Makkos 16 - 22
How is it possible to transgress the Torah prohibition against driving two animals of different species even though you only drive one animal?
The answer lies in the peculiar split personality of an animal which has been consecrated for sacrifice and then redeemed after developing a disqualifying blemish. Such an animal still retains some of its original sanctity and although its flesh may be eaten it cannot be sheared of its wool or used for labor. It is therefore considered two species of animal wrapped up in one and driving such an animal is considered a violation of the ban on driving two animals of different species.
- Makkos 22a
One Lash Less
A Jew who transgresses a Torah prohibition is punished with lashes.
How many lashes?
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40
The Torah mentions the number 40 but the Sages interpreted this to mean the number preceding forty and therefore rule that the number of lashes is 39.
How foolish are most people, exclaimed the Sage Rava, who stand up for a Sefer Torah but not for a Torah scholar. The Torah says 40 lashes and the Sages limited it to 39.
A similar proof of the power of the Sages could apparently have been brought from the 50 days of counting the Omer which the Sages interpret as 49. But only the example of the lashes is cited because the true greatness of the Sages to be appreciated by the masses is not in their ability to make the Omer count one day less but in their ability to remove one painful lash from a sinner.
- Makkos 22b