Translation:Shulchan Aruch/Choshen Mishpat/2

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Paragraph 1[edit]

Every beit din, even if they weren't ordained in the land of Israel, if they see that the nation is engulfed by sins, (and that it is a need of the time) (Tur), they can judge both [life-and-]death and monetary [cases] and all matters of punishments, and even if there isn't complete testimony. And if he refuses to listen (lit. is mute), they let him be handed over to idol worshipers. (And they have the power to make his money ownerless and to destroy it according to what they see (to guard against the rebelliousness of the generation) (Tur in the name of the Rambam, Sanhedrin chapter 24). And all of the [court's] actions should be for the sake of Heaven. And [this allowance] applies specifically to a leader of the generation or good people of the city that are under the beit din's supervision. Note: And similarly, we act like this in every place, that the good people of the city in their city are like the highest beit din, lashing and punishing, and their [decision that something is] ownerless [is in effect and it is considered] ownerless, even though there are those who argue and reason that the good people of the city don't have this power, but only to enlighten the congregation about what were the traditions from oldest times or what [traditions] were accepted by everyone, but they are not permitted to change a matter [whose changing would be] beneficial to some and causing loss to some or that would ? money that is not accepted by everyone (Mordechai, last Perek "HaGozel") — nevertheless, they go according to the custom of their city, and all the more so if they had accepted anything on themselves, so it appears to me (and see Yoreh Deah section 228 for laws of decrees and stringencies of a congregation). The later authorities have written in their responsa that someone who is obligated for lashes should give 40 gold [coins] in place of the lashes (Mahariz section 147 and Maharam of Rizbork), and they didn't say the ruling, but rather ruled like this because of the [needs of the] time, but it is in the power of the beit din to lash him or take money according to what [the need] seems to be in their eyes, depending on the matter, beyond the fence of the law (and see later at the beginning of section 425 in the note).