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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Horayoth
R. Nahman, however, said in the name of Samuel: This7 is the view of R. Meir, but the Sages maintain that an individual who acted in accordance with [an erroneous] ruling of the court is liable.
Which [statement of] R. Meir and which of the Rabbis? — It was taught, 'If they had ruled and acted accordingly, R. Meir exonerates them and the Sages consider them liable'. Now, who are 'those that acted'? If the court be suggested, what [it may be retorted] is the reason of the Rabbis who consider them liable? Surely it was taught, 'Since it might have been assumed that a court who issued [an erroneous] ruling and acted accordingly are liable, it was expressly taught. The assembly, and do,8 indicate that] action depends on the assembly9 and ruling depends on the court.'10 If, again,11 [it be suggested that the meaning12 is that] the court ruled and the majority of the congregation acted accordingly, the question arises] what is the reason why R. Meir exonerates them? Must it not then be concluded13 [that the meaning14 is that] the court ruled and a minority of the congregation acted accordingly, and that the principle underlying their15 dispute is the following: The Master16 holds that an individual who acted under the authority of the ruling of the court is exonerated, and the Masters hold that an individual who acted under the authority of the ruling of the court is liable!
R. Papa. however, said: All agree17 that an individual who acted under the authority of the court's ruling is exonerated, but they differ [on the question] whether the court is counted in the making up of a majority of the congregation.18 The Masters hold that the court is counted in the making of a majority of the congregation19 and the Master holds that the court is not to be counted in making up a majority of the congregation. And if preferred I might say [that the meaning20 is that] the court ruled and a majority of the congregation acted accordingly: and20 by 'Sages' was meant21 R. Simeon who stated that both the congregation and the court bring [a sin offering].22 And if you prefer I might say [that they differ in the case where] one tribe acted in accordance with the ruling of its own court: and by 'Sages' R. Judah was meant; for it was taught,'A tribe that acted on the authority of [an erroneous] ruling of its court, that tribe is liable.23 And if you prefer I might say [that the dispute relates to] such a case as where the sin was committed by six [tribes] who formed a majority of the congregation or by seven [tribes] although they did not form a majority of the congregation, and [the anonymous author of] our Baraitha24 is21 R. Simeon b. Eleazar; for it was taught: R. Simeon b. Eleazar said in his25 name. 'Six [tribes] who form a majority of the congregation or seven [tribes] although they do not form a majority of the congregation, who have committed a sin are liable [to bring a sin offering].26
R. Assi said: In [the case of an erroneous] ruling [of a court]27 the majority of the inhabitants of the Land of Israel are to be taken into account,28 for it is said, So Solomon held the feast at that time, and all Israel with him, a great congregation, from the entrance of Hamath unto the Brook of Egypt, before the Lord our God, seven days and seven days, even fourteen days.29 Now, consider, it is written, and all Israel with him a great congregation, what need was there for,30 from the entrance of Hamath unto the Brook of Egypt? From this it may be inferred that only these31 are included in the32 'congregation' but those are not.28
It is obvious [that the case where] a majority33 has been reduced34 to a minority [is a matter of] dispute between R. Simeon and the Rabbis.35 What, [however, is the law where] a minority36 has become37 the majority?38 Do R. Simeon and the Rabbis differ [in this case also]. R. Simeon, who is guided by39 [the status of the person at the time of the] discovery [of the sin], holding them liable,40 and the Rabbis who are guided by [the status of the person at the time of the] commission of the sin, exonerating them,41 or not? — How could [such a thing]42 be imagined! It might well be said that R. Simeon was heard to be guided by39 [the time of the] discovery [of the sin] also:43 was he heard, however, [to be guided by the time of the] discovery alone!44 For had that been the case45 they46 should have brought [their offering] according to their present status.47 Consequently [it must be concluded that] R. Simeon requires both commission of the sin and its discovery.48
The question was raised: What [is the law where] the court ruled that suet was permitted and a minority of the congregation acted accordingly, and, after the court had withdrawn their decision and again issued a similar ruling, another minority acted accordingly? [Are we to say,] since this is a case of two distinct spells of awareness,49 they do not combine,50 or perhaps, since both51 [are concerned with] suet they combine? And if some ground could be found for the decision52 that, since both51 [are concerned with] suet, they combine, [the question arises,] what [is the law where one] minority [was involved] in the forbidden fat of53 the maw and [another] minority in the forbidden fat of53 the small bowels? Is it certain that in these cases,54 since [the prohibitions] are derived55 from56 two [distinct] texts, they57 do not combine, or, perhaps, since both51 [are concerned with] forbidden fat, they57 combine. And if some ground should be for the decision52 that, [since the two kinds bear] the name of 'forbidden fat', they57 combine, [the question may be asked,] what [is the law where one] minority [was involved] in the [eating of] suet and [another] minority in that of blood? Is it certain that in this case,58 since these are two [distinct] prohibitions they59 do not combine, or perhaps, since the same kind of sacrifice has to be brought in both cases,60 they combine? And if some ground could be found for the decision61 that, since the same kind of sacrifice has to be brought in both cases, they59 combine, [the question might be asked,] What is the law [where one] minority [was involved] in [the eating of] suet and [another] minority in idolatry? Is it certain that in this case,58 [since] neither the prohibitions nor the sacrifices are alike [they59 are not to be combined] or, perhaps, since [the punishment] in both cases62 is that of kareth63 they are to be combined. — These questions remain undecided.64
The question was raised: [What is the law where] a court ruled that suet was permitted and a minority of the congregation acted accordingly, and the members of that court died and another court that was appointed also issued a similar ruling and another minority acted [in accordance with that ruling]? According to him who stated that the court brings [the sacrifice] no question arises, for, surely, they are no more in existence. The question, however, arises what [is the law] according to him who stated that the congregation bring [the sacrifice]? The congregation, surely, exists:65
Horayoth 3bor is it, perhaps, necessary1 [to have in the case of both minorities] the ruling2 of the court that ruled [in the first instance]. — This is undecided.64
R. Jonathan said: Where a hundred [judges] sat down to consider a decision they are not liable3 unless all of them arrived at the same [erroneous] decision; for it is said, and if the whole congregation of Israel shall err4 [which implies] that they must all5 err.6 Said R. Huna son of Hoshaiah: Logical deduction leads to the same conclusion.7 For throughout the Torah there is an established rule that a majority is like the whole and yet it was written here, 'the whole congregation'; and since such is the case8 [it must be concluded that] even if there were a hundred.9
We learned, [WHEN] THE COURT ISSUED [AN ERRONEOUS] RULING AND ONE OF THEM, WHO KNEW THAT THEY HAD ERRED OR A DISCIPLE WHO WAS HIMSELF CAPABLE OF DECIDING MATTERS OF LAW PROCEEDED AND ACTED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THEIR RULING, WHETHER THEY ACTED AND HE ACTED WITH THEM OR THEY ACTED AND HE ACTED AFTER THEM, OR THEY DID NOT ACT AND HE ACTED, HE IS LIABLE, SINCE HE WAS NOT DEPENDENT UPON [THE RULING OF THE COURT]. [From this it follows that only] that person10 is liable, but another11 is exempt; but why? The decision, surely, was not unanimous!12 — Here it is a case where that person13 nodded with his head.14
Come and hear: If the court issued a ruling, and one of them knew that they erred and said to them, 'You are mistaken', they are exempt.15 The reason, then, why they are exempt is because he said to them, 'You are mistaken', had he however remained silent they would have been liable and their decision would have been regarded as unanimous;16 but why? Surely, they did not all arrive at the same decision? — It may be answered that here also it is a case where he nodded with his head.
R. Mesharsheya raised an objection: Our Rabbis relied upon the words of R. Simeon b. Gamaliel and upon the words of R. Eleazar the son of R. Zadok who said, 'No law may be imposed upon the public unless a majority of the people can endure it'; and R. Adda b. Abba said: What Scriptural proof is there for this view? Ye are cursed with a curse, yet ye rob me, even this whole nation.17 Now, surely, it is written here, 'This whole nation,' and yet a majority is regarded as the whole.18 [Is not this] a refutation of the view of R. Jonathan?19 — This is a refutation. Why then did the All-Merciful say, 'the whole congregation'? — It is this that was meant: Where they are all present20 the decision is valid; but if not, their decision is invalid.
