1

When two people come before a judge, one soft and one harsh - before he hears their words, or even after he hears their words, but does not know the direction in which the judgment is leaning - he has the license to tell them: "I will not involve myself with you," lest the harsh litigant be held liable and seek vengeance from the judge.

After he hears their words and knows in which direction the judgment is leaning, he does not have the license to tell them: "I will not involve myself with you," as Deuteronomy 1:18 states: "Do not be intimidated by any person." That verse implies that one should not say: "So-and-so is wicked, maybe he will kill my son, set fire to my crops, or cut down my trees." If he was an expert appointed to judge the many, he is obligated to involve himself with them in all circumstances.

א

שְׁנַּיִם שֶׁבָּאוּ לְפָנֶיךָ לְדִין אֶחָד רַךְ וְאֶחָד קָשֶׁה. עַד שֶׁלֹּא תִּשְׁמַע אֶת דִּבְרֵיהֶם אוֹ מִשֶּׁתִּשְׁמַע אֶת דִּבְרֵיהֶם וְאִי אַתָּה יוֹדֵעַ לְהֵיכָן הַדִּין נוֹטֶה אַתָּה רַשַּׁאי לוֹמַר לָהֶם אֵינִי נִזְקָק לָכֶם שֶׁמָּא יִתְחַיֵּב הַקָּשֶׁה וְנִמְצָא רוֹדֵף אַחַר הַדַּיָּן. אֲבָל מִשֶּׁתִּשְׁמַע אֶת דִּבְרֵיהֶם וְתֵדַע לְהֵיכָן הַדִּין נוֹטֶה אִי אַתָּה רַשַּׁאי לוֹמַר אֵינִי נִזְקָק לָכֶם. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים א יז) "לֹא תָגוּרוּ מִפְּנֵי אִישׁ" שֶׁלֹּא תֹּאמַר אִישׁ פְּלוֹנִי רָשָׁע הוּא שֶׁמָּא יַהֲרֹג אֶת בְּנִי שֶׁמָּא יַדְלִיק אֶת גְּדִישִׁי שֶׁמָּא יְקַצֵּץ נְטִיעוֹתַי. וְאִם הָיָה מְמֻנֶּה לָרַבִּים חַיָּב לְהִזָּקֵק לָהֶם:

2

Similarly, if a student was sitting before his master and became aware of a factor that would vindicate a poor person and obligate his rich adversary, he transgresses the above commandment if he remains silent. Concerning such matters, Exodus 23:7 states: "Keep distant from words of falsehood."

What is the source which teaches that a judge should not have an underdeveloped student sit before him? It is written: "Keep distant from words of falsehood."

ב

וְכֵן תַּלְמִיד שֶׁהָיָה יוֹשֵׁב לִפְנֵי רַבּוֹ וְרָאָה זְכוּת לֶעָנִי וְחוֹבָה לֶעָשִׁיר אִם שָׁתַק הֲרֵי זֶה עוֹבֵר מִשּׁוּם (דברים א יז) "לֹא תָגוּרוּ מִפְּנֵי אִישׁ" וְעַל זֶה נֶאֱמַר (שמות כג ז) "מִדְּבַר שֶׁקֶר תִּרְחָק". וּמִנַּיִן לַדַּיָּן שֶׁלֹּא יוֹשִׁיב תַּלְמִיד בּוּר לְפָנָיו תַּלְמוּד לוֹמַר מִדְּבַר שֶׁקֶר תִּרְחָק:

3

What is the source which teaches that a student who sees his teacher erring with regard to a judgment should not say: "I will wait until he renders judgment. Then I will refute his ruling and then construct a new one so that the judgment will be quoted in my name"? It is written: "Keep distant from words of falsehood."

ג

וּמִנַּיִן לְתַלְמִיד שֶׁרָאָה רַבּוֹ שֶׁטּוֹעֶה בַּדִּין שֶׁלֹּא יֹאמַר אַמְתִּין לוֹ עַד שֶׁיִּגָּמֵר הַדִּין וְאֶסְתְּרֵנוּ וַאֲבִינֶנּוּ כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּקָּרֵא הַדִּין עַל שְׁמִי תַּלְמוּד לוֹמַר (שמות כג ז) "מִדְּבַר שֶׁקֶר תִּרְחָק":

4

At the outset, it is a mitzvah to ask the litigants: "Do you desire a judgment or a compromise?" If they desire a compromise, a compromise is negotiated. Any court that continuously negotiates a compromise is praiseworthy. Concerning this approach, Zechariah 8:16 states: Adjudicate a judgment of peace in your gates." Which judgment involves peace? A compromise. Similarly, with regard to King David it is stated: "And David carried out justice and charity for his entire people." When does justice involve charity? When a compromise is made.

When does the above apply? Before a judgment is rendered. Even though the judge has already heard their arguments and knows the direction in which the judgment is heading, it is a mitzvah to negotiate a compromise. Once the judgment is rendered and he declares: "So-and-so, your claim is vindicated; so-and-so, you are liable," he may not negotiate a compromise. Instead, let the judgment pierce the mountain.

ד

מִצְוָה לוֹמַר לְבַעֲלֵי דִּינִים בַּתְּחִלָּה בְּדִין אַתֶּם רוֹצִים אוֹ בִּפְשָׁרָה. אִם רָצוּ בִּפְשָׁרָה עוֹשִׂין בֵּינֵיהֶן פְּשָׁרָה. וְכָל בֵּית דִּין שֶׁעוֹשִׂין פְּשָׁרָה תָּמִיד הֲרֵי זֶה מְשֻׁבָּח וְעָלָיו נֶאֱמַר (זכריה ח טז) "מִשְׁפַּט שָׁלוֹם שִׁפְטוּ בְּשַׁעֲרֵיכֶם" אֵי זֶהוּ מִשְׁפָּט שֶׁיֵּשׁ עִמּוֹ שָׁלוֹם הֱוֵי אוֹמֵר זֶה בִּצּוּעַ. וְכֵן בְּדָוִד הוּא אוֹמֵר (שמואל ב ח טו) "וַיְהִי דָוִד עשֶֹׁה מִשְׁפָּט וּצְדָקָה לְכָל עַמּוֹ" אֵיזֶהוּ מִשְׁפָּט שֶׁיֵּשׁ עִמּוֹ צְדָקָה הֱוֵי אוֹמֵר זֶהוּ בִּצּוּעַ וְהִיא הַפְּשָׁרָה. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים קֹדֶם גְּמַר דִּין אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁשָּׁמַע דִּבְרֵיהֶם וְיָדַע לְהֵיכָן הַדִּין נוֹטֶה מִצְוָה לִבְצֹעַ אֲבָל אַחֲרֵי שֶׁגָּמַר הַדִּין וְאָמַר אִישׁ פְּלוֹנִי אַתָּה זַכַּאי אִישׁ פְּלוֹנִי אַתָּה חַיָּב אֵינוֹ רַשַּׁאי לַעֲשׂוֹת פְּשָׁרָה בֵּינֵיהֶן אֶלָּא יִקֹּב הַדִּין אֶת הָהָר:

5

Although the litigants agreed to a compromise in court, they have the authority to demand a judgment until they confirm their commitment to the compromise with a kinyan.

ה

אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁרָצוּ בַּעֲלֵי הַדִּין בִּפְשָׁרָה בְּבֵית דִּין יֵשׁ לָהֶם לַחְזֹר וְלִתְבֹּעַ אֶת הַדִּין עַד שֶׁיִּקְנוּ מִיַּד שְׁנֵיהֶם:

6

A compromise has greater legal power than a judgment. If two ordinary people rendered a judgment, their judgment is not binding and the litigants need not accept it. If, however, such individuals negotiated a compromise and the litigants affirmed their agreement with a kinyan, they may not retract.

ו

יָפֶה כֹּחַ פְּשָׁרָה מִכֹּחַ הַדִּין שֶׁשְּׁנֵי הֶדְיוֹטוֹת שֶׁדָּנוּ אֵין דִּינֵיהֶן דִּין וְיֵשׁ לְבַעֲלֵי דִּינִין לַחְזֹר בָּהֶן וְאִם עָשׂוּ פְּשָׁרָה וְקָנוּ מִיָּדָן אֵין יְכוֹלִין לַחְזֹר בָּהֶן:

7

After leaving the court, it is forbidden for any of the judges to say: "I was the one who vindicated you or held you liable and my colleagues differed with me. What could I do? They outnumbered me." If he says this, he is among those to whom the words of censure, Proverbs 11:13,: "He proceeds gossiping, revealing secrets" is applied. An incident occurred with regard to one student who revealed the private conversations in the House of Study 22 years later. The court had him removed from the House of Study and denounced him as "a revealer of secrets."

