A sugya just a few lines long in the Babylonian Talmud, Gittin 88b, had enormous influence on the development of Jewish law in the area of the authority to pass judgment given to rabbinical courts in our day. According to the simple, commonly accepted understanding of this sugya, the Tannaim ruled that the Torah forbade men who had not received ordination to act as judges, and as a result, the judges in Babylonia were permitted to adjudicate, of necessity, only as agents of the judges of Palestine (שליחותייהו קא עבדינן, we act as their agents). The article reexamines these positions. The first part suggests two new ways to understand the essence of the agency of which R. Joseph spoke in the sugya. The second part of the article reexamines the source of the prohibition, to the extent that it exists, against adjudication by laymen.