Pisqa’ 148

Pisqa’ 1481


“When there is found among you” (Dt.17:2)—

with [the confirmation of] witnesses.

Inferring from what is said elsewhere:

“By the testimony of two witnesses,

or by the testimony of three witnesses

shall the matter be established” (Dt. 19:15),2

this verse (Dt.17:2) creates an interpretive family3

namely, wherever [the passive verb], is found, appears

[in the context of a capital offense],

we interpret this to require two or three witnesses

[in order to convene a trial].4


“In your midst, in one of your gates” (Dt.17:2).

What does the Teaching mean?

Since it is said:

“And you shall bring out to your gates that man or this woman,

who has committed this wicked deed” (Dt.17:5),

shall I infer that they are brought out to

the place at which they were discovered sinning

or to the place at which they are to be judged?

The Teaching states:

Your gates” (Dt.17:2) and “your gates” (Dt.17:5).

It thus permits the following exegetical inference:5

just as your gates, elsewhere (Dt.17:5)

refers to the place at which they were found,

and not to the place at which they are to be judged,

so, too, your gates, here (Dt.17:2)

refers to the place at which they were found,

and not to the place at which they are to be judged.6


Since we find that

those led astray to serve in a foreign cult
are [executed] by the sword,

is it possible to say that the same applies to

those who led them astray?

The Teaching states:

“And you shall bring out that man or this woman . . .

and pelt them with stones till they die” (Dt.17:5).

Since we find that

they do not declare a city led astray

on the testimony of one [male] witness,

or on the testimony of a woman,

is it possible to say that

[individuals who do so] are exempt?

The Teaching states:

“A man or a woman” (Dt.17:2)—

[individuals who lead a city astray are culpable].


“Who shall commit this evil before the eyes of HASHEM your God,

to transgress His Covenant” (Dt.17:2)—

[such a person]

is known to others by five epithets:

Condemned; Abominable; Hateful; Disgusting; and Perverse.7


And the All-Present knows him by five epithets:

Wicked; Covenant-breaker; Blasphemer; Enrager; and Rebel.


And he causes five catastrophes:

He pollutes the Land; he profanes the Name; he repels the Presence;

he causes Israel to fall by the sword, and he drives them off their Land.8


I might infer only that

[the leader astray] alone causes these catstrophes.

On what basis do I know that

they are also caused by

one who actually serves a foreign cult?

The Teaching states:

“And he goes and serves other gods” (Dt.17:3).

On what basis do I know that

they are also caused by

one who only prostrates himself?

The Teaching states:

“And he prostrates himself to them.

and to the sun, or to the moon,

or to any of the Heavenly retinue,

about which I have not commanded you” (Dt.17:3)

“To serve them” (Dt.28:14)—

this clause includes [within the prohibition],

one who associates

[the God of Israel with the name of a foreign god].


R. Yose the Galilean says:

Inferring from what is stated:

“Those whom HASHEM your God has apportioned to all the peoples” (Dt.4:19)—

is it possible to say that

He apportioned them to the nations [for worship]?
The Teaching states:

“Gods which they had never known,

and in which they had no share” (Dt.29:25)—

[they— the nations—were not given their own gods to adore].


R. Yose says:

My son, Elazar, teaches three words about

[the Supernal One’s tolerance of the foreign cult]:

“They built altars to Baal . . .which I did not command” (Jer.19:5)—

that is, in the Torah;

“Of which I did not utter” (Jer.19:5)—

that is, in the Ten Utterances;

“And which never entered my mind” (Jer.19:5)—

that a person might offer his child upon an altar!

Others teach:

“Which I did not command” (Jer.19:5)—

referring to the sacrifice of Jephthah.9

“Of which I did not utter” (Jer.19:5)—

referring to Mesha, King of Moab.10

“And which never entered my mind” (Jer.19:5)—

that Abraham might offer his child upon an altar!

  1. H:186-187; JN2:10-12
  2. Cf. Dt.17:6 , which requires “two or three witnesses” to refute conspiratorial testimony. By contrast, Dt.19:15 cites the same rule of testimony in cases of blasphemy. See Sifre, Pisqa’ 188.
  3. Heb: binyan ‘av: literally, “a construction from a father.” That is, “an interpretive context governed by a dominant term.”.
  4. On the difficulties of this passage, see H:450, Pisqa’ 148, n.1.
  5. Heb: gezeirah shawa; literally: “a similarity of meaning,” or, more expansively, “the meaning of the term in the present context is established from its meaning in a different context.”
  6. Cf. Pisqa’ 149.4
  7. // Sifra, qedoshim, per.4:1.Cf. Pisqa’ 226.3
  8. // Sifra, qedoshim, per.4:1
  9. Who misunderstood the laws of vows to required him to sacrifice his daughter in satisfaction of his vow (see Jud.29:11-40).
  10. Who sacrificed his own son (2Ki.3:27).