Page:Guideforperplexed.djvu/414

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THE precepts of the sixth class comprise the different ways of punishing the sinner. Their general usefulness is known and has also been mentioned by us. I will here describe them one by one and point out their nature in detail.

The punishment of him who sins against his neighbour consists in the general rule that there shall be done unto him exactly as he has done: if he injured any one personally, he must suffer personally; if he damaged the property of his neighbour, he shall be punished by loss of property. But the person whose property has been damaged should be ready to resign his claim totally or partly. Only to the murderer we must not be lenient because of the greatness of his crime; and no ransom must be accepted of him. "And the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein but by the blood of him that shed it" (Num. xxxi. 33). Hence even if the murdered person continued to live after the attack for an hour or for days, was able to speak and possessed complete consciousness, and if he himself said, "Pardon my murderer, I have pardoned and forgiven him," he must not be obeyed. We must take life for life, and estimate equally the life of a child and that of a grown-up person, of a slave and of a freeman, of a wise man and of a fool. For there is no greater sin than this. And he who mutilated a limb of his neighbour, must himself lose a limb. "As he hath caused a blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him again" (Lev. xxiv. 20). You must not raise an objection from our practice of imposing a fine in such cases. For we have proposed to ourselves to give here the reason for the precepts mentioned in the Law, and not for that which is stated in the Talmud. I have, however, an explanation for the interpretation given in the Talmud, but it will be communicated vivâ voce. Injuries that cannot be reproduced exactly in another person, are compensated for by payment; "only he shall pay for the loss of his time, and shall cause him to be thoroughly healed" (Exod. xxi. 19). If any one damaged the property of another, he must lose exactly as much of his own property: "whom the judges shall condemn he shall pay double unto his neighbour" (Exod. xxii. 8); namely, he restores that which he has taken, and adds just as much [to it] of his own property. It is right that the more frequent transgressions and sins are, and the greater the probability of their being committed, the more severe must their punishment be, in order to deter people from committing them; but sins which are of rare occurrence require a less severe punishment. For this reason one who stole a sheep had to pay twice as much as for other goods, i.e., four times the value of the stolen object: but this is only the case when he has disposed of it by sale or slaughter (Exod. xxi. 37). As a rule, the sheep remained always in the fields, and could therefore not be watched so carefully as things kept in town. The thief of a sheep used therefore to sell it quickly before the theft became known, or to slaughter it and thereby change its appearance. As such theft happened frequently, the punishment was severe. The compensation for a stolen ox is still greater by one-fourth, because the theft is easily carried out. The sheep keep together when they feed, and can be watched by the shepherd, so that theft when it is committed can only take place by night. But oxen when feeding are very widely scattered, as