Translation:Mishnah/Seder Nezikin/Tractate Sanhedrin/Chapter 1/2

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Sanhedrin deals primarily with the court. It presents three courts, a Bet Din of 3, a court of 23, and a larger court known as the "sanhedrin" made up of 71 judges in capital cases. The first chapter of Sanhedrin is focused on how many judges are needed for different cases, capital and non-capital.

The second mishnah of this chapter is readable as a continuation of the first and appears as such in some manuscripts.

Hebrew Text[edit]

מכות, בשלשה.
משום רבי ישמעאל אמרו, בעשרים ושלשה.
עבור החדש, בשלשה.
עבור השנה, בשלשה, דברי רבי מאיר.
רבן שמעון בן גמליאל אומר, בשלשה מתחילין, בחמשה נושאין ונותנין, וגומרין בשבעה.
ואם גמרו בשלשה, מעברת.

English Translation[edit]

(Cases concerning) lashings, (are to be judged) with three (judges). (However,) Rabbi Ishmael says, with 23. Intercalating the month with three; intercalating the year, with three, these are the words of Rabbi Meir. Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel says, begin with three, go and give with five, and finish with seven, but if you finish with three, it's still valid.


This is a continuation of cases requiring three judges, however, each of them is disputed. Cases requiring lashes, we are told, require three, but Ishmael says 23. Interestingly, this is a rare case in which the single rabbi's opinion is followed, as later in the Mishnah, various cases that require lashes are explained as needing 23 or even 70 judges. Intercalating the calendar is an important issue regarding the placement of the holidays and the lunar matchup with the solar year. Intercalating the month requires adding another month (known as Adar I - Adar II is the normal Adar usually found in the calendar) in order to offset the missing 11 days in the lunar calendar. Intercalating the year requires adding or subtracting 1-3 days from the year to prevent certain occurrences throughout the year (for example: Yom Kippur - the day of Atonement - cannot land on Friday or Sunday as this would cause problems with the Sabbath the day before). Because of the importance of this issue, Shimon b Gamliel says that though it may start with five, such judgements should add two more judges after the need for intercalation has been demonstrated (go and give), and add two more to proclaim the final decision. If however three judges do the whole thing, it is important enough that it will still be considered valid.