Michael Rosen shares some insights comparing a few issues in Sanhedrin with contemporary legal systems in American and in Israel.
What happens to all the items that have holiness to them that are in the city of idol worshippers? Can the city be used for gardens and fields? Or can it never be rebuilt for any purpose? The city of Jericho can also never be rebuilt. The incident in sefer melachim where Chial rebuilt Jericho (or according to the gemara rebuilt a different city but called it Jericho) is quoted and analyzed and is related to Eliahu receiving the “key” for rain from God and bringing a huge drought. The masechet ends with a discussion of good and evil and their effects on the world.
The gemara discusses details about an “ir hanidachat”, a city who the majority of its inhabitants turn to idol worship.
Korach’s wife convinced him to rebel against Moshe according to the story described in the gemara and Korach even tried to argue with her but she convinced him anyway. It is a matter of debate whether Korach was swallowed up and burned with the others. However it is clear from the Torah that his sons did not die. The generation of the desert is a matter of debate whether they were bad and not deserving of the World to Come as indicated in some verses; however other verses are brought that show them in a very positive light and thereby others claim that they have a place in the World to Come. The ten tribes are also a matter of debate – will they return to the land (or get resuscitated) or not? Various verses are brought to prove each opinion. From what age is one able to merit getting entry in the World to Come – from conception, birth, ability to speak, ability to say amen?
What did the generation of those who built the Tower of Bavel trying to do? What were the acts of Sodom? What made them do it? Most of the things they did fall into 2 categories – not treating guests properly and perverting justice. There is a debate about Korach and his followers – whether they are deserving of the World to Come or not. THe gemara extrapolates the names of the people in Korach’s group. On ben Pelet was saved by his wife and didn’t rejoin Korach’s group.
The mishna describes groups of people who do not have a share in the World to Come, like the generation of the flood, migdal bavel and the people of Sedom. The gemara discusses in depth details relating to the flood and the building of the ark.
In connection with Achitofel, the gemara diverts to the story of David and Batsheva is analyzed – why was David tested in this way and why did he fail the test? What was the reaction of those around him? And how did he get forgiveness from God? How in the end was it made obvious to others that he received forgiveness? For what reason did Geichazi not get a portion in the World to Come? Elisha is also criticized for how he dealt with Geichazi.
The gemara continues to analyze Bilam’s words about the Jewish people and then how he advises Balak to entice them with women in order to get them killed, when he realizes that cursing them is impossible. The next charachter mentioned in the mishna is Doeg HaEdomi. His character is discussed. According to the gemara, he was a great Torah scholar as well. The rabbis then need to explain what was wrong about his Torah he learned that enabled him to speak lashon hara about David and kill the inhabitants of Nov.
Some say that all 7 people mentioned in the mishna do receive a portion in the World to Come. A verse is brought that is explained in a way that the Jews in the time leading up to the destruction thought that they had a winning answer to counter God and his prophets when they told the people to repent. Three explanations of what was this “winning answer” is brought. And in two of them, the weakness in their answer is explained. The gemara now moves on to discuss Bilam as he is mentioned in the list of those who have no portion in the world to come. What did he do wrong? How did he succeed in convincing God to let him go? Why did he get his own donkey ready instead of letting his servants do it? What was the nature of the conversation he had with his donkey? How did he think he would succeed in cursing the Jewish people? And finally, did he really not succeed in cursing them?
Why didn’t Menashe have a portion in the World to Come? Some think that Menashe did get a potrtion in the World to Come because according to Chronicles, he repented. Why are other bad kings not on this list of those who have no portion in the World to Come? Some think that they are on the list or do not know why they aren’t. Descriptions are brought about some of the bad kings and how they led things downhill until the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash.