1

No matter which language and which characters a legal document is written in, if it is written according to the regulations for legal documents that prevail among the Jewish people, i.e., it cannot be forged, nor is it possible to add to or detract from the content of the document, and its witnesses are Jews and they know how to read it, it is acceptable and may be used to expropriate property that has been sold.

All documents that are signed by gentiles, by contrast, are not acceptable except for deeds of sale and promissory notes. For the latter to be acceptable, the principal must count the money in their presence and they must write on the legal document: "In our presence, so-and-so counted out for so-and-so the money for the sale," or "... the money for the debt." This applies provided that they were prepared by their legal authorities. If, however, the documents were prepared in their courts without being authorized by their judges, they are of no value. Similarly, Jewish witnesses must testify that the gentile witnesses who signed the document and the judge who authorized their signatures are not known to accept bribes. If legal documents composed by gentiles lack any of these qualifications, they are considered shards. Similarly, legal documents acknowledging an obligation, deeds recording presents, compromises, and waivers of obligations are considered shards even if they are composed with all the above qualifications.

My masters ruled that even promissory notes composed by them that state that the money was given in their presence are unacceptable. They accepted only deeds of sale when the money was given in their presence. I do not accept this ruling.

If the Jewish judges do not know how to read a legal document prepared by gentile authorities, they should give it to two gentiles, each one outside the presence of the other, and have them read. Thus, each one of them is reading as is his ordinary practice. The document may be used to expropriate property that has not been sold. It may not, however, be used to expropriate property that has been sold, because it does not become public knowledge. For the purchasers will not know of legal processes carried out by gentiles.

א

שְׁטָר שֶׁכָּתוּב בְּכָל לָשׁוֹן וּבְכָל כְּתָב אִם הָיָה עָשׂוּי כְּתִקּוּן שִׁטְרֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁאֵינָן יְכוֹלִין לְהִזְדַּיֵּף וְלֹא לְהוֹסִיף וְלֹא לִגְרֹעַ וְהָיוּ עֵדָיו יִשְׂרָאֵל וְיוֹדְעִין לִקְרוֹתוֹ הֲרֵי הוּא כָּשֵׁר וְגוֹבִין בּוֹ מִן הַמְשֻׁעְבָּדִין. אֲבָל כָּל הַשְּׁטָרוֹת שֶׁחוֹתְמֵיהֶן עַכּוּ''ם הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ פְּסוּלִין חוּץ מִשִּׁטְרֵי מִקָּח וּמִמְכָּר וְשִׁטְרֵי חוֹב. וְהוּא שֶׁיִּתֵּן הַמָּעוֹת בִּפְנֵיהֶם וְיִכְתְּבוּ בַּשְּׁטָר לְפָנֵינוּ מָנָה פְּלוֹנִי לִפְלוֹנִי כָּךְ וְכָךְ דְּמֵי הַמֶּכֶר אוֹ מְעוֹת הַחוֹב. וְהוּא שֶׁיִּהְיוּ עֲשׂוּיִין בְּעַרְכָּאוֹת שֶׁלָּהֶם. אֲבָל בִּמְקוֹם קִבּוּץ פְּלִילֵיהֶן בְּלֹא קִיּוּם הַשּׁוֹפֵט שֶׁלָּהֶם לֹא יוֹעִילוּ כְּלוּם. וְכֵן צְרִיכִין עֵדֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁיָּעִידוּ עַל אֵלּוּ הָעַכּוּ''ם שֶׁהֵן עֵדֵי שְׁטָר וְעַל זֶה הַשּׁוֹפֵט שֶׁלָּהֶן שֶׁקִּיֵּם עֵדוּתָן שֶׁאֵינָן יְדוּעִין בְּקַבְּלָנוּת שֹׁחַד. וְאִם חָסְרוּ שִׁטְרֵי הָעַכּוּ''ם דָּבָר מִכָּל אֵלּוּ הֲרֵי הֵן כְּחֶרֶס. וְכֵן שִׁטְרֵי [חוֹב] וְהוֹדָאוֹת וּמַתָּנוֹת וּפְשָׁרוֹת וּמְחִילוֹת שֶׁהֵן בְּעֵדִים שֶׁלָּהֶן אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהֶן כָּל הַדְּבָרִים שֶׁמָּנִינוּ הֲרֵי הֵן כַּחֲרָסִים. וְהוֹרוּ רַבּוֹתַי שֶׁאֲפִלּוּ שִׁטְרֵי חוֹב שֶׁלָּהֶן שֶׁנָּתְנוּ הַמָּעוֹת בִּפְנֵיהֶם פְּסוּלִין וְלֹא הִכְשִׁירוּ אֶלָּא שִׁטְרֵי מִקָּח וּמִמְכָּר שֶׁנָּתְנוּ הַמָּעוֹת בִּפְנֵיהֶם. וְאֵין אֲנִי מוֹדֶה בָּזֶה. אִם לֹא יָדְעוּ דַּיָּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לִקְרוֹת שְׁטָר זֶה הַנַּעֲשָׂה בְּעַרְכָּאוֹת שֶׁל עַכּוּ''ם נוֹתְנוֹ לִשְׁנֵי עַכּוּ''ם זֶה שֶׁלֹּא בִּפְנֵי זֶה וְקוֹרִין לוֹ שֶׁנִּמְצָא כָּל אֶחָד מֵהֶן כְּמֵסִיחַ לְפִי תֻּמּוֹ וְגוֹבֶה בּוֹ מִבְּנֵי חוֹרִין אֲבָל אֵין טוֹרְפִין בּוֹ מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵין לוֹ קוֹל שֶׁהֲרֵי לֹא יָדְעוּ הַלָּקוֹחוֹת בְּמַה שֶּׁנַּעֲשָׂה בָּעַכּוּ''ם:

