Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Defence Against the Dark Arts

The Talmud
of Babylon
seider Neziqin
masekhet Sanhedrin
daf 17
‘amud A

Ribbí Yohhanan said:

No one is accepted to the Sanhedrin other than men of stature, men of wisdom, of appearance and age, masters of
kishuf (=forbidden harmful supernatural powers) and speakers of 70 languages...

On this statement, RaSh"Y comments:
[In order to be able] to execute mekhashefim who rely on their kishuf-powers to escape from the Court; and to expose mekhashefim who use their kishuf-powers to entice [others] and push [them away from God]...
According to this comment, it seems that the need to be 'masters of kishuf' is for the purpose of counteracting kishuf, as well as identifying it.

However, the ‘Oz Vehadar edition's "Collected RaSh"Y" feature adds another comment of RaSh"Y's on the same topic from somewheres else in the Talmud; one which my hhevruta and myself found a whole lot more intriguing:
So that if the one judged [and sentenced to execution] is a mekhasheif, and he enchants the [executioner's] sword or fire so that they will not affect him — they [=the judges of the Sanhedrin] will also use kishuf-powers to slay him by any means necessary.

(now off to read Harry Potter #7, hopefully finishing it in time for a special Harry Potter themed shalashuddess this coming Shabbos)


Blogger thanbo said...

>a special Harry Potter themed shalashuddess this coming Shabbos)

You've seen my cousin Bruce's website http://www.harrypottertorah.com/ and its associated blog? And Lulu book?

8/15/2007 2:43 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

i've seen it, but i haven't really looked at it in depth yet. i'll forward the link to the host of the meal.

8/15/2007 3:51 PM  
Blogger Nem said...

Cool, that *is* Defense Against the Dark Arts.

The "Harry Potter Torah" book is a neat idea - take the excitement that people feel about Harry Potter and show that Torah can be at least as exciting.

8/17/2007 12:52 AM  
Blogger Lipman said...

Without the Rashi, I'd have liked to think it's not about kishef machers but about kishefologists*, expert witnesses. It's not about wishful thinking that everything in Jewish intellectual history is rational, but it's hard to imagine for the setting.

* Steg, I hope you don't get into trouble for this word.

8/17/2007 5:05 AM  

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