ז

אָסוּר לְאֶחָד מִן הַדַּיָּנִים כְּשֶׁיֵּצֵא מִבֵּית דִּין לוֹמַר אֲנִי הוּא הַמְזַכֶּה אוֹ הַמְחַיֵּב וַחֲבֵרַי חוֹלְקִין עָלַי אֲבָל מָה אֶעֱשֶׂה שֶׁהֵם רַבּוּ עָלַי וְאִם אָמַר כֵּן הֲרֵי הוּא בִּכְלַל הוֹלֵךְ רָכִיל מְגַלֶּה סוֹד. וּמַעֲשֶׂה בְּתַלְמִיד אֶחָד שֶׁהוֹצִיא דְּבָרִים שֶׁנֶּאֶמְרוּ בְּבֵית הַמִּדְרָשׁ לְאַחַר שְׁתַּיִם וְעֶשְׂרִים שָׁנָה וְהוֹצִיאוּהוּ בֵּית דִּין מִבֵּית הַמִּדְרָשׁ וְהִכְרִיזוּ עָלָיו זֶה מְגַלֶּה סוֹד הוּא:

8

If either of the litigants asks the court to compose a record of the judgment, they write it for him in the following manner: "So-and-so came to this-and-this court with so-and-so, the opposing litigant, claiming this-and-this. He was vindicated" or "...held liable." The record is given to him without it mentioning the names of those who vindicated him or those who held him liable. Instead, it says merely "From the statements of the court of such-and-such, so-and-so was vindicated."

ח

שָׁאַל אֶחָד מִבַּעֲלֵי דִּינִים לִכְתֹּב לוֹ פְּסַק דִּין כּוֹתְבִין לוֹ כָּךְ בָּא פְּלוֹנִי לְבֵית דִּין שֶׁל פְּלוֹנִי עִם פְּלוֹנִי בַּעַל דִּינוֹ שֶׁטְּעָנוֹ בְּכָךְ וְיָצָא זַכַּאי אוֹ חַיָּב וְנוֹתְנִין לוֹ וְאֵין מַזְכִּירִין שֵׁם הַמְזַכִּין וְלֹא שֵׁם הַמְחַיְּבִין אֶלָּא בֵּית דִּין שֶׁל פְּלוֹנִי מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם נִזְדַּכָּה פְּלוֹנִי:

9

This was the custom of the men of Jerusalem: "They would bring the litigants into the court and listen to their statements and claims. They would then bring in the witnesses and listen to their statements. Afterwards, the judges would have all others removed and would debate the matter among themselves until they came to a decision. Afterwards, they would call the litigants in and the judge of the greatest stature declares: "So-and-so, your claim is vindicated; so-and-so, you are liable." In this way, the litigants do no know which judge vindicated him and which judge held him liable.

ט

כָּךְ הָיָה מִנְהָגָם שֶׁל אַנְשֵׁי יְרוּשָׁלַיִם. מַכְנִיסִין בַּעֲלֵי דִּינִין וְשׁוֹמְעִים דִּבְרֵיהֶם וְטַעֲנוֹתֵיהֶם וּמַכְנִיסִים הָעֵדִים וְשׁוֹמְעִים דִּבְרֵיהֶם. וּמוֹצִיאִין כָּל אָדָם לַחוּץ. וְהַדַּיָּנִים נוֹשְׂאִים וְנוֹתְנִים בֵּינֵיהֶם בַּדָּבָר וְגוֹמְרִין אֶת הַדָּבָר וְאַחַר כָּךְ מַכְנִיסִין בַּעֲלֵי דִּינִים וְגָדוֹל שֶׁבַּדַּיָּנִים אוֹמֵר אִישׁ פְּלוֹנִי אַתָּה זַכַּאי אִישׁ פְּלוֹנִי אַתָּה חַיָּב כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יֵדַע אֶחָד מִבַּעֲלֵי דִּינִים אֵי זֶה דַּיָּן הוּא מִי שֶׁזִּכָּה אוֹתוֹ וְלֹא אֵי זֶה דַּיָּן הוּא שֶׁחִיְּבוֹ:

10

When a judge knows that a colleague is a robber or a wicked person, it is forbidden for him to sit in judgment with him, as it is stated: "Keep distant from words of falsehood."

This is the practice that would be followed by Jerusalem's men of refined character: They would not sit to participate in a judgment unless they knew who would sit with them. They would not sign a legal document unless they knew who would sign with them. And they would not enter a feast until they knew who would be joining them.

י

דַּיָּן שֶׁהוּא יוֹדֵעַ בַּחֲבֵרוֹ שֶׁהוּא גַּזְלָן אוֹ רָשָׁע אָסוּר לְהִצְטָרֵף עִמּוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כג ז) "מִדְּבַר שֶׁקֶר תִּרְחָק". וְכָךְ הָיוּ נְקִיֵּי הַדַּעַת שֶׁבִּירוּשָׁלַיִם עוֹשִׂין אֵין יוֹשְׁבִין בַּדִּין עַד שֶׁיֵּדְעוּ עִם מִי הֵם יוֹשְׁבִים וְלֹא חוֹתְמִים אֶת הַשְּׁטָר עַד שֶׁיֵּדְעוּ מִי חוֹתֵם עִמָּהֶם וְלֹא נִכְנָסִים לִסְעוּדָה עַד שֶׁיֵּדְעוּ מִי מֵסֵב עִמָּהֶן: