Parshas Hashavua part 1
קח לך את יהושע--- וסמכת את ידך עליו במדבר כ"ז
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 Tzfat Eretz Yisroel.
R. Y. B. 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.Y. B. reintroduced Semicha.
Another reason he held 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 כריתות. **
According to R Channyah B Gamliel
in the Mishna (Makos 23a) חייבי כריתות who get מלקות
are פטור from כרת. Only a בית דין מוסמך can hand out מלקות
and thereby remove the חיוב כרת
R.Y.B.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.Y.B. 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.Y.B. 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 not the real Semicha. Today the true term is Hatoras Horaha
(permission to give a Psak) Whereas the real Semicha
allows the Bais Din to hand out קנסות& מלקות etc.
** כריתות ב ע"א --מגדף - עובד ע"ז