Posted on February 13, 2006 By Rabbi Dr. Azriel Rosenfeld | Series: | Level:

81. Rebels – Mamrim

We are commanded to follow the decisions of the Sanhedrin and it is forbidden not to do so, as it says “[You shall do according to the thing they tell you… you shall do] according to the Torah they teach you and the judgment they tell you; you shall not depart from the thing they tell you left or right”.1 A sage who refuses to accept their decision and continues to rule otherwise is called a “rebellious elder” and must be put to death, as it says “And the man who acts wilfully not to listen… to the judge, that man shall die.”2 When there is no Sanhedrin a person must follow the courts of his generation, as it says “[And you shall come…] to the judge that exists in those days”.3 If courts disagree one should follow the more stringent view; but in cases involving rabbinical law one can follow the more lenient view.a

It is forbidden to add or subtract from the Torah, as it says “[Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do;] you shall not add to it and you shall not take away from it”.4 However, the courts can make new laws or extend the laws of the Torah as long as there is no conflict with the Torah; and they can even abrogate parts of the Torah temporarily when necessary.b

We are commanded to honor our parents and to stand in awe of them, as it says “Honor your father and your mother”,5 and it says “Each shall fear his mother and his father”.6 There are special prohibitions against cursing or striking them, as it says “[For any man who curses his father or his mother shall be put to death;] he cursed his father or mother, his blood is on him”,7 and it says “And one who strikes his father or mother shall be put to death… [and one who curses his father or mother shall be put to death]”.8 A rebellious son can be executed [as it says “And if a man has a rebellious son…”].9,c


1. Deut. 17:10-11 a. 1:1-2,5; 2:1; 3:4
2. Deut. 17:12 b. 2:4-5,9
3. Deut. 17:9 c. 5:1,5; 6:1; 7:1
4. Deut. 13:1
5. Ex. 20:12; Deut. 5:16
6. Lev. 19:3
7. Lev. 20:9
8. Ex. 21:15,17
9. Deut. 21:l8ff

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