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Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day

Shvuot - Chapter 7, Shvuot - Chapter 8, Shvuot - Chapter 9

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Shvuot - Chapter 7

1

When a person issues a financial claim against a colleague which would require the latter to pay were he to admit [liability]1 and [the colleague] denies [his obligation] and takes an oath or the plaintiff administers an oath to him and he denies [any obligation]. [If he is lying,] the defendant is liable for an oath concerning a sh'vuat hapikadon.2

[The above applies] even if [the defendant] does not respond Amen.3 For with regard to a sh'vuat hapikadon, one is liable whether he took the oath on his own initiative or another person administered the oath to him and he denied [any obligation], even though he did not respond Amen. For denying the claim after the plaintiff administered the oath is equivalent to responding Amen.4

א

התובע חבירו בממון שאם הודה בו יהיה חייב לשלם וכפר ונשבע, או שהשביעו התובע וכפר, הרי זה הנתבע הוא חייב בשבועת הפקדון אף על פי שלא ענה אמן, שבשבועת הפקדון אחד הנשבע מפי עצמו ואחד שהשביעו אחר וכפר אע"פ שלא ענה אמן חייב שכפירתו אחר שהשביעו התובע כעניית אמן.

2

[This does not apply] when [the plaintiff] lodges a claim which if acknowledged by the defendant, i.e., if he would admit that it is true, would not require him to make payment, e.g., he lodged a claim concerning a k'nas.5 For a person is not required to pay a k'nas based on his own admission.6 [In such an instance,] if a person denied [an obligation], he is exempt from a sh'vuat hapikadon, but liable for a sh'vuat bitui.7

ב

תבעו בממון שאם יודה לו ויאמר כן הדבר לא יהיה חייב לשלם, כגון שתבעו בקנס שאין אדם משלם קנס ע"פ עצמו, וכפר ונשבע, הרי זה פטור משבועת הפקדון וחייב משום שבועת ביטוי.

3

Similarly, if [the plaintiff] lodged a claim concerning landed property, a servant, or a promissory note, and [the defendant] denied [the claim] and took an oath, he is exempt from a sh'vuat hapikadon, but liable for a sh'vuat bitui, for he took a false oath.

ג

וכן אם תבעו בקרקע או בעבד או בשטר וכפר ונשבע פטור משבועת הפקדון וחייב בשבועת ביטוי שהרי נשבע על שקר.

4

Why is one [who took an oath concerning such claims] exempt from [the obligations of a false] sh'vuat hapikadon? Behold, were he to have acknowledged [his obligation], he would have been held liable and [required] to pay what he denied. Because [Leviticus 5:21-22] states: "Concerning an entrusted object, a [financial] deposit, a robbery; he oppressed his colleague, or discovered a lost object." All of this concerns movable property which if he would admit his liability he would have to make financial restitution from his own domain.

This excludes landed property for it is not movable property. For landed property is always revealed before its owner8 and is always in their possession.9[Similarly,] it excludes servants, for an equation is established between servants and landed property.10 And it excludes promissory notes, for their actual substance is not of financial value.11

ד

ולמה נפטר משום שבועת הפקדון והרי זה אילו הודה חייב היה ומשלם מה שכפר, לפי שנאמר בפקדון או בתשומת יד או בגזל או עשק את עמיתו או מצא אבדה הכל מטלטלין שאם יודה בהן יוציא ממון מתחת ידו, ויצאו קרקעות שאין מטלטלין והרי הן לפני בעליהן ובחזקתן, ויצאו עבדים שהוקשו לקרקעות, ויצאו שטרות שאין גופן ממון.

5

[The above laws apply] whether one took an oath after the plaintiff lodged a claim against him or whether he took it on his own initiative even though a claim was not lodged against him.12

What his implied? He took the initiative and said: "Why are you following me? Do I have any money belonging to you? I am taking an oath that I am not in possession of any of your money." Since he denied [an obligation] and took an oath, [he is liable,] even though [the plaintiff] did not lodge a claim against him.

ה

אחד הנשבע אחר שתבעו בעל הממון, או הנשבע מעצמו אע"פ שלא תבעו, כיצד כגון שקדם ואמר למה אתה הולך אחרי כלום יש לך בידי ממון שבועה שאין לך בידי ממון, הרי זה חייב בשבועת הפקדון הואיל וכפר ונשבע ואע"פ שלא תבעו זה.

6

[One is liable] whether he took an oath to the person to whom he owes the money or to his agent who was given power of attorney. For a person's agent is equivalent to his own self.13

ו

אחד הנשבע לבעל הממון עצמו או לשלוחו הבא בהרשאתו ששלוחו של אדם כמותו.

7

One is not liable for a sh'vuat hapikadon unless he requires him to take an oath in a language that he understands.14

ז

ואינו חייב בשבועת הפקדון עד שישביעו בלשון שהוא מכירה.

8

When a person consciously takes a sh'vuat hapikadon, even though he takes a false oath and is warned by witnesses at the time he takes the oath, he is not liable for lashes, but instead must merely bring a guilt offering. For the Torah excluded him from those who are liable for lashes15 and obligated him to bring a guilt offering whether he transgressed willfully or inadvertently, as we explained.16

ח

הנשבע שבועת הפקדון במזיד אע"פ שנשבע לשקר והתרו בו עדים בשעת שבועתו אינו לוקה אלא מביא אשמו בלבד, שהרי הכתוב מוציאו מכלל חייבי מלקות וחייבו אשם בין בזדון בין בשגגה כמו שבארנו.

9

If one denied [an obligation] and took an oath [concerning it] four or five times or the plaintiff administered an oath to him four or fives times and he denied each one of them, he is liable for a guilt offering for each individual oath.17 [This applies] whether this took place in a court or outside the court.

[The rationale is that] were he to have admitted his obligation after making his denial, he would be liable to make restitution even though he made the denial in a court. Thus with each denial, he is making himself exempt from payment. Hence, he is liable for each individual oath.

ט

כפר ונשבע ארבע או חמש פעמים, או שהשביעו התובע ארבע וחמש פעמים והוא כופר על כל אחת ואחת בין בבית דין בין שלא בבית דין הרי זה חייב קרבן אשם על כל שבועה ושבועה, שאילו הודה אחר שכפר היה חייב לשלם אע"פ שכפר בבית דין ונמצא פוטר עצמו בכל כפירה וכפירה מן התשלומין לפיכך חייב על כל שבועה ושבועה.

10

If five different people were lodging claims against him and telling him: "Give us the entrusted article of ours that you have in your possession," and he responds: "[I am taking] an oath that I do not have anything of yours in my possession," [should his oath be false,] he is liable for only one sacrifice.18

[If he answers: "I am taking] an oath that I don't have anything of yours, or of yours,... or of yours, in my possession," he is liable for each [statement].19

י

היו חמשה תובעין אותו ואומרין לו תן לנו פקדון שיש לנו בידך, שבועה שאין לכם בידי אינו חייב אלא קרבן אחד, שבועה שאין לך בידי לא לך ולא לך ולא לך חייב על כל אחת ואחת.

