Hakdama Meseches Sanhedrin
קַח-לְךָ אֶת-יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בִּן-נוּן-- וְסָמַכְתָּ אֶת-יָדְךָ, עָלָיו במדבר כ"ז י"ח
The Semicha* Controversy
In the early 16th century, the Rav & Rosh Yeshiva of Tzfat was
the מהר"י (יעקב) בירב
R. Yakov Beirav escaped from the Spanish Inquisition to Morocco,
Algeria, Egypt and landed in Eretz Yisroel.
R. Yakov Beirav felt that the time of אתחלתא דגאולה has arrived.
According to the Rambam, The Bais Din Hagadol will be
established before the arrival of the Moshiach.
Therefore R. Yakov Beirav reintroduced Semicha.
Another reason why it was important to reintroduce
Semicha was because there were many Anusim who managed
to escape to Eretz Yisroel. Many who converted to
Christianity were חייבי
According to R Channyah B Gamliel
in the Mishna (Makos 23a)
who get מלקות are פטור
from כרת. Only a בית דין מוסמך can hand out מלקות and
remove the חיוב כרת
R. Yakov Beirav had 25 of his Talmidim appoint him as a Musmach.
This was based on the Rambam on the first Mishna in Sanhedrin
and also in the Yad, Hl Sanhedrin (4:11)
" If all the Chachamim in Eretz Yisroel will agree to appoint
Dayanim and give them Semicha then they are Semuchim."
R. Yakov Beirav. held that since most of the Gedolim were living in Tzfat
at that time, therefore, they are the ones who were qualified
to give Semicha.
R. Yakov Beirav. gave Semicha to 4 of his Talmidim one of them was the Bais Yosef (R. Yosef Karo)
*Not to be confused with what is commonly known today as Semicha,
which is only in memory of the original Semicha but the true term
is Hatoros Horaha (permission to give a Psak) Whereas Semicha
allows the Bais Din to hand out קנסות& מלקות etc.
** כריתות ב ע"א --מגדף - עובד ע"ז