Rabbi Yitzchok Etshalom
Talmud Torah 7:12
12. If someone was banned in a dream (i.e. had a dream that he
was placed under Nidui), even if he knows the person who declared
the ban against him, he needs ten people, proficient in Halakha,
to lift the ban. If he can't find [these], he must trouble
himself, looking for them up until a Parsa's distance (abt. 4
If he didn't find [these], ten people who have [only] studied
Mishna may lift his ban.
If he didn't find [these], ten people who [only] know how to read
the Torah may lift his ban.
If he didn't find [these], ten people who can't even read Torah
may lift his ban.
If he didn't find ten people in his place, even three may lift
Q1: Why would a dream about a ban have any Halakhic
YE: From the Gemara itself (Nedarim 8a) it seems clear that this
_may_ be an intended message from God. RAN (s.v. Nidahu) says:
It is possible that he was banned by the agency of God (i.e. the
one appearing in the dream to ban him was an agent of God);
Tosafot (s.v. Tzarikh) says: Since a dream is like a bit of
prophecy... A proper treatment of this issue is well beyond the
scope of this list, however, it is clear from the Gemara (last
chapter of Berakhot) and the Rishonim that dreams are not to be
understood merely as internal psychological manifestations; there
is always the chance that there may be a valid and Divine message
somewhere in that dream.
Q2: If he can identify the person who banned him in the dream,
why must he find ten people to lift it - why can't he just ask
that person to lift it?
YE: As RAN explained, the person appearing may not be a
manifestation of that actual real-life person, rather an agent of
God. Asking the real-life person for forgiveness may be a
totally meaningless act.
Q3: Why ten people - why not a conventional Beit-Din of three?
YE: Since, as our Rabbis teach us (Avot 3:6) whenever 10 people
are together, studying Torah, the Shekhina (Divine Presence)
rests among them. Since it is possible that God has banned this
person, we cannot lift the ban without His Presence.
Q4: Why the hierarchy of learning and literacy?
YE: As mentioned above (Q3), the reason for 10 is due to the
Shekhina resting among them. Since the Shekhina rests among "10
who are studying Torah", our ideal group are those who not only
know, but can converse with each other about Torah. As we move
down the "literacy and learning" scale, the group moves further
from this description.
Rambam, Copyright (c) 1999 Project