R. Joshua said: When ten sit in judgment, the responsibility rests upon21 all of them. Is not this obvious? It teaches us that even a disciple in the presence of his Master [must share the responsibility].22
When R. Huna went to court he took with him ten students of the college, 'in order that', he said, 'each of us23 might receive only a chip of the beam',24 When an animal suffering from an organic disease was brought before R. Ashi25 he used to bring together ten ritual slaughterers26 of Matha Mehasia27 and made them sit down before him, saying, 'In order that each of us might receive only a chip of the beam'.22
MISHNAH. WHERE A COURT ISSUED A DECISION,28 AND LATER DISCOVERED THAT THEY HAD ERRED AND WITHDREW THEIR DECISION, WHETHER THEY BROUGHT THEIR OFFERING29 OR WHETHER THEY DID NOT BRING THEIR OFFERING, IF AN INDIVIDUAL30 PROCEEDED AND ACTED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THEIR [ERRONEOUS] DECISION, R. SIMEON EXONERATES HIM AND R. ELEAZAR DECLARES [HIS CASE] DOUBTFUL.31 WHICH CASE MAY BE REGARDED DOUBTFUL? IF HE32 WAS33 AT HOME, HE IS LIABLE.34 IF, HOWEVER, HE WENT TO A COUNTRY BEYOND THE SEA HE IS EXEMPT. SAID R. AKIBA: I AGREE THAT A PERSON IN SUCH A CASE35 IS NEARER TO EXONERATION THAN TO CULPABILITY. SAID BEN 'AZZAI TO HIM: HOW DOES SUCH A PERSON DIFFER FROM ONE WHO REMAINS AT HOME? HE WHO REMAINS AT HOME IS IN A POSITION TO ASCERTAIN THE FACTS36 BUT THE OTHER WAS NOT IN SUCH A POSITION.37 IF THE COURT RULED THAT AN ENTIRE PRINCIPLE HAS TO BE UPROOTED; IF THEY SAID, FOR EXAMPLE, THAT [THE LAW CONCERNING THE] MENSTRUANT38 IS NOT FOUND IN THE TORAH OR THE [LAW CONCERNING THE] SABBATH IS NOT FOUND IN THE TORAH OR [THE LAW CONCERNING] IDOLATRY IS NOT FOUND IN THE TORAH, THEY ARE EXEMPT. IF, HOWEVER, THEY RULED THAT A PART [OF A COMMANDMENT] WAS TO BE ANNULLED AND A PART RETAINED, THEY ARE LIABLE. HOW IS THIS SO? — IF THEY SAID: [THE LAW CONCERNING THE] MENSTRUANT OCCURS IN THE TORAH BUT IF A MAN HAS INTERCOURSE WITH A WOMAN THAT AWAITS A DAY CORRESPONDING TO A DAY39 HE IS EXEMPT, [OR THAT THE LAW CONCERNING THE] SABBATH OCCURS IN THE TORAH BUT IF A MAN CARRIES ANYTHING FROM A PRIVATE DOMAIN TO A PUBLIC DOMAIN HE IS EXEMPT, [OR THAT THE LAW OF] IDOLATRY OCCURS IN THE TORAH, BUT IF A MAN ONLY BOWS DOWN TO AN IDOL HE IS EXEMPT, THEY ARE LIABLE; FOR SCRIPTURE SAYS, AND IF SOME THING BE HID,40 'SOMETHING BUT NOT THE ENTIRE PRINCIPLE.
GEMARA. Rab Judah said in the name of Rab: What is R. Simeon's reason? Because he acted on the authority of the court. Others say that Rab Judah said in the name of Rab: R. Simeon used to say that [in the case of] any ruling [of the court], which has spread41 to a majority of the congregation, if an individual acted according to it he is exempt;42 for [he ruling was given for the purpose43 of distinguishing between one who acts in error44 and one acting presumptuously.45
An objection was raised: The bullock required46 when a matter was hid from the congregation,47 and the goats [of atonement] for idolatry48 are to be purchased from a collection made for the purpose:49 these are the words of R. Simeon. R. Judah said: They are taken50 from the funds of the Temple treasury.51 Now, why?52 Since a collection is made for the purchase of the sacrifices, the facts became known!53 — If you wish I might say: It is a case, for instance, where the object of the collection was not stated.54 And if you prefer I might say: In the case, for instance, where he was not in town.55 And if you prefer I might say: Rab holds the same view as the other Tanna,56 [in whose name] the reverse was taught: 'A collection is made for the occasion;57 these are the words of R. Judah. R. Simeon said: They are taken from the funds of the Temple treasury.'58
It was taught: R. Meir declares him59 liable and R. Simeon exonerates him; R. Eleazar said, 'doubtful'; in the name of Symmachus it was said, 'suspended'. Said R. Johanan: The difference between them60 is the obligation to bring an asham talui.61
Said R. Zera: [As to an] analogy [in respect of the view] of R. Eleazar — to what may the thing be compared? To the case of a man who ate something about which it is doubtful whether it was suet or fat,62 who, when it becomes known to him63 brings a guilt offering.64
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