11

If his colleague told him: "Give me the entrusted object, [financial] deposit, stolen object, and lost object [of mine], that you have in your possession," and he responds: "[I am taking] an oath that I do not have anything of yours in my possession," [should his oath be false,] he is liable for only one [sacrifice].20 Even if the total of all the claims is [merely] a p'rutah, they are all included together and he is liable.21

יא

אמר לו חבירו תן לי פקדון ותשומת יד גזל ואבדה שיש לי בידך, שבועה שאין לך בידי אינו חייב אלא אחת, ואפילו היה לו פרוטה אחת מכולן הרי אלו מצטרפין וחייב.

12

[If he answers: "I am taking] an oath that I don't have an entrusted object, [financial] deposit, stolen object, and lost object of yours in my possession," he is liable for each [statement].22

יב

שבועה שאין לך בידי פקדון תשומת יד גזל ואבדה חייב על כל אחת ואחת.

13

[If the plaintiff says:] "Give me the wheat, barley, and buckwheat of mine that you have in your possession," and [the defendant responds]: "[I am taking] an oath that I do not have anything of yours in my possession," [should his oath be false,] he is liable for only one [sacrifice].23 [If he answers: "I am taking] an oath that I don't have any wheat, barley, and buckwheat of yours in my possession," he is liable for each [statement].

יג

תן לי חטים ושעורים וכוסמין שיש לי בידך, שבועה שאין לך בידי אינו חייב אלא אחת, שבועה שאין לך בידי חטים ושעורין וכוסמין חייב על כל אחת ואחת.

14

If five different people were lodging claims against him and telling him: "Give us the entrusted article, [financial] deposit, stolen object, and lost object [of mine], that you have in your possession," and he responds to one of them: "[I am taking] an oath that I don't have an entrusted object, stolen object, lost object, and [financial] deposit of yours, or of yours,... or of yours in my possession," he is liable for each claim [made] by each individual. Thus he is liable for 20 guilt offerings.24

יד

היו חמשה תובעין אותו ואומרין לו תן לנו פקדון גזל ואבדה ותשומת יד שיש לנו בידך, ואמר לאחד מהן שבועה שאין לך בידי פקדון וגזל ואבדה ותשומת יד ולא לך ולא לך ולא לך הרי זה חייב על כל טענה וטענה לכל אחד ואחד ונמצא זה חייב עשרים אשם.

15

If [the defendant] claims that he lost an entrusted object or denies [receiving it], he took an oath, and afterwards admitted [that it was in his possession], and then claimed that it was lost, took an oath, and then admitted [that it was in his possession], he must pay the principal and an additional fifth for each oath that he took.25 [This is derived from Leviticus 5:24 which literally translates as] "its fifths,"26 [implying that] the Torah took into account several fifths for [one sum of] principal.

What is implied? The principal was [worth] four [zuz]. One denied [receiving an entrusted article], took an oath, and then admitted [that he possessed it]. Afterwards, he claimed that it was lost, took an oath and then made a second admission, and then claimed that it was lost, took an oath and then made an admission another time. He is required to pay seven [zuz].27 Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.

טו

טען שאבד הפקדון או כפר בו ונשבע ואחר כך הודה, וחזר וטען שאבד ונשבע וחזר והודה משלם הקרן הראשון וחומש אחד על כל שבועה ושבועה שנאמר וחמישיתיו, התורה רבתה חומשין הרבה על קרן אחד, כיצד היה הקרן ארבעה וכפר ונשבע והודה וחזר וטען שאבד ונשבע וחזר והודה וחזר וטען שאבד ונשבע והודה משלם שבעה וכל כיוצא בזה.

16

A value less than a p'rutah is not considered as financially significant.28 Hence, if a person lodges a claim against a colleague for less than a p'rutah or for articles worth less than a p'rutah and [the defendant] denied the obligation and took an oath, he is exempt with regard to a sh'vuat hapikadon29 and liable for a sh'vuat bitui.30

טז

פחות מפרוטה אינו ממון לפיכך התובע חבירו בפחות מפרוטה או בפחות משוה פרוטה וכפר ונשבע פטור משבועת הפקדון וחייב בשבועת ביטוי.

Footnotes
1.

The qualifications the Rambam mentions here make a distinction between mammon, a financial claim, for which one is liable for a sh'vuat hapikadon and k'nas, a fine, for which one is not liable, as stated in the following halachah.

2.

The term literally means "an oath concerning an entrusted object." Its meaning in a halachic context is explained in this and the subsequent halachot.

If one takes such an oath falsely, he is liable to pay an additional fifth of the principal and bring a guilt offering as stated in Chapter 1, Halachah 9.

3.

With regard to other oaths, it is necessary for the person to answer Amen as stated in Chapter 2, Halachah 1. Nevertheless, a sh'vuat hapikadon is a unique instance, as the Rambam continues to explain.

4.

If, however, he remains silent in response to the oath administered by the plaintiff, he is not liable even if he had denied his claim beforehand (Radbaz).

5.

A fine. In Hilchot Nizkei Mammon 2:8, the Rambam defines a fine as an instance where a person pays more or less than the monetary value of the damage he caused.

6.

See Hilchot Genevah 1:5. See also Chapter 8, Halachot 1-3, for illustrations of this concept.

7.

For he is taking a false oath regarding his past activity.

8.

In contrast to movable property which can be concealed.

9.

In contrast to movable property where possession may determine ownership in a situation of doubt, with regard to landed property, a person must display proof of ownership. See also Hilchot To'en V'Nit'an 5:1; Hilchot Gezeilah 8:14; 9:1.

10.

See Hilchot To'en V'Nit'an, loc. cit.

11.

Instead, they only serve as proof of an obligation (ibid.).

12.

Note the contrast to an oath concerning testimony (Chapter 9, Halachah 6-7). The gloss of the Torah Temimah to the prooftext explains that since the verse speaks of "deny his [obligation to] a colleague," he is liable whether his colleague demands an oath of him or not.

13.

See Hilchot Shluchim 3:5, 7. See the Lechem Mishneh who emphasizes that the principal must have given the agent power of attorney to require an oath of the defendant. If, however, he merely gave the agent the authority to prosecute the claim, he may not require him to take an oath.

14.

For an oath can be taken in any language. Sotah 33a derives this from the exegesis of Leviticus 5:1.

15.

Neither is one who takes such a false oath liable for lashes for taking a false sh'vuat bitui.

16.

See Chapter 1, Halachah 9, which explains that one is liable for a sacrifice whether he transgressed willingly or inadvertently. As mentioned in the notes to Chapter 1, Halachah 8, one is not liable for lashes either because the transgression does not involve a deed, or because financial compensation must be given and a person is not held liable both for financial restitution and lashes.

17.

Note the contrast to an oath concerning testimony, as stated in Chapter 10, Halachah 18. He is also liable to pay an additional fifth of the principal for each false oath, as stated in Halachah 15.

18.

Since his response included all of them in one statement, it is considered only as one oath.

19.

Since he addressed each one individually, each statement is considered as an independent oath.

20.

Since his response included all of these items in one statement, it is considered only as one oath.

21.

In this instance, were they to have been considered individually, he would be exempt, for since each of the claims are less than a p'rutah, they are not significant individually. Nevertheless, since he included them in one statement, the sum is totaled as one and he is liable.

22.

Since he mentioned each item individually, each statement is considered as an independent oath and it is necessary that each claim concern the worth of a p'rutah.

23.

Although they are different species of grain, since he included them all in one statement, he is liable only once. Even though buckwheat is a subspecies of wheat, since it is mentioned individually, he is liable for it individually (Radbaz).

24.

I.e., this combines the principles stated in Halachot 10 and 12.

25.

Similarly, he is liable for a guilt offering for each oath as stated in Halachah 9.

26.

It says chamishitav rather than chamishoto.

27.

This figure can be explained as follows: The principal is four. He must pay an additional three, for each fifth is one fifth of the new total and not one fifth of the original principal (Chapter 11, Halachah 20). He is not, however, required to pay more than one for the second and third oaths, for one is required to pay one fifth of the principal and not a fifth of the fifths (Radbaz). Note, however, Hilchot Gezelah 7:12 which explains that if he already was held liable by a court for the additional fifth, it becomes considered as part of the principal.

28.

This principle is also reflected in Hilchot To'en V'Nit'an 3:1 and Hilchot Sanhedrin 20:11. In Hilchot Shekalim 1:3, the Rambam defines a p'rutah as half a barleycorn of silver. Shiurei Torah defines this as 1/40th of a gram of silver.

29.

For such an oath concerns a financially significant claim and this does not. The Sifra derives this from the exegesis of Leviticus 5:26.

30.

For he took a false oath, as in Halachot 2-3.

Shvuot - Chapter 8

1

A person is exempt [from liability for] a sh'vuat hapikadon [in the following situation]: He stole an ox belonging to a colleague and slaughtered it or sold it.1 His colleague lodged a claim against him, telling him: "You stole my ox and you slaughtered it or sold it." [The defendant] responded: "I stole it, but did not slaughter it or sell it" and took an oath to support his claim.

[The reason for his exemption is that] were he to have acknowledged that he slaughtered or sold [the ox] on his own accord, he would not have been required to pay four and five times its worth for this is a fine, as explained in Hilchot Genevah.2 Thus it is as if he did not deny a financial obligation. Therefore he is exempt [from liability for] a sh'vuat hapikadon, but liable for a sh'vuat bitui, for he took a false oath, saying that he did not slaughter [the ox], when [in fact] he did.

א

הגונב שורו של חבירו וטבחו או מכרו, תבעו בעל השור ואמר לו גנבת שורי וטבחת או מכרת והוא אומר גנבתי אבל לא טבחתי ולא מכרתי ונשבע הרי זה פטור משבועת הפקדון, שאילו הודה מעצמו שטבח או מכר לא היה משלם תשלומי ארבעה וחמשה מפני שהוא קנס כמו שיתבאר בהלכות גנבה, ונמצא זה כמו שלא כפר ממון ולפיכך פטור משבועת הפקדון וחייב בשבועת ביטוי שהרי נשבע על שקר שלא טבח והוא טבח.

2

Similarly, a person is exempt [from liability for] a sh'vuat hapikadon [in the following situations]. A person lodged a claim against him saying: "Your ox killed my servant," and he denied the incident and took an oath.3 A servant lodged a claim against his master saying: "You knocked out my tooth" or "You blinded my eye."4 For if he acknowledged the claim, he would not be obligated to pay because it is a fine.5 He is, however, liable for a sh'vuat bitui. Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.

ב

וכן האומר לחבירו המית שורך את עבדי וכפר ונשבע והעבד שתבע רבו ואמר הפלת שני וסמית עיני וכפר ונשבע פטור משבועת הפקדון, שאילו הודה לא היה משלם מפני שהוא קנס אבל חייב בשבועת ביטוי וכן כל כיוצא בזה.

3

When a person lodges a claim against a colleague concerning a matter that involves both a fine which he would not be obligated to pay if he admits his liability on his own initiative as explained [above] and a financial claim which he is liable to pay on his own admission, he denies the entire claim, and takes an oath, he is liable for a sh'vuat hapikadon.6

What is implied? A person lodged a claim [against a colleague,] telling him: "You raped or you seduced my daughter."7 [The defendant] responded: "I did not rape or seduce her" and took an oath to this effect, he is liable for a sh'vuat hapikadon. For although he would not be required to pay the fine were he to have admitted [his guilt], he is obligated to pay for the embarrassment and damages even on his own admission.8

Similarly, if a person tells a colleague: "You stole my ox," and he says, "I did not steal it" and takes an oath, he is liable for a sh'vuat hapikadon. Although he would not obligated to make the double payment [for a stolen object] on the basis of his own admission,9 he would be obligated to pay the principal on the basis of his own admission.

ג

התובע את חבירו בדבר שיש בו קנס שאינו משלם אותו על פי עצמו כמו שבארנו, ויש בו ממון שהוא משלם אותו על פי עצמו וכפר בכל דבר ונשבע הרי זה חייב משום שבועת הפקדון, כיצד תבעו ואמר לו אנסת או פתית בתי והוא אמר לא אנסתי ולא פתיתי ונשבע חייב בשבועת הפקדון, שאע"פ שאינו משלם קנס על פי עצמו אילו הודה היה משלם בשת ופגם על פי עצמו, וכן האומר לחבירו גנבת שורי והוא אומר לא גנבתי ונשבע חייב בשבועת הפקדון שאע"פ שאינו משלם כפל בהודאתו משלם הוא את הקרן בהודאתו.

4

When a person tells a colleague: "You inflicted a wound upon me,"10 and [the defendant] denies it, or "Your ox killed my ox,"11 and [the defendant] denies it, taking an oath, [the defendant] is liable for a sh'vuat hapikadon. Had he admitted [his act], he would be obligated to make restitution.

ד

האומר לחבירו עשית בי חבורה והוא אומר לא עשיתי, המית שורך את שורי והוא אומר לא המית ונשבע חייב בשבועת הפקדון שאילו הודה היה חייב לשלם.

5

[A watchman] is not liable for a sh'vuat hapikadon [in the following instance]: A person entrusted his ox to an unpaid watchman, the ox died, and he lodged a claim against the watchman, saying: "Where is the ox I entrusted to you?" The watchman responded: "You did not entrust anything to me," "You entrusted it, but it was stolen," or "...lost"12 and took an oath [to that effect]. [The rationale is] that had he admitted and related the matter as it occurred, he would not have been liable to make financial restitution, because he is an unpaid watchman.13 He is, however, liable for a sh'vuat bitui, for he took a false oath. Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.

ה

נתן שורו לשומר חנם ומת השור, תבעו ואמר לו היכן שורי שהפקדתי אצלך אמר לו לא הפקדת אצלי כלום או שאמר לו הפקדת ונגנב או אבד ונשבע הרי זה פטור משבועת הפקדון, שאילו הודה ואמר הדבר כשהיה לא היה חייב לשלם ממון מפני שהוא שומר חנם, אבל חייב הוא משום שבועת ביטוי שהרי נשבע על שקר, וכן כל כיוצא בזה.

6

[Similarly, a person] is not liable for a sh'vuat hapikadon [in the following instance]: A person lent his ox to a colleague and then demanded its return, saying: "Where is the ox you borrowed from me?" Now the ox had died, but the borrower said: "It was stolen" or "...lost" and took an oath to this effect. [The rationale is that] he did not free himself from making restitution by his denial and is nevertheless liable to pay whether the animal died, was stolen, lost, or taken captive because he was a borrower, as will be explained in the appropriate place.14 He is, however, liable for a sh'vuat bitui, for he took a false oath. Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.

ו

השאיל שורו לחבירו ותבעו ואמר לו היכן שורי ששאלת ממני והרי השור מת, ואמר לו השואל נגנב או אבד ונשבע על זה הרי זה פטור משבועת הפקדון, שהרי לא פטר עצמו מן התשלומין בכפירתו ומכל מקום חייב הוא לשלם בין מת או נגנב או אבד או נשבה מפני שהוא שואל כמו שיתבאר במקומו, אבל חייב הוא משום שבועת ביטוי שהרי נשבע על שקר וכן כל כיוצא בזה.

7

This is the general principle: Whoever does not free himself from financial responsibility unless he makes this denial is liable for a sh'vuat hapikadon if he takes an oath. [This applies] whether he took the oath on his own initiative or the plaintiff administer the oath and he stated his denial even though he did not answer Amen nor utter the oath himself.

ז

זה הכלל כל שאינו פוטר עצמו מן התשלומין אלא בכפירה זו ונשבע בין מפי עצמו בין שהשביעו התובע וכפר הרי זה חייב בשבועת הפקדון אע"פ שלא ענה אמן ולא הוציא שבועה מפיו.

8

[A thief] is liable for a sh'vuat hapikadon [in the following instance]: He stole his colleague's ox. [The colleague] demanded payment, telling him: "You stole my ox."

[The thief] responded: "I did not steal it."

Why, then, is it in your possession?"

"You entrusted it to me [for safekeeping]" and he took an oath to that effect.15

[The rationale is that] had he admitting stealing it, he would have been liable to pay the value in any case.16 By saying now that it is an entrusted object, he exempts himself from liability for theft and for loss,17 i.e., were the ox to be lost or stolen after this admission, he is not obligated to pay.

ח

הגונב שור חבירו ותבעו ואמר לו שורי גנבת והוא אומר לא גנבתי, מה טיבו אצלך אתה הפקדתו אצלי ונשבע, חייב בשבועת הפקדון, שאילו הודה שגנבו היה חייב לשלם דמי השור מכל מקום ועכשיו שאמר פקדון הוא הרי פטר עצמו בכפירה זו מן הגנבה ומן האבדה שאם נגנב השור או אבד אחר הודאה זו היה פטור מלשלם.

9

Similarly, if he were to claim that he rented it and took an oath to that effect, he is liable for a sh'vuat hapikadon, for he freed himself for liability in the cases of injury or death. Similarly, if he claimed: "You lent it to me" and took an oath to that effect, he is liable for a sh'vuat hapikadon, for he freed himself for liability if it dies while performing its work, as will be explained in Hilchot Sheilah.18

ט

וכן אם טען ששכרו ונשבע חייב בשבועת הפקדון שהרי פטר עצמו מן השבורה ומן המיתה, וכן אם טען ואמר השאלתו לי ונשבע חייב בשבועת הפקדון שהרי פטר עצמו מן המיתה בשעת המלאכה כמו שיתבאר בהלכות השאלה.

10

Therefore if one says: "I did not steal it. Instead, you entrusted it to me...", "...hired me to watch it...", or "...lent it to me. Here is your ox. Take it." If he took an oath to that effect, he is not liable for a sh'vuat hapikadon,19for he admitted owing the principle and did not exempt himself from any liability with this denial.20

י

לפיכך אם אמר לא גנבתי אבל אתה הפקדתו אצלי או שכרתני לשומרו או השאלתהו לי והרי שורך לפניך קחהו ונשבע על זה הרי זה פטור משבועת הפקדון, שהרי הודה בקרן ולא פטר עצמו בכפירה זו מכלום.

11

Similarly, he is not liable for a sh'vuat hapikadon if he uses any of the following excuses and takes an oath to that effect: "You sold it to me, but I have not paid for it yet. If you want, take the money for it. If not, here is your ox," "You gave it to me as payment for work which I will perform for you. If you desire, I will perform the work. If you do not desire, take it and depart," "I found it wandering on the road and did not know that it was yours. Now that I know, take it and depart," or "It chased after my ox. Here, it's yours." He is, however, liable for a sh'vuat bitui, for he took a false oath.

יא

וכן אם אמר לו אתה מכרתו לי ועדיין לא נתתי דמיו אם תרצה קח דמיו או הרי שלך לפניך, או שאמר לו אתה נתתו לי בשכר מלאכה שאעשה לך אם תרצה שאעשה לך או קחנו ולך, תועה בדרך מצאתיו ולא ידעתי שהוא שלך עכשיו שידעתי קחנו ולך, או שאמר אחר פרתי רץ והרי הוא לפניך, ונשבע על כל טענה מאלו פטור משבועת הפקדון שהרי לא פטר עצמו מכלום, וחייב בשבועת ביטוי שהרי נשבע על שקר.

12

When a person is financially obligated to two partners, one demands payment from him, he denies his obligation and takes an oath, he is liable for a sh'vuat hapikadon21 for he denied a financial obligation. If they both demanded payment from him and he admitted the entire obligation to one of them, but said: "I borrowed only from this one,"22 should he take an oath to this effect, he is not liable for a sh'vuat hapikadon, for he did not free himself from any liability. He is, however, liable for a sh'vuat bitui.

יב

מי שהיה חייב ממון לשני שותפין ותבעו אחד מהן וכפר בו ונשבע חייב בשבועת הפקדון שהרי כפר ממון, תבעוהו שניהם והודה בכל לאחד מהם ואמר לא לויתי אלא מזה לבדו ונשבע פטור משבועת הפקדון שהרי לא פטר עצמו מכלום אבל חייב בשבועת ביטוי.

13

Similarly, if there was a person who owed a debt supported by a promissory note, but he denied it and took an oath to that effect, he is not liable for a sh'vuat hapikadon. [The rationale is that because of] the promissory note, [the person's] landed property is placed under lien. Thus the person is denying [an obligation involving] landed property. And as we have already explained,23 a person who denied a claim involving landed property is not liable for a sh'vuat hapikadon. He is, however, liable for a sh'vuat bitui, for he took a false oath.24

יג

וכן מי שהיתה עליו מלוה בשטר וכפר בה ונשבע פטור משבועת הפקדון, שהרי בשטר נשתעבד הקרקע ונמצא זה ככופר בקרקע, וכבר בארנו שהכופר בקרקע פטור משבועת הפקדון וחייב בשבועת ביטוי שהרי נשבע על שקר.

14

If a person owed a debt to which there were witnesses, he denied [his obligation], and took an oath [to that effect], he is liable for a sh'vuat hapikadon. For by denying his obligation, he freed himself from the liability of paying immediately. When the witnesses will come, he will be obligated to pay and thus his denial will not be effective.25 It is, however, effective in that perhaps the witnesses will not come, they will come and their testimony will not be substantiated,26 or they will be disqualified.27 Therefore28 he is liable.

יד

היתה עליו מלוה בעדים בלבד וכפר ונשבע חייב בשבועת הפקדון שהרי פטר עצמו בכפירתו מלשלם עתה, ואע"פ שכשיבואו העדים יתחייב לשלם ונמצא שלא הועיל לו כפירתו, הרי הועילה בעתה ושמא לא יבואו העדים או יבואו ולא תתקיים עדותן או יפסלו ולפיכך חייב.

Footnotes
1.

In which instance, he is obligated to pay five times the value of the ox (Exodus 21:37).

2.

Hilchot Genevah 1:5. See also Chapter 7, Halachah 2 above.

3.

In which instance, the owner of the ox is liable to pay a fine of 30 shekalim to the owner of the servant (Exodus 21:32).

4.

In which instance, the owner is required to free the servant (Exodus 21:26-27).

5.

For in these instances, the person is not paying the worth of the damage, but an arbitrary amount that could be either more or less.

6.

For he is denying a financial claim. The fact that it also includes a fine is not significant.

7.

I.e., a virgin girl between the ages of three and twelve and a half (Hilchot Na'arah Betulah 1:1).

8.

As explained in Hilchot Na'arah Betulah 2:1-2, a person who seduces a girl is required to pay a fine of 50 silver pieces, as stated in Exodus 22:15, for the embarrassment he causes her, and the damages due to her reduction in her value. A rapist must also pay for the pain he causes. The embarrassment and the damages are considered as financial obligations.

9.

For that is a fine.

10.

For the damages (more particularly, the unemployment assessment, the medical fees, and the allocation for embarrassment) he must pay his colleague for the wound are considered as a financial obligation and not as a fine (see Hilchot Chovel UMazik 5:7; Hilchot To'en V'Nitan 1:16).

11.

Here as well, the damages one ox causes another are considered as a financial obligation. This applies with regard to an ox that has been distinguished as one which gores. If an ox is not known to have such a tendency, the half-payment for the damages that it causes is considered as a fine (see Hilchot Nizkei Mammon 2:8).

12.

Since he would not have been liable had he told the truth, the fact that he took a false oath does not obligate him for a sh'vuat hapikadon.

13.

He is not liable in cases involving death or other losses due to forces beyond his control.

14.

Hilchot Sechirut 1:2; Hilchot Sheilah Ufikadon 1:1.

15.

On his own volition; he is under no obligation to do so.

16.

I.e., even if it dies or is destroyed by forces beyond his control.

17.

Since he reduces his liability through his statements, he is liable for a sh'vuat hapikadon.

18.

Hilchot Sheilah UFikadon 1:1.

19.

He is, however, liable for a sh'vuat bitui since he took a false oath.

20.

For he told the owner to take his ox.

21.

This applies even if he admits owing a portion of the debt to the other partner. Since he denied part of the debt, he is liable.

22.

I.e., he admitted the entire debt, but said that he owed it only to one person and not to both partners.

23.

Chapter 7, Halachot 2-3.

24.

The Radbaz notes that this statement is seemingly redundant; it is made more than ten times in this and the previous chapter. He explains that it would appear that taking a false sh'vuat hapikadon is more severe than taking a false sh'vuat bitui, yet the punishment for a false sh'vuat bitui, lashes, is more severe than that for a false sh'vuat hapikadon, bringing a sacrifice. Hence, it is necessary for the Rambam to state the point explicitly each time.

25.

And thus there is room to say that he is not liable for a sh'vuat hapikadon, as indicated by Halachah 7.

26.

I.e., it will be disqualified through the process of cross-examination.

27.

And thus be prevented from testifying.

28.

I.e., because his denial has an immediate - and perhaps long-term - effect, he is liable.

Shvuot - Chapter 9

1

When a plaintiff1 demands that witnesses testify concerning a matter that through their testimony alone2 will obligate the defendant to pay this plaintiff a financial claim involving moveable property,3 [the witnesses] denied [knowing] testimony and took an oath to this effect - whether in a court of law or outside of it - they are liable for sh'vuat haedut,4 for they caused the plaintiff a financial lost through their denial.

Similarly, if the plaintiff administered an oath to them and they denied the matter, [they are liable] even though they did not take an oath or answer Amen to the oath he [administered]. Since they denied the matter, they are liable, provided he administered the oath to them in court.5

א

התובע עדיו להעיד לו עדות שיתחייב הנתבע בעדותן לבדה ליתן לתובע זה ממון המטלטל, וכפרו בעדותן ונשבעו, בין שנשבעו בבית דין בין שנשבעו חוץ לבית דין הרי אלו חייבין משום שבועת העדות, שהרי הפסידוהו ממון בכפירתם, וכן אם השביעם התובע וכפרו בו אע"פ שלא נשבעו הן ולא ענו אמן אחר שבועתו כיון שכפרו הרי אלו חייבין, והוא שישביעם בבית דין.

2

The witnesses are not liable for a sh'vuat haedut unless they deny [knowing testimony] in court. Whether they took the oath or the oath was administered to them in court or outside the court, the denial must be in court alone, as [can be derived from Leviticus 5:1]: "If he will not testify, he will bear his sin." [Implied is that] in the place he will testify and [that testify] will have an effect,6there, if he does not testify, he will be liable.

ב

אין העדים חייבין בשבועת העדות עד שיכפרו בעדותן בבית דין, בין שנשבעו או השביען בבית דין בין שנשבעו או השביען חוץ לבית דין, והכפירה בבית דין בלבד, שנאמר אם לא יגיד ונשא עונו מקום שיגיד ויועיל הוא שאם לא יגיד שם יתחייב.

3

When the plaintiff demands [that the witnesses] testify concerning a claim that does not involve a financial obligation,7 concerns landed property, servants, or promissory notes, they deny [knowing testimony], and take an oath to that effect, they are not liable for a sh'vuat edut. For they are liable when denying testimony concerning financial claims that resemble an entrusted object, a [financial] deposit, a robbery, or a lost oject which the verse8 mentions in this passage. This refers to moveable property which is itself of financial worth9 that were they to testify on [the plaintiff's] behalf, [the defendant] would have to pay.

ג

תבען בעדות שאינה מחייבת ממון או בעדות קרקעות או עבדים או שטרות וכפרו ונשבעו פטורין משבועת העדות, שאין חייבין אלא על כפירת עדות ממון שדומה לפקדון ותשומת יד וגזל ואבדה שפרטן הכתוב בפרשה שהן מטלטלין שגופן ממון וכשיעידו לזה יתן זה.

4

Similarly, when one administers an oath to witnesses who [can testify regarding] a fine and they deny [knowledge] of the matter, they are not liable for a sh'vuat haedut. [The rationale is that] were the defendant to come and acknowledge his liability for the fine first,10 he would not be liable to pay even though the witnesses came afterwards and testified accordingly. Thus the witnesses did not make him liable through their testimony alone. Instead, it was their testimony together with the denial of the defendant that made him liable. Since their testimony would not be effective if he acknowledged [his liability], if they denied [knowing of] the matter and took an oath, they are not liable.

ד

וכן המשביע עדי קנס וכפרו פטורין משבועת העדות, מפני שאם קדם הנתבע והודה בקנס יפטר מלשלם ואע"פ שבאו העדים אחר כן והעידו, נמצאו העדים לא חייבו זה בעדותן לבדה אלא עדותן עם כפירת הנתבע היא המחייבת אותן והואיל ואם הודה לא תועיל עדותן אם כפרו בה ונשבעו פטורין.

5

[When a plaintiff administers an oath to witnesses, saying:] "I am making you take an oath that you come and testify on my behalf that so-and-so owes me a double payment"11 or a four- or five-fold payment12 and the witnesses deny [knowledge of the matter], they are liable for a sh'vuat haedut because of the principle which is a financial obligation,13 but not because of the double payment which is a fine.

Similarly, if he administered an oath that they testify that they testify that so-and-so raped or seduced his daughter and they deny [knowledge of the matter], they are liable for a sh'vuat haedut because of the [payment due] for embarrassment and damages.14 For if the defendant acknowledged his obligation, he would have to pay these obligations, but not because of the fine. Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.

ה

משביעכם אני שתבואו ותעידו לי שיש לי ביד פלוני תשלומי כפל ותשלומי ארבעה וחמשה וכפרו, חייבין בשבועת העדות מפני הקרן שהוא ממון לא מפני הכפל שהוא קנס, וכן אם השביעם שיעידו לו שאנס פלוני או פתה בתו וכפרו חייבין בשבועת העדות מפני הבושת והפגם שאם הודה בהם הנתבע משלם לא מפני הקנס וכן כל כיוצא בזה.

6

Witnesses are not liable for a sh'vuat haedut until they deny [knowledge of the matter] and take an oath after the plaintiff or his agent15 demand [that they testify]. If, however, they take an oath first, before a demand is made of them, they are not liable for a sh'vuat haedut.

ו

אין העדים חייבין בשבועת העדות עד שיכפרו וישבעו אחר תביעת בעל דין עצמו או שלוחו, אבל אם קדמו ונשבעו קודם שיתבעם פטורין משבועת העדות.

7

What is implied? [The witnesses] saw the plaintiff following after them, they told him: "Why are you following us? We are taking an oath that we do not know any testimony involving you," they are not liable for a sh'vuat haedut. [The rationale is that] the plaintiff did not make a demand of them. Instead, they took the oath first on their own initiative.16

Similarly, if the defendant administered an oath to them that if they knew testimony involving the plaintiff they should come and testify and they deny [knowledge of the matter], they are not liable for a sh'vuat haedut unless the plaintiff makes them take the oath.17 Needless to say, if he administered an oath that they should come to testify that so-and-so owes so-and-so money and they deny [knowledge of the matter], they are not liable. For the person making this demand is not the plaintiff himself. Similarly, if the oath preceded [their knowledge of] the testimony, they are not liable for a sh'vuat haedut, as [implied by Leviticus 5:1]: "And he heard the voice of an oath [when] he was a witness." [It can be inferred that knowledge of] the testimony preceded the oath and not that the oath preceded the knowledge of the testimony.

ז

כיצד ראו התובע הולך אחריהן אמרו לו למה אתה בא אחרינו שבועה שאין אנו יודעין לך עדות הרי אלו פטורין משבועת העדות מפני שלא תבען התובע אלא הם קדמו ונשבעו בתביעת עצמן, וכן אם השביעם הנתבע שאם תדעו לזה שתובע אותו עדות שתבואו ותעידו לו וכפרו הרי אלו פטורין משבועת העדות עד שישביעם התובע, ואין צריך לומר אם השביעם שיבואו ויעידו שיש לפלוני ביד פלוני ממון וכפרו שהן פטורין שאין זה התובע בעל דין עצמו, וכן אם קדמה שבועה לעדות הרי אלו פטורין משבועת העדות שנאמר ושמעה קול אלה והוא עד שקדמה עדות לשבועה לא שקדמה שבועה לעדות.

8

What is implied? [The plaintiff says:] "I am administering to you an oath that if you will know of testimony concerning me that you come and testify," and the witnesses responded Amen and afterwards they observed a matter concerning him.18 If he demands that they testify and they deny [knowledge of the matter], they are not liable for a sh'vuat haedut.

ח

כיצד משביע אני עליכם כשתדעו לי עדות שתבואו ותעידוני ואמרו אמן וידעו לו עדות אחר כן ותבעם להעיד וכפרו בו הרי אלו פטורין משבועת העדות.

9

Witnesses are not liable for a sh'vuat haedut until the plaintiff singles them out and administers an oath to them or they take an oath.19

What is implied? A person stood up in a synagogue and said: "I am administering an oath to anyone who knows testimony concerning me to come and testify on my behalf." They all - including his witnesses - responded Amen. Afterwards, he demanded of his witnesses that they testify and they denied [knowledge of the matter]. They are not liable for a sh'vuat haedut, because he did not single out the witnesses individually. If, however, he said: "I am administering an oath to all of those standing here that if they know testimony concerning me to come and testify on my behalf." [If] his witnesses were among those present and [then] they denied [knowledge of the matter], they are liable for a sh'vuat haedut, because he singled them out among the others.20

ט

אין העדים חייבים בשבועת העדות עד שייחד אותם התובע וישביעם או ישבעו, כיצד עמד בבית הכנסת ואמר משביע אני כל מי שידע לי עדות שיבא ויעיד לי וענו כולם אמן ועדיו בכללם ואחר כך תבע עדיו וכפרו בו הרי אלו פטורין משבועת העדות, מפני שלא ייחד עדיו בשבועה בפני עצמן, אבל אם אמר משביע אני כל העומדים כאן שאם ידעו לי עדות שיבואו ויעידו לי והיו עדיו בכללם וכפרו הרי אלו חייבין בשבועת העדות שהרי ייחדם בכלל אחרים.

10

Similarly, if he told the witnesses: "Come and testify on my behalf that so-and-so owes me a maneh" and then stands in a synagogue and said: "I am administering an oath to anyone who knows testimony concerning me to come and testify on my behalf," should they not come and testify, they are liable, because he made a demand of them previously. [This applies] provided they are present in the synagogue and a court is also there.21 If a court was not present, they are liable for a sh'vuat haedut if they answered Amen and deny [knowledge of the matter] while in a court of law.22 If they did not answer Amen, they are not liable.

י

וכן אם אמר לעדים בואו והעידו לי שיש לי מנה ביד פלוני, ואח"כ עמד בבית הכנסת והשביע כל מי שיודע לו עדות יבוא ויעיד ולא באו ולא העידו הרי אלו חייבין, שהרי תבען תחלה, והוא שיהיו אז בבית הכנסת ויהיה שם בית דין, אבל אם לא היו בפני בית דין אם ענו אמן חייבין בשבועת העדות כשיכפרו בעדותן בבית דין ואם לא ענו אמן אינן חייבין. 39

11

Whether one administers an oath to his witnesses or tells them "I am commanding you with an oath" or "I am binding you with an oath," they are liable provided he administers the oath23 with God's name or with one of the terms used to describe Him as explained.24

יא

אחד המשביע עדיו בשבועה, או שאמר להן מצוה אני עליכם בשבועה, אוסרכם אני בשבועה הרי אלו חייבין, והוא שישביעם בשם או בכינוי מן הכינוים כמו שבארנו.

12

The witnesses are not liable unless the oath is administered to them in a language that they understand.25

יב

ואין העדים חייבין עד שישביעם בלשון שהם מכירין אותה.

13

Thus you have learned that witnesses are not liable for a sh'vuat haedut unless ten conditions are [met]. They are:26

a) [The witnesses] must be charged [with testifying] by the plaintiff;

b) [The matter] must involve a financial claim;

c) It must involve movable property;

d) Their testimony alone, had it been given, would be sufficient to require the defendant to pay;

e) They must deny [knowledge of the matter] after the plaintiff charges them;

f) They must issue their denial in court;

g) God's name or a term used to describe Him must be mentioned in the oath;

h) The knowledge of the matter must precede the oath;

i) The witnesses must be singled out at the time of the oath or at the time they are charged;

j) The oath must be in a language that they understand.

יג

הנה למדת שאין העדים חייבין בשבועת העדות אלא ע"פ עשרה דברים ואלו הן: שיתבעם התובע, ושתהיה עדות ממון, ושיהיה ממון המטלטל, ושיתחייב הנתבע לשלם בעדותן לבד אם העידו, ושיכפרו אחר שתבען התובע, ושיכפרו בבית דין, ושתהיה שם שבועה בשם או בכינוי, ושתקדם ידיעת העדות לשבועה, ושייחד עדיו בעת השבועה או בעת התביעה, ושתהיה השבועה בלשון שהן מכירין אותה.

14

Whenever we have used the expression "they are not liable" [in this chapter], the intent is that they are not liable for a sh'vuat haedut. They are, however, liable for a sh'vuat bitui, provided they take the oath or answer Amen to an oath administered by a colleague, because they took a false oath.27

When, by contrast, one is liable for a sh'vuat haedut, he is only liable for a sh'vuat haedutand is not liable for a sh'vuat bitui, even though he took a false oath and did so intentionally. [The rationale is that] the Torah removed a sh'vuat haedut from the category of sh'vuat bitui to make a person who deliberately [takes a false oath] liable for a sacrifice for its violation just as one who took it inadvertently.28 He is not, however, liable for lashes, as [can be derived from Leviticus 5:5 which] states: "For one of these."29 A person who takes a [false] oath is liable for one type of oath, but not two. [We do not hold him liable for both] a sh'vuat haedut and a sh'vuat bitui.

יד

כל מקום שאמרנו פטור, פטור משבועת העדות אבל חייב בשבועת ביטוי והוא שנשבע או שענה אמן אם השביעו אחר שהרי נשבע על שקר, אבל המחוייב בשבועת העדות אע"פ שהוא נשבע על שקר ואע"פ שהוא מזיד אינו חייב משום שבועת ביטוי אלא משום שבועת העדות בלבד, שהרי הכתוב הוציא שבועת העדות מכלל שבועת ביטוי לחייב המזיד בה כשוגג בקרבן אבל לא במלקות שנאמר לאחת מאלה, במין אחד ממיני שבועות אתה מחייב הנשבע ואי אתה מחייבו בשני מינין עד שיהיה חייב בדין שבועת העדות ובדין שבועת ביטוי.

15

[When the plaintiff says: "I am administering] an oath to you unless you come and testify that so-and-so has an entrusted object, a [financial] deposit, stolen property, and a lost object of mine in his possession," [and the witnesses respond: "We are taking] an oath that we do not know of any testimony concerning you," they are liable for only one [sacrifice].30 [If they say: "We are taking] an oath that we do not know of any testimony concerning an entrusted object, a [financial] deposit, stolen property, and a lost object of yours in so-and-so's possession, they are liable for each [statement].31

טו

משביע אני עליכם אם לא תבאו ותעידו לי שיש לי ביד פלוני פקדון ותשומת יד גזל ואבדה, שבועה שאין אנו יודעין לך עדות אינן חייבין אלא אחת, שבועה שאין אנו יודעין לך עדות שיש לך ביד פלוני פקדון ותשומת יד גזל ואבדה חייבין על כל אחת ואחת.

16

[When the plaintiff says: "I am administering] an oath to you unless you come and testify that so-and-so has wheat, barley, and buckwheat of mine in his possession," and [the defendant responds]: "[We are taking] an oath that we do not know of any testimony concerning you," they are liable for only one [sacrifice].32[If they answer: "We are taking] an oath that we do not know of any testimony concerning any wheat, barley, and buckwheat of yours in his possession," he is liable for each [statement].

טז

משביע אני עליכם אם לא תבואו ותעידו לי שיש לי ביד פלוני חטים ושעורים וכוסמין, שבועה שאין אנו יודעין לך עדות אינם חייבין אלא אחת, שבועה שאין אנו יודעים לך עדות שיש לך ביד פלוני חטים ושעורים וכוסמין חייבין על כל אחת ואחת.

17

Similarly, if many people charged them with testifying and they said: "[We are taking] an oath that we do not know of any testimony concerning you," they are liable for only one [sacrifice]. [If they said:] "...concerning you, and you, and you," they are liable for each [statement], as explained with regard to sh'vuat hapikadon.33

יז

וכן אם תבעו אותן רבים להעיד להם ואמרו שבועה שאין אנו יודעין לכם עדות אינן חייבין אלא אחת, לא לך ולא לך ולא לך חייבין על כל אחת ואחת כדרך שבארנו בשבועות הפקדון.

18

When a person administers an oath to a colleague that he knows testimony concerning him and ultimately, it is discovered that he does not know testimony, [the colleague] is not liable, neither for a sh'vuat haedut34, nor for a sh'vuat bitui. [The rationale is that] a sh'vuat bitui involves only matters that have both a positive and negative dimension.35 Were the person to have said: "I am taking an oath that I do not know testimony concerning you," that would not be a sh'vuat bitui, but instead a sh'vuat haedut. Hence since the negative dimension of the statement is not a sh'vuat bitui, the positive dimension, taking an oath that one knows testimony, is not a sh'vuat bitui.36

יח

הנשבע לחבירו שהוא יודע לו עדות ונמצא שאינו יודע לו עדות הרי זה פטור ואין כאן לא שבועת העדות ולא שבועת ביטוי, מפני ששבועת ביטוי אינה אלא בדבר שיש בו לאו והן, ואם יאמר שבועה שאיני יודע לך עדות אין זה שבועת ביטוי אלא שבועת העדות, הואיל ולאו זה שיש בה אינה שבועת ביטוי, כך הן שבה שהוא הנשבע שיודע לו עדות אינו שבועת ביטוי.

19

It is clear that when a person takes an oath to a colleague that he testified on his behalf and he did not testify or that he did not testify and he testified, he is liable for a sh'vuat bitui;37 there is no connection to a sh'vuat haedut at all.38

יט

דבר ברור הוא שהנשבע לחבירו שהעיד לו והוא לא העיד או שלא העיד לו והוא העיד הרי זה חייב משום שבועת ביטוי ואין כאן שבועת עדות כלל.

Footnotes
1.

This excludes instances when an oath is not made in response to the plaintiff's demands, as stated in Halachah 7. And it excludes an instance when the matter was observed by two pairs of witnesses, as stated in Chapter 10, Halachah 15.

2.

