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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Horayoth
IF THE COURT RULED [ERRONEOUSLY] AND SEVEN TRIBES OR A MAJORITY OF THEM2 ACTED ACCORDINGLY, A BULLOCK IS TO BE BROUGHT; AND IN RESPECT OF IDOLATRY, A BULLOCK AND A GOAT MUST BE BROUGHT; THESE ARE THE WORDS OF R. MEIR. R. JUDAH SAID: THE SEVEN TRIBES WHO SINNED MUST BRING SEVEN BULLOCKS AND THE REST OF THE TRIBES WHO DID NOT SIN MOST BRING BULLOCK[S]3 (IN THEIR ACCOUNT, BECAUSE EVEN THOSE WHO DID NOT SIN MUST BRING OFFERINGS ON ACCOUNT OF THESE WHO SINNED. R. SIMEON SAID: EIGHT BULLOCKS; AND IN RESPECT OF IDOLATRY, EIGHT BULLOCKS AND EIGHT GOATS, A BULLOCK AND A GOAT FOR EVERY TRIBE AND A BULLOCK AND A GOAT FOR THE COURT.
IF THE COURT OF ONE OF THE TRIBES RULED [ERRONEOUSLY], AND THAT TRIBE ACTED ACCORDINGLY, THAT TRIBE IS LIABLE, BUT ALL THE OTHER TRIBES ARE EXEMPT; THESE ARE THE WORDS OF R. JUDAH. BUT THE SAGES SAY: NO LIABILITY IS INCURRED EXCEPT AS A RESULT OF THE RULINGS OF THE SUPREME COURT ONLY; FOR IT IS STATED, AND IF THE WHOLE CONGREGATION OF ISRAEL SHALL ERR,4 BUT NOT THE CONGREGATION OF ONE PARTICULAR TRIBE.
GEMARA. Our Rabbis taught: It might have been assumed that, if it had come to the knowledge of the court that a ruling of theirs was erroneous and they had forgotten what the ruling was,5 they are liable,6 hence it was expressly stated, When the salt was known,7 [implying] not, however, when only those who sinned were known. Wherein they have sinned8 [implies that] if two tribes had sinned they must bring two bullocks,9 if three had sinned three have to be brought. But is it not possible that this only means10 that if two individuals had sinned they bring two bullocks, if three had sinned they bring three? It was expressly stated. The congregation,11 [showing that] only a congregation is liable, and that every congregation12 is liable. How? If two tribes sinned they bring two bullocks, if seven sinned they bring seven, and also the other tribes who did not sin bring each a bullock on account of the former,13 because even those who bad not sinned must bring sin offerings, because of those who sinned — Hence Scripture stated, 'congregation', in order to impose the obligation upon every congregation: these are the words of R. Judah. R. Simeon said: If seven tribes sinned they bring seven bullocks, and the court also brings a bullock on account of them, for 'congregation' was mentioned below14 and 'congregation' was also mentioned above,15 as 'congregation' that was mentioned above means both the court and the congregation16 so 'congregation' that was mentioned below means both the court and the congregation. R. Meir said: If seven tribes had sinned the court brings a bullock on their account but they themselves are exempt, for 'congregation' was mentioned below14 and 'congregation' was mentioned above,15 as 'congregation' that was mentioned above refers to the court and not to the people17 so 'congregation' that was mentioned below refers to the court and not to the people. R. Simeon b. Eleazar said in his name: If six tribes had sinned and they18 represent a majority of the people, or seven, although they18 do not represent a majority of the people, they bring a bullock.
