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Rambam - 1 Chapter a Day

Shvuot - Chapter 8

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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

הַגּוֹנֵּב שׁוֹרוֹ שֶׁל חֲבֵרוֹ וּטְבָחוֹ אוֹ מְכָרוֹ. תְּבָעוֹ בַּעַל הַשּׁוֹר וְאָמַר לוֹ גָנַבְתָּ שׁוֹרִי וְטָבַחְתָּ אוֹ מָכַרְתָּ וְהוּא אוֹמֵר גָּנַבְתִּי אֲבָל לֹא טָבַחְתִּי וְלֹא מָכַרְתִּי וְנִשְׁבַּע הֲרֵי זֶה פָּטוּר מִשְּׁבוּעַת הַפִּקָּדוֹן. שֶׁאִלּוּ הוֹדָה מֵעַצְמוֹ שֶׁטָּבַח אוֹ מָכַר לֹא הָיָה מְשַׁלֵּם תַּשְׁלוּמֵי אַרְבָּעָה וַחֲמִשָּׁה מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא קְנָס כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּהִלְכוֹת גְּנֵבָה. וְנִמְצָא זֶה כְּמוֹ שֶׁלֹּא כָּפַר מָמוֹן וּלְפִיכָךְ פָּטוּר מִשְּׁבוּעַת הַפִּקָּדוֹן וְחַיָּב בִּשְׁבוּעַת בִּטּוּי שֶׁהֲרֵי נִשְׁבַּע עַל שֶׁקֶר שֶׁלֹּא טָבַח וְהוּא טָבַח:

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

וְכֵן הָאוֹמֵר לַחֲבֵרוֹ הֵמִית שׁוֹרְךָ אֶת עַבְדִּי וְכָפַר וְנִשְׁבַּע וְהָעֶבֶד שֶׁתָּבַע רַבּוֹ וְאָמַר הִפַּלְתָּ שִׁנִּי וְסִמֵּיתָ עֵינִי וְכָפַר וְנִשְׁבַּע פָּטוּר מִשְּׁבוּעַת הַפִּקָּדוֹן. שֶׁאִלּוּ הוֹדָה לֹא הָיָה מְשַׁלֵּם מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא קְנָס. אֲבָל חַיָּב בִּשְׁבוּעַת בִּטּוּי. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה:

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

הַתּוֹבֵעַ אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ בְּדָבָר שֶׁיֵּשׁ בּוֹ קְנָס שֶׁאֵינוֹ מְשַׁלֵּם אוֹתוֹ עַל פִּי עַצְמוֹ כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ. וְיֵשׁ בּוֹ מָמוֹן שֶׁהוּא מְשַׁלֵּם אוֹתוֹ עַל פִּי עַצְמוֹ. וְכָפַר בְּכָל דָּבָר וְנִשְׁבַּע הֲרֵי זֶה חַיָּב מִשּׁוּם שְׁבוּעַת הַפִּקָּדוֹן. כֵּיצַד. תְּבָעוֹ וְאָמַר לוֹ אָנַסְתָּ אוֹ פִּתִּיתָ בִּתִּי וְהוּא אָמַר לֹא אָנַסְתִּי וְלֹא פִּתֵּיתִי וְנִשְׁבַּע חַיָּב בִּשְׁבוּעַת הַפִּקָּדוֹן. שֶׁאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינוֹ מְשַׁלֵּם קְנָס עַל פִּי עַצְמוֹ אִלּוּ הוֹדָה הָיָה מְשַׁלֵּם בּשֶׁת וּפְגַם עַל פִּי עַצְמוֹ. וְכֵן הָאוֹמֵר לַחֲבֵרוֹ גָּנַבְתָּ שׁוֹרִי וְהוּא אוֹמֵר לֹא גָּנַבְתִּי וְנִשְׁבַּע חַיָּב בִּשְׁבוּעַת הַפִּקָּדוֹן שֶׁאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינוֹ מְשַׁלֵּם כֶּפֶל בְּהוֹדָאָתוֹ מְשַׁלֵּם הוּא אֶת הַקֶּרֶן בְּהוֹדָאָתוֹ:

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

הָאוֹמֵר לַחֲבֵרוֹ עָשִׂיתָ בִּי חַבּוּרָה וְהוּא אוֹמֵר לֹא עָשִׂיתִי. הֵמִית שׁוֹרְךָ אֶת שׁוֹרִי וְהוּא אוֹמֵר לֹא הֵמִית וְנִשְׁבַּע חַיָּב בִּשְׁבוּעַת הַפִּקָּדוֹן שֶׁאִלּוּ הוֹדָה הָיָה חַיָּב לְשַׁלֵּם:

