Sanhedrin, Chapter Seven, Mishnah Eleven

 

Introduction

Mishnah eleven deals with different forms of sorcery.

 

Mishnah Eleven

1)                     A sorcerer, if he actually performs magic, is liable [to death], but not if he merely creates illusions.  

a)                                           Rabbi Akiva says in Rabbi Joshua’s name: “If two are gathering cucumbers [by magic] one may be punished and the other exempt:  he who really gathers them is punished: while he who produces an illusion is exempt.”

 

Explanation

When the mishnah stated that a sorcerer is liable to be stoned, it meant one who actually performs magic, but not one who creates illusions.  [Therefore, modern magicians who use illusions are not obligated for the death penalty].  Rabbi Akiva in the name of Rabbi Joshua illustrates this principle by mentioning a form of magic that must have been at least somewhat known in the time of the mishnah, something like pulling a rabbit out of a hat in our days.

 

 

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