The Babylonian Talmud: Tract Sanhedrin
Section Jurisprudence (Damages)
translated by Michael L. Rodkinson
BOSTON, THE TALMUD SOCIETY
OUTLINE: The subject matter of Tract Sanhedrin is principally crime and punishment. One of the most notable discussions in this book is the debate about the ‘stubborn and rebellious son’ (Chapter VIII). The rabbis openly express scepticism that a son who disrespects his father in a particular way should be put to death. Out of this quibble over an obscure ‘worst case scenario’ we see the emergence of a key principle of jurisprudence: the execution of divine law must be tempered by human mercy. This book also wanders far and wide, dispensing wisdom on such topics as the location of the lost tribes, what the windows on Noah’s ark were made of, and when the Messiah is due to arrive.