2

When a promissory note that was signed by gentile witnesses was given by the borrower to the lender or by the seller to the purchaser in the presence of two Jewish witnesses, it is acceptable and may be used to expropriate property that was not sold, even though it was not authenticated by the gentile legal authorities and was not prepared according to all the stipulations mentioned above. The above applies provided that the witnesses in whose presence the legal document was transferred were able to read it, they read it when it was transferred, and it was prepared according to the regulations for legal documents that prevail among the Jewish people, i.e., that it be composed in a manner that it cannot be forged, nor is it possible to add to or detract from the content of the document.

Why is it not acceptable to be used to expropriate property that has already been sold? Because it is not a matter of public knowledge.

ב

שְׁטָר שֶׁעֵדָיו עַכּוּ''ם שֶׁמְּסָרוֹ הַלּוֶֹה לְיַד הַמַּלְוֶה אוֹ הַמּוֹכֵר לְיַד הַלּוֹקֵחַ בִּפְנֵי שְׁנֵי עֵדִים מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינוֹ עָשׂוּי בְּעַרְכָּאוֹת שֶׁל עַכּוּ''ם וְאֵין בּוֹ כָּל הַדְּבָרִים שֶׁמָּנִינוּ הֲרֵי זֶה גּוֹבֶה מִבְּנֵי חוֹרִין. וְהוּא שֶׁיִּהְיוּ הָעֵדִים שֶׁמָּסַר בִּפְנֵיהֶם יוֹדְעִין לִקְרוֹתוֹ וּקְרָאוּהוּ כְּשֶׁמְּסָרוֹ בִּפְנֵיהֶן וְיִהְיֶה כְּתִקּוּן שְׁטַר יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְהִזְדַּיֵּף וְלֹא לְהוֹסִיף וְלֹא לִגְרֹעַ. וְלָמָּה לֹא יִגְבֶּה בּוֹ מִן הַמְשֻׁעְבָּדִים מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵין לוֹ קוֹל:

3

The following regulations prevail for legal documents among the Jewish people: All legal documents must repeat the content of the legal document in the last line, because we do not take into consideration what was written in that line. The rationale is that we suspect the witnesses signed a line away from the body of the document and this falsifier came and wrote in the empty space of this line.

ג

תִּקּוּן שִׁטְרֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל כָּךְ הוּא. כָּל הַשְּׁטָרוֹת כֻּלָּן צָרִיךְ שֶׁיַּחֲזֹר מֵעִנְיָנוֹ שֶׁל שְׁטָר בְּשִׁיטָה אַחֲרוֹנָה [אֶלָּא] שֶׁאֵין לְמֵדִין מִשִּׁיטָה אַחֲרוֹנָה שֶׁמָּא הָיוּ הָעֵדִים מְרֻחָקִין מִגּוּפוֹ שֶׁל שְׁטָר בִּכְדֵי הַשִּׁיטָה וּבָא זֶה הַמְזַיֵּף וְכָתַב בְּאוֹתוֹ הָרֶוַח שִׁיטָה זוֹ:

4

When the witnesses signed two lines or more from the conclusion of the writing, the document is not acceptable. If they leave less open space than this, it is acceptable.