This excludes a fine, because in that instance, the defendant does not become liable until he denies the obligation and the witnesses refute his denial. With regard to monetary claims, by contrast, once the witnesses testify, the defendant is liable regardless of whether he admits or disputes his liability. See Halachah 4.

3.

Halachah 3 explains that this phrase excludes promissory notes, landed property, and servants.

4.

This term literally means "the oath [concerning] testimony." As stated in Chapter 1, Halachah 12, a person who takes this oath falsely is liable to bring an adjustable guilt offering.

5.

As reflected by Halachah 10, when the oath is administered by the plaintiff and the witnesses do not answer Amen, the oath must be administered in court. If, however, the witnesses take the oath on their own accord or they answer Amen, they are liable even if this takes places outside a court, provided the denial takes place within a court, as stated in the following halachah (Radbaz, Kessef Mishneh; see also Chapter 10, Halachah 7 and notes).

6.

I.e., in court. See Halachah 10 and notes where this concept is discussed.

7.

E.g., he demanded that they testify that he was a priest or a Levite (Chapter 10, Halachah 3).

8.

Leviticus 5:21-22; see the explanations in Chapter 7, Halachah 4, and notes.

9.

In contrast to promissory notes.

10.

See Hilchot Nizkei Mammon 2:8.

11.

For a theft.

12.

For the theft and slaughter or sale of a sheep or a cow.

13.

For this must be paid even if he admits stealing himself.

14.

See Chapter 8, Halachah 3, and notes.

15.

This applies to a person who has been given power of attorney (see Chapter 7, Halachah 6). If he has not been given formal power of attorney, even if he is an agent acting on behalf of the principal, the oath he administers is not of consequence (Rabbi Akiva Eiger).

16.

As the Rambam writes in his Commentary to Mishnah (Sh'vuot 4:12), Leviticus 5:1 states "If he does not tell" but the word "not" is written lamed alef vav. This implies both lamed alef "not," and lamed vav "to him." Implied is that he must say no to him, i.e., in response to his demand.

17.

This can also be derived through the process of exegesis mentioned above. One can infer that the witnesses he must say no to him, to the plaintiff himself

18.

I.e., at the time the oath was administered, they did not have knowledge of testimony concerning the plaintiff, but afterwards they observed the matter under investigation.

19.

From the exegesis of the prooftext cited above, Sh'vuot 35a understands that the verse is speaking, not of people in general, but of persons singled out to serve as witnesses.

20.

Although he spoke to the group as a whole, the oath was directed to each of the persons individually.

Rabbenu Nissim mentions another concept related to this ruling. A plaintiff may administer an oath to a person even when he is not certain that the person in fact knows testimony concerning him.

21.

Since they did not take the oath or answer Amen, they are not liable unless the oath is administered in the presence of a court, as stated in Halachah 1.

22.

For their denial must be made in a court of law, as stated in Halachah 2.

The Ra'avad differs with the Rambam's decision, explaining that the Rambam follows the opinion of Rabbi Meir (Sh'vuot 30a), but the Ra'avad maintains that the halachah should be decided according to the Sages who differ with rabbi Meir. Similarly, the Ra'avad also differs with the Rambam's postulate that if the witnesses do not answer Amen, the oath must be administered in a court.

The Radbaz justifies the Rambam's position, explaining that since the witnesses did not take the oath themselves or respond Amen, it is their denial of knowledge of the testimony that constitutes acceptance of the oath. Accordingly, just as the denial must be made in court, the oath must be administered in court. For it is inappropriate that the oath itself be administered outside the court, while its acceptance is required to be in court. See also Chapter 10, Halachah 17 and notes.

23.

Or includes God's name in any of the other expressions (Radbaz).

24.

See Chapter 2, Halachot 2-4.

25.

See Chapter 7, Halachah 7. This applies even if they answer Amen to the oath (Jerusalem Talmud, Sotah 7:1).

26.

All of these points have been discussed in the previous halachot.

27.

Although the Rambam's position is shared by many other Rishonim, there are others (e.g., Rashi, Sh'vuot 25b), who differ and maintain that since the oath involves testimony, one is never liable for a sh'vuat bitui even when he is not liable for a sh'vuat haedut. See Halachah 18 and notes.

28.

Sh'vuot 30a notes that with regard to all the other types of oaths, the Torah uses the expression "and it became concealed from him," but it does not use that expression with regard to a sh'vuat haedut. Implied is that even if the matter is not concealed, i.e., he transgresses deliberately, he is liable for a sacrifice. The Radbaz questions - without resolving - why the Torah gives the person a lesser punishment - a sacrifice - instead of lashes, when he purposefully violates this transgression.

29.

The same passage mentions both a sh'vuat haedut and a sh'vuat bitui. This verse teaches that one can be held liable for only one of these types of oaths. This also applies with regard to the other false oaths for which the Torah holds one liable. One can be held liable only for one.

30.

Because they included all the obligations in a single statement. Note the parallel to this and the subsequent laws in Chapter 7, Halachot 10-14.

31.

For they singled out each object individually.

32.

Although they are different species of grain, since he included them all in one statement, he is liable only once.

33.

Because they included all the obligations in a single statement. Note the parallel to this and the subsequent laws in Chapter 7, Halachot 10-14.

34.

For a sh'vuat haedut involves a situation when the witnesses refuse to testify.

35.

See Chapter 1, Halachah 1, and notes.

36.

Hence he is totally absolved from liability.

The Kessef Mishneh notes that one could raise a question based on Sh'vuat 25b. From that passage, it would appear that this and the concept stated in Halachah 14 are conflicting positions and one cannot accept both as halachah. Nevertheless, he explains that it is only in the preliminary stage of the Talmud's argument that the positions appear conflicting. After the Talmud cites the teaching derived from the prooftext, "for one of these," the two rulings can be reconciled. He cites other Rishonim who interpret the passage in this manner.

37.

For he is taking an oath regard a specific activity which he performed or did not perform in the past. Since it has both a positive and negative dimension, he is liable. The fact that this oath does not have a future dimension - for if one takes an oath that he will not testify, he is negating a mitzvah, and hence, it is an oath in vain (Chapter 5, Halachah 15) and not a sh'vuat bitui - does not prevent one from being liable for the oath referring to the past.

38.

For a sh'vuat haedut involves only the future.

39.

וכן אם אמר לעדים בואו והעידו לי וכו'. א"א המחבר הזה שנה משנתו כר"מ ואין הלכה כמותו אלא בין מפי עצמו בין מפי אחרים אינן חייבין עד שיכפרו בב"ד, ועוד בין לר"מ בין לרבנן מה צורך שיהיה הבית דין בבית הכנסת בשעת השבועה והלא אין מקפידין על השבועה באי זה מקום שתהיה ואין מקפידין אלא על הכפירה.

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The Mishneh Torah was the Rambam's (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon) magnum opus, a work spanning hundreds of chapters and describing all of the laws mentioned in the Torah. To this day it is the only work that details all of Jewish observance, including those laws which are only applicable when the Holy Temple is in place. Participating in the one of the annual study cycles of these laws (3 chapters/day, 1 chapter/day, or Sefer Hamitzvot) is a way we can play a small but essential part in rebuilding the final Temple.
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