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

נָתַן שׁוֹרוֹ לְשׁוֹמֵר חִנָּם וּמֵת הַשּׁוֹר. תְּבָעוֹ וְאָמַר לוֹ הֵיכָן שׁוֹרִי שֶׁהִפְקַדְתִּי אֶצְלְךָ אָמַר לוֹ לֹא הִפְקַדְתָּ אֶצְלִי כְּלוּם אוֹ שֶׁאָמַר לוֹ הִפְקַדְתָּ וְנִגְנַב אוֹ אָבַד וְנִשְׁבַּע הֲרֵי זֶה פָּטוּר מִשְּׁבוּעַת הַפִּקָּדוֹן. שֶׁאִלּוּ הוֹדָה וְאָמַר הַדָּבָר כְּשֶׁהָיָה לֹא הָיָה חַיָּב לְשַׁלֵּם מָמוֹן מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא שׁוֹמֵר חִנָּם. אֲבָל חַיָּב הוּא מִשּׁוּם שְׁבוּעַת בִּטּוּי שֶׁהֲרֵי נִשְׁבַּע עַל שֶׁקֶר. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה:

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

הִשְׁאִיל שׁוֹרוֹ לַחֲבֵרוֹ וּתְבָעוֹ וְאָמַר לוֹ הֵיכָן שׁוֹרִי שֶׁשָּׁאַלְתָּ מִמֶּנִּי וַהֲרֵי הַשּׁוֹר מֵת. וְאָמַר לוֹ הַשּׁוֹאֵל נִגְנַב אוֹ אָבַד וְנִשְׁבַּע עַל זֶה הֲרֵי זֶה פָּטוּר מִשְּׁבוּעַת הַפִּקָּדוֹן. שֶׁהֲרֵי לֹא פָּטַר עַצְמוֹ מִן הַתַּשְׁלוּמִין בִּכְפִירָתוֹ. וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם חַיָּב הוּא לְשַׁלֵּם בֵּין מֵת אוֹ נִגְנַב אוֹ אָבַד אוֹ נִשְׁבָּה מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא שׁוֹאֵל כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בִּמְקוֹמוֹ. אֲבָל חַיָּב הוּא מִשּׁוּם שְׁבוּעַת בִּטּוּי שֶׁהֲרֵי נִשְׁבַּע עַל שֶׁקֶר. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה:

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 administered the oath and he stated his denial even though he did not answer Amen nor utter the oath himself.

ז

זֶה הַכְּלָל כָּל שֶׁאֵינוֹ פּוֹטֵר עַצְמוֹ מִן הַתַּשְׁלוּמִין אֶלָּא בִּכְפִירָה זוֹ וְנִשְׁבַּע בֵּין מִפִּי עַצְמוֹ בֵּין שֶׁהִשְׁבִּיעוֹ הַתּוֹבֵעַ וְכָפַר הֲרֵי זֶה חַיָּב בִּשְׁבוּעַת הַפִּקָּדוֹן אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא עָנָה אָמֵן וְלֹא הוֹצִיא שְׁבוּעָה מִפִּיו:

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

הַגּוֹנֵב שׁוֹר חֲבֵרוֹ וּתְבָעוֹ וְאָמַר לוֹ שׁוֹרִי גָּנַבְתָּ וְהוּא אוֹמֵר לֹא גָּנַבְתִּי. מַה טִּיבוֹ אֶצְלְךָ אַתָּה הִפְקַדְתּוֹ אֶצְלִי וְנִשְׁבַּע. חַיָּב בִּשְׁבוּעַת הַפִּקָּדוֹן. שֶׁאִלּוּ הוֹדָה שֶׁגְּנָבוֹ הָיָה חַיָּב לְשַׁלֵּם דְּמֵי הַשּׁוֹר מִכָּל מָקוֹם וְעַכְשָׁו שֶׁאָמַר פִּקָּדוֹן הוּא הֲרֵי פָּטַר עַצְמוֹ בִּכְפִירָה זוֹ מִן הַגְּנֵבָה וּמִן הָאֲבֵדָה שֶׁאִם נִגְנַב הַשּׁוֹר אוֹ אָבַד אַחַר הוֹדָאָה זוֹ הָיָה פָּטוּר מִלְּשַׁלֵּם:

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

וְכֵן אִם טָעַן שֶׁשְּׂכָרוֹ וְנִשְׁבַּע חַיָּב בִּשְׁבוּעַת הַפִּקָּדוֹן שֶׁהֲרֵי פָּטַר עַצְמוֹ מִן הַשְּׁבוּרָה וּמִן הַמִּיתָה. וְכֵן אִם טָעַן וְאָמַר הִשְׁאַלְתּוֹ לִי וְנִשְׁבַּע חַיָּב בִּשְׁבוּעַת הַפִּקָּדוֹן שֶׁהֲרֵי פָּטַר עַצְמוֹ מִן הַמִּיתָה בִּשְׁעַת הַמְּלָאכָה כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּהִלְכוֹת הַשְּׁאֵלָה:

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,19 for he admitted owing the principle and did not exempt himself from any liability with this denial.20

י

לְפִיכָךְ אִם אָמַר לֹא גָּנַבְתִּי אֲבָל אַתָּה הִפְקַדְתּוֹ אֶצְלִי אוֹ שְׂכַרְתַּנִי לְשָׁמְרוֹ אוֹ הִשְׁאַלְתִּיהוּ לִי וַהֲרֵי שׁוֹרְךָ לְפָנֶיךָ קָחֵהוּ וְנִשְׁבַּע עַל זֶה הֲרֵי זֶה פָּטוּר מִשְּׁבוּעַת הַפִּקָּדוֹן. שֶׁהֲרֵי הוֹדָה בַּקֶּרֶן וְלֹא פָּטַר עַצְמוֹ בִּכְפִירָה זוֹ מִכְּלוּם:

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

וְכֵן אִם אָמַר לוֹ אַתָּה מְכַרְתּוֹ לִי וַעֲדַיִן לֹא נָתַתִּי דָּמָיו אִם תִּרְצֶה קַח דָּמָיו אוֹ הֲרֵי שֶׁלְּךָ לְפָנֶיךָ. אוֹ שֶׁאָמַר לוֹ אַתָּה נְתַתּוֹ לִי בִּשְׂכַר מְלָאכָה שֶׁאֶעֱשֶׂה לְךָ אִם תִּרְצֶה שֶׁאֶעֱשֶׂה לְךָ אוֹ קָחֶנּוּ וָלֵךְ. תּוֹעֶה בַּדֶּרֶךְ מְצָאתִיו וְלֹא יָדַעְתִּי שֶׁהוּא שֶׁלְּךָ עַכְשָׁו שֶׁיָּדַעְתִּי קָחֶנּוּ וָלֵךְ. אוֹ שֶׁאָמַר אַחַר פָּרָתִי רוּץ וַהֲרֵי הוּא לְפָנֶיךָ. וְנִשְׁבַּע עַל כָּל טַעֲנָה מֵאֵלּוּ פָּטוּר מִשְּׁבוּעַת הַפִּקָּדוֹן שֶׁהֲרֵי לֹא פָּטַר עַצְמוֹ מִכְּלוּם. וְחַיָּב בִּשְׁבוּעַת בִּטּוּי שֶׁהֲרֵי נִשְׁבַּע עַל שֶׁקֶר:

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

מִי שֶׁהָיָה חַיָּב מָמוֹן לִשְׁנֵי שֻׁתָּפִין וּתְבָעוֹ אֶחָד מֵהֶן וְכָפַר בּוֹ וְנִשְׁבַּע חַיָּב בִּשְׁבוּעַת הַפִּקָּדוֹן שֶׁהֲרֵי כָּפַר מָמוֹן. תְּבָעוּהוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם וְהוֹדָה בַּכּל לְאֶחָד מֵהֶם וְאָמַר לֹא לָוִיתִי אֶלָּא מִזֶּה לְבַדּוֹ וְנִשְׁבַּע פָּטוּר מִשְּׁבוּעַת הַפִּקָּדוֹן שֶׁהֲרֵי לֹא פָּטַר עַצְמוֹ מִכְּלוּם. אֲבָל חַיָּב בִּשְׁבוּעַת בִּטּוּי:

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

וְכֵן מִי שֶׁהָיְתָה עָלָיו מִלְוֶה בִּשְׁטָר וְכָפַר בָּהּ וְנִשְׁבַּע פָּטוּר מִשְּׁבוּעַת הַפִּקָּדוֹן. שֶׁהֲרֵי בִּשְׁטָר נִשְׁתַּעְבֵּד הַקַּרְקַע וְנִמְצָא זֶה כְּכוֹפֵר בְּקַרְקַע. וּכְבָר בֵּאַרְנוּ שֶׁהַכּוֹפֵר בְּקַרְקַע פָּטוּר מִשְּׁבוּעַת הַפִּקָּדוֹן וְחַיָּב בִּשְׁבוּעַת בִּטּוּי שֶׁהֲרֵי נִשְׁבַּע עַל שֶׁקֶר:

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

הָיְתָה עָלָיו מִלְוֶה בְּעֵדִים בִּלְבַד וְכָפַר וְנִשְׁבַּע חַיָּב בִּשְׁבוּעַת הַפִּקָּדוֹן שֶׁהֲרֵי פָּטַר עַצְמוֹ בִּכְפִירָתוֹ מִלְּשַׁלֵּם עַתָּה. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁכְּשֶׁיָּבוֹאוּ הָעֵדִים יִתְחַיֵּב לְשַׁלֵּם וְנִמְצָא שֶׁלֹּא הוֹעִילָה לוֹ כְּפִירָתוֹ. הֲרֵי הוֹעִילָה בְּעִתָּהּ וְשֶׁמָּא לֹא יָבוֹאוּ הָעֵדִים אוֹ יָבוֹאוּ וְלֹא תִּתְקַיֵּם עֵדוּתָן אוֹ יִפָּסְלוּ וּלְפִיכָךְ חַיָּב:

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.

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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 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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