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Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day

Edut - Chapter 14, Edut - Chapter 15, Edut - Chapter 16

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Edut - Chapter 14

1

Whenever a witness is disqualified from testifying on behalf of a colleague because he is married to the witness' relative, if that relative's wife dies, even if she left him sons, he is considered to have been released from any connection and is acceptable as a witness.

א

כָּל מִי שֶׁאֵין אַתָּה מֵעיד לוֹ מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא בַּעַל קְרוֹבָתְךָ. אִם מֵתָה אִשְׁתּוֹ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהִנִּיחָה לוֹ בָּנִים הֲרֵי זֶה נִתְרַחֵק וְכָשֵׁר:

2

When a person knew of evidence concerning a colleague before he became his son-in-law, and then became his son-in-law, he is not acceptable. The same law applies if a person was in control of his senses and then became a deaf-mute, was able to see and became blind - even though he is aware of the measure of land concerning which he testifies and can define its boundaries, or was intellectually and emotionally sound and then lost control of his faculties.

If, by contrast, a person knew of evidence concerning a colleague before he became his son-in-law, became his son-in-law, and then that colleague's daughter died, the witness is acceptable. Similar laws apply if a person was in control of his senses, became a deaf-mute, and then regained control of his senses, was intellectually and emotionally sound, lost control of his faculties, and then regained control of them, or was able to see, became blind, and then regained his sight.

The general principle is: Whenever a person is an acceptable witness at the initial and the final stages, he is acceptable even though in the interim, he was not acceptable as a witness. If, however, initially he is unacceptable, even though ultimately, he would be acceptable, he is disqualified. Therefore when a person is aware of evidence as a child, it is of no consequence for him to testify with regard to it when he attains majority.

ב

מִי שֶׁהָיָה יוֹדֵעַ לַחֲבֵרוֹ עֵדוּת עַד שֶׁלֹּא נַעֲשָׂה חֲתָנוֹ וְנַעֲשָׂה חֲתָנוֹ. אוֹ שֶׁיָּדַע הָעֵדוּת וְהוּא פִּקֵּחַ וְאַחַר כָּךְ נִתְחָרֵשׁ. פָּתוּחַ וְנִסְתַּמֵּא אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיָּכוֹל לְכַוֵּן מִדַּת הַקַּרְקַע שֶׁהוּא מֵעִיד בָּהּ וּמְסַיֵּם מְצָרֶיהָ. שָׁפוּי וְנִשְׁתַּטָּה. הֲרֵי זֶה פָּסוּל. אֲבָל אִם הָיָה יוֹדֵעַ לוֹ עֵדוּת עַד שֶׁלֹּא נַעֲשָׂה חֲתָנוֹ וְנַעֲשָׂה חֲתָנוֹ וּמֵתָה בִּתּוֹ. פִּקֵּחַ וְנִתְחָרֵשׁ וְחָזַר וְנִתְפַּקֵּחַ שָׁפוּי וְנִשְׁתַּטָּה וְחָזַר וְנִשְׁתַּפָּה פָּתוּחַ וְנִסְתַּמֵּא וְחָזַר וְנִתְפַּתֵּחַ כָּשֵׁר. זֶה הַכְּלָל כָּל שֶׁתְּחִלָּתוֹ וְסוֹפוֹ בְּכַשְׁרוּת אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁנִּפְסַל בֵּינְתַיִם כָּשֵׁר. תְּחִלָּתוֹ בְּפַסְלוּת אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁסּוֹפוֹ בְּכַשְׁרוּת פָּסוּל. לְפִיכָךְ מִי שֶׁהָיָה יוֹדֵעַ בְּעֵדוּת וְהוּא קָטָן וּבָא וְהֵעִיד בָּהּ כְּשֶׁהוּא גָּדוֹל אֵינָהּ כְּלוּם:

