Sunday, June 10, 2012

Rebbi's humility -- nafka minah l'halacha

Last week I mentioned the gemara (Sota 49) where Rav Yosef said that Rebbi was not the last anav, as he embodied the trait of humility as much as Rebbi did.  At first glance the discussion seems to simply a matter of who has which midos tovos, but there is actually a little more to it than that.  The gemara elsewhere (Sanhedrin 36) writes that one difference between capital cases and monetary cases is that when it comes to judging capital cases, dinei nefashos, the vote among the judges started with the lowest ranking member of the court.  If the senior judge voted first it might prejudice the vote and prevent anyone else from disagreeing, and we want to give the defendant every edge possible when his life hangs in the balance.  Not so in cases of dinei mamonos, where the senior judge did give his opinion first.  However, the gemara tells us that in Rebbi's court even in cases of dinei mamonos the vote always started from the side, from one of the other lesser judges, and never from Rebbi.  Rashi writes that due to his extreme humility Rebbi never wanted to go first.  I would like to suggest that perhaps in Rav Yosef's beis din, given that he claimed to possess as much humility as Rebbi, the vote never started with him either.


  1. Can a blind person be a dayan?

    1. seems to be a machlokes at least with respect to mamonos on 34b in Sanhedrin. How did R' Yosef hold, I don't know.

  2. Anonymous8:52 PM

    what if "the senior judge" in a capital case would rule 'innocent'?
    wouldn't one then Want a Prejudiced vote that gives the defendant
    "every edge possible"? (or is the superior judge more likely than not
    to rule 'guilty'? or wouldn't he be the most adept at finding outs for
    the defendant, so that execution might never occur [Makkos 7a]?) ...why
    didn't Moshe, "ha-ish anav me'od", himself conceive of/institure Yisro's
    judicial scheme, to avoid the concentration of judgeship in his own person?