The two lines mentioned refer to lines according to the handwriting of the witnesses and not according to the handwriting of the scribe. The rationale is that any person who forges will try to imitate the handwriting of the witnesses and not that of the scribe. The space of the two lines includes the lines and the space in between them, i.e., the space necessary to write a lamed above a final chaf.

If there was a space of more than two lines between the signature of the witnesses and the text of the documents, and they filled the space between the text and the signatures with the signatures of unacceptable witnesses and relatives, it is acceptable. For in this manner, it cannot be forged.

If the space was filled with lines of ink, it is unacceptable. For perhaps the witnesses signed for the lines of ink and not for the body of the document. If the document and the signatures of the witnesses were on one line, it is acceptable.

ד

עֵדִים שֶׁהָיוּ מְרֻחָקִין מִן הַכְּתָב שְׁתֵּי שִׁיטִין פָּסוּל. פָּחוֹת מִכָּאן כָּשֵׁר. שְׁתֵּי שִׁיטִין שֶׁאָמְרוּ בִּכְתַב יְדֵי עֵדִים וְלֹא בִּכְתַב יְדֵי סוֹפֵר שֶׁכָּל הַמְזַיֵּף אֵינוֹ הוֹלֵךְ אַחַר הַסּוֹפֵר אֶלָּא אַחַר הָעֵדִים. וּשְׁתֵּי שִׁיטִין אֵלּוּ הֵן וַאֲוִירָן כְּגוֹן לָמֶ''ד עַל כָּ''ף. הָיוּ הָעֵדִים מְרֻחָקִין מִן הַכְּתָב יֶתֶר עַל שְׁתֵּי שִׁיטִין וְהָיָה הָרֶוַח שֶׁבֵּין הַכְּתָב וְהָעֵדִים מָלֵא בְּעֵדִים פְּסוּלִין אוֹ קְרוֹבִים הֲרֵי זֶה כָּשֵׁר שֶׁהֲרֵי אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְהִזְדַּיֵּף. וְאִם מִלְּאָהוּ בִּשְׂרִיטָה שֶׁל דְּיוֹ פָּסוּל שֶׁמָּא הָעֵדִים עַל הַשְּׂרִיטוֹת חָתְמוּ וְלֹא עַל גּוּפוֹ [שֶׁל שְׁטָר]. הָיָה הַשְּׁטָר כֻּלּוֹ עִם עֵדָיו בְּשִׁיטָה אַחַת הֲרֵי זֶה כָּשֵׁר:

5

If the legal document was written on one line, and the witnesses signed on another line, it is unacceptable. We fear that possibly the witnesses had signed one line away from an acceptable legal document, and afterwards the person cut away that entire legal document and wrote the present document on that line. Thus, these witnesses were signed upon it.

A similar suspicion can arise when the document and the signatures of two witnesses were written on one line, two other witnesses were signed on a second line, and the maker of the legal document says: "I intended to increase the number of witnesses."

We do not verify the authenticity of the document based on the signature of the witnesses below, in the second line, but rather on the signatures of those above. We fear that possibly there had been another document written originally, it was cut off, and the present document and the signatures of the two witnesses were written on the line between it and the witnesses who signed below.

ה

הָיָה הַשְּׁטָר בְּשִׁיטָה זוֹ וְהָעֵדִים בְּשִׁיטָה שְׁנִיָּה פָּסוּל שֶׁמָּא אֵלּוּ הָעֵדִים הָיוּ מְרֻחָקִין מִן הַשְּׁטָר כָּשֵׁר שִׁיטָה אַחַת וְחָתַךְ כָּל הַשְּׁטָר וְכָתַב זֶה הַשְּׁטָר בְּאוֹתָהּ הַשִּׁיטָה וְנִמְצְאוּ כָּל אֵלּוּ הָעֵדִים חֲתוּמִים עָלָיו. וְכֵן אִם הָיָה הַשְּׁטָר וּשְׁנֵי עֵדִים בְּשִׁיטָה אַחַת וּשְׁנֵי עֵדִים אֲחֵרִים בְּשִׁיטָה שְׁנִיָּה וְאָמַר אֲנִי נִתְכַּוַּנְתִּי לְרַבּוֹת הָעֵדִים אֵין מְקַיְּמִין שְׁטָר זֶה מֵעֵדִים שֶׁל מַטָּה בְּשִׁיטָה שְׁנִיָּה אֶלָּא מֵעֵדִים שֶׁל מַעְלָה. שֶׁמָּא בַּשִּׁיטָה שֶׁהָיְתָה בֵּין הָעֵדִים שֶׁל מַטָּה וּבֵין הַשְּׁטָר שֶׁחָתַךְ כָּתַב שְׁטָר זֶה וּשְׁנֵי עֵדָיו:

6

The validation of the authenticity of the signatures of the witnesses by the court should be positioned next to their signatures, next to one of the sides of the legal document, or on its back, opposite the text. If there was a space of more than one line between the statement of validation and the legal document, it is invalid. We fear that someone might cut off the document that was validated and forge a new document and the signature of two witnesses on that one line. Thus, the validation would be on a forged document.

ו

קִיּוּם בֵּית דִּין צָרִיךְ שֶׁיִּהְיֶה סָמוּךְ לִכְתַב יְדֵי עֵדִים אוֹ סָמוּךְ לְצַד הַשְּׁטָר אוֹ מֵאֲחוֹרָיו כְּנֶגֶד הַכְּתָב. וְאִם הָיָה בֵּין הַקִּיּוּם וְהַשְּׁטָר רֶוַח שִׁיטָה אַחַת פָּסוּל שֶׁמָּא יַחְתֹּךְ הַשְּׁטָר שֶׁנִּתְקַיֵּם וִיזַיֵּף בְּאוֹתָהּ שִׁיטָה שְׁטָר וּשְׁנֵי עֵדָיו. וְנִמְצָא הַקִּיּוּם עַל שְׁטָר מְזֻיָּף:

7

If the court wrote the validation more than two lines from the legal document and filled the entire empty space with lines of ink, the validation is acceptable, for there is no possibility of a forgery. ' And we do not suspect that the court would sign a validation of mere lines, but rather of the legal document itself.

ז

הִרְחִיק אֶת הַקִּיּוּם מִן הַשְּׁטָר יֶתֶר עַל שְׁתֵּי שִׁיטִין וּמָלֵא כָּל הָרֶוַח שְׂרִיטוֹת דְּיוֹ כָּשֵׁר שֶׁהֲרֵי אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְזַיֵּף וְאֵין חוֹשְׁשִׁין לְבֵית דִּין שֶׁיְּקַיְּמוּ קִיּוּם עַל הַשְּׂרִיטוֹת אֶלָּא עַל גּוּפוֹ שֶׁל שְׁטָר:

8

Whenever words are written on a surface where there have been erasures, the scribe must write a validation of each of the these portions at the end of the legal document, stating: "This-and-this letter...", "This-and-this word...", or "This-and-this line were written on a surface where there had been erasures," or "... are attached between the lines. Everything is valid."

If the erasure is in the place where the document states sharir v'kayam, and is the size that it takes to write these words, it is not acceptable even if the scribe validates that these words were written on an erased surface. We fear that a person might have erased the words sharir v'kayam, then written a false statement and then validated the document in the space between the document and the signature of the witnesses.

ח

כָּל הַמְּחָקִין כֻּלָּן צָרִיךְ שֶׁיִּכְתֹּב קִיּוּמֵיהֶן בְּסוֹף הַשְּׁטָר וְיֹאמַר אוֹת פְּלוֹנִית אוֹ מִלָּה פְּלוֹנִית אוֹ שִׁיטָה פְּלוֹנִית עַל מַחַק אוֹ תְּלוּיָה וְהַכּל קַיָּם. וְאִם הָיָה הַמַּחַק בְּמָקוֹם שָׁרִיר וְקַיָּם וּבְשִׁעוּר שָׁרִיר וְקַיָּם אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁחָזַר וְקִיְּמוֹ פָּסוּל שֶׁמָּא מְחָקוֹ וְכָתַב דָּבָר שֶׁזִּיֵּף וְחָזַר וְקִיְּמוֹ בָּרֶוַח שֶׁבֵּין הַכְּתָב וְהָעֵדִים:

9

When both a legal document and the signatures of the witnesses are written on a surface where there have been erasures, it is acceptable. If one might protest, saying: "The person in possession of the document might erase it again and write a text that benefits him," that argument can be answered, for it is possible to differentiate between a surface that has been erased once and one that has been erased twice.

