Beit Shammai

Yevamot 116: One Witness Is Enough

We have previously referred to the special leniency that allows a woman to remarry on the testimony of one witness. This was a most revolutionary innovation, one that seemingly violates a fundamental precept of the Torah: the basic requirement for two witnesses. Compounding the problem was the fact that the stakes were so high--adultery, illegitimate children, and the undermining of the holiness of marriage--and it is no wonder this law was not readily accepted.

Yevamot 13: Learning to Differ

Our rabbis greatly extolled the virtues of arguments for the sake of heaven. In these disputes, the disputants not only do not take their opponents' critiques personally, they welcome them; and through them, they sharpen and refine their views. Unfortunately, such disputes are rare, as most people find it difficult to separate the "person from the problem". But Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel are not most people.

Beitza 2: Protecting the Neglected

The Rambam, in discussing the prohibition of ba’al toseef (Devarim 4:2), the prohibition of adding to the Torah rules, said that one violates this Biblical law by claiming a rabbinic law is biblical in origin (Mamrim 2:9). The Torah gives the Sages the right and obligation to ensure the relevance of Torah to each generation by making “amendments”; gezerot, protective fences; takanot, social legislation; and rabbinic mitzvot such as the obligation to light candles on Shabbat (and Chanukah). 

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