daf bit: Sanhedrin 2

Jul. 20th, 2017 08:55 am
cellio: (talmud)
[personal profile] cellio

We begin a new tractate, Sanhedrin, which discusses court cases. Unlike in many secular court systems, the judges are active participants (they're the ones who question witnesses) and the ultimate decisors; there are no lawyers or juries.

A court is made up of some number of judges, depending on the type of case (at least 3, sometimes 23 or 71 or occasionally other numbers). Here are some of the cases listed in the first mishna of the tractate (this is not a complete list):

  • Various types of monetary damages are judged by three.

  • Rape, seduction, and libel require three according to R' Meir, but the sages say libel requires 23 because it could involve a capital charge. (A note suggests this comes up with adultery but doesn't connect the dots. Also, rape and seduction can involve capital charges too, so I don't know why they only call out libel. Perhaps it's addressed later in the g'mara.)

  • Capital cases, as implied in the previous bullet, require 23.

  • Cases for which the punishment is flogging require three, but according to R' Yishmael, 23.

  • Calendar decisions (witnessing the new moon, adding a leap month) are judged by three, though R' Shimon b. Gamaliel describes a more complicated scheme.

  • A tribe charged with idolatry, a false prophet, and a high priest can be tried only by a court of 71.

  • The following require 71: authorizing wars of free choice, adding to the temple courtyards, establishing small sanhedrins (of 23) for the tribes, condemning a city, condemning frontier towns.

Why is a great sanhedrin 71? Because Moshe was commanded to gather 70 (other) men. And why is a small sanhedrin 23? It's complicated. (I don't completely follow their math, sorry.)

This is all from 2a. The mishna continues onto 2b before the g'mara starts there.

(Today's daf is 4.)

almost helpful

Jul. 18th, 2017 08:52 pm
cellio: (house)
[personal profile] cellio

My (Android) phone alerts me when traffic is bad near me. This can be handy at the end of the day because I work downtown. Except... it's telling me about traffic on roads I don't use to get home. Sure, there's spillover so it's not unhelpful, but it'd be great if I could tell it -- maybe by gesturing on a map -- what paths I care about, so it could tell me about those ones.

Does anybody reading this know of an app that does that, or a way to get Google Maps to do it? It needs to be fire and forget; I don't want to have to open the map app to look for red lines on it.

It feels like all the information is already there, if only my phone were making use of it.

(This would also let me know before I leave in the morning if traffic is still bad at the other end. At that time I don't really need extra information about traffic near my house; I need it 3-5 miles away.)

embedded geek

Jul. 13th, 2017 09:58 pm
cellio: (B5)
[personal profile] cellio

A friend shared this with me earlier today and I literally laughed out loud:


The second-last column is about a famous Zulu leader. The last one is about walled cities under fire.

"Shaka, when the walls fell" is a key phrase in a rather unusual episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, named "Darmok". The famous universal translator doesn't work when the Enterprise encounters these particular aliens, because their language doesn't work at the word level. They speak in what the crew calls metaphor. I've seen discussions of this over the years ("could that really work?" "improbable, because..."). The post about the Jeopardy episode links to this Atlantic article about the episode that argues that we're looking at it all wrong. I found it an interesting read.

Also, Atlantic does in-depth articles about episodes of SF shows? Who knew?

(I don't have a Trek icon. Here, have one from one of my favorite shows instead.)

daf bit: Bava Batra 172

Jul. 13th, 2017 08:56 am
cellio: (talmud)
[personal profile] cellio

The mishna teaches: if there are two men in the same town and both are named Yosef ben Shimon, neither may produce a bond of indebtedness against the other. Further, nobody else may produce a bond of indebtedness against either of them. And if a man finds among his possessions a quittance showing that the bond of Yosef ben Shimon was discharged, it applies to both of them. So how should they proceed, since we want Yosef to be able to borrow money? When writing the documents (both bond and quittance) they should write the names to the third generation (e.g. Yosef ben Shimon ben Reuven). If their names are the same to the third generation, then they should add a description (e.g. Yosef ben Shimon ben Reuven, the tall one). And if those are like too but one is a kohein or levi and the other not, they should indicate that. (I can't tell if they keep the description in this last case.) (172a)

Neither the mishna nor the g'mara here addresses the case where Yosef ben Shimon was unique and then another one moved into town.

I assume we're talking about small towns here, where it's not implausible for names to be unique and for people to know that. I'm a little surprised that a description (which could be subjective or mutable) has higher precedence than kohein/levi status (which is neither).

When I shared this at minyan this morning, somebody told me that one of her family members has a last name that means "limp" (as in "has a", not as in "floppy"), which seemed peculiar to her. She said she was going to go teach him this mishna.


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