1

The following law applies when a person signed on a promissory note and comes to testify with regard to his signature in a court of law. If he recognizes that the signature is definitely his, but does not remember the matter of concern at all and does not have any recollection that this person ever borrowed from the other, it is forbidden for him to testify with regard to his signature in court. For a person is not testifying about his signature, but instead about the money mentioned in the legal document, that one person is obligated to the other. His signature serves merely to remind him of the matter. If he does not remember, he may not testify.

א

מִי שֶׁחָתַם עַל הַשְּׁטָר וּבָא לְהָעִיד עַל כְּתַב יָדוֹ בְּבֵית דִּין וְהִכִּיר כְּתַב יָדוֹ שֶׁזֶּהוּ בְּוַדַּאי אֲבָל אֵינוֹ זוֹכֵר הָעֵדוּת כְּלָל וְלֹא יִמָּצֵא בְּלִבּוֹ זִכָּרוֹן כְּלָל שֶׁזֶּה לָוָה מִזֶּה לְעוֹלָם. הֲרֵי זֶה אָסוּר לְהָעִיד עַל כְּתַב יָדוֹ שֶׁהוּא זֶה בְּבֵית דִּין. שֶׁאֵין אָדָם מֵעִיד עַל כְּתַב יָדוֹ שֶׁהוּא זֶה אֶלָּא עַל הַמָּמוֹן שֶׁבַּשְּׁטָר הוּא מֵעִיד שֶׁזֶּה חַיָּב לָזֶה. וּכְתַב יָדוֹ הוּא כְּדֵי לְהַזְכִּירוֹ הַדָּבָר אֲבָל אִם לֹא נִזְכַּר לֹא יָעִיד:

2

Whether a person remembers his testimony at the outset, remembers it after seeing his signature, or remembers it after being reminded by others - even if he is reminded by the other witness - if he in truth remembers, he may testify. If, however, it is the plaintiff who reminds him, he may not testify. For it appears to the litigant that he is testifying falsely about a matter which he does not know.

ב

אֶחָד הַזּוֹכֵר אֶת הָעֵדוּת וְאֶחָד שֶׁרָאָה כְּתַב יָדוֹ אוֹ שֶׁהִזְכִּירוּהוּ אֲחֵרִים וְנִזְכַּר. אֲפִלּוּ הִזְכִּירוֹ הָעֵד הַשֵּׁנִי שֶׁהֵעִיד אִם נִזְכַּר הֲרֵי זֶה מֵעִיד. אֲבָל אִם הִזְכִּיר אוֹתוֹ הַתּוֹבֵעַ עַצְמוֹ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁנִּזְכַּר אֵינוֹ מֵעִיד מִפְּנֵי שֶׁזֶּה דּוֹמֶה בְּעֵינֵי בַּעַל דִּין כְּאִלּוּ הֵעִיד שֶׁקֶר בְּדָבָר שֶׁלֹּא יָדַע:

3

Accordingly, if the plaintiff was a Torah scholar and the plaintiff reminded the witness of the matter, he may testify. The rationale is that a Torah scholar knows that if the witness did not remember the matter, he would not testify. This is a leniency which was granted with regard to cases involving financial law. Even though a witness forgot a matter for many years and it was the written record that reminded him, he may testify.

ג

לְפִיכָךְ אִם הָיָה הַתּוֹבֵעַ תַּלְמִיד חָכָם וְהִזְכִּיר הַתּוֹבֵעַ הַזֶּה אֶת הָעֵד וְנִזְכַּר הֲרֵי זֶה יָעִיד לוֹ שֶׁתַּלְמִיד חָכָם יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁאִלּוּ לֹא זָכָר הַדָּבָר לֹא הָיָה מֵעִיד. וְקַל הוּא שֶׁהֵקֵלּוּ בְּדִינֵי מָמוֹנוֹת שֶׁאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁשָּׁכַח הַדָּבָר מִכַּמָּה שָׁנִים וְהַכְּתָב הוּא שֶׁהִזְכִּירוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה מֵעִיד:

4

Since this is true, the following law applies when a legal document is presented to the court and the witnesses come and say: "These are our signatures, but we never knew anything about this matter. We do not remember that this person borrowed anything from the other or sold anything to him." The legal document is not validated; the witnesses are considered as deaf-mutes unless they remember their testimony. Whoever does not rule in this manner does not know between his right hand and his left hand with regard to matters of financial law.

If, however, there was other evidence of their signatures or there were other witnesses who recognize their signatures, we pay no attention to their statements that they do not remember the matter stated in the document. We suspect that they may desire to retract their testimony and they say: "We don't remember," in order to nullify the legal document. This is just as if they said: "We were minors," or "We were not acceptable witnesses." Their testimony is not accepted, and the legal document is validated independent of their testimony.

