As we have seen over the last several weeks, however, the rabbis are reluctant to shed any blood, guilty or innocent. They consistently interpret the Torah in such a way as to make the death penalty difficult or impossible to carry out. That pattern continues when it comes to murder, where the rabbis adopt an extremely stringent definition of what it means to cause the death of another person. Only direct, premeditated, and instantaneous killing qualifies as murder under rabbinic law; causing another person’s death in a more indirect or ambiguous fashion is exempt from capital punishment. This principle is carried so far as to result in the acquittal of many defendants who, in American law, would be clearly guilty.Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.
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