The Master said: 'When the sin was known [implying], not, however, when only those who sinned were known'. Who is the author of this statement? — Rab Judah said in the name of Rab (others say Raba): It is not19 R. Eliezer, for it was taught:20 R. Eliezer said,21 'Whatever your assumption [he must bring a sin offering], for if\ he ate the suet he is liable and if he ate the nothar22 be is also liable.23 R. Ashi said: It may even be said to be R. Eliezer, for here the case is different since it is written, [When the sin] wherein they have sinned [is known]24 But surely, there25 also it is written, [If he sin], wherein he has sinned, [be known to him]!26 — That27 is required for the purpose of excluding the case of one who performed a forbidden act while his mention was to perform a different act.28
What is the reason of R. Judah? — He holds the opinion that 'congregation' was written four times: 'Congregation', the congregation congregation, the congregation.29 One of these is to indicate \hat the obligation bring offering falls on every congregation;30 one is to indicate that the ruling depends on the court and the action depends on the congregation;31 one is to indicate attraction,32 and one has reference to a tribe that acted in accordance with the [erroneous] ruling of its own court.33
And R. Simeon maintains that 'congregation' was written three times: The congregation, congregation, the congregation34 because the expression, from the eyes of the congregation is the usual form of Biblical speech — as people say, 'from the eyes of so and so',35 one of these36 is to indicate that the obligation to bring an offering falls on every congregation.37 and the other two [are required for the following deduction]: 'Congregation' was mentioned below and 'congregation' was mentioned above, as below the reference is to the court together with the congregation, so here also it refers to the court together with the congregation.38
And R. Meir makes no exposition on congregation, the congregation. Consequently, congregation was written only twice, and both are required [for the following deduction]: 'congregation was mentioned below and 'congregation' was mentioned above, as below the reference is to the court and not to the congregation, so here also the reference is to the court and not to the congregation.38
As to R. Simeon b. Eleazar, what is his reason? It is written, And it shall be it from the eyes of the congregation39 which clearly refers to a minority, since it is written, from the eyes,40 but it is also written, For in the respect of all the people it was done in error,41 which indicates that the reference is only to42 a majority and not to a minority; how', then, [are these contradictory deductions to be reconciled]? — If the sin was committed by six tribes who represent the majority of the congregation or by seven, even though they do not comprise a majority of the congregation, they are liable.
And whence does R. Simeon and R. Meir1 infer that the ruling depends on the court and the action depends on the con gregation?2 — Abaye replied: For Scripture stated, And it shall be it from the eyes of the congregation the sin be committed unwittingly.3 Raba said: [It is inferred] from, In respect of all the people it was done in error.4 And [both texts are] required. For if the All Merciful had written only', And it shall be if from the eyes of the congregation the sin be committed unwittingly it might have been assumed that the reference5 is even to a minority', hence it was written, In respect of all the people it was done in error. And if only In respect of all the people it was done in error had been written, It might have been assumed [that there is no obligation]6 unless the court7 committed the sin together with the majority, hence it was written. Did it shall be if from the eyes of the congregation the sin be committed unwittingly. But, surely, both these texts speak rather of8 idolatry! — From the eyes9 is inferred from [the other expression] from the eyes.10
IF THE COURT OF ONE etc, The question was raised: Where one tribe acted on the [erroneous] ruling of the supreme court, do the other tribes, according to the view of R. Judah, bring sin offerings] or not? Is it assumed that only where seven tribes [have sinned] do the other tribes bring [sin offerings] together with them because they11 constitute a majority, but not where one tribe12 [only had sinned] since it does not constitute a majority, or is there, perhaps, no difference? — Come and hear! 'What do they bring? One bullock. R. Simeon said two bullocks.' Now, under what circumstances?13 If it be suggested where seven tribes had sinned. [it might be retorted.] R. Simeon, 'surely, requires [in such a ease] eight [bullocks]!14 If, again,15 [it be suggested,] where one tribe had sinned, [it may be asked] under what authority?16 If on the ruling of its own court, R. Simeon, surely, does not in such a case admit liability!17 Consequently it must be a case18 of acting under the ruling of the supreme court; who, however, is the first Tanna?19 If it be suggested R. Meir, be, [it may be asked] surely requires a majority;20 consequently,21 it must be R. Judah!22 — It may be argued23 that here it is a case24 where a sin was committed by six tribes who constituted a majority of the congregation and it25 is the view of R. Simeon b. Eleazar. For it was taught: R. Simeon b. Eleasar said in his name, 'Six [tribes] who form a majority of the congregation or seven [tribes], although they do not form a majority of the congregation who committed a sin, bring a bullock.26
Come and hear: R. Judah said, 'If a tribe acted on the ruling of its own court, that tribe is liable27 and all the other tribes are exempt: if, [however, it acted] on the ruling of the supreme court. even the other tribes are liable. This proves it.
Said R. Ashi: This may also be deduced from our Mishnah, for it was taught, AND THAT TRIBE ACTED ACCORDINGLY, THAT TRIBE IS LIABLE, BUT ALL THE OTHER TRIBES ARE EXEMPT; what need was there for the statement, THE OTHER TRIBES ARE EXEMPT when28 it was stated, THAT TRIBE IS LIABLE? Surely, since it was stated, THAT TRIBE IS LIABLE it is obvious that THE OTHER TRIBES ARE EXEMPT! This, consequently, teaches us the following: That only when [one tribe acted] on the ruling of its own court are the other tribes exempt, but if on the ruling of the supreme court even the other tribes are liable — This proves it.
The question was raised: Does one tribe who acted on the [erroneous] ruling of the supreme court bring [a sin offering],29 according to R. Simeon, or not?30 Come and hear! 'What do they bring? One bullock. R. Simeon said: Two bullocks.' Now, under what circumstances? If it be suggested that seven tribes had sinned, [it may be retorted that in such a case not] two bullocks but eight bullocks are required! Consequently it must be a case where one tribe had sinned, but, [it may be asked,] under what authority?31 If on the ruling of its own court, R. Simeon surely does not in such a case admit liability! Consequently, [it must be a case of a tribe's acting] under the ruling of the supreme court!32 Who, however, is to be understood to be the first Tanna? If [it be suggested] R. Meir, be, surely, [it may be asked,] requires a majority!33 If R. Judah. [surely he holds] that other tribes also must bring;34 consequently, it must be [the view of] R. Simeon b. Eleazar, and as it has been taught.35
Come and hear: But the Sages say. 'One is never liable except when acting on a ruling of the supreme court.'36 Now, who are the Sages? If it be suggested R. Meir, surely. [it may be retorted,] be requires a majority!33 Consequently it must represent the view of R. Simeon. This proves it.
And whence do R. Judah and R. Simeon infer that one tribe is called 'congregation'? — It may be replied: Because it is written, And Jeheshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord before the new court.37 What is meant by 'new'? — R. Johanan replied: They issued new regulations ordaining that an unclean man who bathed during the day38 must not enter the camp of the Levites.
R. Aha b. Jacob demurred: How [does this prove it]?39 Is it not possible that Jerusalem is different since Benjamin also was there!40 — But, said R. Aha b. Jacob, because it is written, And he said unto me: Behold, I will make thee fruitful and multiply thee, and I will make of thee a congregation of Peoples;41 but who was born to him at that time? Only Benjamin! Consequently it must be concluded that the All Merciful said thus: Another congregation will now be born unto thee.42
Said R. Shaba to R. Kahana: Is it not possible that the All Merciful said to him43 thus: 'When Benjamin will have been born to you there will be twelve tribes so that you might then be called congregation'? — He said to him: Would twelve tribes, then, be called 'congregation' while eleven tribes would not be called 'congregation'.44
It was taught, R. Simeon said: What need was there for stating. And a second young bullock shalt thou take for a sin offering45 If it is to teach that there were two, surely, [it may be pointed out] it has already been stated, And he shall offer the one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering, unto the Lord!46 But [the purpose of the statement is this]: As it might have been assumed that this sin offering was to be eaten by the Levites47 it was expressly stated, And a second young bullock,48 [implying that it is] second to the burnt offering; as the burnt offering must not be eaten
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