Sanhedrin, Chapter Seven, Mishnah Eight



Mishnah eight deals with one who violates the Sabbath and one who curses his parents.


Mishnah Eight 

1)                     He who desecrates the Sabbath [is stoned], providing that it is an offence punished by “kareth” if deliberate, and by a sin-offering if unwitting.

2)                     One who curses His father or his mother is not punished unless he curses them by the divine name.

a)                                           If he cursed them by a nickname,  Rabbi Meir held him liable, but the Sages ruled that he is exempt.



Section one:  According to Numbers 15:35, one who breaks the Sabbath is punished by being stoned.  However, we learn elsewhere that he is stoned only if he is warned prior to the transgression that if he violates the Sabbath in such a manner he will be stoned.  Our mishnah teaches that this is true provided that his violation was one which is punished by “kareth” (a death penalty meted out by God) if not warned (but nevertheless committed with intent to break the Sabbath).  He also must commit a transgression for which he is obligated to bring a sin-offering if he did it unwittingly (for instance he didn’t know that today was the Sabbath or that this type of work is prohibited).  The seventh chapter of Tractate Shabbat lists which types of work one is prohibited from doing on the Sabbath.  One who is warned not to do one of these types of work and does so anyway is to be stoned.  There are other types of work which are forbidden to do on the Sabbath but are not punished by stoning.

Section two:  According to Leviticus 20:9 and Exodus 21:17 one who curses his parents is liable for the death penalty.  Our mishnah teaches that he is liable only if he curses them using God’s explicit name (which we no longer know).  Although Rabbi Meir holds that he is obligated even if he uses a nickname for God, the Sages disagree.