“And when you reach”(Dt.17:9).
Including the court at Yavneh2
[as the successor of the Sanhedrin3]. .
“The levitical Priest” (Dt.17:9)—
it is a requirement that the court
include Priests and Levites.
Is it possible to say that
in the absence of a Priest or Levite,
the court shall be disqualified?
The Teaching states:
“Or to the justice” (Dt.17:9)—
even though there is no Priest or Levite,
the court is an appropriate legal venue.
“Who shall preside in those days” (Dt.17:9).
Said R. Yose the Galilean:
Now, can you imagine that
you would go to a justice
who is not alive in those days?
The point is, select a justice
who is eminently qualified
among his contemporaries.
If he had been kin [to the litigants],
but then severed the connection [e.g., through death],
he is qualified [to sit in judgment of them].
And in this connection,
“Do not wonder why the old days were better than today,
for such a question does not proceed from wisdom” (Ecc.7:10).4
“And you shall inquire, and they shall declare to you
the word of judgment” (Dt.17:9)—
in accord with every detail of legal procedure.
- H:190; JN2:19-20.
- Yavneh, a coastal town on the Mediterranean, was a major center of rabbinic learning in the latter decades of the first century and the first third of the second century CE.
- The Yavnean court was not equal in all respects to the ancient Sanhedrin that presided over the Chamber of Carved Stone. For example, it could not administer capital punishment (M. San.11:4). Cf. Pisqa’ 154.1.
- Cf. T. RH. 2:3 and Pisqa’ 190.3.