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ב"ה

Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day

Edut - Chapter 8, Edut - Chapter 9, Edut - Chapter 10

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Edut - Chapter 8

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:

Edut - Chapter 9

1

There are ten categories of disqualifications. Any person belonging to one of them is not acceptable as a witness. They are:

a) women;

b) servants;

c) minors;

d) mentally or emotionally unstable individuals;

e) deaf-mutes;

f) the blind;

g) the wicked; h) debased individuals;

i) relatives;

j) people who have a vested interest in the matter; a total of ten.

א

עֲשָׂרָה מִינֵי פַּסְלוּת הֵם כָּל מִי שֶׁנִּמְצָא בּוֹ אֶחָד מֵהֶן הֲרֵי הוּא פָּסוּל לְעֵדוּת. וְאֵלּוּ הֵן. הַנָּשִׁים. וְהָעֲבָדִים. וְהַקְּטַנִּים. וְהַשּׁוֹטִים. וְהַחֵרְשִׁים. וְהַסּוּמִים. וְהָרְשָׁעִים. וְהַבְּזוּיִין. וְהַקְּרוֹבִין. וְהַנּוֹגְעִין בְּעֵדוּתָן. הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ עֲשָׂרָה:

2

Women are unacceptable as witnesses according to Scriptural Law, as Deuteronomy 17:6 states: "According to the testimony of two witnesses." The verse uses a male form and not a female form.

ב

נָשִׁים פְּסוּלוֹת לְעֵדוּת מִן הַתּוֹרָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יז ו) "עַל פִּי שְׁנַיִם עֵדִים" לָשׁוֹן זָכָר וְלֹא לָשׁוֹן נְקֵבָה:

3

A tumtum and an androgynus are also unacceptable, for there is an unresolved doubt whether they are considered as women. Whenever there is an unresolved doubt whether or not a person is acceptable as a witness, he is not accepted. The rationale is that a witness is coming to expropriate money from a defendant based on his testimony or to cause a defendant to be held liable for punishment. And according to Scriptural Law, money may not be expropriated when there is a doubt involved, nor do we inflict punishment when there is a doubt involved.

ג

וְכֵן הַטֻּמְטוּם וְהָאַנְדְּרוֹגִינוּס פְּסוּלִין מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהֵן סָפֵק אִשָּׁה. וְכָל מִי שֶׁהוּא סָפֵק כָּשֵׁר סָפֵק פָּסוּל הֲרֵי הוּא פָּסוּל שֶׁאֵין הָעֵד בָּא אֶלָּא לְהוֹצִיא מָמוֹן עַל פִּיו אוֹ לְחַיֵּב עַל פִּיו וְאֵין מוֹצִיאִין מָמוֹן מִסָּפֵק וְאֵין עוֹנְשִׁין מִסָּפֵק דִּין תּוֹרָה:

4

Servants are not acceptable to offer testimony according to Scriptural Law, as can be inferred from Deuteronomy 19:19: "And you shall do unto him as he conspired to do unto his brother." Implied is that his brother is like him. Just as his brother is a member of the covenant; so, too, the witness must be a member of the covenant.

By extension, we can infer that a gentile is certainly not acceptable. If servants who are obligated in certain mitzvot are unacceptable, certainly, this would apply with regard to gentiles.

ד

הָעֲבָדִים פְּסוּלִין לְעֵדוּת מִן הַתּוֹרָה. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יט יט) "וַעֲשִׂיתֶם לוֹ כַּאֲשֶׁר זָמַם לַעֲשׂוֹת לְאָחִיו" מִכְּלָל שֶׁאָחִיו כָּמוֹהוּ מָה אָחִיו בֶּן בְּרִית אַף הָעֵד בֶּן בְּרִית קַל וָחֹמֶר לְעַכּוּ''ם אִם עֲבָדִים שֶׁהֵן בְּמִקְצָת מִצְוֹת פְּסוּלִין הָעַכּוּ''ם לֹא כָּל שֶׁכֵּן:

5

A person who is half a servant and half a free man is not acceptable as a witness.

