RaYBaSH’s Ponderings of the Perkei Avot
By: Yehudah ben Shomeyr
“His son, Rabbi Ishmael would say: One who refrains from serving as a judge avoids hatred, thievery and false oaths. One who frivolously hands down rulings is a fool, wicked and arrogant.
He would also say: Do not judge on your own, for there is none qualified to judge alone, only the One. And do not say, "You must accept my view," for this is their [the majority's] right, not yours.”
Being on a Beyt Din (House of Judgment) regarding congregational matters is a serious thing not to be taken lightly and is said not to be desired. For the power of life and death is essentially in your hands and if you make a wrong verdict, blood will be on your hands.
This passage gives a whole new meaning to the saying “Two heads are better than one.” The Scriptures say in reference to making communal religious decisions that there needs to be at least two witnesses.
Deut. 17:6 At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; [but] at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.
Deut. 19:15 One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.
Matt. 18:15-20 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear [thee, then] take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell [it] unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
1Tim. 5:19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.
Heb. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:
-- Yehudah ben Shomeyr