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Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day

Edut - Chapter 5, Edut - Chapter 6, Edut - Chapter 7

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Edut - Chapter 5

1

A ruling is never delivered in any judgment on the basis of the testimony of one witness, not in cases involving financial law, nor in cases involving capital punishment, as Deuteronomy 19:15 states: "One witness should not stand up against any person with regard to any transgression or any sin." According to the Oral Tradition, we learned that his testimony is effective with regard to an oath, as stated in Hilchot Toein ViNitan.

א

אֵין חוֹתְכִין דִּין מִן הַדִּינִין עַל פִּי עֵד אֶחָד לֹא דִּינֵי מָמוֹנוֹת וְלֹא דִּינֵי נְפָשׁוֹת. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יט טו) "לֹא יָקוּם עֵד אֶחָד בְּאִישׁ לְכָל עָוֹן וּלְכָל חַטָּאת". וּמִפִּי הַשְּׁמוּעָה לָמַדְנוּ שֶׁקָּם הוּא לִשְׁבוּעָה כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ בְּהִלְכוֹת טוֹעֵן:

2

In two situations, the Torah accepted the testimony of one witness:

a) with regard to a sotah, so that she does not drink the bitter waters; and

b) with regard to a calf whose neck is broken, to prevent its neck from being broken, as we explained.

Similarly, according to Rabbinic Law, we accept the testimony of one witness with regard to testimony concerning a woman, if he testifies that her husband died.

ב

בִּשְׁנֵי מְקוֹמוֹת הֶאֱמִינָה תּוֹרָה עֵד אֶחָד. בְּסוֹטָה שֶׁלֹּא תִּשְׁתֶּה מֵי מָרִים וּבְעֶגְלָה עֲרוּפָה שֶׁלֹּא תֵּעָרֵף כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ. וְכֵן מִדִּבְרֵיהֶן בְּעֵדוּת אִשָּׁה שֶׁיָּעִיד לָהּ שֶׁמֵּת בַּעְלָהּ:

3

Whenever the testimony of one witness is effective, a woman and a person disqualified as a witness may also testify. There is, however, an exception: a witness who requires that an oath be taken. We do not require that an oath be taken except on the basis of testimony that is acceptable and fit to be joined with the testimony of another person to obligate the person taking the oath to make financial restitution.

Deuteronomy 19:15 states: "On the basis of the testimony of two witnesses or on the basis of the testimony of three witnesses...," establishing an equation between three witnesses and two witnesses. Just as when there are two witnesses, if one of them is discovered to be a relative or unfit to deliver testimony, the entire testimony is nullified; so, too, if there are three - or even 100 - witnesses and one of them is discovered to be a relative or unfit to deliver testimony, the entire testimony is nullified. This applies both in matters involving financial law and in cases involving capital punishment.

ג

וְכָל מָקוֹם שֶׁעֵד אֶחָד מוֹעִיל אִשָּׁה וּפָסוּל כְּמוֹ כֵן מְעִידִים. חוּץ מֵעֵד אֶחָד שֶׁל שְׁבוּעָה שֶׁאֵין מְחַיְּבִין שְׁבוּעָה אֶלָּא בְּעֵדוּת כָּשֵׁר הָרָאוּי לְהִצְטָרֵף עִם אַחֵר וְיִתְחַיֵּב זֶה הַנִּשְׁבָּע מָמוֹן עַל פִּיו. עַל פִּי שְׁנַיִם עֵדִים אוֹ עַל פִּי שְׁלֹשָׁה עֵדִים לַעֲשׂוֹת שְׁלֹשָׁה כִּשְׁנַיִם מַה שְּׁנַיִם נִמְצָא אֶחָד מֵהֶן קָרוֹב אוֹ פָּסוּל בָּטֵל הָעֵדוּת אַף שְׁלֹשָׁה וְהוּא הַדִּין לְמֵאָה. נִמְצָא אֶחָד מֵהֶן קָרוֹב אוֹ פָּסוּל בְּטֵלָה הָעֵדוּת בֵּין בְּדִינֵי מָמוֹנוֹת בֵּין בְּדִינֵי נְפָשׁוֹת:

4

When does the above apply? When all of the potential witnesses had the intent of delivering testimony. If, however, they did not all intend to deliver testimony, the testimony will not be nullified. What should two brothers do when they are together with other people and they and the others see a person murder a colleague, injure him, or grab an article from his hand?

