1

When many men of great wisdom and fear of God testify to a person and tell him that they saw so-and-so commit a particular transgression or borrow money from a colleague, although the listener believes the matter in his heart as if he saw it actually transpire, he may not deliver testimony unless he actually sees the matter or the borrower acknowledges the debt verbally to him, saying: "Be a witness for me that so-and-so lent me a maneh." These concepts are derived from Leviticus 5:1 which states: "And should he witness, see, or know of the matter...." There is no testimony that can be established through sight or knowledge alone except testimony involving financial matters.

Whenever a person delivers testimony on the basis of the statements of others, he is a false witness and transgresses a negative commandment, as Exodus 20:16 states: "Do not bear false witness against your neighbor."

א

מִי שֶׁהֵעִידוּ לוֹ אֲנָשִׁים רַבִּים וּגְדוֹלִים בְּחָכְמָה וּבְיִרְאָה שֶׁהֵם אוֹמְרִים שֶׁרָאוּ פְּלוֹנִי שֶׁעָבַר עֲבֵרָה פְּלוֹנִית. אוֹ שֶׁלָּוָה מִפְּלוֹנִי. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא מַאֲמִין הַדָּבָר בְּלִבּוֹ כְּאִלּוּ רָאָהוּ לֹא יָעִיד עַד שֶׁיִּרְאֶה הַדָּבָר בְּעֵינָיו אוֹ יוֹדֶה לוֹ הַלּוֶֹה מִפִּיו וְיֹאמַר לוֹ הֱיֵה עָלַי עֵד שֶׁפְּלוֹנִי הִלְוָה לִי מָנֶה. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא ה א) "וְהוּא עֵד אוֹ רָאָה אוֹ יָדָע". וְאֵין לְךָ עֵדוּת שֶׁמִּתְקַיֶּמֶת בִּרְאִיָּה אוֹ בִּידִיעָה אֶלָּא עֵדוּת מָמוֹן. וְכָל הַמֵּעִיד מִפִּי אֲחֵרִים הֲרֵי זֶה עֵד שֶׁקֶר וְעוֹבֵר בְּלֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כ יג) "לֹא תַעֲנֶה בְרֵעֲךָ עֵד שָׁקֶר":

2

Therefore, we issue a warning also to witnesses who testify regarding financial matters.

How do we warn them? We issue this warning in the presence of all onlookers, telling them the severity of bearing false testimony and the shame suffered by those who deliver such testimony in this world and in the world to come.

Afterwards, we order all other people to go outside and leave the witness of the greatest stature inside. We say to him: "Tell us the basis on which you know that this person owes money to that." If he says: "He told me that the borrower said that I owe him the money," or he says: "So-and-so told me that he owed him money," his statements are of no consequence. He must say: "In our presence, the defendant admitted to the plaintiff that he owes him the money."

Afterwards, we bring in the second witness and check his testimony in this manner. If their testimony corroborates each other's, the judges deliberate over the matter and conclude the judgment.

ב

לְפִיכָךְ מְאַיְּמִין אַף עַל עֵדֵי הַמָּמוֹן. וְכֵיצַד מְאַיְּמִין עֲלֵיהֶן. [מְאַיְּמִין עֲלֵיהֶם] בִּפְנֵי הַכּל. וּמוֹדִיעִין אוֹתָן כֹּחַ עֵדוּת שֶׁקֶר וּבֹשֶׁת הַמֵּעִיד בָּהּ בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה וּבָעוֹלָם הַבָּא. וְאַחַר כָּךְ מוֹצִיאִין אֶת כָּל הָאָדָם לַחוּץ וּמְשַׁיְּרִין אֶת הַגָּדוֹל שֶׁבָּעֵדִים וְאוֹמֵר לוֹ אֱמֹר הֵיאַךְ אַתָּה יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁזֶּה חַיָּב לָזֶה. אִם אָמַר שֶׁהוּא אָמַר לִי חַיָּב אֲנִי לוֹ אוֹ אִישׁ פְּלוֹנִי אָמַר לִי שֶׁהוּא חַיָּב לוֹ לֹא אָמַר כְּלוּם עַד שֶׁיֹּאמַר בְּפָנֵינוּ הוֹדָה לוֹ שֶׁהוּא חַיָּב לוֹ. וְהָיוּ מַכְנִיסִין אֶת הָעֵד הַשֵּׁנִי וּבוֹדְקִין אוֹתוֹ כָּךְ. נִמְצְאוּ דִּבְרֵיהֶן מְכֻוָּנִין נוֹשְׂאִין וְנוֹתְנִין בַּדָּבָר וְגוֹמְרִין הַדִּין:

3

The following rules apply if a person hid witnesses against his colleague and that colleague acknowledged his obligation to him in private. The witnesses saw and heard him tell him: "Certainly, I owe you this and this amount, but I am afraid you will call me to judgment tomorrow." This is not valid testimony unless he makes the acknowledgment in the presence of witnessess.

