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Daily Mitzvah

Negative Commandment 287

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Negative Commandment 287 (Digest)
Relatives' Testimony

"Fathers shall not be put to death on account of their children; neither shall children be put to death on account of their fathers"Deuteronomy 24:16.

A judge may not accept testimony from a litigant's close relative—whether the testimony is in support of the litigant or against him.

This law applies to all cases – capital and monetary – and all close relatives. The verse refers specifically to a capital case and the testimony of a father to demonstrate the extent of this mitzvah. For the Torah even forbids accepting the testimony of a father, who presumably loves his child dearly, against his child (or vice versa) in a capital case—though we'd presume that such testimony is eminently credible.

This mitzvah is a supra-rational decree from Above.


Translation of (the unabridged text of) Sefer Hamitzvot by Rabbi Berel Bell, member of the Rabbinical Court of Montreal and director of Teacher Training for the Jewish Learning Institute.

From "Sefer Hamitzvot in English," published by Sichos in English.
Daily Quote
When the people of Israel said, "All that G-d has spoken, we will do, and we will hear" (Exodus 24:7) -- giving precedence to "we will do" over "we will hear" -- a heavenly voice issued forth and exclaimed: "Who revealed to My children this secret, which is known only to the angels?"
  –Talmud, Shabbat 88a
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