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|Rambam - Sefer HaMitzvos
As Divided for The Daily Learning Schedule
Negative Mitzvot 282, 283;
Positive Mitzvot 229, 228
Negative Mitzvah 282: It is forbidden to give a death sentence by a majority ruling of only one vote
Exodus 23:2 "You shall not follow the majority to do evil"
Sarah's class was planning a Lag Ba'Omer outing and the choice was between miniature golfing and boating.
The class decided to vote where they wanted to go.
The vote was very close; boating won by only one vote!
Sarah wanted to go golfing, but she knew that she must accept the class's decision.
She was disappointed and asked her teacher:
"Could we please vote just one more time on the outing?
We only needed two more votes and the class would have gone golfing."
"Right, Sarah," the teacher answered, "but majority rules.
It's not so bad. Boating is fun and we'll have a great time."
"You know, class," the teacher continued, "in our case we were deciding on where to go for an outing.
"It's an important issue, but I'm sure you all agree it's not a matter of life and death! So one vote is enough to create a majority.
"But imagine a court case when a person's life is at stake!
"If convicted, he would be sentenced to death. Each judge must decide carefully and then, vote on the verdict."
In other court cases, the majority wins, but because this is a life and death case, the Torah does not allow a majority of only one vote to sentence the guilty person to death. Then, a majority of at least two votes is necessary.
Negative Mitzvah 283: A judge may not base his opinion on the opinion of another judge
Exodus 23:2 "You shall not speak in a cause following the many to pervert justice"
Sometimes, we talk about an issue without dealing with the facts.
We just follow the majority or accept an important person's opinion without investigating the matter ourselves.
This cannot be done in court.
One judge may not follow another judge's opinion just because he respects him.
The Torah commands him not to neglect his duty, to investigate the case carefully.
He must reach his own decision and cannot rely on the opinion of anyone else.
Ignoring a No-Parking sign can result in the towing away of his car.
Sometimes, if the driver's action are very irresponsible, he may even have his license revoked.
The Torah teaches us rules and guidelines to live by. We are expected to follow those rules and fulfill the Mitzvot given to us by HaShem.
Not observing the Mitzvot leads to punishment. Various punishments are designated for different transgressions.
Jewish Courts are set up to protect Torah law. The judges administer penalties to transgressors. Certain violations even call for the death penalty.
The Torah values the life of every Jew.
Even if he has committed a grave sin, HaShem does not want him to die but rather to do Teshuvah and be forgiven. Therefore, the Beit Din is given detailed instructions on how to conduct a trial. Every inch of evidence must be checked and rechecked and many detailed laws apply to the court rulings.
Abiding by these laws protects an innocent person from being sentenced to death.
In practice, despite the Torah laws demanding execution for certain transgressions, a Beit Din that doomed a person to death once in seventy years was considered a strict court!
Positive Mitzvah 229: Execution by Stoning
Deuteronomy 22:24 "And you shall stone them with stones that they die"
This Positive Mitzvah concerns the execution of a person by stoning.
Positive Mitzvah 228: Execution by Burning
Leviticus 20:147 "They shall be burnt with fire both he and they"
This Positive Mitzvah concerns the execution of a person by fire.
Don't imagine that you can escape faith. Every science, every system of logic, has its axioms. Reason cannot move one step forward without some assumption upon which to base itself.
The rebbes of Lubavitch had a time put aside to think about their chassidim, each one individually, with all the love and fondness they had for them. As water reflects the face that looks into it, so the heart of man responds to the thoughts another thinks of him. And this way the chassidim and their rebbe are bound together in an eternal bond of love.
From: Bringing Heaven Down to Earth by Tzvi Freeman - firstname.lastname@example.org