ד

בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בִּזְמַן שֶׁנִּתְכַּוְּנוּ כֻּלָּם לְהָעִיד. אֲבָל אִם לֹא נִתְכַּוְּנוּ כֻּלָּם לְהָעִיד מַה יַּעֲשׂוּ שְׁנֵי אַחִים בִּכְלַל הָעָם וְרָאוּ הָעָם כְּשֶׁהָרַג זֶה אֶת זֶה אוֹ כְּשֶׁחָבַל בּוֹ אוֹ כְּשֶׁחָטַף חֵפֶץ מִיָּדוֹ:

5

How do we investigate the matter? When many witnesses come to the court as a single group, we ask them: "When you saw this person kill or injure was your intent to serve as a witness or merely to observe?" All those who say that their intent was not to serve as a witness, but they came merely to observe the matter as part of people at large are set aside. And all those who say: "I stood and took notice solely for the purpose of serving as a witness and being precise in my testimony," are set aside. If a relative or an unacceptable witness is found among those who intended to deliver testimony, the entire testimony is nullified.

When does the above apply? When a relative or an unacceptable witness was present. If, however, they are all acceptable to serve as witnesses, their testimony is taken into account whether they intended to serve as witnesses or not. Since they observed the matter, related the particulars of the testimony, and a warning was given the transgressor, the matter is adjudicated on this basis. This applies both in matters involving financial law and in cases involving capital punishment.

ה

וְכֵיצַד בּוֹדְקִין אֶת הַדָּבָר. כְּשֶׁיָּבוֹאוּ לְבֵית דִּין עֵדִים מְרֻבִּין. כַּת אַחַת אוֹמֵר לָהֶם כְּשֶׁרְאִיתֶם זֶה שֶׁהָרַג אוֹ חָבַל לְהָעִיד בָּאתֶם אוֹ לִרְאוֹת. כָּל מִי שֶׁאוֹמֵר לֹא לְהָעִיד עָלָיו אֶלָּא לִרְאוֹת מָה הַדָּבָר וּבִכְלַל הָעָם בָּאתִי מַפְרִישִׁין אוֹתוֹ. וְכָל מִי שֶׁאוֹמֵר לֹא הָיִיתִי עוֹמֵד אֶלָּא לְהָעִיד וּלְכַוֵּן הָעֵדוּת מַפְרִישִׁין אוֹתוֹ. אִם נִמְצָא בְּאֵלּוּ שֶׁנִּתְכַּוְּנוּ לְהָעִיד קָרוֹב אוֹ פָּסוּל עֵדוּת כֻּלָּם בְּטֵלָה. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים כְּשֶׁהָיָה בָּהֶן קָרוֹב אוֹ פָּסוּל. אֲבָל אִם כֻּלָּם כְּשֵׁרִים אֶחָד שֶׁנִּתְכַּוֵּן לְהָעִיד אוֹ שֶׁלֹּא נִתְכַּוֵּן לְהָעִיד הוֹאִיל וְרָאָה הַדָּבָר וְכִוֵּן עֵדוּתוֹ וְהָיָה שָׁם הַתְרָאָה חוֹתְכִין הַדִּין עַל פִּיו. בֵּין בְּדִינֵי מָמוֹנוֹת בֵּין בְּדִינֵי נְפָשׁוֹת:

6

The following laws apply when there is a legal document with many witnesses and one of them is discovered to be a relative or unacceptable or two of them are related to each other and the witnesses are not alive so that they could be asked whether they intended to sign as witnesses or not. If there is definitive testimony that they all sat down with the intent of signing - i.e., they intended to give testimony - the document is unacceptable. If not, the testimony may be maintained on the basis of the other witnesses.

Why may the testimony be maintained on the basis of the other witnesses? Because it is possible that the acceptable witnesses signed and left a place for a person of stature to sign and the relative or the unacceptable witness signed without them knowing.

ו

שְׁטָר שֶׁהָיוּ עֵדָיו מְרֻבִּין וְנִמְצָא אֶחָד מֵהֶן קָרוֹב אוֹ פָּסוּל אוֹ שֶׁהָיוּ בָּהֶם שְׁנַיִם קְרוֹבִים זֶה לָזֶה. וַהֲרֵי אֵין הָעֵדִים קַיָּמִין כְּדֵי לִשְׁאל אוֹתָן. אִם יֵשׁ שָׁם עֵדוּת בְּרוּרָה שֶׁכֻּלָּם יָשְׁבוּ לַחְתֹּם שֶׁהֲרֵי נִתְכַּוְּנוּ לְהָעִיד הֲרֵי זֶה בָּטֵל. וְאִם לָאו תִּתְקַיֵּם הָעֵדוּת בַּשְּׁאָר. וְלָמָּה מְקַיְּמִין הָעֵדוּת בַּשְּׁאָר שֶׁהֲרֵי אֶפְשָׁר שֶׁחָתְמוּ הַכְּשֵׁרִים וְהִנִּיחוּ מָקוֹם לַגָּדוֹל לַחְתֹּם וּבָא זֶה הַקָּרוֹב אוֹ הַפָּסוּל וְחָתַם שֶׁלֹּא מִדַּעְתָּם:

7

Even though an unacceptable witness is the first whose signature appears on the legal document, the document is acceptable.

