Fred A Levy Haskell (fredcritter) wrote,
Fred A Levy Haskell

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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.


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