Friday, July 9, 2010

The Goel hadam today

The Rambam says that the din of a goel hadam does not only apply if a someone killed accidentally, it also applies if the murderer killed deliberately.

The Rambam says in Hilchos Rotzeach (1:1):

הלכה א') כל הורג נפש עובר בלא תעשה שנאמר לא תרצח. ואם רצח בזדון בפני עדים מיתתו בסייף שנאמר נקם ינקם...

הלכה ב') מצוה ביד גואל הדם
[להרוג את הרוצח] שנאמר גואל הדם הוא ימית את הרוצח. וכל הראוי לירושה הוא גואל הדם. לא רצה גואל הדם או שלא היה יכול להמיתו או שאין לו גואל דם בית דין ממיתין את הרוצח בסייף.
“Anyone who murders transgresses a lo saaseh as it says [in the aseres hadibros] “לא תרצח”. And if he murdered deliberately before witnesses he is killed by the sword as the passuk says ‘נקם ינקם’.

It is a mitzva for the goel hadam to kill the murderer as the passuk says ‘גואל הדם הוא ימית את הרוצח’. Anyone heir can be the goel hadam. If the goel hadam did not want to kill the rotzeach or he was not able to kill him or the victim does not have a goel hadam then beis din kill the murderer by the sword.”

The goel hadam has the perogative to kill a rotzeach be’mezid before beis din.

The goel ha’dam nowadays
There is a machlokess (ketzos ha’choshen 2:1) between the urim ve’tumim and the ketzos hachoshen whether or not according to the Rambam a goel hadam is allowed to kill a rotzeach be’shogeg nowadays.

The rambam says in Hilchos Rotzeach (perek alef, halacha 5):
רוצח שהרג בזדון אין ממיתין אותו העדים ולא הרואים אותו עד שיבא לבית דין וידינוהו למיתה. שנאמר ולא ימות הרוצח עד עמדו לפני העדה למשפט.
“If a murderer killed deliberately, the witnesses and bystanders cannot kill him until he comes to beis din and they judge him to be killed, as the passuk says ‘ולא ימות הרוצח עד עמדו לפני העדה למשפט’.”

The urim ve’tumim explains as follows:
The first person to kill a rotzeach be’mezid is the goel hadam, and the Rambam says that a rotzeach be’mezid can only be killed after a psak din. You see from this that a goel hadam cannot exercise his right to kill the rotzeach without a psak din. The same halacha would apply where the misoh was beshogeg, the goel ha’dam would need a psak din in order to allow him to kill the rotzeach. Nowadays beis din do not judge dinei nephashos, so a goel hadam cannot execute the rotzeach today.

According to the urim ve’tumim, the onesh of the rotzeach, that he can be killed by the goel hadam is the same whether he killed be’mezid or beshogeg. Therefore he brings a proof from the din of mezid to the din of shogeg.

The ketzos ha’choshen , however, says that the execution of a rotzeach be’mezid by the goel hadom is different to the heter for the goel hadam to kill a rotzeach be’shogeg.

In the case of a rotzeach be’mezid, the goel ha’dam acts as a shliach of beis din. Therefore he can only kill the rotzeach after the gmar din. However, in the case of a rotzeach be’shogeg, beis din have no interest in the case. The right of the goel hadam to kill the rotzeach does not relate to beis din but is a direct nekama of the neherag. Therefore the goel hadam does not need a psak din in order to kill the rotzeach.

The ketzos ha’choshen brings a proof from the rambam as follows:
The Rambam says (hilchos rotzeach 6);
הלכה ד') ויש הורג בשגגה ותהיה השגגה קרובה לזדון והוא שיהיה בדבר כמו פשיעה. או שהיה לו להזהר ולא נזהר. ודינו שאינו גולה מפני שעוונו חמור אין גלות מכפרת לו ואין ערי מקלט קולטות אותו שאינן קולטות אלא המחוייב גלות בלבד. לפיכך אם מצאו גואל הדם בכל מקום והרגו פטור.

הלכה ה') ומה יעשה זה ישב וישמור עצמו מגואל הדם. וכן כל הרצחנים שהרגו בעד אחד או בלא התראה וכיוצא בהן אם הרגן גואל הדם אין להם דמים...

“There can be a case where someone killed accidentally and the accident is close to being deliberate which is where he was careless or he should have been carefull and was not carefull. He does not go to galus because his wrong doing is severe, so galus is not a kapara for him. Additionally, the ir miklat does not protect him. Therefore if the goel hadam found him in any place and killed him he is patur.

So what should he do? He should remain in his place and guard himself from the goel hadam. The same applies for all murderers who killed in front of one witness, or without warning and such like. If the goel hadam killed them he is not punished.”

Says the ketzos ha’choshen - In a case where the rotzeach killed without warning, beis din would not accept the case just as they do not judge any other case of capital punishment without edim warning the offender. Nevertheless, the Rambam still says that the goel hadam can kill the rotzeach. Therefore we see that a goel hadam does not need a psak din in order to kill the rotzeach.

Similarly nowadays, although there is no psak din, the goel hadam is still allowed to kill the rotzeach.

What is the machlokess between the urim ve’tumim and the ketzos hachoshen?
• The ketzos ha’choshen holds that the right of the goel hadam to kill the rotzeach in a case of shogeg has nothing to do with beis din. As far as the ordinary halacha is concerned, there is nothing to do to the rotzeach. The actions of the goel hadam are a direct nekama of the relative for the person who was killed. He does not need beis din to allow him to kill the rotzeach because this is his own personal din that he applies to the rotzeach.

• The urim ve’tumim however holds that the right of the goel hadam to kill the rotzeach is the same for shogeg and for mezid. In both cases it is al pi beis din.

This is is difficult to understand. In the case of mezid, the chiyuv misoh is imposed by beis din, as in any other chiyuv misoh which is given, for example, for avodah zarah. In the case of shogeg there is an extraordinary din that the relative is allowed to avenge the blood that has been spilt. How can the urim ve’tumim say these are the same?

The chiyuv misoh for retzichah
The Kol Yisroel says that the chiyuv misoh for retzichah is different to the chiyuv misoh for all other aveiros in the Torah. Whereas the chiyuv misoh for all other aveiros in the Torah is for the act itself, such as the act of chillul shabbos or the act of avodah zarah, the chiyuv misoh for murder is a chiyuv tashlumin. It is a payment for the soul of the victim with the soul of the murderer – as the passuk says – “nephesh tachas naphesh”.

Therefore we can explain that the urim ve’tumim holds that regardless of whether the retzicha was be’shogeg or be’mezid, the essential retribution for the murder is a tashlumin with the life of the rotzeach. The urim ve’tumim compares the din of mezid and shogeg because in both cases the murderer is killed for the same reason. In both cases, the goel hadam can only exact retribution from the murderer with the permission of beis din. Just as in hilchos nizokin the nizak can only take payment with the permissionof beis din, so too here the goel hadam is a tovea and can only take the life of the murderer with the permission of beis din.

The act of vengeance of the goel hadam in the case of shogeg is his own personal vendetta, but he needs beis din to allow him to take this payment from the rotzeach as in any other interpersonal dispute.

1 comment:

Nosson Gestetner said...

Fascinating! Yasher koach, good Shabbos.

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