For the week ending 20 February 2010 / 5 Adar I 5770

Sanhedrin 9 - 15

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • The role of the extra witness in financial and criminal cases
  • The need for a warning before the sin to justify punishment
  • Splitting the testimony of one who affects himself and another
  • The source for number of judges required for punishment of lashes
  • Sanctifying the new month – when and how many judges
  • The heroic efforts throughout the ages to spare others embarrassment
  • The requirements for adding a month to the lunar year
  • The mistake for which King Chizkiyahu prayed for forgiveness
  • The time schedule for adding an extra month
  • The semicha of sacrifices and of rabbinic ordination
  • Rabbi Yehuda ben Bava's heroic effort to preserve semicha
  • Difference between Eretz Yisrael and Bavel regarding semicha
  • How many judges needed for ritual of calf beheading in case of unsolved murder
  • Evaluation of items requiring redemption
  • Number of judges needed to condemn animal to death

Price and Power of Fame

  • Sanhedrin 14a

Receiving rabbinical ordination was considered a great honor and yet Rabbi Zeira tried to avoid it. His reason was based on a statement by Rabbi Elazar urging one to keep a low profile in order to survive. It was only when he heard another statement of this Sage that no one achieves greatness unless all of his sins are forgiven that he finally sought ordination.

In his commentary on this transition of Rabbi Zeira, Rabbi Zvi Hirsh Chayot offers this explanation. As long as one is not renowned he is not subject to criticism. The moment he achieves fame, however, people began examining his shortcomings. He is thus rendered incapable of reproving others since they challenge him to first correct his own faults.

This was Rabbi Zeira's concern regarding accepting ordination, and the honor and responsibility that would go along with it. But when he realized that accepting such greatness he would be absolved of sin, he felt that this would make his reproof effective and he therefore consented to ordination.

What the Sages Say

"No one achieves greatness unless all of his sins are forgiven."

  • Rabbi Elazar - Sanhedrin 14a

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