The Jewish Legal System: The Sanhedrin and the Rabbis: Following a Majority:
Doesn't Ex. 23:2 say that one SHOULDN'T follow a majority?
The plain interpretation of Ex.23:2 is that one shoudn't follow
a majority to do evil or to pervert (le-hatos) the law. The
Talmud's explanation of the verse (Sanhedrin 2a) is as follows:
"From the fact that it says 'You shall not follow a majority to
do evil' I can conclude that one should follow it to do good. If so,
why does it say '[Do not...] incline (le-hatos) after a majority'?
[To teach us that] inclining for good [i.e., acquitting] is not
like inclining for evil [i.e., convicting]; acquittal requires
only a majority of 1, but conviction requires a majority of 2
[i.e., a simple majority isn't sufficient]."
The Talmud derives the principle of following the majority
from that verse; see also Chulin 11a.
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