Recommended Posts

Parsha Mitzvot: Ki Teitzei: Mitzvah 541 – Concept 545

“If there will be a virgin girl who is betrothed to a man, and a man finds her in the city and lies with her, then you shall take them both to the gate of the city and pelt them with stones and they shall die; the girl because of the fact that she did not cry out in the city, and the man because of the fact that he afflicted the wife of his fellow; and you shall remove the evil from your midst.” (Deuteronomy 22:23-24) The courts must carry out the death penalty of stoning. (Rambam, Hilchot Sanhedrin v’HaOnshin Hamesurim Lahem – The Laws of the Sanhedrin and the Punishments Within Their Jurisdiction)

The witnesses are the ones who execute him. [The Rambam in his Commentary to the Mishna, Sanhedrin 7:3, explains that the execution is placed in the hands of the witnesses because they are the only ones who have firsthand knowledge of the sin.]

Approximately ten cubits from the place of execution, he is told to confess. (Rambam’s Commentary to the Mishna, 6:2; We fear that if he is asked to confess at the place of execution itself, he will be overcome with fear and will not be able to properly confess.] All those who are executed should confess. For if they confess, they receive a portion in the World To Come. If he does not know how to confess, we tell him, “Say, ‘May my death atone for my sins.’” Even if he knows that he was a victim of false testimony, he should confess in this manner, i.e. “May my death atone for my sins.”

After he confesses, he is given a granule of frankincense dissolved in a cup of wine, so that he will lose control of his mind and become drunk. [The Talmud, Sanhedrin 43a, supports this with, “Give strong drink to one who is lost, and wine to the bitter of soul.” {Proverbs 31:6}] Rambam, Hilchot Sanhedrin 13:1-2)

How is the Mitzvah of stoning carried out? Four cubits from the place of execution, we remove the clothes of the person to be stoned. [The Talmud {Sanhedrin 44b} explains that this is intended as a kindness for the person being stoned: In this way, his clothes will not cushion his fall and/or impact of the stone. Thus he will die quickly and not suffer over an extended period.] We cover a man’s sexual organ. [The embarrassment of being naked is not part of the punishment. The Talmud {Sanhedrin 45a} explains that the Mitzvah (Leviticus 19:19} “Love your neighbor as yourself,” applies even to a person being executed. We must choose for him the best possible manner of execution.] A woman is not executed naked. Instead she is allowed to wear one cloak.

The place of execution was two storeys high. {The Sages calculated that a fall from such a height would kill quickly without rupturing the corpse.] He ascends there with his hands tied, together with the witnesses. One of the witnesses pushes him at the loins from behind, he falls over, landing on his heart on the ground. [This is considered less embarrassing than lying on his back. Rashi, Sanhedrin 45a)

If he does not die after this fall, the witnesses pick up a stone that is so large it requires two people to carry it. They cast the stone on the man’s heart. (Hilchot Sanhedrin 15:1)

Go Back to Previous Page

  • Other visitors also read