For the week ending 27 March 2010 / 11 Nisan 5770

Sanhedrin 44 - 50

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • The sin of Achan and his confession
  • Yehoshua and the reprimanding angel
  • How penalty of skilah was implemented
  • Hanging and burial of one thus executed
  • The purpose of burial and eulogy for the dead
  • Separate burial plots for executed sinners
  • When death serves as an atonement
  • When something prepared for use of the dead or for a mitzvah becomes forbidden for any other use
  • The property of the executed by court or king
  • The curse of David and the trial of Yoav
  • The four categories of capital punishment
  • The degree of severity of these punishments

Scholar and Soldier

  • Sanhedrin 49a

The symbiotic relationship between scholar and soldier finds its ultimate expression in these passages (Shmuel II 8:15-16):

"And David reigned over all Israel, and David dispensed judgment and justice to all his people. And Yoav, son of Tzuriah, was in charge of the army."

"If not for David," explains Rabbi Abba bar Cahana, "Yoav could not succeed in war, and if not for Yoav, David could not study Torah."

Maharsha calls attention to the fact that rather than mention David's ability to dispense judgment and justice thanks to Yoav's military leadership, the Sage deviates from the language of the passage and speaks of David's Torah study.

His explanation is that Rabbi Abba bar Cahana was motivated to make this change by the term "to all his people" in the above-mentioned passage. In order to be capable of dispensing judgment and justice to all the people and never err, David had to have a complete mastery of the law, something which was possible only by being free of military responsibility which would interfere with his ability to study Torah.

The other half of this relationship between scholar and soldier is already explained by Rashi who writes that it was the merit of David's Torah study which made it possible for his general Yoav to succeed in war.

What the Sages Say

"One who unnecessarily delays the burial of the dead is guilty of violating a Torah law."

  • Rabbi Yochanan in the name of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai - Sanhedrin 46b

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