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23 June 2003 @ 10:05 pm
Another fascinating bit of Halachah (Jewish law)  

I found this on page 5 (and in the glossary, page 213) of His Brother's Keeper by Yossi Beilin. I had not heard of this before, and my first reaction is very much to agree with Mr. Beilin.

There is much that is beautiful in the Jewish heritage. Each of us can find in this heritage various aspects and values that appeal to us. Some of these are also to be found in other cultures, and a smaller number are indeed unique. One such unique Jewish cultural aspect is a legal ruling that requires that a defendant be set free if the Great Sanhedrin* unanimously sentences him to death! This ruling has fascinated me for years, and I have found no parallel ruling in any other culture, as much as I continue to investigate. On the contrary, in societies with jury systems, efforts are made to attain full agreement among jury members, and such a consensus is required for carrying out the death penalty. The earlier Jewish idea, that unanimity may suggest that something has run afoul, speaks much more to me than the idea that consensus assures a correct verdict.

*Sanhedrin A body of seventy-one sages who served as the supreme religious court for the Jews living in the Land of Israel from the sixth century B.C.E. through the first century of the Common Era.

Current Mood: contemplative
Current Music: Corelli, Violin Sonatas, Op.5; Andrew Manze, violin, Richard Egarr, harpsichord
A Wandering Hobbit: mandelbrotredbird on June 23rd, 2003 08:21 pm (UTC)
That is absolutely beautiful. Thank you.
Fred A Levy Haskell: Fredcritter Mark IV by Reed Wallerfredcritter on June 25th, 2003 11:16 am (UTC)
You're quite welcome. Now that I've thought about it a bit, I wonder just how applicable this is to non-Jewish peoples. I mean, you know the old saying: "Two Jews, three opinions." If 71 Jewish sages totally agreed on anything I would indeed be sure "the fix is in," but would the same be quite as true of others? Just a thought....
Coyote's getting bolderruneshower on June 23rd, 2003 10:23 pm (UTC)
Very interesting! Have you read Rabbi Joseph Telushkin's book "Jewish Literacy"? It's full of fascinating information of that sort.
Fred A Levy Haskell: Fredcritter Mark IV by Reed Wallerfredcritter on June 25th, 2003 11:11 am (UTC)
I believe I've seen it but I haven't bought or read it. I've been working on my "Jewish Literacy" piecemeal and the long way -- wandering through bookstores (actual and virtual) looking at the shelves, inspecting bibliographies and suggested reading lists in books I enjoy ... stuff like that. I take it you recommend Rabbi Telushkin's book?
Coyote's getting bolderruneshower on June 25th, 2003 11:32 am (UTC)
Yes indeed! I consider it the perfect Jewish primer. Useful for anyone who wants to understand not just holidays and dietary laws (which are in there too), but the philosophy and ethical basis of Judaism. I've wished that various of my non-Jewish friends would read it, too.
Peter Hentges: sittingjbru on June 24th, 2003 02:19 am (UTC)
Very cool. That's a nifty piece of cultural esoterica that would be perfect in a SF novel somewhere. (Oh, no ... now my head is playing "Jews in Space!")