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Mishnayos Sanhedrin Perek 4 Mishnah 2

סנהדרין פרק ד׳ משנה ב׳


In cases of monetary law, and likewise in the cases of ritual impurity and purity, the judges commence expressing their opinions from the greatest of the judges. In cases of capital law, the judges commence issuing their opinions from the side, where the least significant judges sit. All are fit to judge cases of monetary law. But not all are fit to judge cases of capital law; only priests, Levites, and Israelites who are of sufficiently fit lineage to marry their daughters to members of the priesthood are fit to judge cases of capital law.

דִּינֵי הַטֻּמְאוֹת וְהַטָּהֳרוֹת מַתְחִילִין מִן הַגָּדוֹל, דִּינֵי נְפָשׁוֹת מַתְחִילִין מִן הַצָּד. הַכֹּל כְּשֵׁרִין לָדוּן דִּינֵי מָמוֹנוֹת וְאֵין הַכֹּל כְּשֵׁרִין לָדוּן דִּינֵי נְפָשׁוֹת, אֶלָּא כֹהֲנִים, לְוִיִּם, וְיִשְׂרְאֵלִים הַמַּשִּׂיאִין לַכְּהֻנָּה:


מן הצד – from the smallest in wisdom who were sitting on the side, as Scripture states (Exodus 23:2): “…you shall not give perverse testimony/"לא תענה על-רב" in a dispute…” It is written as "רב" [even though in the fuller written version it is pronounced as "ריב" ) – meaning do not pervert testimony of the expert assessor at court to whom questions of law are referred/the distinguished instructing judge and pervert his words, therefore, we do not listen to his words other than at the conclusion [of the proceedings].

הכל כשרים לדון – and even a convert [may judge monetary cases], and he whose mother is from Israel, and an illegitimate person/Mamzer is also fit to judge monetary cases.

ואין הכל כשרים לדון דיני נפשות – As it is written (Exodus 18:22): “…Make it easier for yourself by letting them share the burden with you,” those that are similar to you. Just as Moses our teacher is of distinguished birth/legitimate descent, so to the Jewish court must be of distinguished birth/legitimate descent.

מן הצד. מן הקטנים בחכמה שהיו יושבים בצד. דאמר קרא (שם כ״ג) לא תענה על ריב. וכתיב רב, כלומר לא תענה על מופלא שבבית דין ולנטות מדבריו, לפיכך אין שומעין דבריו אלא בסוף:

הכל כשרים לדון. ואפילו גר. והוא שתהא אמו מישראל. וממזר נמי כשר לדון דיני ממונות:

ואין הכל כשרים לדון דיני נפשות. דכתיב (שמות י״ח:כ״ב) והקל מעליך ונשאו אתך, בדומין לך, מה משה רבינו מיוחס אף בי״ד מיוחסים: