1

A court does not inflict punishment on the basis of conclusions which it draws, only on the basis of the testimony of witnesses with clear proof. Even if witnesses saw a person pursuing a colleague, they gave him a warning, but then diverted their attention, punishment is not inflicted on the basis of their testimony. Or to give a graphic example, the pursuer entered into a ruin, following the pursued and the witnesses followed him. They saw the victim slain, in his death throes, and the sword dripping blood in the hand of the killer, since they did not see him strike him, the court does not execute the killer based on this testimony. Concerning this and the like, Exodus 23:7 states: "Do not kill an innocent and righteous person."

Similarly, if two people testified that a person served a false deity in different circumstances, e.g., one saw him serve the sun and warned him, while the other saw him serve the moon and warned him, their testimonies are not combined. This can also be inferred from the verse: "Do not kill an innocent and righteous person." Since there is a rationale on which basis he could be held innocent and righteous, he should not be executed.

א

אֵין בֵּית דִּין עוֹנְשִׁין בְּאֹמֶד הַדַּעַת אֶלָּא עַל פִּי עֵדִים בִּרְאָיָה בְּרוּרָה. אֲפִלּוּ רָאוּהוּ הָעֵדִים רוֹדֵף אַחַר חֲבֵרוֹ וְהִתְרוּ בּוֹ וְהֶעֱלִימוּ עֵינֵיהֶם אוֹ שֶׁנִּכְנְסוּ אַחֲרָיו לְחֻרְבָּה וְנִכְנְסוּ אַחֲרָיו וּמְצָאוּהוּ הָרוּג וּמְפַרְפֵּר וְהַסַּיִף מְנַטֵּף דָּם בְּיַד הַהוֹרֵג הוֹאִיל וְלֹא רָאוּהוּ בְּעֵת שֶׁהִכָּהוּ אֵין בֵּית דִּין הוֹרְגִין בְּעֵדוּת זוֹ וְעַל זֶה וְכַיּוֹצֵא בּוֹ נֶאֱמַר (שמות כג ז) "וְנָקִי וְצַדִּיק אַל תַּהֲרֹג". וְכֵן אִם הֵעִידוּ עָלָיו שְׁנַיִם שֶׁעָבַד עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה זֶה רָאָהוּ שֶׁעָבַד אֶת הַחַמָּה וְהִתְרָה בּוֹ וְזֶה רָאָהוּ שֶׁעָבַד אֶת הַלְּבָנָה וְהִתְרָה בּוֹ אֵין מִצְטָרְפִין. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר וְנָקִי וְצַדִּיק אַל תַּהֲרֹג הוֹאִיל וְיֵשׁ שָׁם צַד לְנַקּוֹתוֹ וְלִהְיוֹתוֹ צַדִּיק אַל תַּהַרְגוּהוּ:

2

Whenever a person violates a prohibition punishable by execution by the court under duress, the court should not execute him. Even in situations where the transgressor was commanded to sacrifice his life and not transgress, if he sinned under duress, although he desecrated God's name, he should not be executed. This is derived from Deuteronomy 22:26: "To the maiden, you should not do anything." This verse is a warning to the court not to punish a person who transgresses under duress.

ב

כָּל מִי שֶׁעָשָׂה דָּבָר שֶׁחַיָּבִין עָלָיו מִיתַת בֵּית דִּין בְּאֹנֶס אֵין בֵּית דִּין מְמִיתִין אוֹתוֹ וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהָיָה מְצֻוֶּה שֶׁיֵּהָרֵג וְאַל יַעֲבֹר אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁחִלֵּל אֶת הַשֵּׁם וְהוּא אָנוּס אֵינוֹ נֶהֱרָג שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כב כו) "וְלַנַּעֲרָה לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה דָבָר" זוֹ אַזְהָרָה לְבֵית דִּין שֶׁלֹּא יַעַנְשׁוּ אֶת הָאָנוּס:

3

When a man is compelled to engage in relations with a woman forbidden to him, he is liable for execution by the court. The rationale is that an erection can only come about willingly. When a woman is raped, by contrast, she is absolved. This applies even if, in the midst of the rape, she says: "Allow him to continue." It is her natural inclination that overcame her.

ג

אִישׁ שֶׁאֲנָסוּהוּ עַד שֶׁבָּא עַל הָעֶרְוָה חַיָּב מִיתַת בֵּית דִּין שֶׁאֵין קִשּׁוּי אֶלָּא לְדַעַת. אֲבָל הָאִשָּׁה הַנִּבְעֶלֶת בְּאֹנֶס אֲפִלּוּ אָמְרָה אַחַר שֶׁנֶּאֶנְסָה הָנִיחוּ לוֹ הֲרֵי הִיא פְּטוּרָה מִפְּנֵי שֶׁיִּצְרָהּ נִתְגַּבֵּר עָלֶיהָ:

4

It is forbidden for the court to have compassion for the killer. The judges should not say: "Since this person has already been killed, what advantage is there in killing another person," and thus be lax in executing him. This is implied by Deuteronomy 19:13: "Do not allow your eyes to take pity. You shall eliminate innocent bloodshed."

Similarly, it is forbidden for the court to take pity on a person who was obligated to pay a fine. They should not say: "He is poor. He acted unintentionally." Instead, they should exact the entire payment from him without compassion, as Ibid.:21 states: "You shall not take pity."

Similarly, in questions of monetary law, one should not show mercy to the poor, saying: "He is indigent and the other litigant is wealthy. Since both I and the wealthy man are obligated to provide for the poor person's livelihood, I will vindicate him in judgment and thus he will derive his livelihood with honor." With regard to this, the Torah warned Exodus 23:3: "Do not glorify the indigent in his dispute," and Leviticus 19:15: "Do not show favor to the poor."

It is forbidden to show favor to a person of stature. What is implied? Two people come before one for judgment, one a wise man of stature and one, an ordinary person. One may not ask about the welfare of the person of stature first, nor treat him with favor, nor show him honor, lest this cause the other litigant to become tongue-tied. Instead, the judge should not turn to either of them in a personal manner until the judgment is concluded. This is derived from [Ibid.: "Do not glorify the countenance of a person of stature." Our Sages said: One should not say: "This man is affluent; he is the son of people of stature, how can I embarrass him and witness his humiliation." With regard to this, it is written: "Do not glorify the countenance of a person of stature."

ד

אָסוּר לְבֵית דִּין לָחוּס עַל הַהוֹרֵג שֶׁלֹּא יֹאמְרוּ כְּבָר נֶהֱרַג זֶה וּמַה תּוֹעֶלֶת יֵשׁ בַּהֲרִיגַת הָאַחֵר וְנִמְצְאוּ מִתְרַשְּׁלִין בַּהֲרִיגָתוֹ. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יט יג) "וְלֹא תָחוֹס עֵינְךָ עָלָיו וּבִעַרְתָּ דַם הַנָּקִי". וְכֵן אָסוּר לְבֵית דִּין לָחוּס עַל מִי שֶׁנִּתְחַיֵּב קְנָס שֶׁלֹּא יֹאמְרוּ עָנִי הוּא זֶה שֶׁלֹּא בְּכַוָּנָה עָשָׂה אֶלָּא מַגְבִּין מִמֶּנּוּ כָּל שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ בְּלֹא חֲנִינָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר וְלֹא תָחוֹס עֵינְךָ. וְכֵן בְּדִינֵי מָמוֹנוֹת אֵין מְרַחֲמִין עַל הַדַּל. שֶׁלֹּא תֹּאמַר עָנִי הוּא זֶה וּבַעַל דִּינוֹ עָשִׁיר הוֹאִיל וַאֲנִי וְהֶעָשִׁיר חַיָּבִין לְפַרְנְסוֹ אֲזַכֶּנּוּ בַּדִּין וְנִמְצָא מִתְפַּרְנֵס בְּכָבוֹד. עַל זֶה הִזְהִירָה תּוֹרָה (שמות כג ג) "וְדָל לֹא תֶהְדַּר בְּרִיבוֹ". וְנֶאֱמַר (ויקרא יט טו) "לֹא תִשָּׂא פְנֵי דָל". אָסוּר לְהַדֵּר פְּנֵי גָּדוֹל. כֵּיצַד. הֲרֵי שֶׁבָּאוּ לְפָנֶיךָ שְׁנַיִם לְדִין אֶחָד חָכָם גָּדוֹל וְאֶחָד הֶדְיוֹט לֹא תַּקְדִּים לִשְׁאל בִּשְׁלוֹמוֹ שֶׁל גָּדוֹל וְלֹא תַּסְבִּיר לוֹ פָּנִים וְלֹא תְּכַבְּדֶנּוּ. כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִסְתַּתְּמוּ טַעֲנוֹתָיו שֶׁל אַחֵר. אֶלָּא אֵינוֹ נִפְנֶה לְאֶחָד מֵהֶן עַד שֶׁיִּגָּמֵר הַדִּין שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא יט טו) "לֹא תֶהְדַּר פְּנֵי גָדוֹל". אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים אַל תֹּאמַר עָשִׁיר הוּא זֶה בֶּן גְּדוֹלִים הוּא זֶה הֵיאַךְ אֲבַיְּשֶׁנּוּ וְאֶרְאֶה בְּבוּשָׁתוֹ. לְכָךְ נֶאֱמַר לֹא תֶהְדַּר פְּנֵי גָדוֹל:

5

If two people come before a judge one observant and one wicked, he should not say : "Since he is wicked and it can be presumed that he is lying and conversely, it can be assumed that the other litigant does not falsify his statements, I will be biased against the wicked in judgment." With regard to this, Exodus 23:7 states: "Do not be biased in the judgment of the poor person." The intent is even if a person is poor in the observance of mitzvot, do not be biased in his judgment.

ה

בָּאוּ לְפָנֶיךָ שְׁנַיִם אֶחָד כָּשֵׁר וְאֶחָד רָשָׁע אַל תֹּאמַר הוֹאִיל וְרָשָׁע הוּא וְחֶזְקָתוֹ מְשַׁקֵּר וְחֶזְקַת זֶה שֶׁאֵינוֹ מְשַׁנֶּה בִּדְבָרוֹ אַטֶּה הַדִּין עַל הָרָשָׁע. עַל זֶה נֶאֱמַר (שמות כג ו) "לֹא תַטֶּה מִשְׁפַּט אֶבְיֹנְךָ בְּרִיבוֹ" אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא אֶבְיוֹן בְּמִצְוֹת לֹא תַּטֶּה דִּינוֹ:

6

Leviticus 19:15: "Do not act perversely in judgment" refers to a person who distorts the judgment and vindicates the litigant who should be held liable and obligates the litigant who should be vindicated. Similarly, a person who delays rendering judgment and extends his deliberations even though the matter is clear-cut in order to aggravate one of the litigants is also considered as one who acts perversely.

ו

(ויקרא יט טו) "לֹא תַעֲשׂוּ עָוֶל בַּמִּשְׁפָּט" זֶה הַמְעַוֵּת אֶת הַדִּין וּמְזַכֶּה אֶת הַחַיָּב וּמְחַיֵּב אֶת הַזַּכַּאי. וְכֵן הַמְעַנֶּה אֶת הַדִּין וּמַאֲרִיךְ בִּדְבָרִים בְּרוּרִים כְּדֵי לְצַעֵר אֶחָד מִבַּעֲלֵי דִּינִים הֲרֵי זֶה בִּכְלַל עָוֶל:

7

A person who is haughty when rendering judgment and hurries to deliver a judgment before he examines the matter in his own mind until it is as clear as the sun to him is considered a fool, wicked, and conceited. Our Sages commanded: "Be patient in judgment." And similarly, Job 29:16 states: "When I did not understand a complaint, I would investigate."

ז

הַגַּס לִבּוֹ בְּהוֹרָאָה וְקוֹפֵץ וְחוֹתֵךְ אֶת הַדִּין קֹדֶם שֶׁיַּחְקְרֵהוּ בֵּינוֹ לְבֵין עַצְמוֹ עַד שֶׁיְּהֵא לוֹ בָּרוּר כַּשֶּׁמֶשׁ הֲרֵי זֶה שׁוֹטֶה רָשָׁע וְגַס רוּחַ. כָּךְ צִוּוּ חֲכָמִים (גמרא סנהדרין ז ב) "הֱווּ מְתוּנִין בַּדִּין". וְכֵן אִיּוֹב הוּא אוֹמֵר (איוב כט טז) "וְרִב לֹא יָדַעְתִּי אֶחְקְרֵהוּ":

8

A judge who begins comparing a judgment that is brought before him to a judgment that was already rendered with which he was familiar is considered as wicked and haughty when rendering judgment if there is a scholar in his city who is wiser than him and he fails to consult him. Our Sages comment: "May evil upon evil befall him." For these and similar concepts stem from haughtiness which leads to the perversion of justice.

Proverbs 7:26: "She cast down many corpses" refers to a student who has not reached the level where he can deliver rulings, but does so. Awesome are all she has slain" Ibid. refers to a scholar who has reached the level where he can deliver rulings, but does not do so.

The latter denunciation applies provided his generation requires his services. If, however, he knows that there is another scholar capable of rendering decisions, and therefore he refrains from doing so, he is praiseworthy. Whenever a person refrains from becoming involved in a judgment, he removes the responsibility for antagonism, theft, and false oaths from himself. A person who is haughty in rendering judgment is foolish, wicked, and arrogant.

ח

כָּל דַּיָּן שֶׁבָּא לְפָנָיו דִּין וְהִתְחִיל לְדַמּוֹתוֹ בְּדִין פָּסוּק שֶׁכְּבָר יָדַע אוֹתוֹ וְיֵשׁ בַּמְּדִינָה גָּדוֹל מִמֶּנּוּ בְּחָכְמָה וְאֵינוֹ הוֹלֵךְ וְנִמְלָךְ בּוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה בִּכְלַל הָרְשָׁעִים שֶׁלִּבָּם גַּס בְּהוֹרָאָה. וְאָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים רָעָה עַל רָעָה תָּבוֹא לוֹ שֶׁכָּל הַדְּבָרִים וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן מִגַּסּוּת הָרוּחַ הֵן הַמְּבִיאוֹת לִידֵי עִוּוּת הַדִּין. (משלי ז כו) "כִּי רַבִּים חֲלָלִים הִפִּילָה" זֶה תַּלְמִיד שֶׁלֹּא הִגִּיעַ לְהוֹרָאָה וּמוֹרֶה. (משלי ז כו) "וַעֲצֻמִים כָּל הֲרֻגֶיהָ" זֶה שֶׁהִגִּיעַ לְהוֹרָאָה וְאֵינוֹ מוֹרֶה. וְהוּא שֶׁיִּהְיֶה הַדּוֹר צָרִיךְ לוֹ. אֲבָל אִם יָדַע שֶׁיֵּשׁ לְשָׁם רָאוּי לְהוֹרָאָה וּמָנַע עַצְמוֹ מִן הַהוֹרָאָה הֲרֵי זֶה מְשֻׁבָּח. וְכָל הַמּוֹנֵעַ עַצְמוֹ מִן הַדִּין מוֹנֵעַ מִמֶּנּוּ אֵיבָה וְגֵזֶל וּשְׁבוּעַת שָׁוְא וְהַגַּס לִבּוֹ בְּהוֹרָאָה שׁוֹטֶה רָשָׁע וְגַס רוּחַ:

9

A student should not give a ruling in the presence of his teacher unless he is three parseot removed from him. This distance is the length of the encampment of the Jews in the desert.

ט

תַּלְמִיד אַל יוֹרֶה הֲלָכָה לִפְנֵי רַבּוֹ אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן הָיָה רָחוֹק מִמֶּנּוּ שָׁלֹשׁ פַּרְסָאוֹת כְּנֶגֶד מַחֲנֵה יִשְׂרָאֵל:

10

A person should not say: "All of the above applies with regard to a judgment that involves the expropriation of a large sum of money from one person to another." Instead, a judgment involving 1000 maneh and one involving a p'rutah should be regarded as identical with regard to all matters.

י

אַל תֹּאמַר שֶׁכָּל אֵלּוּ הַדְּבָרִים בְּדִין שֶׁיֵּשׁ בּוֹ הוֹצָאַת מָמוֹן הַרְבֵּה מִזֶּה וּנְתִינָתוֹ לָזֶה. לְעוֹלָם יְהִי דִּין אֶלֶף מָנֶה וְדִין פְּרוּטָה אַחַת שָׁוִין בְּעֵינֶיךָ לְכָל דָּבָר:

11

Judges should not sit down to adjudicate a case involving less than a p'rutah. If, however, they were required to adjudicate a complaint involving a p'rutah, they render a judgment even if ultimately, the outcome concerns less than a p'rutah.

יא

אֵין הַדַּיָּנִין יוֹשְׁבִין לָדִין בְּדִין פָּחוֹת מִשְּׁוֵה פְּרוּטָה. וְאִם הֻזְקְקוּ לִשְׁוֵה פְּרוּטָה גּוֹמְרִין אֶת דִּינוֹ אֲפִלּוּ לְפָחוֹת מִשְּׁוֵה פְּרוּטָה:

12

Anyone who perverts a judgment against another Jew transgresses a negative commandment, as Leviticus 19:15 states: "Do not act perversely in judgment." If the litigant was a convert, he transgresses two negative commandments, as Deuteronomy 24:17 states: "Do not distort the judgment of a convert." If he was an orphan, the transgressor violates three negative commandments as that verse continues: "...the judgment of an orphaned convert."

יב

כָּל הַמַּטֶּה מִשְׁפָּט אֶחָד מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל עוֹבֵר בְּלָאו אֶחָד שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא יט טו) "לֹא תַעֲשׂוּ עָוֶל בַּמִּשְׁפָּט". וְאִם הָיָה גֵּר עוֹבֵר בִּשְׁנֵי לָאוִין שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כד יז) "לֹא תַטֶּה מִשְׁפַּט גֵּר". וְאִם הָיָה יָתוֹם עוֹבֵר בִּשְׁלֹשָׁה לָאוִין שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כד יז) "מִשְׁפַּט גֵּר יָתוֹם":