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Rambam - 1 Chapter a Day

Edut - Chapter 16

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Edut - Chapter 16


The following rule applies when Reuven stole a field or a garment from Shimon and Yehudah lodges a claim against Reuven, stating that the field or the garment is his. Shimon may not testify on Reuven's behalf that the field or the garment does not belong to Yehudah. The rationale is that Shimon desires to have the field or garment remain in the possession of Reuven who stole it from him so that he will have it returned to him from the thief. For it is possible that the proof Shimon uses to expropriate it from Reuven will not enable him to expropriate it from Yehudah.

Similarly, if Reuven sold or transferred as an inheritance the stolen field to Levi and Yehudah lodges a claim against Levi, Shimon may not testify that it does not belong to Yehudah. For perhaps it is more comfortable for him to expropriate it from Levi.


רְאוּבֵן שֶׁגָּזַל שָׂדֶה אוֹ טַלִּית מִשִּׁמְעוֹן וּבָא יְהוּדָה וְעִרְעֵר עַל רְאוּבֵן וְאָמַר שָׂדֶה זוֹ אוֹ טַלִּית זוֹ שֶׁלִּי הִיא. אֵין שִׁמְעוֹן יָכוֹל לְהָעִיד לִרְאוּבֵן שֶׁאֵין זוֹ הַשָּׂדֶה שֶׁל יְהוּדָה וְלֹא זוֹ הַטַּלִּית שֶׁל יְהוּדָה. שֶׁהֲרֵי שִׁמְעוֹן רוֹצֶה לְהַעֲמִיד שָׂדֶה זוֹ אוֹ טַלִּית זוֹ בְּיַד רְאוּבֵן שֶׁהוּא גְּזָלָהּ מִמֶּנּוּ כְּדֵי שֶׁיַּחְזִירוֹ לוֹ מִיַּד הַגַּזְלָן. שֶׁהֲרֵי אֶפְשָׁר שֶׁתִּהְיֶה הָרְאָיָה שֶׁל שִׁמְעוֹן שֶׁמּוֹצִיא בָּהּ מִיַּד רְאוּבֵן אֶפְשָׁר שֶׁאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְהוֹצִיא בָּהּ מִיַּד יְהוּדָה. וְכֵן אִם מָכַר רְאוּבֵן הַשָּׂדֶה הַגְּזוּלָה אוֹ הוֹרִישָׁהּ לְלֵוִי וּבָא יְהוּדָה לְעַרְעֵר עַל לֵוִי. אֵין שִׁמְעוֹן מֵעִיד שֶׁאֵינָהּ שֶׁל יְהוּדָה שֶׁמָּא נַחַת רוּחַ יֵשׁ לוֹ לְהוֹצִיאָהּ מִיַּד לֵוִי:


The following rules apply if Reuven sold the stolen garment to Levi and Yehudah lodges a claim concerning it. If Reuven died, Shimon may testify that it does not belong to Yehudah. The rationale is that this garment will never be returned to Shimon, because the purchaser acquires it because of his despair of recovering it and its change of domain. Reuven, the thief, died, and thus he has no one from whom he could receive reimbursement.

If, however, Reuven is still alive, Shimon may not testify even concerning a garment. For he will receive benefit from the fact that it will not remain in Yehudah's possession so that he can bring proof that Reuven stole it and require him to make reimbursement for it.

Similarly, if the garment is in the possession of Reuven's heirs, Shimon may not testify concerning it. For ultimately, if the heir retains possession, it will be returned to the original owner. Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.


מָכַר הַטַּלִּית הַגְּזוּלָה לְלֵוִי וּבָא יְהוּדָה לְעַרְעֵר. אִם מֵת רְאוּבֵן שִׁמְעוֹן מֵעִיד עָלֶיהָ שֶׁאֵינָהּ שֶׁל יְהוּדָה שֶׁהֲרֵי אֵין טַלִּית זוֹ חוֹזֶרֶת לְשִׁמְעוֹן לְעוֹלָם שֶׁכְּבָר קְנָאָהּ הַלּוֹקֵחַ בְּיֵאוּשׁ וְשִׁנּוּי רְשׁוּת וּכְבָר מֵת רְאוּבֵן הַגַּזְלָן וְאֵין לוֹ מִמִּי יִטּל דָּמֶיהָ. אֲבָל אִם עֲדַיִן רְאוּבֵן קַיָּם אֵין שִׁמְעוֹן מֵעִיד אַף עַל הַטַּלִּית. שֶׁהֲנָאָה הִיא לוֹ שֶׁלֹּא תַּעֲמֹד בְּיַד יְהוּדָה כְּדֵי שֶׁיָּבִיא רְאָיָה שֶׁרְאוּבֵן גְּזָלָהּ וִישַׁלֵּם דָּמֶיהָ. וְכֵן אִם הָיְתָה הַטַּלִּית בְּיַד יוֹרְשֵׁי רְאוּבֵן אֵין שִׁמְעוֹן מֵעִיד עָלֶיהָ מִפְּנֵי שֶׁסּוֹפָהּ שֶׁאִם תַּעֲמֹד בְּיַד הַיּוֹרֵשׁ לַחְזֹר לוֹ. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה:


The following rule applies when Reuven sold a field to Shimon without taking financial responsibility for it and Yehudah issued a claim to expropriate it from Shimon. Reuven may not testify concerning it on Shimon's behalf. Even though he did not accept financial responsibility for the field, he desires that it remain in Shimon's possession. For if that is the case, one of Reuven's creditors may come and collect it as payment for Reuven's debt and thus Reuven will not be "a wicked person who borrows and does not repay."


רְאוּבֵן שֶׁמָּכַר שָׂדֶה לְשִׁמְעוֹן שֶׁלֹּא בְּאַחֲרָיוּת וּבָא יְהוּדָה לְעַרְעֵר עַל שִׁמְעוֹן וּלְהוֹצִיאָהּ מִתַּחַת יָדוֹ. אֵין רְאוּבֵן מֵעִיד לוֹ עָלֶיהָ. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין עָלֶיהָ אַחֲרָיוּת הֲרֵי הוּא רוֹצֶה שֶׁתַּעֲמֹד בְּיַד שִׁמְעוֹן כְּדֵי שֶׁיָּבוֹא בַּעַל חוֹב שֶׁל רְאוּבֵן וְיִטְרְפֶנָּה בְּחוֹבוֹ וְלֹא יִהְיֶה לוֶֹה רָשָׁע וְלֹא יְשַׁלֵּם:


When, by contrast, Reuven sold a cow or a garment to Shimon and Yehudah raised a claim to expropriate it from Shimon, Reuven may testify that it belongs to Shimon. The rationale is that even if it were to remain in Shimon's possession, a creditor of Reuven does not have the right to expropriate movable property that was sold. This applies even when the movable property was designated as an apoteiki.

When does the above apply? When Shimon the purchaser admits that the cow or the garment certainly belonged to Reuven the seller and he knows that they truly belonged to him. If, however, Shimon does not acknowledge this, Reuven may not testify to deny Yehudah's right to the property. For if it is expropriated from Shimon, he will sue Reuven for its value, saying: "You sold me an article that did not belong to you, for witnesses came and stated that it belonged to Yehudah."

When do we accept Reuven's testimony to deny Yehudah's right to the movable property and thus leave it in Shimon's possession? When witnesses come and testify that Reuven never owned landed property. If, however, there are no witnesses to deliver such testimony, Reuven may not testify concerning a cow or a garment as well.

Why may he not testify concerning such objects? Because it is possible that he placed them on lien to his creditor by virtue of the latter's lien on landed property and in that contract stated: "That I will acquire," establishing a lien on them by virtue of the lien on the landed property. Thus his creditor has the right to expropriate a cow and a garment as well. Hence, Reuven should not testify concerning them. For he desires to have them remain in Shimon's possession so that his creditor can come and expropriate them. Similar principles apply in all analogous situations.

These matters are dependent solely on the discerning capacity of the judge and the greatness of his understanding when he comprehends the fundamental thrust of the judgments and knows how one thing leads to another, deepening his perception. If he sees that a witness will derive benefit from this testimony even in an uncommon and extraordinary manner, he should not allow that person to testify.

Just as a person should not testify with regard to a matter because he may have a vested interest in the case; so, too, he should not act as a judge concerning such a matter. Similarly with regard to other disqualifying factors, just as they disqualifying a person as a witness; so, too, they disqualify him as a judge.


רְאוּבֵן שֶׁמָּכַר פָּרָה אוֹ טַלִּית לְשִׁמְעוֹן וּבָא יְהוּדָה לְעַרְעֵר וּלְהוֹצִיא מִיַּד שִׁמְעוֹן. רְאוּבֵן מֵעִיד לוֹ עָלֶיהָ שֶׁהִיא שֶׁל שִׁמְעוֹן שֶׁאֲפִלּוּ עָמְדָה בְּיַד שִׁמְעוֹן אֵין בַּעַל חוֹבוֹ שֶׁל רְאוּבֵן טוֹרֵף מִן הַמִּטַּלְטְלִין וַאֲפִלּוּ הָיוּ אַפּוֹתֵיקֵי. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים כְּשֶׁהָיָה שִׁמְעוֹן מוֹדֶה שֶׁזּוֹ הַפָּרָה וְהַטַּלִּית הֵם שֶׁל רְאוּבֵן הַמּוֹכֵר בְּוַדַּאי וְהוּא יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁבֶּאֱמֶת הֵן שֶׁלּוֹ. אֲבָל אִם לֹא הוֹדָה שִׁמְעוֹן אֵין רְאוּבֵן מֵעִיד לְאַבֵּד זְכוּת יְהוּדָה. שֶׁאִם תֵּצֵא מִתַּחַת יְדֵי שִׁמְעוֹן יַחְזֹר שִׁמְעוֹן וְיִתְבַּע דָּמִים וְיֹאמַר לוֹ מָכַרְתָּ לִי דָּבָר שֶׁאֵינוֹ שֶׁלְּךָ שֶׁהֲרֵי בָּאוּ עֵדִים וְאָמְרוּ שֶׁהֵן שֶׁל יְהוּדָה. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים שֶׁיָּעִיד רְאוּבֵן לְאַבֵּד זְכוּת יְהוּדָה וְיַעֲמִיד הַמִּטַּלְטְלִין בְּיַד שִׁמְעוֹן כְּשֶׁבָּאוּ עֵדִים וְהָעִידוּ שֶׁהֵם יוֹדְעִים שֶׁרְאוּבֵן זֶה לֹא הָיְתָה לוֹ קַרְקַע מֵעוֹלָם. אֲבָל אִם לֹא בָּאוּ עֵדִים לְכָךְ אַף עַל הַפָּרָה וְהַטַּלִּית אֵינוֹ מֵעִיד. וְלָמָּה אֵינוֹ מֵעִיד עֲלֵיהֶן. שֶׁמָּא הִקְנָה אוֹתָם לְבַעַל חוֹבוֹ אַגַּב קַרְקַע וְכָתַב דְּאִיקְנֵי וְהִקְנָה לוֹ מִטַּלְטְלִין אַגַּב קַרְקַע שֶׁנִּמְצָא בַּעַל חוֹבוֹ טוֹרֵף אַף הַפָּרָה וְהַטַּלִּית. לְפִיכָךְ לֹא יָעִיד עֲלֵיהֶן שֶׁהֲרֵי רוֹצֶה לְהַעֲמִידָן בְּיַד שִׁמְעוֹן כְּדֵי שֶׁיָּבוֹא בַּעַל חוֹבוֹ וְיִטְרְפֵם. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בִּדְבָרִים אֵלּוּ. וּדְבָרִים אֵלּוּ אֵינָן תְּלוּיִין אֶלָּא בְּדַעַת הַדַּיָּן וְעֹצֶם בִּינָתוֹ שֶׁיָּבִין עִקַּר הַמִּשְׁפָּטִים וְיֵדַע דָּבָר הַגּוֹרֵם לְדָבָר אַחֵר וְיַעֲמִיק לִרְאוֹת. אִם יִמָּצֵא שֶׁיֵּשׁ לְזֶה הָעֵד צַד הֲנָאָה בְּעֵדוּת זוֹ אֲפִלּוּ בְּדֶרֶךְ רְחוֹקָה וְנִפְלָאָה הֲרֵי זֶה לֹא יָעִיד בָּהּ. וּכְדֶרֶךְ שֶׁלֹּא יָעִיד בְּדָבָר זֶה שֶׁמָּא נוֹגֵעַ בְּעֵדוּתוֹ הוּא כָּךְ לֹא יָדוּן בְּאוֹתוֹ דָּבָר. וְכֵן שְׁאָר מִינֵי פְּסוּלִין כְּשֵׁם שֶׁפּוֹסְלִין בְּעֵדִים כָּךְ פּוֹסְלִין בְּדַיָּנִים:


Therefore we do not appoint two judges to the Sanhedrin who are related to each other. This applies to both a minor Sanhedrin and the Supreme Sanhedrin. With regard to the judges that are added to reach the number of seven charged with declaring a leap year as mentioned in Hilchot Kiddush HaChodesh, it appears to me that it is of no consequence that there are relatives among them.


וּלְפִיכָךְ אֵין סוֹמְכִין בְּסַנְהֶדְרִין שְׁנַיִם הַקְּרוֹבִים זֶה לָזֶה בֵּין בְּסַנְהֶדְרִי קְטַנָּה בֵּין בְּסַנְהֶדְרִי גְּדוֹלָה. אֲבָל אֵלּוּ שֶׁמּוֹסִיפִין עַד שִׁבְעָה לְעַבֵּר הַשָּׁנָה כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ בְּהִלְכוֹת קִדּוּשׁ הַחֹדֶשׁ יֵרָאֶה לִי שֶׁאִם הָיָה בָּהֶן קְרוֹבִים אֵין בְּכָךְ כְּלוּם:


Whoever is fit to act as a judge as fit to act as a witness. There are, however, some who are acceptable to act as a witness, but not to act as a judge. They include friends, enemies, converts, and freed slaves. Similarly, an elderly person, a eunuch, a bastard, and a person with one eye are acceptable as witnesses, but are not acceptable as judges as we explained.


כָּל הַכָּשֵׁר לָדוּן כָּשֵׁר לְהָעִיד. וְיֵשׁ כָּשֵׁר לְהָעִיד וְאֵינוֹ כָּשֵׁר לָדוּן. הָאוֹהֵב. וְהַשּׂוֹנֵא. וְהַגֵּר. וְהַמְשֻׁחְרָר. וְכֵן הַזָּקֵן. וְהַסָּרִיס. וְהַמַּמְזֵר. וְסוּמָא בְּאַחַת מֵעֵינָיו. כְּשֵׁרִין לְהָעִיד וְאֵינָן כְּשֵׁרִים לָדוּן דִּינֵי נְפָשׁוֹת כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ:

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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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