Over the last month, as this column has been on hiatus, Daf Yomi readers have explored some of the most dramatic and challenging material in the Talmud so far. That is because Chapters Four, Five, and Six of Tractate Sanhedrin focus on the most extreme punishment of which any legal system is capable: the death penalty. In setting out the justification, methods, and limits of capital punishment in Jewish law, the Rabbis find themselves facing some of the most fundamental ethical questions. What is a human life worth? What are our responsibilities to one another? Is it ever right to take satisfaction in the death of a fellow human being?As Mr. Kirsch notes in the essay, the rabbinic discussions of capital punishment are entirely theoretical. Rabbinic courts did not have the authority to impose the death penalty.
Philologos has a recent essay on the saying "Whoever Saves a Life Saves the World," which I noted here. The phrase "from Israel" may be a secondary addition.
Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.
Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.