If one might protest, saying: "Maybe the person erased only the surface where the witnesses would sign twice, and then after writing the legal document above the twice-erased surface and having the witnesses sign it, he erased the document and wrote whatever he desired." In such a situation, the document and the signatures of the witnesses appear the same, because everything was erased twice. This protest is untenable, because our Sages already ordained that witnesses should not sign a document written on a surface where there have been erasures, unless it was erased in their presence.

ט

שְׁטָר הַבָּא הוּא וְעֵדָיו עַל הַמַּחַק כָּשֵׁר. וְאִם תֹּאמַר מוֹחֵק וְחוֹזֵר וּמוֹחֵק אֵינוֹ דּוֹמֶה מִי שֶׁנִּמְחַק פַּעַם אַחַת לְנִמְחַק שְׁתֵּי פְּעָמִים. וְאִם תֹּאמַר שֶׁמָּא נִמְחַק שְׁתֵּי פְּעָמִים מְקוֹם הָעֵדִים וְאַחַר שֶׁכָּתַב הַשְּׁטָר חוֹזֵר וּמוֹחֲקוֹ וְכוֹתֵב כָּל מַה שֶּׁיִּרְצֶה שֶׁהֲרֵי הוּא וְעֵדָיו כֻּלּוֹ שָׁוֶה מִפְּנֵי שֶׁנִּמְחַק הַכּל שְׁתֵּי פְּעָמִים. כְּבָר תִּקְּנוּ חֲכָמִים שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיוּ הָעֵדִים חוֹתְמִין עַל שְׁטָר מָחוּק אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן נִמְחַק בִּפְנֵיהֶם:

10

When a legal document and the signatures of the witnesses are both written on a surface where there have been erasures, and the validation of the authenticity of the signatures was written on paper that had never been erased, we do not validate the document because of the signatures of the witnesses who validated it previously, but because of the signatures of the witnesses who signed it originally.

The rationale is that it is possible that the validation of the document was written very far from the document itself, and the space between them was filled with lines of ink. We suspect that the person in possession of the document cut off the document itself, erased the lines of ink, and forged the document and the signatures of the witnesses on the portion that had been erased.

י

שְׁטָר הַבָּא הוּא וְעֵדָיו עַל הַמַּחַק וְהַקִּיּוּם מִלְּמַטָּה עַל הַנְּיָר אֵין מְקַיְּמִין אוֹתוֹ מֵעֵדֵי הַקִּיּוּם אֶלָּא מֵעֵדִים שֶׁלְּמַעְלָה שֶׁמָּא הַקִּיּוּם הָיָה רָחוֹק מִן הַשְּׁטָר הַרְבֵּה וְהָיָה הָרֶוַח מָלֵא שְׂרִיטוֹת שֶׁל דְּיוֹ וְחָתַךְ גּוּף הַשְּׁטָר וּמָחַק הַשְּׂרִיטוֹת וְכָתַב הַשְּׁטָר וְעֵדָיו עַל הַמַּחַק:

11

When a document is written on paper that had never been erased, and the witnesses signed on a surface where there were erasures, it is unacceptable. We suspect that the person might erase the document that the witnesses signed and replace it with a forgery. Thus, the document and the signatures of the witnesses will be on paper with erasures.

If the witnesses wrote: "We, the witnesses, signed on the portion of the paper where there were erasures, while the document was written on the portion of the paper that has never been erased," the document is acceptable. This statement should be written between the signature of one witness and the other, so that deception is not possible.

יא

שְׁטָר הַבָּא עַל הַנְּיָר וְעֵדָיו עַל הַמַּחַק פָּסוּל שֶׁמָּא יִמְחֹק הַשְּׁטָר וְיִזְדַּיֵּף וְנִמְצָא הוּא וְעֵדָיו עַל הַמַּחַק. וְאִם כָּתְבוּ הָעֵדִים אֲנַחְנוּ הָעֵדִים חָתַמְנוּ עַל הַמַּחַק וְהַשְּׁטָר עַל הַנְּיָר כָּשֵׁר. וְכוֹתְבִין כֵּן בֵּין עֵד לְעֵד כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יְזַיֵּף:

12

When a legal document is written on a portion of a paper where there have been erasures and the witnesses sign on a portion of the paper that has never been erased, the document is not acceptable. This applies even if the witnesses write: "We, the witnesses, signed on the portion of the paper that has never been erased, while the document was written on the portion where there were erasures."