For this reason, we validate all legal documents without calling the witnesses and asking them if they remember the matter or not. Even if they say: "We do not remember the matter," we do not heed their statements since it is possible to validate the legal document without their testimony.

ד

הוֹאִיל וְהַדָּבָר כֵּן שְׁטָר שֶׁיָּצָא לְבֵית דִּין וּבָאוּ עֵדִים וְאָמְרוּ כְּתַב יָדֵינוּ הוּא זֶה אֲבָל מֵעוֹלָם לֹא יָדַעְנוּ עֵדוּת זוֹ וְאֵין אָנוּ זוֹכְרִים שֶׁזֶּה לָוָה מִזֶּה אוֹ מָכַר לוֹ. לֹא נִתְקַיֵּם הַשְּׁטָר וַהֲרֵי הֵן כְּחֵרְשִׁים עַד שֶׁיִּזְכְּרוּ עֵדוּתָן. וְכָל מִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ דָּן כֵּן לֹא יָדַע בְּדִינֵי מָמוֹנוֹת בֵּין יְמִינוֹ לִשְׂמֹאלוֹ. אֲבָל אִם הָיָה כְּתַב יָדָן יוֹצֵא מִמָּקוֹם אַחֵר אוֹ שֶׁהָיוּ שָׁם עֵדִים שֶׁזֶּה כְּתַב יָדָן. מְקַיְּמִין אֶת הַשְּׁטָר וְאֵין מַשְׁגִּיחִין עַל דִּבְרֵיהֶן שֶׁאוֹמְרִין אֵין אָנוּ זוֹכְרִין עֵדוּת זוֹ שֶׁמָּא חָזְרוּ בָּהֶן. וְזֶה שֶׁאָמְרוּ אֵין אָנוּ זוֹכְרִין כְּדֵי לְבַטֵּל הַשְּׁטָר וּכְאִלּוּ אָמְרוּ קְטַנִּים הָיִינוּ פְּסוּלֵי עֵדוּת הָיִינוּ שֶׁאֵינָן נֶאֱמָנִים הוֹאִיל וּמִתְקַיֵּם הַשְּׁטָר שֶׁלֹּא עַל פִּיהֶם. וּמִפְּנֵי טַעַם זֶה מְקַיְּמִין כָּל הַשְּׁטָרוֹת. וְאֵין אָנוּ צְרִיכִין לְהָבִיא עֵדִים וְלִשְׁאל אוֹתָם אִם הֵם זוֹכְרִים עֵדוּת זוֹ אוֹ אֵינָם זוֹכְרִים אוֹתָהּ. שֶׁאֲפִלּוּ בָּאוּ וְאָמְרוּ אֵין אָנוּ זוֹכְרִים אוֹתָהּ אֵין שׁוֹמְעִין לָהֶן הוֹאִיל וְאֶפְשָׁר לְקַיְּמוֹ שֶׁלֹּא מִפִּיהֶן:

5

The following laws apply whether a person writes his testimony as a legal document or merely finds a note in his records in his handwriting, stating: "So-and-so had me observe testimony concerning him on this-and-this date with regard to these-and-these matters." If he remembers the matter on his own initiative or if others remind him and he remembers, he may testify. If not, he may not testify. The situation is comparable to one in which a trustworthy person tells him: "So-and-so owes so-and-so such-and-such an amount," and the listener goes and testified that one borrowed from the other although he has no firsthand knowledge of the matter, but instead merely heard from another person and testified.

ה

אֶחָד הַכּוֹתֵב עֵדוּתוֹ עַל הַשְּׁטָר. אוֹ שֶׁנִּמְצָא אֶצְלוֹ כָּתוּב בְּפִנְקָסוֹ בִּכְתַב יָדוֹ פְּלוֹנִי הֵעִיד אוֹתִי עָלָיו בְּיוֹם פְּלוֹנִי בְּכָךְ וְכָךְ. אִם זָכַר מֵעַצְמוֹ אוֹ הִזְכִּירוּהוּ אֲחֵרִים וְנִזְכַּר מֵעִיד וְאִם לָאו אָסוּר לְהָעִיד. שֶׁאֵין זֶה דּוֹמֶה אֶלָּא לְמִי שֶׁאָמַר לוֹ אָדָם נֶאֱמָן פְּלוֹנִי יֵשׁ לוֹ אֵצֶל פְּלוֹנִי כָּךְ וְכָךְ וְהֵעִיד הוּא שֶׁיֵּשׁ לָזֶה אֵצֶל זֶה וְהוּא אֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ מִן הַדָּבָר כְּלוּם אֶלָּא מִפִּי הָאַחֵר שָׁמַע וְהֵעִיד: