Sanhedrin 107 - 113
- King David – sin, suffering and vindication
- Prophet Elisha, Na'aman and Gechazi
- The sins and fate of the Generation of the Deluge
- Noach's ark and its inhabitants
- Nachum Ish Gam Zu and the miracle earth
- The Tower of Bavel and its builders
- The sins of Sodom
- The fate of Korach and his company
- The Generation of the Wilderness and the World to Come
- The future of the lost ten tribes
- Who will merit a place in the World to Come
- The city that turned to idol worship and its punishment
- Eliyahu's confrontation and escape
An Important Guarantee
- Sanhedrin 111b
The final subject of Mesechta Sanhedrin is the severe punishment of a city that has turned to idol worship. Not only are the sinners executed and lose their share in the World to Come, but the entire city is destroyed, never to be rebuilt.
What appears to be such an extreme form of retribution is described by Rabbi Shimon as being equivalent to making a burnt offering sacrifice to G-d. Such an elimination of evil, adds Rabbi Akiva, "causes G-d to turn back from His burning wrath." These words, taken from the passage in Devarim 13:18, are followed with the promise that "He will give you mercy and be merciful to you."
The need for this promise, explains the Ohr Hachayim commentary on the Torah, is to allay the fear that carrying out such a cruel mission of slaughter and destruction might turn is perpetrators into people without compassion. (As an example of such an effect he cites what he heard from the Yishmaelites responsible for executing criminals that they actually enjoy killing.) Since G-d only shows compassion for those who show compassion for others, it was necessary to promise that since the destroyers of the sinful city are doing G-d's will, they will be granted a Heavenly gift of mercy.
What the Sages Say
"The dove said to G-d, 'Sovereign of the World, may my food be as bitter as an olive but coming from Your hand rather than sweet as honey but coming from the hand of flesh and blood.'"
- Rabbi Elazar - Sanhedrin 108b