“The Torah’s judicial system contains three levels of courts:
- Regular courts of three judges for civil law — litigation and other monetary cases (‘dinei mamonot‘).
- Higher courts of 23 judges to hear cases of capital crimes (‘dinei nefashot‘). These courts were called ‘Minor Sanhedrins’.
- A supreme court of 71 judges, called the ‘Great Sanhedrin’ with two functions: (a) to clarify the law in new or unclear cases, and (b) to promulgate new decrees.
All judges are required to be wise and humble, to love truth and hate bribes, to be well-liked and respected. Members of the Supreme Court were expected to be among the greatest scholars of the generation… proficient in many sciences, such as medicine and astronomy.
The Talmud writes that cases of civil law require more wisdom than the capital crimes that are judged in the Minor Sanhedrins.
The primary goal of civil law is to resolve monetary disputes between individuals…conflicting claims of ownership in all of the myriad cases of interpersonal relations…
Study of civil law is one of the most challenging areas of Torah study. To truly master this subject requires a profound understanding of the underlying issues — an understanding that can be attained only by the most diligent and persevering students.”