ז

אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהָעֵד שֶׁחָתוּם מִתְּחִלָּה בַּשְּׁטָר הוּא הַפָּסוּל הֲרֵי הַשְּׁטָר כָּשֵׁר:

8

Whenever a witness delivers testimony in a case involving capital punishment, he may not rule as a judge with regard to this murder. He may not offer an opinion in favor of the accused's acquittal or conviction. If he states: "I have a rationale that should lead to his acquittal, he is silenced, as implied by Numbers 35:30: "One witness shall not make a statement with regard to a case involving capital punishment," i.e., his words are not accepted neither for acquittal, nor for conviction.

What is the intent of the phrase "involving capital punishment"? That once a witness testifies with regard to capital punishment, he should make no further statements. He should deliver his testimony and be silent. With regard to cases involving financial matters, he may, however, offer an opinion leading to the defendant being released from financial liability or held liable. He may not, however, be counted among the judges or serve as a judge. For a witness may not serve as a judge. This applies even in cases involving financial matters.

ח

כָּל עֵד שֶׁהֵעִיד בְּדִינֵי נְפָשׁוֹת אֵינוֹ מוֹרֶה בְּדִין זֶה הַנֶּהֱרָג וְלֹא יְלַמֵּד עָלָיו לֹא זְכוּת וְלֹא חוֹבָה. וְאִם אָמַר יֵשׁ לִי לְלַמֵּד עָלָיו זְכוּת מְשַׁתְּקִין אוֹתוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר לה ל) "וְעֵד אֶחָד לֹא יַעֲנֶה בְנֶפֶשׁ לָמוּת". בֵּין לִזְכוּת בֵּין לְחוֹבָה. וּמַהוּ זֶה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר לָמוּת כְּלוֹמַר עֵד שֶׁהֵעִיד בְּנֶפֶשׁ לָמוּת לֹא יַעֲנֶה דָּבָר אֶלָּא יָעִיד וְיִשְׁתֹּק. אֲבָל בְּדִינֵי מָמוֹנוֹת יֵשׁ לוֹ לְלַמֵּד עָלָיו זְכוּת אוֹ חוֹבָה. אֲבָל לֹא יִמָּנֶה עִם הַדַּיָּנִים וְלֹא יֵעָשֶׂה דַּיָּן שֶׁאֵין עֵד נַעֲשֶׂה דַּיָּן אֲפִלּוּ בְּדִינֵי מָמוֹנוֹת:

9

When does the above apply? With regard to matters that, according to Scriptural Law, require testimony and adjudication by judges. In matters of Rabbinic Law, by contrast, a witness may serve as a judge.

What is implied? A person brought a bill of divorce and stated: "It was written and signed in my presence." He and two other individuals may serve as a court and give the woman the bill of divorce. It is as if she received it in a court. Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.

ט

בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בְּדָבָר שֶׁצָּרִיךְ עֵדִים מִן הַתּוֹרָה וְצָרִיךְ דַּיָּנִים לָדוּן בְּאוֹתוֹ הַדָּבָר מִן הַתּוֹרָה. אֲבָל בְּשֶׁל דִּבְרֵיהֶם עֵד נַעֲשֶׂה דַּיָּן. כֵּיצַד. אֶחָד שֶׁהֵבִיא הַגֵּט וְאָמַר בְּפָנַי נִכְתַּב וּבְפָנַי נֶחְתַּם. הוּא וּשְׁנַיִם נוֹתְנִין אוֹתוֹ לָהּ וְנִמְצָא כְּאִלּוּ נְטָלוּהוּ מִבֵּית דִּין. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה:

Edut - Chapter 6

1

As explained, the verification of the authenticity of the signatures of the witnesses to legal documents is a Rabbinic provision so that loans will be given freely. Nevertheless, we do not verify the authenticity of a legal document except in a court of three judges, for it is a judgment. Ordinary people, however, are acceptable to serve as the judges. For this reason, the authenticity of legal documents may not be verified at night, as we explained.