ג

הַמַּטְמִין עֵדִים לַחֲבֵרוֹ וְהוֹדָה לוֹ בֵּינוֹ לְבֵין עַצְמוֹ וְהָעֵדִים רוֹאִין וְשׁוֹמְעִין שֶׁהוּא אוֹמֵר לוֹ וַדַּאי יֵשׁ לְךָ אֶצְלִי כָּךְ וְכָךְ אֲבָל מִתְיָרֵא אֲנִי שֶׁמָּא תְּכוּפֵנִי בְּדִין לְמָחָר הֲרֵי זוֹ אֵינָהּ עֵדוּת עַד שֶׁיּוֹדֶה בִּפְנֵי עֵדִים:

4

Whether a person acknowledged a debt to a colleague, making the admission in a sincere manner that he owes him such-and-such an amount, he told the witnesses: "You are my witnesses," or he told them "Serve as witnesses for me," they are valid witnesses. This applies whether the statement is made by the borrower or whether it is made by the lender and the borrower remains silent as if he is accepting his words. Needless to say, it applies if he affirmed the appointment with an act of contract, telling them: "Compose a legal document stating that I owe so-and-so this-and-this amount," or the like, his statement is considered as an admission and the witnesses may testify on this basis.

ד

אֶחָד הַמּוֹדֶה בִּפְנֵי עֵדִים. וְאָמַר דֶּרֶךְ הוֹדָאָה זֶה יֵשׁ לוֹ אֶצְלִי כָּךְ וְכָךְ. אוֹ שֶׁאָמַר אַתֶּם עֵדַי אוֹ שֶׁאָמַר הֱיוּ עָלַי עֵדִים. בֵּין שֶׁאָמַר הַלּוֶֹה בֵּין שֶׁאָמַר הַמַּלְוֶה וְשָׁתַק הַלּוֶֹה דֶּרֶךְ מַאֲמִין לִדְבָרָיו. הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ עֵדִים. וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר אִם קָנוּ מִיָּדוֹ אוֹ שֶׁאָמַר לָהֶם כִּתְבוּ עָלַי שְׁטָר שֶׁיֵּשׁ לָזֶה אֶצְלִי כָּךְ וְכָךְ וְכָל כַּיּוֹצֵא בִּדְבָרִים אֵלּוּ הֲרֵי הֵם הוֹדָאָה וּמְעִידִין עַל פִּיו:

5

When a teacher tells a student: "You know that if they would give me all the money in the world, I would not lie. So-and-so owes me a maneh. I have one witness against him. Please, join him." If he joins him, he is a false witness.

ה

תַּלְמִיד שֶׁאָמַר לוֹ רַבּוֹ יוֹדֵעַ אַתָּה שֶׁאִם נוֹתְנִין לִי כָּל מָמוֹן הָעוֹלָם אֵינִי מְשַׁקֵּר מָנֶה יֵשׁ לִי אֵצֶל פְּלוֹנִי וְיֵשׁ לִי עָלָיו עֵד אֶחָד לֵךְ וְהִצְטָרֵף עִמּוֹ. אִם נִצְטָרֵף הֲרֵי זֶה עֵד שֶׁקֶר:

6

If he tells him: "Come and stand together with the witness. You do not have to testify, but the borrower will become frightened and panic, thinking that you are two witnesses and he will admit the debt on his own volition," the student is forbidden to stand and make it appear that he is a witness even though he does not deliver testimony. With regard to this and similar matter, Exodus 23:7 states: "Keep distant from words of falsehood."

ו

אָמַר לוֹ בּוֹא וַעֲמֹד עִם הָעֵד וְלֹא תָּעִיד כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּרְאֶה הַלּוֶֹה וִיפַחֵד וְיַעֲלֶה עַל דַּעְתּוֹ שֶׁאַתֶּם שְׁנֵי עֵדִים וְיוֹדֶה מֵעַצְמוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה אָסוּר לַעֲמֹד וּלְהַרְאוֹת שֶׁהוּא עֵד אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינוֹ מֵעִיד. וְעַל זֶה וְכַיּוֹצֵא בּוֹ נֶאֱמַר (שמות כג ז) "מִדְּבַר שֶׁקֶר תִּרְחָק":

7

A person who hires false witnesses to testify against a colleague is not liable according to mortal law, but does have a moral and spiritual obligation. Similarly, one witness who refrains from testifying is not liable according to mortal law, but does have a moral and spiritual obligation.

ז

הַשּׂוֹכֵר עֵדֵי שֶׁקֶר לְהָעִיד לַחֲבֵרוֹ פָּטוּר מִדִּינֵי אָדָם וְחַיָּב בְּדִינֵי שָׁמַיִם. וְכֵן עֵד אֶחָד שֶׁכָּבַשׁ עֵדוּתוֹ וְלֹא הֵעִיד פָּטוּר מִדִּינֵי אָדָם וְחַיָּב בְּדִינֵי שָׁמַיִם: