This week, Daf Yomi readers began Tractate Horayot, the last tractate in Seder Nezikin, the division of the Talmud that deals with civil and criminal law. Horayot, whose name means “decisions,” is a very short tractate—just 14 pages long—and it deals with a narrow but important area of Jewish law: namely, what to do when a court issues an erroneous judgment. The short answer is that courts that mistakenly permit a forbidden act, and thereby encourage the Jewish people to sin, are liable to bring a sacrifice in atonement. But, of course, matters are never quite so simple in the Talmud, and the discussion ends up touching on basic questions about law and justice: above all, the question of when a person is obligated to obey a mistaken or unjust authority.Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.
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