pious and if not for them, the Torah and mitzvos would have been forgotten by the Jews but still they were severely punished…because they reigned without being descended from Yehudah and David and removed the scepter completely. And their punishment was measure for measure, as Hashem set up their slaves over them and they eradicated them.”

The Rashba also addresses this question: “I have seen fit to record in a book my argument with one of their learned men in those matters” (Responsa Rashba, IV, 187). In his opinion, though, the verse promises that Yehudah will reign eternally, we should regard the interruptions of our exile or the reign of kings not descended from Yehudah as merely temporary as, after all, the verse concludes: “till Shiloh (the Mashiach) comes and he will gather the peoples.” In other words, Mashiach, descended from Yehudah, will finally arrive and restore the monarchy to the tribe of Yehudah.


Ruling in the Presence of one’s Teacher

A disciple should not issue a halachic ruling in the presence of his teacher. This is one of the many halachos that pertain to a talmid (disciple) in regard to his Rebbi muvhak (a teacher that taught him a majority of his Torah knowledge), due to the fact that he is obligated to revere him. A talmid that does issue a halachic ruling in the presence of his teacher is liable to death.

Tosfos points out that a talmid may not rule within three parsaos of his teacher, even if his teacher gave him permission to do so. A talmid that is out of the range of three parsaos may only rule in an unofficial manner, but to establish himself as a judge, he will not be permitted until his teacher gave him permission to do so, or when his teacher dies. (Yoreh De’ah 242:4)

Rif and Rambam explain that if the talmid is a talmid chaver - a student that did not learn most of his Torah knowledge from this teacher (Rambam’s definition), then he may rule even within three parsaos. Rama cites an opinion that even a talmid chaver cannot rule in the immediate vicinity of his teacher (ibid).

What exactly constitutes that a talmid has ruled?

1) Only if an actual issue came up, but if he was merely asked his opinion on a hypothetical case then he is permitted to reply (ibid 242:7).

2) Only when asked a question that is a novel halachah to the person who asked the question, but if it’s a common halachah that everyone knows about (i.e. he knows that such a concept exists, but he doesn’t know the ruling in his case), then the talmid may answer (ibid 242:8).

A talmid may rule even in front of his teacher that something is forbidden in order to stop a person from committing a transgression, since we do not give respect to a teacher when a desecration of Hashem’s Name is at stake (ibid 242:11).

A talmid that did not yet reach the level of Torah that enables him to rule and does so, is called a host of harsh names, among them shoteh and rasha (ibid 242:13).

A judge that drank wine may not issue rulings, unless the question is something that is explicitly written in the Torah, for example that blood may not be eaten (ibid). Once he is certain that the wine has left him then he may rule once again (Shach). Similarly if he is distressed, he may not rule (Bach).

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