Sanhedrin 56 - The Blasphemer

The blasphemer is one who "blesses", (that is, curses) the Divine Name of God. The act of blasphemy is always referred to in the Talmud by the euphemism, "blessing." The blasphemer is not liable unless he pronounces the Divine Name, yud, keh, vav, keh. In referring to the Tetragrammaton name of God, it is accepted practice to modify the spelling and to pronounce the letter "heh" as "keh".

Rabbi Yehoshua ben Korchah describes the trial procedure. Whenever the judges examine the witnesses, they use a pseudonym, asking the witnesses, for example, whether the accused said, "May Yose strike Yose." When the case is completed, however, they may not execute the offender based on a pseudonym. Rather, they send everyone out of the courtroom and then ask the most eminent of the witnesses, "State explicitly what you heard the blasphemer say," and he says it. Upon hearing the blasphemy, the judges stand up and rend their garments, and never repair them. The second witness then says, "I too have heard as he did." There is not need for him to repeat the exact words.

Art: Jules Bastien-Lepage - The Beggar