Sunday, February 24, 2008

A contradiction in the legal thought of R Akiva?

ב"ק פ' החובל צ: והכה איש את רעהו באבן או באגרוף שמעון התימני אומר מה אגרוף מיוחד שמסור לעדה ולעדים אף כל שמסור לעדה ולעדים פרט לשיצתה מתחת יד העדים אמר לו ר"ע וכי בפני ב"ד הכהו שיודעין כמה הכהו ועל מה הכהו אם על שוקו או ציפר נפשו ועוד הרי שדחף את חבירו מראש הגג או מראש הבירה ומת בית דין הולכין אצל בירה או בירה הולכת אצל בית דין ועוד אם נפלה חוזר ובונה אלא מה אגרוף מיוחד שהוא מסור לעדים אף כל שהוא מסור לעדים פרט לכשיצתה אבן מתחת ידו של מכה פטור
מכות ז. ר"ט ור"ע אומר אלו היינו בסנהדרין לא נהרג אדם מעולם ומפ' בגמ'-ראיתם טריפה הרג או שלם הרג
In the second source R' Akiva insists on an impossible piece of evidence in order to aquit the defendant. In the first, R' Akiva rejects Shimon HaTeimani's exegesis precisely because it requires an unreasonable piece of evidence. How can we reconcile these two apparenly contradictory stances of R' Akiva?


Bill Selliger said...

See Louis Finkelstein's "Akiba", page 184. A good maskil like you should have access to that book, even if you do live in a shtetl. (Let me know if you can't get it and I will type out the devarim hanogi'im l'ha'inyin for you.)

Wolf2191 said...

Please do. Thanks

Bill Selliger said...

Emphasis is mine. Only a portion of the footnotes have been included in parenthesis:

Habits of kindness, designed originally to attract custom, gradually soften the soul of the trader. Penal leniency was characteristic of the urban groups from the very beginning. The Hasideans, the Pharisees, and the Hillelites, were all known for their tenderness even to transgressors (Sifre Deut. 357, 150a). Akiba, following the precedent set by earlier teachers of his class, tended to become extreme in his aversion to penal severity, maintaining, for example, that the false witness could not be punished in either civil or criminal procedure if he confessed his guilt (B. Gittin 67a).

When the Sanhedrin had to judge a capital case, its members were forbidden to taste food or drink during the whole day; he says (Mishna Megilla 1.4 ff). If the members of a court are witnesses to a crime, they cannot be judges; they can appear only as witnesses and prosecutors before the court.

He declined, however, to accept the ruling of Simeon the Tamanite, which would have reduced the whole of Jewish criminal procedure to a mockery . Simeon insisted that when a man was on trial for murder the weapon used must be produced in court. Suppose, Akiba argued, the murdered person was not struck with a weapon at all, but was thrown from a building; must the building be brought into the court?

Ad kan lishono hatahor.

Wolf2191 said...

Thanks! I can't imagine how he missed the gemara in Makkos I pointed to but it clearly refutes his "sevarah". Obviously the gemara in sanhedrin is no greater a "mockery" then the sugya in makkos.

Bill Selliger said...

I disagree. Capital cases are different than monetary cases. I think that was his point. Without choshen mishpat, society can not function. Ish kol hayahsar b'einav ya'aseh. Mah she'ein kein without onshei misa. In fact, your pal R' Reuvein Margolious asks what the chidush of R' Akiva in Makkos is anyway, as we will incarcerate the rotzeach indefinitely even if we don't kill him (al pi the gemara in Sanhedrin, see Nitzotzei Or). Harei lifanecha that onshei misa are not vital to a functioning society.

והוי מתחמם כנגד אורן של חכמים והוי זהיר בגחלתן שלא תכוה

Don't mach avek Louis Finkelstein. He was a world class talmid chacham. Not yeshivish (to say the least), but world class.

Wolf2191 said...

The case in Sanhedrin and the case in Makkos both involve capitol punishment so your distinction is irrelevant.

I know to little about Finkelstein to pass judgement. The attitude that he writes with is annoying.

"Habits of kindness, designed originally to attract custom, gradually soften the soul of the trader.."



Bill Selliger said...

(כתובות דף לב עמוד א)

חובל בחבירו דאיכא ממון ומלקות - ממונא משלם, מילקא לא לקי

Wolf2191 said...

when a man was on trial for murder

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