א

כְּבָר בֵּאַרְנוּ שֶׁקִּיּוּם שְׁטָרוֹת מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא תִּנְעל דֶּלֶת בִּפְנֵי לוֹוִין. אַף עַל פִּי כֵן אֵין מְקַיְּמִין שְׁטָרוֹת אֶלָּא בִּשְׁלֹשָׁה אֲפִלּוּ שְׁלָשְׁתָּן הֶדְיוֹטוֹת מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא דִּין. וּלְפִיכָךְ אֵין מְקַיְּמִין שְׁטָרוֹת בַּלַּיְלָה כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ:

2

The authenticity of the signatures of the witnesses to legal documents may be verified in any of five ways:

a) the judges recognize the handwriting of the witnesses and know that this is so-and-so's signature and that this is so-and-so's signature;

b) the witnesses sign the legal document in their presence;

c) the witnesses who signed come and each testifies in the presence of the judges saying, "This is my signature and I am a witness to this matter";

d) if the witnesses to the legal document died or they were in another locale, other witnesses may come and testify to the authenticity of their signatures;

e) if the witnesses' signatures were found on other legal documents, the court compares these signatures to the signatures on those documents, seeing that they resemble each other and the signatures on these documents match these signatures.

ב

בְּאֶחָד מֵחֲמִשָּׁה דְּרָכִים מִתְקַיֵּם הַשְּׁטָר בְּבֵית דִּין. הַדֶּרֶךְ הָאֶחָד שֶׁיִּהְיוּ דַּיָּנִים מַכִּירִין כְּתַב יְדֵי הָעֵדִים שֶׁזּוֹ עֵדוּת פְּלוֹנִי וְזוֹ עֵדוּת פְּלוֹנִי. הַדֶּרֶךְ הַשֵּׁנִי שֶׁיַּחְתְּמוּ הָעֵדִים בִּפְנֵיהֶם. הַדֶּרֶךְ הַשְּׁלִישִׁי שֶׁיָּבוֹאוּ הָעֵדִים הַחֲתוּמִים בִּפְנֵיהֶם וְיֹאמַר כָּל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד זֶה כְּתַב יָדִי וַאֲנִי עֵד בַּדָּבָר הַזֶּה. הַדֶּרֶךְ הָרְבִיעִי שֶׁאִם מֵתוּ עֵדֵי הַשְּׁטָר אוֹ שֶׁהָיוּ בִּמְדִינָה אַחֶרֶת יָבוֹאוּ עֵדִים וְיָעִידוּ עַל כְּתַב יָדָן שֶׁהוּא זֶה. הַדֶּרֶךְ הַחֲמִישִׁי שֶׁיִּהְיֶה כְּתַב יָדָן יוֹצֵא מִשְּׁטָרוֹת אֲחֵרִים וְעוֹרְכִין בֵּית דִּין זֶה הַכְּתָב לְאוֹתוֹ הַכְּתָב שֶׁבִּשְׁטָרוֹת אֲחֵרִים וְיִהְיֶה דּוֹמֶה זֶה לָזֶה וְיֵרָאֶה לָהֶם בְּיַחַד שֶׁכְּתַב יְדֵי אֵלּוּ הוּא כְּתַב יְדֵי אֵלּוּ:

3

The authenticity of the signatures of the witnesses to legal documents should not be verified from documents other than:

a) two deeds of sale from two fields whose owners benefited from them for three years in a proper and conspicuous manner without fear or dread from any claim in the world as all the owners of fields benefit from their properties; or b) two ketubot.

These two legal documents must be in the possession of another person and not in the possession of the person who seeks to validate his legal document, for it is possible he forged all the signatures. Similarly, we may validate a legal document by comparing the signatures of the witnesses to those on a legal document whose authenticity was challenged and then verified by a court of law. Such a legal document alone can be used to verify the authenticity of the signatures to a legal document just as a legal document can be validated by comparing it to the deeds of sale for two fields or two ketubot.

ג

אֵין מְקַיְּמִין אֶת הַשְּׁטָר מִשְּׁטָרוֹת אֲחֵרִים אֶלָּא מִשְּׁנֵי שְׁטָרוֹת שֶׁל שְׁתֵּי שָׂדוֹת שֶׁאֲכָלוּם בַּעֲלֵיהֶן שָׁלֹשׁ שָׁנִים אֲכִילָה גְּלוּיָה נְכוֹנָה בְּלֹא שׁוּם יִרְאָה וְלֹא פַּחַד מִתְּבִיעָה בָּעוֹלָם כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁאוֹכְלִין כָּל בַּעֲלֵי שָׂדוֹת שְׂדוֹתֵיהֶן. אוֹ מִשְּׁנֵי שִׁטְרֵי כְּתֻבּוֹת. וְהוּא שֶׁיֵּצְאוּ שְׁנֵי הַשְּׁטָרוֹת מִתַּחַת יְדֵי אַחֵר לֹא מִתַּחַת יְדֵי זֶה שֶׁרוֹצֶה לְקַיֵּם שְׁטָרוֹ שֶׁמָּא הוּא זִיֵּף הַכּל. וְכֵן מְקַיְּמִין הַשְּׁטָר מִשְּׁטָר שֶׁקָּרָא עָלָיו עַרְעָר וְהֻחְזַק בְּבֵית דִּין מְקַיְּמִין מִמֶּנּוּ לְבַדּוֹ כְּמוֹ שֶׁמְּקַיְּמִין מִשְּׁטַר שְׁתֵּי שָׂדוֹת אוֹ מִשְּׁתֵי כְּתֻבּוֹת:

4

When a court writes on a legal document: "In a sitting of three judges, the authenticity of this legal document was validated in our presence," it is validated even though they did not state in which of the five ways it was validated. For we do not suspect that the court erred. Nevertheless, it has already become accepted practice for all the courts which we have seen and about whom we have heard for the judges to describe the manner in which the document was validated.

ד

בֵּית דִּין שֶׁכָּתְבוּ בְּמוֹשַׁב שְׁלֹשָׁה הָיִינוּ וְנִתְקַיֵּם שְׁטָר זֶה בְּפָנֵינוּ הֲרֵי זֶה מְקֻיָּם אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא פֵּרְשׁוּ בְּאֵי זֶה דֶּרֶךְ מֵחֲמִשָּׁה דְּרָכִים נִתְקַיֵּם. שֶׁאֵין חוֹשְׁשִׁין לְבֵית דִּין שֶׁמָּא יִטְעוּ. וּכְבָר נָהֲגוּ כָּל בָּתֵּי דִּינִין שֶׁרָאִינוּ וְשָׁמַעְנוּ שֶׁיִּכְתְּבוּ הַדֶּרֶךְ שֶׁנִּתְקַיֵּם בָּהּ לִפְנֵיהֶם:

5

A court never checks whether another court validated a legal document in a correct manner. Instead, we act under the presumption that they were knowledgeable and did not err. We do, however, check the witnesses.

ה

וּלְעוֹלָם אֵין בֵּית דִּין בּוֹדְקִין אַחַר בֵּית דִּין אַחֵר אֶלָּא מַחֲזִיקִין אוֹתָן שֶׁהֵן בְּקִיאִין וְלֹא יִטְעוּ. אֲבָל בּוֹדְקִין אַחַר הָעֵדִים:

6

When three judges sit to validate the authenticity of a legal document and one of them dies, the remaining judges should write: "We sat in a session of three judges, one of the judges exists no longer," lest an observer say: "A court of two judges validated it." Even if the validation states that it was performed by a court, it would be insufficient, lest an observer say: "Perhaps they thought that two judges could constitute a court." If their wording implied that there were three judges, there is no need to mention the death of the other judge.

ו

שְׁלֹשָׁה שֶׁיָּשְׁבוּ לְקַיֵּם אֶת הַשְּׁטָר וּמֵת אֶחָד מֵהֶם צְרִיכִין לִכְתֹּב בְּמוֹשַׁב שְׁלֹשָׁה הָיִינוּ וְהָאֶחָד אֵינֶנּוּ. שֶׁמָּא יֹאמַר הָרוֹאֶה בֵּית דִּין בִּשְׁנַיִם קִיְּמוּהוּ. אֲפִלּוּ הָיָה כָּתוּב בּוֹ בְּבֵית דִּין יֹאמַר שֶׁמָּא דִּמּוּ שֶׁשְּׁנַיִם בֵּית דִּין הֵם. וְאִם יֵשׁ בּוֹ מַשְׁמָע שֶׁהָיוּ שְׁלֹשָׁה אֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ:

7

The following principles apply when there is a question if one of the judges was acceptable to serve in his position. For example, three judges sat to validate the authenticity of a legal document. Two witnesses came and challenged the propriety of one of the judges, saying that he was a robber or the like. Two others came and testified that he repented. If, before the judges signed, they testified that he repented, he may sign with them. For there were three acceptable judges at the time of the signing. If it was not until after the other two judges signed that the witnesses testified that he repented, the third judge may not sign together with them. For it is as if he did not exist at the time the other two signed.

When does the above apply? When his propriety was challenged because of a transgression. Different rules apply, however, when, however, his propriety was challenged because of a blemish in his lineage, e.g., they said: "His mother was never freed, and he is a servant," or "His mother never converted and he is a gentile." If after the other two judges signed, it was discovered that he does not have this type of blemished lineage and he is fit to serve as a judge, he may sign together with the other two. The rationale is that this is merely the revelation of a fact that existed previously.

ז

שְׁלֹשָׁה שֶׁיָּשְׁבוּ לְקַיֵּם אֶת הַשְּׁטָר וּבָאוּ שְׁנֵי עֵדִים וְעִרְעֲרוּ עַל אֶחָד מֵהֶן שֶׁהוּא גַּזְלָן וְכַיּוֹצֵא בּוֹ וּבָאוּ שְׁנַיִם אֲחֵרִים וְהֵעִידוּ שֶׁחָזַר בִּתְשׁוּבָה. אִם עַד שֶׁלֹּא חָתְמוּ הֵעִידוּ שֶׁחָזַר הֲרֵי זֶה חוֹתֵם עִמָּהֶם שֶׁהֲרֵי שְׁלֹשָׁה הָיוּ וְאִם אַחַר שֶׁחָתְמוּ הַשְּׁנַיִם הֵעִידוּ עָלָיו שֶׁחָזַר בִּתְשׁוּבָה אֵינוֹ חוֹתֵם עִמָּהֶן שֶׁהֲרֵי הוּא כְּמִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ בְּעֵת חֲתִימַת הַשְּׁנַיִם. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים כְּשֶׁעִרְעֲרוּ עָלָיו בַּעֲבֵרָה. אֲבָל עִרְעֲרוּ עָלָיו בִּפְגַם מִשְׁפָּחָה כְּמוֹ שֶׁאָמְרוּ אִמּוֹ לֹא נִשְׁתַּחְרְרָה וְעֶבֶד הוּא אוֹ לֹא נִתְגַּיְּרָה וְעַכּוּ''ם הוּא וְנוֹדַע אַחַר שֶׁחָתְמוּ הַשְּׁנַיִם שֶׁאֵין בְּמִשְׁפַּחְתּוֹ פְּגָם וְשֶׁהוּא כָּשֵׁר הֲרֵי זֶה חוֹתֵם עִמָּהֶם שֶׁזֶּה גִּלּוּי דָּבָר שֶׁהָיָה מִקֹּדֶם הוּא:

8

It is permitted to write the validation on the document before the signatures on the document are validated. For it is the judges' signing of the validation, not the writing of it that is of fundamental importance.

The judges do not have to read the legal document when they validate its authenticity. Instead, they validate it based on the signatures of the witnesses even if they do not know what was written in it.

ח

מֻתָּר לִכְתֹּב הַקִּיּוּם בַּשְּׁטָר קֹדֶם שֶׁיִּתְקַיֵּם הַשְּׁטָר שֶׁאֵין הַכְּתִיבָה עִקָּר אֶלָּא הַחֲתִימָה. וְאֵין הַדַּיָּנִים צְרִיכִין לִקְרוֹת הַשְּׁטָר שֶׁמְּקַיְּמִין אוֹתוֹ אֶלָּא מְקַיְּמִין אוֹתוֹ מֵעֵדָיו אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא יָדְעוּ מַה כָּתוּב בּוֹ:

Edut - Chapter 7

1

A relative may give testimony with regard to his relative's signature.

What is implied? There was a legal document which Reuven and Shimon signed as witnesses. They died or traveled overseas. Reuven's son came and testified: "This is my father's signature," and Shimon's son came and testified: "This is my father's signature," it is as if they are two acceptable witnesses who are not related to the witnesses who have signed. If a third witness joins together with them and testifies with regard to the two signatures, the authenticity of the legal document is validated.

א

מֵעִיד קָרוֹב עַל כְּתַב קְרוֹבוֹ. כֵּיצַד. שְׁטָר שֶׁעֵדָיו רְאוּבֵן וְשִׁמְעוֹן וּמֵתוּ אוֹ שֶׁהָלְכוּ לִמְדִינַת הַיָּם וּבָא בְּנוֹ שֶׁל רְאוּבֵן וְאָמַר זֶה כְּתַב יָדוֹ שֶׁל אָבִי וּבָא בְּנוֹ שֶׁל שִׁמְעוֹן וְאָמַר זֶה כְּתַב יָדוֹ שֶׁל אָבִי הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ כִּשְׁנֵי עֵדִים כְּשֵׁרִים שֶׁאֵינָן קְרוֹבִים וְאִם יִצְטָרֵף עִמָּהֶם שְׁלִישִׁי וְהֵעִיד עַל כְּתַב יָדָן שֶׁל שְׁנֵיהֶם הֲרֵי נִתְקַיֵּם הַשְּׁטָר:

2

The statements of the following individuals are acceptable when, as adults, they testify with regard to what they observed as minors. A person's words is accepted when, as an adult, he states: "This is the signature of my father....", "This is the signature of my teacher...", "This is the signature of my brother which I learned to recognize when I was a minor."

The above applies, provided he is joined by another person who learned to recognize these signatures while an adult.

ב

וְאֵלּוּ מִדְּבָרִים שֶׁנֶּאֱמָנִים הַגְּדוֹלִים לְהָעִיד בְּגָדְלָם מַה שֶּׁרָאוּ בְּקָטְנָם. נֶאֱמָן אָדָם לוֹמַר כְּשֶׁהוּא גָּדוֹל זֶהוּ כְּתַב יָדוֹ שֶׁל אָבִי זֶהוּ כְּתַב יָדוֹ שֶׁל רַבִּי זֶהוּ כְּתַב יָדוֹ שֶׁל אָחִי שֶׁהָיִיתִי מַכִּיר בִּכְתַב יָדָם כְּשֶׁהָיִיתִי קָטָן. וְהוּא שֶׁיִּצְטָרֵף עִמּוֹ אַחֵר שֶׁמַּכִּיר כְּתַב יָדָן כְּשֶׁהוּא גָּדוֹל:

3

When there is a legal document on which Reuven and Shimon signed as witnesses and two others came and testified to the authenticity of the signatures of both Reuven and Shimon, the legal document is validated. If, however, one testified to the authenticity of Reuven's signature and the other testified to the authenticity of Shimon's signature, the document is not validated. The rationale is that two witnesses must testify with regard to both witnesses' signature. If there is a third witness who testifies with regard to the authenticity of both Reuven's and Shimon's signature, the document is validated.

ג

שְׁטָר שֶׁעֵדָיו רְאוּבֵן וְשִׁמְעוֹן וּבָאוּ שְׁנַיִם וְהֵעִידוּ שֶׁזֶּה כְּתַב יָדוֹ שֶׁל רְאוּבֵן וְזֶה כְּתַב יָדוֹ שֶׁל שִׁמְעוֹן נִתְקַיֵּם הַשְּׁטָר. אֲבָל אִם הֵעִיד זֶה עַל כְּתַב יָדוֹ [שֶׁל] רְאוּבֵן וְהַשֵּׁנִי הֵעִיד עַל כְּתַב יָדוֹ [שֶׁל] שִׁמְעוֹן לֹא נִתְקַיֵּם הַשְּׁטָר לְפִי שֶׁצָּרִיךְ שְׁנֵי עֵדִים עַל כְּתַב [כָּל] יַד אֶחָד מִשְּׁנֵיהֶם. וְאִם יֵשׁ שְׁלִישִׁי מֵעִיד עַל כְּתַב רְאוּבֵן וְשִׁמְעוֹן כְּאֶחָד נִתְקַיֵּם:

4

When one witness says: "This is my signature," and he and another witness testify with regard to the signature of the other witness, the document is not validated, for three fourths of the money mentioned in the legal document is dependent on the testimony of one person. Similarly, if the son or the brother of the first witness testifies with another person with regard to the signature of the second witness, the document is not validated, because three fourths of the money is dependent on the testimony of relatives.

ד

אָמַר הָרִאשׁוֹן זֶה כְּתַב יָדִי וְהֵעִיד הוּא וְאַחֵר עַל כְּתַב יְדֵי הַשֵּׁנִי לֹא נִתְקַיֵּם לְפִי שֶׁנִּמְצָא שְׁלֹשֶׁת רִבְעֵי הַמָּמוֹן שֶׁבַּשְּׁטָר תָּלוּי בְּעֵדוּת הָאֶחָד. וְכֵן אִם הֵעִיד אָחִיו אוֹ בְּנוֹ שֶׁל רִאשׁוֹן עִם אַחֵר עַל כְּתַב יְדֵי הַשֵּׁנִי לֹא נִתְקַיֵּם שֶׁהֲרֵי שְׁלֹשֶׁת רִבְעֵי הַמָּמוֹן תָּלוּי בְּעֵדוּת הַקְּרוֹבִים:

5

When two witnesses sign a legal document and one of them dies, it is necessary that two witnesses testify with regard to the authenticity of the witness who died. If there is only one other witness who recognizes his signature in addition to the witness who is alive, the latter should write his signature, even on a shard, in the presence of two witnesses and send it to the court so that his signature will be validated. In that instance, it is not necessary for him to declare that it is his signature. Accordingly, he and another person can testify with regard to the signature of the deceased person so that his signature will be validated even though he is not present.