ה

מִי שֶׁחֶצְיוֹ עֶבֶד וְחֶצְיוֹ בֶּן חוֹרִין פָּסוּל:

6

Whenever a servant has been freed, but he has not been given his bill of release, he is not acceptable as a witness. Only after the bill of release reaches his hand, he immerses himself in the mikveh, and he becomes a member of the covenant may he give testimony.

ו

כָּל מִי שֶׁנִּשְׁתַּחְרֵר וַהֲרֵי הוּא מְחֻסָּר גֵּט שִׁחְרוּר. פָּסוּל עַד שֶׁיַּגִּיעַ גֵּט לְיָדוֹ וְיֵעָשֶׂה מִכְּלַל בְּנֵי בְּרִית וְאַחַר כָּךְ יָעִיד:

7

Minors are unacceptable as witnesses according to Scriptural Law. This concept is derived as follows: With regard to witnesses, Deuteronomy 19:17 states: "And the two men will stand." Implied is "men," and not minors. Even if the minor was understanding and wise, he is not acceptable until he manifests signs of physical maturity after completing thirteen full years of life.

If he reached the age of 20 without manifesting signs of physical maturity and on the contrary manifests physical signs of a lack of sexual potency, he is classified as a eunuch and may testify. If he does not manifest such signs, he may not testify until he completes the majority of his life, as we explained in Hilchot Ishut.

ז

הַקְּטַנִּים פְּסוּלִין לְעֵדוּת מִן הַתּוֹרָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר בְּעֵדִים (דברים יט יז) "וְעָמְדוּ שְׁנֵי הָאֲנָשִׁים" אֲנָשִׁים וְלֹא קְטַנִּים. אֲפִלּוּ הָיָה הַקָּטָן נָבוֹן וְחָכָם הֲרֵי הוּא פָּסוּל עַד שֶׁיָּבִיא שְׁתֵּי שְׂעָרוֹת אַחַר שְׁלֹשׁ עֶשְׂרֵה שָׁנָה גְּמוּרוֹת. וְאִם הִגִּיעַ לְעֶשְׂרִים שָׁנָה וְלֹא הֵבִיא שְׁתֵּי שְׂעָרוֹת וְנוֹלַד בּוֹ סִימָן מִסִּימָנֵי סֵרוּס הֲרֵי זֶה סָרִיס וְיָעִיד. וְאִם לֹא נוֹלַד בּוֹ לֹא יָעִיד עַד רֹב שְׁנוֹתָיו כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ בְּהִלְכוֹת אִישׁוּת:

8

When a minor passes the age of thirteen and manifest signs of physical maturity in his upper body, he need not be checked to see whether he manifested signs of physical maturity in his lower body. If he does not manifest the upper signs of maturity, we do not accept him as a witness until he is inspected. When a child is thirteen years and one day and manifests signs of physical maturity, but is not very familiar with business dealings, his testimony is not accepted with regard to landed property. The rationale is that he is not precise about such matters because of his unfamiliarity. With regard to movable property, we accept his testimony since he has reached majority.

ח

קָטָן שֶׁהִגִּיעַ לִכְלַל שְׁנוֹתָיו שֶׁנִּרְאוּ בּוֹ סִימָנֵי בַּגְרוּת מִלְּמַעְלָה אֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ בְּדִיקָה. וְאִם לָאו אֵין מְקַבְּלִין עֵדוּתוֹ עַד שֶׁיִּבָּדֵק. וּבֶן שְׁלֹשׁ עֶשְׂרֵה שָׁנָה וְיוֹם אֶחָד שֶׁהֵבִיא שְׁתֵּי שְׂעָרוֹת וְאֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ בְּטִיב מַשָּׂא וּמַתָּן אֵין עֵדוּתוֹ עֵדוּת בְּקַרְקָעוֹת מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵינוֹ מְדַקְדֵּק בִּדְבָרִים שֶׁהֲרֵי אֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ. אֲבָל בְּעֵדוּת מִטַּלְטְלִין מְקַבְּלִין עֵדוּתוֹ הוֹאִיל וְהוּא גָּדוֹל:

9

A person who is mentally or emotionally unstable is not acceptable as a witness according to Scriptural Law, for he is not obligated in the mitzvot. We are not speaking about only an unstable person who goes around naked, destroys utensils, and throws stones. Instead, it applies to anyone whose mind is disturbed and continually confused when it comes to certain matters although he can speak and ask questions to the point regarding other matters. Such a person is considered unacceptable and is placed in the category of unstable people.

An epileptic in the midst of a seizure is unacceptable as a witness. When he is healthy, he is acceptable. This applies both with regard to an epileptic who has seizures only infrequently and one who continuously has seizures without having a fixed time for them, provided his mind is not continuously confused. For there are epileptics whose minds are disturbed even when they are healthy. One must ponder much before accepting testimony from epileptics.

ט

הַשּׁוֹטֶה פָּסוּל לְעֵדוּת מִן הַתּוֹרָה לְפִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ בֶּן מִצְוֹת. וְלֹא שׁוֹטֶה שֶׁהוּא מְהַלֵּךְ עָרֹם וּמְשַׁבֵּר כֵּלִים וְזוֹרֵק אֲבָנִים בִּלְבַד. אֶלָּא כָּל מִי שֶׁנִּטְרְפָה דַּעְתּוֹ וְנִמְצֵאת דַּעְתּוֹ מְשֻׁבֶּשֶׁת תָּמִיד בְּדָבָר מִן הַדְּבָרִים אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא מְדַבֵּר וְשׁוֹאֵל כָּעִנְיָן בִּשְׁאָר דְּבָרִים הֲרֵי זֶה פָּסוּל וּבִכְלַל שׁוֹטִים יֵחָשֵׁב. הַנִּכְפֶּה בְּעֵת כְּפִיָּתוֹ פָּסוּל וּבְעֵת שֶׁהוּא בָּרִיא כָּשֵׁר. וְאֶחָד הַנִּכְפֶּה מִזְּמַן לִזְמַן אוֹ הַנִּכְפֶּה תָּמִיד בְּלֹא עֵת קָבוּעַ. וְהוּא שֶׁלֹּא תִּהְיֶה דַּעְתּוֹ מְשֻׁבֶּשֶׁת תָּמִיד שֶׁהֲרֵי יֵשׁ שָׁם נִכְפִּים שֶׁגַּם בְּעֵת בְּרִיאוּתָם דַּעְתָּם מִטָּרֶפֶת עֲלֵיהֶם. וְצָרִיךְ לְהִתְיַשֵּׁב בְּעֵדוּת הַנִּכְפִּין הַרְבֵּה:

10

People who are very feeble-witted who do not understand that matters contradict each other and are incapable of comprehending a concept as it would be comprehended by people at large are considered among those mentally unstable. This also applies to the people who are continually unsettled, tumultuous, and deranged. This matter is dependent on the judgment of the judge. It is impossible to describe the mental and emotional states of people in a text.

י

הַפְּתָאִים בְּיוֹתֵר שֶׁאֵין מַכִּירִין דְּבָרִים שֶׁסּוֹתְרִין זֶה אֶת זֶה וְלֹא יָבִינוּ עִנְיְנֵי הַדָּבָר כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁמְּבִינִין שְׁאָר עַם הָאָרֶץ. וְכֵן הַמְבֹהָלִים וְהַנֶּחְפָּזִים בְּדַעְתָּם וְהַמִּשְׁתַּגְּעִים בְּיוֹתֵר הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ בִּכְלַל הַשּׁוֹטִים. וְדָבָר זֶה לְפִי (מַה) שֶּׁיִּרְאֶה הַדַּיָּן שֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר לְכַוֵּן הַדַּעַת בִּכְתָב:

11

A deaf-mute is equivalent to a mentally unstable person, for he is not of sound mind and is therefore not obligated in the observance of the mitzvot. Both a deaf person who can speak and a person who can hear, but is mute is unacceptable to serve as a witness. Even though he sees excellently and his mind is sound, he must deliver testimony orally in court or be fit to deliver testimony orally and must be fit to hear the judges and the warning they administer to him.

Similarly, if a person loses the ability to speak, even though his intellectual faculties have been checked as a husband is checked with regard to a bill of divorce, he testifies in writing, and his testimony is to the point, it is not accepted at all, except with regard to releasing a women from marriage, for leniency was granted so that women will not be forced to live alone.

יא

הַחֵרֵשׁ כְּשׁוֹטֶה שֶׁאֵין דַּעְתּוֹ נְכוֹנָה וְאֵינוֹ בֶּן מִצְוֹת. וְאֶחָד חֵרֵשׁ מְדַבֵּר וְאֵינוֹ שׁוֹמֵעַ אוֹ שׁוֹמֵעַ וְאֵינוֹ מְדַבֵּר. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁרְאִיָּתוֹ רְאִיָּה מְעֻלָּה וְדַעְתּוֹ נְכוֹנָה צָרִיךְ לְהָעִיד בְּבֵית דִּין בְּפִיו. אוֹ שֶׁיִּהְיֶה רָאוּי לְהָעִיד בְּפִיו. וְיִהְיֶה רָאוּי לִשְׁמֹעַ הַדַּיָּנִים וְהָאִיּוּם שֶׁמְּאַיְּמִין עָלָיו. וְכֵן אִם נִשְׁתַּתֵּק אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁנִּבְדַּק בְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁבּוֹדְקִין לְעִנְיַן גִּטִּין וְנִמְצֵאת עֵדוּתוֹ מְכֻוֶּנֶת וְהֵעִיד בְּפָנֵינוּ בִּכְתַב יָדוֹ אֵינָהּ עֵדוּת כְּלָל. חוּץ מֵעֵדוּת אִשָּׁה לְפִי שֶׁבְּעִגּוּנָהּ הֵקֵלּוּ:

12

The blind, although they can recognize the voices of the litigants and know their identities, are not acceptable as witnesses according to Scriptural Law. This is derived from Leviticus 5:1: "And he witnessed or saw," which implies that one who can see may serve as a witness.

A person who is blind in one eye is fit to serve as a witness.

יב

הַסּוּמִים אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁמַּכִּירִין הַקּוֹל וְיָדְעוּ הָאֲנָשִׁים הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ פְּסוּלִין מִן הַתּוֹרָה. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא ה א) "וְהוּא עֵד אוֹ רָאָה" מִי שֶׁהוּא רָאוּי לִרְאוֹת הוּא שֶׁמֵּעִיד. וְהַסּוּמָא בְּאַחַת מֵעֵינָיו כָּשֵׁר לְהָעִיד:

Edut - Chapter 10

1

The wicked are unacceptable as witnesses according to Scriptural Law, as Exodus 23:1 states: "Do not join hands with a wicked person to be a corrupt witness." The Oral Tradition interprets this as meaning: "Do not allow a wicked person to serve as a witness."

Even when an acceptable witness knows that his colleague is "wicked," but the judges are unaware of his wickedness, it is forbidden for him to offer testimony together with him even though he knows that the testimony is true, for, by doing so, he is joining together with him. Thus the acceptable witness "joined hands" with the wicked person, enabling his testimony to be accepted. Needless to say, it is forbidden for an acceptable witness who knows testimony concerning a colleague to testify when he knows that the other witness who testifies with him is giving false testimony. This is also implied by the verse: "Do not join hands with a wicked person."

א

הָרְשָׁעִים פְּסוּלִין לְעֵדוּת מִן הַתּוֹרָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כג א) "אַל תָּשֶׁת יָדְךָ עִם רָשָׁע לִהְיֹת עֵד חָמָס" מִפִּי הַשְּׁמוּעָה לָמְדוּ אַל תָּשֶׁת רָשָׁע עֵד. וַאֲפִלּוּ עֵד כָּשֵׁר שֶׁיּוֹדֵעַ בַּחֲבֵרוֹ שֶׁהוּא רָשָׁע וְאֵין הַדַּיָּנִים מַכִּירִין רִשְׁעוֹ אָסוּר לוֹ לְהָעִיד עִמּוֹ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא עֵדוּת אֱמֶת. מִפְּנֵי שֶׁמִּצְטָרֵף עִמּוֹ וְנִמְצָא זֶה הַכָּשֵׁר הֵשִׁית יָדוֹ עִם הָרָשָׁע עַד שֶׁנִּתְקַבְּלָה עֵדוּתוֹ. וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר עֵד כָּשֵׁר שֶׁהוּא יוֹדֵעַ בְּעֵדוּת לַחֲבֵרוֹ וְיָדַע שֶׁהָעֵד הַשֵּׁנִי עִמּוֹ עֵד שֶׁקֶר שֶׁאָסוּר לוֹ לְהָעִיד שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר אַל תָּשֶׁת יָדְךָ עִם רָשָׁע:

2

What is meant by "a wicked person"? Anyone who violates a prohibition punishable by lashes is considered wicked and is unacceptable as a witness. For the Torah referred to a person obligated to receive lashes with the term "wicked," as Deuteronomy 25:2 states: "If the wicked person is liable to be beaten." Needless to say, a person who is obligated to be executed by the court is unacceptable, for Numbers 35:31 states: "He is a wicked person who is sentenced to die."

ב

אֵי זֶהוּ רָשָׁע כָּל שֶׁעָבַר עֲבֵרָה שֶׁחַיָּבִין עָלֶיהָ מַלְקוֹת זֶהוּ רָשָׁע וּפָסוּל. שֶׁהֲרֵי הַתּוֹרָה קָרְאָה לַמְחֻיָּב מַלְקוֹת רָשָׁע שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כה ב) "וְהָיָה אִם בִּן הַכּוֹת הָרָשָׁע". וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר מְחֻיָּב מִיתַת בֵּית דִּין שֶׁהוּא פָּסוּל שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר לה לא) "אֲשֶׁר הוּא רָשָׁע לָמוּת":

3

When a person commits a transgression for which he is liable to receive lashes according to Scriptural Law, he is disqualified as a witness according to Scriptural Law. When the prohibition is Rabbinical in origin, he is disqualified by Rabbinic decree.

What is implied? A person who ate the meat of an animal cooked in milk, carrion, a teeming animal, or the like is not acceptable as a witness according to Scriptural Law. This applies whether he transgressed because of appetite or with the intent of angering God. The same law also applies if he desecrates the sanctity of the first day of a festival or wears a garment that is shaatnez, i.e., combed, spun, or woven with wool and linen. If he eat the meat of fowl cooked in milk, he desecrated the second day of a festival observed in the diaspora, or wore a woolen garment in which a strand of linen was lost or the like, he is disqualified by Rabbinic decree. We have already enumerated all the transgressions for which one is punished by lashes. And with regard to each and every mitzvah, we have already explained which matters are forbidden by Scriptural Law and which are forbidden by Rabbinic decree.

ג

עָבַר עֲבֵרָה שֶׁחַיָּבִין עָלֶיהָ מַלְקוֹת מִן הַתּוֹרָה הֲרֵי זֶה פָּסוּל מִן הַתּוֹרָה. וְאִם הָיָה הַחִיּוּב שֶׁבָּהּ מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם הֲרֵי זֶה פָּסוּל מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם. כֵּיצַד. אָכַל בְּשַׂר בְּהֵמָה בְּחָלָב אוֹ שֶׁאָכַל נְבֵלוֹת וּשְׁקָצִים וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן בֵּין לְתֵאָבוֹן בֵּין לְהַכְעִיס. אוֹ שֶׁחִלֵּל אֶת יוֹם טוֹב הָרִאשׁוֹן. אוֹ שֶׁלָּבַשׁ שַׁעַטְנֵז שֶׁהוּא שׁוּעַ אוֹ טָווּי אוֹ נוּז. הֲרֵי זֶה פָּסוּל לְעֵדוּת מִן הַתּוֹרָה. אֲבָל אִם אָכַל בְּשַׂר עוֹף בְּחָלָב. אוֹ שֶׁחִלֵּל יוֹם טוֹב שֵׁנִי שֶׁל גָּלֻיּוֹת. אוֹ שֶׁלָּבַשׁ בֶּגֶד צֶמֶר שֶׁאָבַד בּוֹ חוּט שֶׁל פִּשְׁתָּן וְכַיּוֹצֵא בּוֹ. הֲרֵי הוּא פָּסוּל מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם. וּכְבָר מָנִינוּ כָּל עֲבֵרָה שֶׁחַיָּבִין עָלֶיהָ מַלְקוֹת. וּכְבָר נִתְבָּאֵר בְּכָל מִצְוָה וּמִצְוָה דְּבָרִים שֶׁאֲסוּרִים מִן הַתּוֹרָה וּדְבָרִים שֶׁאֲסוּרִין מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם:

4

There are other wicked persons who are not acceptable as witnesses even though they are required to make financial restitution and are not punished by lashes. Since they take money that does not belong to them lawlessly, they are unacceptable, as Deuteronomy 19:16 states: "When a lawless witness rises up against a person...." For example, thieves and people who seize property, even though they make restitution, they are no longer acceptable as witnesses from the time they stole or robbed onward.

Similarly, a lying witness, even though his testimony was disproved with regard to financial matters and he made restitution, he is still unacceptable as a witness according to Scriptural Law for all matters. From when is he disqualified? From the time he testified falsely in court, even though his testimony was not disproved until several days later.

Similarly, when people are involved with loans at interest - both the borrower and the lender - if fixed interest is involved, both are disqualified according to Scriptural Law. If the shade of interest is involved, they are both disqualified by Rabbinic decree. Similarly, a person who transgresses the Rabbinic decrees against theft is disqualified by Rabbinic decree.

What is implied? People who seize property - either landed property or movable property - without the consent of the owners, even though they pay its worth, are disqualified by Rabbinic decree. Similarly, herders of their own animals - both of small animals and of large animals - are disqualified, for it can be assumed that they take liberty and steal by allowing their animals to pasture in fields and orchards belonging to other people. Therefore, an ordinary herder is disqualified.

People who raise small animals in Eretz Yisrael are not acceptable as witnesses. In the diaspora, by contrast, they are acceptable. It is permissible to raise a large animal in every place.

Generally, the collectors of the king's duty are not acceptable, because it is assumed that they will collect more than what is required by the king's decree and keep the extra portion for themselves. Tax collectors, by contrast, are generally considered to be acceptable. If, however, it is known that they took more than is required to collect, even once, they are disqualified.

Similarly, those who guide the flight of doves in a settled area are disqualified, because we assume that they will steal doves belonging to others without paying for them. This ruling also applies to merchants of produce in the Sabbatical year, i.e., people who generally are idle but when the Sabbatical year arrives, they begin to do business with produce. It can be assumed that they collect the produce of the Sabbatical year and do business with it.

Similarly, dice-players are disqualified if this is their only occupation. Since such a person does not involve himself in ordinary business pursuits, it can be assumed that his livelihood is dependent on his gambling, which is forbidden as "the shade of robbery." The above applies not only to dice-players, but also to all those who gamble with the shells of nuts or the shells of pomegranates. Similarly, our Sages did not disqualify only those who train doves, but also those who gamble with other animals, beasts, and fowl, saying the owner of the one that will outrace the other or vanquish the other will acquire the stakes put up by both. Similarly, other analogous types of gamblers are disqualified, provided they do not derive their livelihood from a source other than gambling. All of the above are disqualified according to Rabbinic decree.

ד

וְעוֹד יֵשׁ שָׁם רְשָׁעִים שֶׁהֵן פְּסוּלִין לְעֵדוּת אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֵן בְּנֵי תַּשְׁלוּמִין וְאֵינָן בְּנֵי מַלְקוֹת. הוֹאִיל וְלוֹקְחִים מָמוֹן שֶׁאֵינוֹ שֶׁלָּהֶם בְּחָמָס פְּסוּלִין שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יט טז) "כִּי יָקוּם עֵד חָמָס בְּאִישׁ". כְּגוֹן הַגַּנָּבִים וְהַחַמְסָנִים אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֶחְזִיר פָּסוּל לְעֵדוּת מֵעֵת שֶׁגָּנַב אוֹ גָּזַל. וְכֵן עֵד זוֹמֵם אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּזַם בְּעֵדוּת מָמוֹן וְשִׁלֵּם הֲרֵי זֶה פָּסוּל מִן הַתּוֹרָה לְכָל עֵדוּת. וּמֵאֵימָתַי הוּא נִפְסָל מֵעֵת שֶׁהֵעִיד בְּבֵית דִּין. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא הוּזַם עַל אוֹתָהּ עֵדוּת אֶלָּא אַחַר כַּמָּה יָמִים. וְכֵן הַמַּלְוֶה בְּרִבִּית אֶחָד הַמַּלְוֶה וְאֶחָד הַלּוֶֹה שְׁנֵיהֶם פְּסוּלִין לְעֵדוּת. אִם רִבִּית קְצוּצָה עָשׂוּ הֲרֵי הֵן פְּסוּלִין מִן הַתּוֹרָה וְאִם אֲבַק רִבִּית עָשׂוּ הֲרֵי הֵן פְּסוּלִין מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם. וְכֵן כָּל הָעוֹבֵר עַל גֵּזֶל שֶׁל דִּבְרֵיהֶם הֲרֵי הוּא פָּסוּל מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם. כֵּיצַד. הַחַמְסָנִים וְהֵם הַלּוֹקְחִים קַרְקַע אוֹ מִטַּלְטְלִין שֶׁלֹּא בִּרְצוֹן הַבְּעָלִים אַף עַל פִּי שֶּׁנּוֹתְנִין הַדָּמִים הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ פְּסוּלִין מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם. וְכֵן הָרוֹעִים אֶחָד רוֹעֵי בְּהֵמָה דַּקָּה וְאֶחָד רוֹעֵי בְּהֵמָה גַּסָּה שֶׁל עַצְמָן הֲרֵי הֵן פְּסוּלִין שֶׁחֶזְקָתָן פּוֹשְׁטִין יְדֵיהֶן בְּגֵזֶל וּמְנִיחִים בְּהֶמְתָּן לִרְעוֹת בְּשָׂדוֹת וּפַרְדֵּסִים שֶׁל אֲחֵרִים וּלְפִיכָךְ סְתָם רוֹעֶה פָּסוּל. וּמְגַדְּלֵי בְּהֵמָה דַּקָּה בְּאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל פְּסוּלִין אֲבָל בְּחוּצָה לָאָרֶץ כְּשֵׁרִין. וּמֻתָּר לְגַדֵּל בְּהֵמָה גַּסָּה בְּכָל מָקוֹם. וְכֵן הַמּוֹכְסִין סְתָמָן פְּסוּלִין מִפְּנֵי שֶׁחֶזְקָתָן לִקַּח יוֹתֵר מִדָּבָר הַקָּצוּב לָהֶם בְּדִין הַמַּלְכוּת וְלוֹקְחִין הֶתֵּר לְעַצְמָן. אֲבָל גַּבָּאֵי מְנַת הַמֶּלֶךְ סְתָמָן כְּשֵׁרִין וְאִם נוֹדַע שֶׁלָּקְחוּ אֲפִלּוּ פַּעַם אַחַת יֶתֶר מִן הָרָאוּי לָהֶם לִגְבּוֹת הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ פְּסוּלִין. וְכֵן מַפְרִיחֵי יוֹנִים בַּיִּשּׁוּב פְּסוּלִין מִפְּנֵי שֶׁחֶזְקָתָן שֶׁגּוֹזְלִים יוֹנִים שֶׁל אֲחֵרִים בְּחִנָּם. וְכֵן סוֹחֲרֵי שְׁבִיעִית וְהֵם בְּנֵי אָדָם שֶׁיּוֹשְׁבִין בְּטֵלִים וְכֵיוָן שֶׁבָּאָה שְׁבִיעִית פּוֹשְׁטִים יְדֵיהֶן וּמַתְחִילִין לִשָּׂא וְלִתֵּן בְּפֵרוֹת שֶׁחֶזְקַת אֵלּוּ שֶׁהֵן אוֹסְפִין פֵּרוֹת שְׁבִיעִית וְעוֹשִׂין בָּהֶן סְחוֹרָה. וְכֵן מְשַׂחֵק בְּקֻבִּיָּא וְהוּא שֶׁלֹּא תִּהְיֶה לוֹ אֻמָּנוּת אֶלָּא הוּא. הוֹאִיל וְאֵינוֹ עוֹסֵק בְּיִשּׁוּבוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם הֲרֵי זֶה בְּחֶזְקַת שֶׁאוֹכֵל מִן הַקֻּבִּיָּא שֶׁהוּא אֲבַק גֵּזֶל. וְלֹא בְּקֻבִּיָּא בִּלְבַד אֶלָּא אֲפִלּוּ מְשַׂחֲקִים בִּקְלִפֵּי אֱגוֹזִים וּקְלִפֵּי רִמּוֹנִים. וְכֵן לֹא יוֹנִים בִּלְבַד אָמְרוּ אֶלָּא אֲפִלּוּ הַמְשַׂחֲקִים בִּבְהֵמָה חַיָּה וְעוֹף וְאוֹמֵר כָּל הַקּוֹדֵם אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ אוֹ כָּל הַנּוֹצֵחַ אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ יִטּל בְּעָלָיו אֶת שְׁנֵיהֶן. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בִּשְׂחוֹק זֶה. וְהוּא שֶׁלֹּא תִּהְיֶה לוֹ אֻמָּנוּת אֶלָּא שְׂחוֹק זֶה הֲרֵי הוּא פָּסוּל. וְכָל אֵלּוּ פְּסוּלִין מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם:

5

The fact that a sharecropper takes a small amount of the produce which sprouts in Nisan and in Tishrei before the harvest is finished without the knowledge of the owner of the field does not cause him to be considered as a thief and he is acceptable as a witness. The rationale is that the owner of the field is not concerned with such a small quantity of produce. Similar principles apply in all analogous situations.

ה

אָרִיס שֶׁלָּקַח דָּבָר מוּעָט מִן הַפֵּרוֹת שֶׁבִּכְּרוּ בִּימֵי נִיסָן וִימֵי תִּשְׁרֵי קֹדֶם שֶׁתִּגָּמֵר מְלַאכְתָּן. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלָּקַח שֶׁלֹּא מִדַּעַת בַּעַל הַשָּׂדֶה אֵינוֹ גַּנָּב וְכָשֵׁר לְעֵדוּת. שֶׁאֵין בַּעַל הַשָּׂדֶה מַקְפִּיד עָלָיו. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה:

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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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