Horiyot 2 - 7
- Sacrifice for sin committed by public because of erroneous ruling of the Sanhedrin
- What constitutes the final ruling of the court to make such a sacrifice necessary
- When one of the judges is aware an error is being made
- Responsibility of individual sinning as a result of court's erroneous judgment
- What constitutes a congregation
- The silent judge who dissents
- What sort of erroneous ruling requires a sacrifice as atonement
- How many sacrifices are brought for erroneous judgment
- The status of a single tribe in regard to these sacrifices
- The sacrifices that were brought to atone for the dead
- The sacrifice of the kohen gadol who sinned by acting upon his own erroneous judgment
What Constitutes a Congregation
- Horiyot 5b
As proof that a single tribe in Israel is considered a kahal – a congregation – the gemara cites the passage (Bereishet 48:4) in which the Patriarch Yaakov relates to his son Yosef the promise made to him by G-d on his way back to Eretz Yisrael from the house of Lavan.
"He said to me, 'Behold I will make you fruitful and numerous; I will make you a congregation of nations’."
Since only Binyamin was to be born after that promise, the conclusion is that the single tribe emanating from him would also be considered a congregation.
Tosefot raises the question as to why the gemara cites this recalling of the promise rather than the promise itself which appears earlier(Bereishet 35:11):
"Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a congregation of nations shall descend from you."
On closer examination we note that there is a subtle difference in the language of the two seemingly similar passages. Rashi cites the Midrash that the "nation" mentioned in the first passage refers to the birth of Binyamin, while the "congregation of nations" refers to the division of the Tribe of Yosef into the two tribes of Menashe and Ephraim. It is this separation between "nation" and "congregation of nations" which teaches us that the single term "congregation of nations" in the second passage is also to be understood as a reference to congregation (Binyamin) and nations (Menashe and Ephraim). Since the second passage is thus dependent on the first as proof that a single tribe constitutes a congregation, the gemara found it preferable to cite it as a reference to both.
What the Sages Say
"When G-d told Moshe that the elders he appointed to the first Sanhedrin should 'bear the burden of the people with you' (Bamidbar 11:17), it meant that they must be like Moshe devoid of any disqualifying features."
- Rabbi Nachman bar Yitzchak - Horiyot 4b