ה

שְׁנַיִם שֶׁחֲתוּמִין עַל הַשְּׁטָר וּמֵת אֶחָד מֵהֶן צָרִיךְ שְׁנֵי עֵדִים לְהָעִיד עַל כְּתַב יָדוֹ שֶׁל מֵת וְאִם לֹא נִמְצָא אֶלָּא עֵד אֶחָד עִם זֶה הָעֵד הַחַי כּוֹתֵב חֲתִימַת יָדוֹ בִּפְנֵי עֵדִים אֲפִלּוּ עַל הַחֶרֶס וּמַשְׁלִיכוֹ בְּבֵית דִּין עַד שֶׁתֻּחְזַק כְּתַב יָדוֹ בְּבֵית דִּין וְלֹא יִהְיֶה צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר שֶׁזֶּה כְּתַב יָדוֹ וְיָעִיד הוּא וְאַחֵר עַל כְּתַב יְדֵי הַמֵּת וְיִתְקַיֵּם כְּתַב יָדוֹ שֶׁלֹּא בְּפָנָיו:

6

The following principles apply if three judges sit together to validate the authenticity of a legal document, two of them recognize the signatures of the witnesses and one of them does not. Before the judges sign the validation, the two witnesses who recognize the signatures may deliver testimony before the third judge. Then they may sign the validation, for witnesses may serve as judges in a matter that is a Rabbinic ordinance, as we explained.

If the two witnesses who recognize the signatures sign the validation before testifying, they may not testify in the presence of the third judge and have him sign. For at the time they signed, only those two recognized the signature of the witnesses. A legal document may be validated only when all three judges recognize the signatures or witnesses deliver testimony on the signatures before each one of them.

ו

שְׁלֹשָׁה שֶׁיָּשְׁבוּ לְקַיֵּם אֶת הַשְּׁטָר שְׁנַיִם מֵהֶן מַכִּירִין חֲתִימַת יְדֵי עֵדִים וְאֶחָד אֵינוֹ מַכִּיר. עַד שֶׁלֹּא חָתְמוּ מְעִידִין בְּפָנָיו וְחוֹתֵם. שֶׁהָעֵדִים נַעֲשִׂים דַּיָּנִים בְּדָבָר שֶׁהוּא מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ. אֲבָל אַחַר שֶׁחָתְמוּ אֵין מְעִידִין בְּפָנָיו וְחוֹתֵם [שֶׁהֲרֵי בְּעֵת שֶׁחָתְמוּ לֹא הָיוּ מַכִּירִין אֶלָּא הַשְּׁנַיִם] וְאֵין מְקַיְּמִין אֶלָּא עַד שֶׁיִּהְיוּ שְׁלָשְׁתָּן מַכִּירִין אוֹ יָעִידוּ הָעֵדִים עַל הַכְּתָב בִּפְנֵי כָּל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד:

7

The following law applies when the two witnesses who signed on a legal document died and two others came and testified, saying: "This is their signature, but they signed under duress," "...they were minors," or "...they were unacceptable as witnesses." Even though there were other witnesses who testify with regard to their signatures or their signatures could be recognized from another legal document concerning which a protest was raised and afterwards, it was validated by the court, the legal document is not validated. Instead, the two witnesses who signed the document are balanced against the two who testified that they were unacceptable as witnesses, and the legal document may not be used to expropriate money.

ז

שְׁנַיִם שֶׁהָיוּ חֲתוּמִין עַל הַשְּׁטָר וּמֵתוּ וּבָאוּ שְׁנַיִם וְאָמְרוּ כְּתַב יָדָן הוּא זֶה אֲבָל אֲנוּסִים הָיוּ קְטַנִּים הָיוּ פְּסוּלֵי עֵדוּת הָיוּ. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיֵּשׁ שָׁם עֵדִים אֲחֵרִים שֶׁזֶּה כְּתַב יָדָן אוֹ שֶׁהָיָה כְּתַב יָדָן יוֹצֵא מִשְּׁטָר אַחֵר שֶׁקָּרָא עָלָיו עַרְעָר וְהֻחְזַק בְּבֵית דִּין הֲרֵי זֶה לֹא נִתְקַיֵּם. אֶלָּא מְעִידִין הַשְּׁנַיִם שֶּׁבַּשְּׁטָר כְּנֶגֶד הַשְּׁנַיִם שֶׁהֵעִידוּ עֲלֵיהֶן שֶׁהֵן פְּסוּלִין וְאֵין גּוֹבִין בּוֹ כְּלוּם:

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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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