3

There are matters concerning which we rely on the testimony which a person gives after he attains majority with regard to events that he observed when he was a child. The rationale is that these are matters of Rabbinical origin. The matters are as follows; a person's word is accepted when he states: a) "This is the signature of my father," "...my teacher," "...or my brother," the rationale is that the validation of legal documents is a Rabbinic requirement;

b) "I remember that when so-and-so was married, they performed the customs performed for a virgin"; since most women marry when virgins and a ketubah is a Rabbinic institution;

c) "This place is a beit hapras," for the ritual impurity associated with such a place is a Rabbinic safeguard;

d) "We would proceed until this point on the Sabbath," because the restriction of the Sabbath limits until only 2000 cubits is a Rabbinic restriction;

e) "So-and-so would leave school to immerse himself in a mikveh and eat terumah in the evening" or "he would receive a portion of terumah with us;"

f) "We would bring challah and presents of meat to so-and-so, the priest"; this applies when the presents were sent with the person himself;

g) "My father told me, 'This family is acceptable; this family is not acceptable";

h) "We ate from the fruit-barrel brought by the brothers of so-and-so to inform others that their brother, so-and-so, married a woman that was not appropriate for him.

All of the latter four points involve establishing a person as a priest to enable him to partake of terumah that is separated at present because of Rabbinic decree or to prevent him from partaking of it.

ג

וְיֵשׁ דְּבָרִים שֶׁסּוֹמְכִין בָּהֶן עַל עֵדוּת שֶׁמֵּעִיד כְּשֶׁהוּא גָּדוֹל הוֹאִיל וְהֵם דְּבָרִים שֶׁל דִּבְרֵיהֶם. וְאֵלּוּ הֵן הַדְּבָרִים שֶׁאָדָם נֶאֱמָן לְהָעִיד בְּגָדְלוֹ עַל מַה שֶּׁרָאָה בְּקָטְנוֹ. נֶאֱמָן אָדָם לוֹמַר זֶה כְּתַב יָדוֹ שֶׁל אָבִי אוֹ שֶׁל רַבִּי אוֹ שֶׁל אָחִי מִפְּנֵי שֶׁקִּיּוּם שְׁטָרוֹת מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם. זָכוּר אֲנִי בִּפְלוֹנִית שֶׁנִּשֵּׂאת וְנַעֲשָׂה לָהּ מִנְהַג הַבְּתוּלוֹת. הוֹאִיל וְרֹב נָשִׁים בְּתוּלוֹת נִשָּׂאוֹת וּכְתֻבָּה מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם. שֶׁהַמָּקוֹם הַזֶּה בֵּית הַפְּרָס מִפְּנֵי שֶׁטֻּמְאָתוֹ מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם. וְעַד כָּאן הָיִינוּ בָּאִין בְּשַׁבָּת שֶׁצִּמְצוּם הַתְּחוּם עַד אַלְפַּיִם אַמָּה בִּלְבַד מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם. שֶׁהָיָה אִישׁ פְּלוֹנִי יוֹצֵא מִבֵּית הַסֵּפֶר לִטְבּל וְלֶאֱכל בִּתְרוּמָתוֹ לָעֶרֶב. וְשֶׁהָיָה חוֹלֵק עִמָּנוּ תְּרוּמָה. וְשֶׁהָיִינוּ מוֹלִיכִים חַלָּה וּמַתָּנוֹת לִפְלוֹנִי כֹּהֵן עַל יְדֵי עַצְמוֹ. וְאָמַר לִי אַבָּא מִשְׁפָּחָה זוֹ כְּשֵׁרָה מִשְׁפָּחָה זוֹ פְּסוּלָה. וְאָכַלְנוּ בַּקֳצָצָה שֶׁל פְּלוֹנִי שֶׁהֶאֱכִילוּנִי אֶחָיו כְּדֵי לְהוֹדִיעַ שֶׁאֲחִיהֶם פְּלוֹנִי נָשָׂא אִשָּׁה שֶׁאֵינָהּ הוֹגֶנֶת לוֹ. שֶׁכָּל אֵלּוּ הַדְּבָרִים לְהַחֲזִיק זֶה הַכֹּהֵן לֶאֱכל בִּתְרוּמָה שֶׁל דִּבְרֵיהֶם אוֹ לִדְחוֹתוֹ מִמֶּנָּה:

4

The leniency granted in all these situations to accept the testimony of a person who reached majority with regard to what he knew when he was a minor is not granted when a gentile or a servant witnessed such matters and gave such testimony after he converted and was freed.

ד

כָּל אֵלּוּ שֶׁמֵּעִיד בָּהֶן הַגָּדוֹל בְּמַה שֶּׁיָּדַע כְּשֶׁהָיָה קָטָן. אִם הָיָה עַכּוּ''ם אוֹ עֶבֶד כְּשֶׁרָאָה דְּבָרִים אֵלּוּ וְהֵעִיד אַחַר שֶׁנִּתְגַּיֵּר וְנִשְׁתַּחְרֵר אֵינוֹ נֶאֱמָן:

5

If, before becoming a robber, a person knew of evidence concerning a colleague and recorded that evidence in a legal document and then became a robber, he cannot testify with regard to his signature. If, however, his signature to the legal document was validated in court before he became a robber, the legal document is acceptable.

Similarly, if a witness becomes a person's son-in-law, he may not testify concerning his signature on a legal document involving his father-in-law. Others, however, may testify concerning the son-in-law's signature. Even though the document is not validated by the court until after the witness becomes a person's son-in-law, it is acceptable. The disqualification of a witness because of a transgression is not the same as the disqualification of a witness because of a family connection, for a person disqualified because of a transgression is suspected of forging the document.

ה

מִי שֶׁהָיָה יוֹדֵעַ לַחֲבֵרוֹ בְּעֵדוּת עַד שֶׁלֹּא נַעֲשָׂה גַּזְלָן וְנַעֲשָׂה גַּזְלָן. הוּא אֵינוֹ מֵעִיד עַל כְּתַב יָדוֹ. אֲבָל אִם הֻחְזַק כְּתַב יָדוֹ שֶׁבִּשְׁטָר זֶה בְּבֵית דִּין קֹדֶם שֶׁיֵּעָשֶׂה גַּזְלָן הֲרֵי זֶה שְׁטַר כָּשֵׁר. וְכֵן אִם נַעֲשָׂה חֲתָנוֹ הוּא אֵינוֹ מֵעִיד עַל כְּתַב יָדוֹ אֲבָל אֲחֵרִים מְעִידִין. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא הֻחְזַק בְּבֵית דִּין אֶלָּא אַחַר שֶׁנַּעֲשָׂה חֲתָנוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה כָּשֵׁר. שֶׁאֵינוֹ דּוֹמֶה הַפָּסוּל בַּעֲבֵרָה לְפָסוּל בִּקְרִיבָה. שֶׁהַפָּסוּל בַּעֲבֵרָה חָשׁוּד לְזַיֵּף:

6

When a legal document has only two witnesses signed upon it and they are related to each other or one of them is disqualified because of a transgression, even if the document was transferred in the presence of acceptable witnesses, it is worthless, like a shard, because of the invalid signatures inside it.

ו

שְׁטָר שֶׁיֵּשׁ בּוֹ שְׁנֵי עֵדִים בִּלְבַד וּשְׁנֵיהֶם קְרוֹבִים זֶה לָזֶה אוֹ אֶחָד מִשְּׁנֵיהֶם פָּסוּל בַּעֲבֵרָה. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁמָּסַר לוֹ הַשְּׁטָר בִּפְנֵי עֵדִים כְּשֵׁרִים הֲרֵי הוּא כְּחֶרֶס מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא מְזֻיָּף מִתּוֹכוֹ:

7

The following rule applies when a person composes one legal document including testimony that he is granting all of his property to two people and the witnesses to the document are related to one of the recipients of the present, but not related to the other. The document is not acceptable, because it is one statement of testimony.

If, however, he writes in one legal document that he is giving this-and-this courtyard to Reuven and this-and-this field to Shimon, and the witnesses are related to one, but not to the other, the present given to the recipient to whom the witnesses are not related is binding. Even though the two statements are included in one legal document, they are considered as separate testimonies. To what can the matter be compared to a person who says: "Serve as witnesses that I gave Reuven this-and-this, that I gave Shimon this-and-this, and that I borrowed such-and-such from Levi." Although they were all included in the same legal document and there is only one person transferring the property, they are considered as three distinct statements.

ז

הַכּוֹתֵב כָּל נְכָסָיו לִשְׁנֵי בְּנֵי אָדָם בְּעֵדוּת אַחַת וְהָעֵדִים קְרוֹבִים לְאֶחָד מִמְּקַבְּלֵי הַמַּתָּנָה וּרְחוֹקִים מִן הַשֵּׁנִי. הֲרֵי הַשְּׁטָר פָּסוּל מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא עֵדוּת אַחַת. אֲבָל אִם כָּתַב בִּשְׁטָר אֶחָד שֶׁנָּתַתִּי לִרְאוּבֵן חָצֵר פְּלוֹנִית וְשֶׁנָּתַתִּי לְשִׁמְעוֹן שָׂדֶה פְּלוֹנִית. נִמְצְאוּ הָעֵדִים קְרוֹבִים לָזֶה וּרְחוֹקִים מִזֶּה. זֶה שֶׁהֵם רְחוֹקִים מִמֶּנּוּ מַתְּנָתוֹ קַיֶּמֶת שֶׁאֵלּוּ שְׁתֵּי עֵדוּיוֹת אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֵן בִּשְׁטָר אֶחָד. לְמָה זֶה דּוֹמֶה לְאוֹמֵר הָיוּ עָלַי עֵדִים שֶׁנָּתַתִּי לִרְאוּבֵן כָּךְ וְכָךְ וְשֶׁנָּתַתִּי לְשִׁמְעוֹן כָּךְ וְכָךְ וְשֶׁלָּוִיתִי מִלֵּוִי כָּךְ וְכָךְ שֶׁאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁכָּתַב בִּשְׁטָר אֶחָד וְהַמַּקְנֶה אִישׁ אֶחָד הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ שָׁלֹשׁ עֵדֻיּוֹת שֶׁאֵינָן תְּלוּיוֹת זוֹ בָּזוֹ:

Edut - Chapter 15

1

Whenever a person will benefit from giving testimony, he may not give such testimony for it is as if he is testifying concerning himself. Therefore when a person comes to the inhabitants of a city with a complaint concerning the public bathhouse or thoroughfare, none of the inhabitants of the city can testify regarding this matter nor serve as a judge regarding this matter until they undertake a contractual act removing themselves from any connection to the property in question. Afterwards, they may testify or serve as a judge.

א

כָּל עֵדוּת שֶׁתָּבוֹא הֲנָאָה לְאָדָם מִמֶּנָּה אֵינוֹ מֵעִיד בָּהּ שֶׁזֶּה הוּא כְּמֵעִיד עַל עַצְמוֹ. לְפִיכָךְ בְּנֵי הָעִיר שֶׁבָּא מְעַרְעֵר לְעַרְעֵר עֲלֵיהֶם בַּמֶּרְחָץ אוֹ בִּרְחוֹב שֶׁל עִיר. אֵין אֶחָד מִבַּעֲלֵי הָעִיר מֵעִיד בְּדָבָר זֶה וְלֹא דָּן עַד שֶׁיְּסַלֵּק עַצְמוֹ בְּקִנְיָן גָּמוּר וְאַחַר כָּךְ יָעִיד אוֹ יָדִין:

2

The following rules apply when a communal Torah scroll is stolen from the inhabitants of a city. Since it is intended to be listened to by all the members of the community, it is impossible for a person to withdraw his share of ownership from it. Hence, the matter should not be adjudicated by the judges of the city, and the inhabitants of the city may not testify to prove the city's ownership. Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.

ב

בְּנֵי הָעִיר שֶׁנִּגְנַב סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה שֶׁלָּהֶן הוֹאִיל וְלִשְׁמִיעָה הוּא עָשׂוּי שֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר לְאָדָם לְסַלֵּק עַצְמוֹ מִמֶּנּוּ אֵין דָּנִין בְּדַיָּנֵי אוֹתָהּ הָעִיר וְאֵין מְבִיאִין רְאָיָה מֵאַנְשֵׁי אוֹתָהּ הָעִיר. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה:

3

When a person says: "Give a manah to the poor people of my city," the matter may not be adjudicated by the judges of that city and the inhabitants of the city may not testify to prove that the pledge was made.

When does the above apply? When the poor people depend upon them and they allocate charity to them. In such a situation, even if two members of the city promised: "We will give the fixed amount required of us regardless; let us testify," we do not heed their request. For they receive benefit from the fact that these poor people become wealthier for the poor are dependent on the inhabitants of the city. Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.

ג

הָאוֹמֵר תְּנוּ מָנֶה לַעֲנִיֵּי עִירִי אֵין דָּנִין בְּדַיָּנֵי אוֹתָהּ הָעִיר וְאֵין מְבִיאִין רְאָיָה מֵאַנְשֵׁי אוֹתָהּ הָעִיר. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים כְּשֶׁהָיוּ הָעֲנִיִּים סְמוּכִים עֲלֵיהֶם וּפוֹסְקִין עֲלֵיהֶן צְדָקָה. אֲפִלּוּ אָמְרוּ שְׁנַיִם מֵאַנְשֵׁי אוֹתָהּ הָעִיר אָנוּ נִתֵּן דָּבָר הַקָּצוּב עָלֵינוּ וְנָעִיד אֵין שׁוֹמְעִין לָהֶם. שֶׁהֲנָאָה הוּא לָהֶם שֶׁיִּתְעַשְּׁרוּ עֲנִיִּים אֵלּוּ הוֹאִיל וְהֵן סְמוּכִין עַל בְּנֵי הָעִיר. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה:

4

The following rules apply when a person raises a protest and seeks to expropriate land that is owned by two partners from the possession of one of the partners. The other partner may not testify on behalf of his partner concerning the land unless he withdraws from ownership of the land and undertakes an act of contract affirming that he gave his portion to his partner and committing himself to reimburse him for its value if his own creditor expropriates it from his partner. After undertaking such an agreement, he may testify concerning the field. Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.

ד

קַרְקַע שֶׁבֵּין שְׁנֵי שֻׁתָּפִין שֶׁבָּא מְעַרְעֵר לְהוֹצִיאָהּ מִתַּחַת יַד הַשֻׁתָּף. אֵינוֹ מֵעִיד לְשֻׁתָּפוֹ עָלֶיהָ אֶלָּא אִם סִלֵּק עַצְמוֹ מִמֶּנָּה וְקָנוּ מִיָּדוֹ שֶׁנְּתָנָהּ לַשֻּׁתָּף וְשֶׁאִם בָּא בַּעַל חוֹב שֶׁלּוֹ וּטְרָפָהּ מִיַּד הַשֻׁתָּף מְשַׁלֵּם לוֹ דָּמֶיהָ. וְאַחַר כָּךְ מֵעִיד לוֹ עָלֶיהָ. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה:

5

The following rules apply when a person protests the ownership of a field. If it contains produce, a sharecropper may not testify with regard to it. For the sharecropper wishes it to remain in the possession of the owner so that he will receive his portion of the crops. If there is no produce in the field, he may testify concerning it.

Different rules apply with regard to a renter. If he brings the rent with him and says: "Let whoever is established as the owner of this field take this," he may offer testimony. If, however, he already paid the rent to the owner of the field he may not testify. For if the field is expropriated by the claimant, he would have to pay him rent for all the years he dwelled in it. Hence, he may not offer testimony. Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.

ה

הָעוֹרֵר עַל הַשָּׂדֶה אִם יֵשׁ בָּהּ פֵּרוֹת אֵין הָאָרִיס מֵעִיד לוֹ עָלֶיהָ. שֶׁהֲרֵי רוֹצֶה הָאָרִיס לְהַעֲמִידָהּ בְּיַד בְּעָלֶיהָ כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּטּל חֶלְקוֹ בַּפֵּרוֹת. וְאִם אֵין בָּהּ פֵּרוֹת מֵעִיד. אֲבָל הַשּׂוֹכֵר אִם לָקַח הַשְּׂכִירוּת בְּיָדוֹ וְאָמַר כָּל מִי שֶׁתִּתְקַיֵּם שָׂדֶה זוֹ בְּיָדוֹ יִטּל הֲרֵי זֶה מֵעִיד. וְאִם כְּבָר נָתַן הַשְּׂכִירוּת לְבַעַל הַשָּׂדֶה אֵינוֹ מֵעִיד. כֵּיוָן שֶׁאִם תֵּצֵא הַשָּׂדֶה לַמְעַרְעֵר חַיָּב לִתֵּן לוֹ שְׂכַר כָּל הַשָּׁנִים שֶׁיָּשַׁב בָּהּ אֵינוֹ מֵעִיד. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה:

6

The following rules apply if Shimon borrowed money and Reuven guaranteed the debt. Yehudah entered into litigation against Shimon and sought to expropriate landed property from his possession. If Shimon possesses another field equal in value to the debt guaranteed by Reuven, Reuven may testify with regard to the land, asserting that it belongs to Shimon. He does not derive any benefit from this, for even if Yehudah would expropriate the field, Shimon possesses another field from which the creditor could derive payment.

Similarly, a person who purchased a field may testify on behalf of another person who purchased a field from the same seller and affirm that the field is his. This applies provided the seller owns a field that is not on lien that is equivalent to the value of the field acquired by the first purchaser. In such a situation, the first purchaser does not derive any benefit from the field remaining in the possession of the second purchaser, for even if the field he purchased is expropriated from him, he may seek reimbursement from the seller and the seller possesses another field from which he could expropriate his due.

ו

שִׁמְעוֹן שֶׁלָּוָה וְהָיָה רְאוּבֵן עָרֵב וּבָא יְהוּדָה לְעַרְעֵר עַל שִׁמְעוֹן הַלּוֶֹה וְהוֹצִיא קַרְקַע מִתַּחַת יָדוֹ. אִם יֵשׁ לְשִׁמְעוֹן שָׂדֶה אַחֶרֶת כְּנֶגֶד הַחוֹב הֲרֵי רְאוּבֵן הֶעָרֵב יֵשׁ לוֹ לְהָעִיד עַל אוֹתוֹ קַרְקַע שֶׁהִיא שֶׁל שִׁמְעוֹן. שֶׁאֵין לוֹ הֲנָאָה בָּזֶה שֶׁאִם לְקָחָהּ יְהוּדָה הֲרֵי שָׂדֶה אַחֶרֶת שֶׁיִּפָּרַע מִמֶּנָּה בַּעַל חוֹבוֹ. וְכֵן לוֹקֵחַ רִאשׁוֹן מֵעִיד לְלוֹקֵחַ שֵׁנִי שֶׁלָּקַח אַחֲרָיו שֶׁזֶּה הַשָּׂדֶה שֶׁלּוֹ. וְהוּא שֶׁיֵּשׁ לַמּוֹכֵר שָׂדֶה בֶּן חוֹרִין כְּנֶגֶד דְּמֵי שָׂדֶה שֶׁל לוֹקֵחַ רִאשׁוֹן. שֶׁאֵין לְלוֹקֵחַ רִאשׁוֹן הֲנָאָה בַּעֲמִידַת זֶה הַשָּׂדֶה בְּיַד לוֹקֵחַ שֵׁנִי. שֶׁאֲפִלּוּ נִטְרַף לוֹקֵחַ הָרִאשׁוֹן עַל הַמּוֹכֵר הוּא חוֹזֵר וַהֲרֵי יֵשׁ לוֹ שָׂדֶה אַחֶרֶת שֶׁיִּגְבֶּה מִמֶּנָּה:

Edut - Chapter 16

1

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.

א

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:

2

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.

ב

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:

3

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."

ג

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:

4

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.

ד

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:

5

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.

ה

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:

6

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.

ו

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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