“As for the man who acts in defiance” (Dt.17:12).
This refers to one who
does not submit to the court
and insists upon his teaching.
“Who acts” (Dt.17;12)–
he is held liable for an actual act,
but he is not held liable for merely teaching.
“Who acts defiantly” (Dt.17:12)—
he is held liable for teaching defiantly,
but he is not held liable for inadvertent error.
“By not listening” (Dt.17:12)—
but not one who violates a teaching heard at second-hand.
“To the Priest who stands there in service” (Dt.17:12)—
this indicates that proper service
is performed only while standing.
Therefore, if he served while seated,
his service is disqualified. 2
“Or to the justice” (Dt.17:12)—
as we have taught:3
even though a court has no Priests or Levites,
it is qualified.
“Then that man shall die” (Dt.17:12)—
Where the mode of execution is unspecified in the Torah,
we assume strangulation.4
“That man” (Dt.17:12)—
but not if he is coerced
[into apostasy by a threat to his life],
nor one who acted unintentionally,
nor one who was misled [out of ignorance].5
“And you must expunge this evil from Israel” (Dt.17:12)—
that is, expunge the evil-doers from Israel.6
- H:190; JN2:21-22
- Sifre Nu. 39; cf. Pisqa’ 167.1.
- At Pisqa’ 153.1.
- //Mech ISH, neziqin, 5, s.v., khol mitah ha’amurah stam. Cf, Pisqa’ 273.1.
- Cf. Pisqa’ 149.4.
- This mandate for expunging evil is appears commonly in Sifre, attached to several verses in Deuteronomy. Cf. Pisqa’ot 140.1 (Dt.22:1) and Dt.22:2 (141.1).