The rationale is that we fear the person in possession of the document will erase it a second time and write on it anything that he desires. Since the document as a whole has been erased twice, the forgery will not be obvious.

If, by contrast, one portion of the document was erased once and the other twice, a distinction could be made.

Among the prevailing regulations for legal documents is to carefully scrutinize the document, seeing if the vavin and the zayinin are not squeezed between the letters, lest the person have forged this letter, adding it to the document. Similarly, these letters must not be too far from the other letters of the word, lest the person have erased a portion of one letter - e.g., a hei or a chet - and left one of its legs in the place of a vav. Similarly, in all analogous situations, we scrutinize the text in any language and with any characters.

יב

שְׁטָר הַבָּא עַל הַמַּחַק וְעֵדָיו עַל הַנְּיָר פָּסוּל. וַאֲפִלּוּ כָּתְבוּ הָעֵדִים אֲנַחְנוּ עֵדִים חָתַמְנוּ עַל הַנְּיָר וְהַשְּׁטָר עַל הַמַּחַק. מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא מוֹחֵק אוֹתוֹ פַּעַם שְׁנִיָּה וְכוֹתֵב כָּל מַה שֶּׁיִּרְצֶה וְכֵיוָן שֶׁכֻּלּוֹ נִמְחַק שְׁתֵּי פְּעָמִים אֵינוֹ נִכָּר. שֶׁאִלּוּ הָיָה בּוֹ מָקוֹם הַנִּמְחָק פַּעַם אַחַת וּמָקוֹם הַנִּמְחַק שְׁתֵּי פְּעָמִים הָיָה נִכָּר. וּמִתִּקּוּן הַשְּׁטָרוֹת לְהִתְבּוֹנֵן בַּשְּׁטָר בְּוָאוִי''ן וְזַיִנִּי''ן שֶׁלּוֹ שֶׁלֹּא יְהוּ דְּחוּקִין בֵּין הַתֵּבוֹת שֶׁמָּא זִיֵּף וְהוֹסִיף זוֹ. וְלֹא יִהְיוּ מְרֻחָקִין שֶׁמָּא מָחַק אוֹת אַחַת כְּגוֹן הֵ''א אוֹ חֵי''ת וְהִנִּיחַ רַגְלָהּ הָאַחַת מְקוֹם וָא''ו. וְכָל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה מְדַקְדְּקִין בּוֹ בְּכָל לָשׁוֹן וּבְכָל כְּתָב:

13

The numbers from shalosh (three) to esser (ten) should not be written at the end of a line, for it is possible for the person in possession of the document to forge the text and make the shalosh, sheloshim (30), and the esser, essrim (20).

If it would happen that a scribe would have to write these numbers at the end of a line, he should repeat the text of the document several times until the numbers come out in the middle of the line.

יג

מִשָּׁלֹשׁ וְעַד עֶשֶׂר אֵין כּוֹתְבִין בְּסוֹף שִׁיטָה שֶׁמָּא יְזַיֵּף וְיַחְזִיר הַשָּׁלֹשׁ לִשְׁלֹשִׁים וְהָעֶשֶׂר עֶשְׂרִים. וְאִם נִזְדַּמֵּן לוֹ בְּסוֹף שִׁיטָה מַחְזִיר הַדִּבּוּר בְּגוּפוֹ שֶׁל שְׁטָר פְּעָמִים רַבּוֹת עַד שֶׁיָּבוֹא בְּאֶמְצַע הַשִּׁיטָה:

14

When the upper portion of a promissory note speaks of a maneh and the lower portion speaks of 200 zuz, or the upper portion of a promissory note speaks of 200 zuz and the lower portion speaks of a maneh, everything follows what is written in the lower portion.

Why do we not follow the lesser of the two numbers? Because in this instance, one is not dependent on the other. If the promissory note had said: "owes amaneh, which is 200 zuz" or "200 zuz, which is amaneh," the lender would be granted only a maneh. When, however, there are two matters stated in the document and the latter portion is not dependent on the former portion, we follow the latter portion.

When the upper portion of a legal document mentions one name and the lower portion mentions a name that resembles it, we follow the lower portion. If so, why do we write the upper portion? So that if one letter of the lower portion is rubbed out, one could learn from the upper portion. For example, if the upper portion stated Chanani or Anani and the lower portion stated Chanan or Anan, we can assume that it is referring to the person named in the upper portion. This applies regarding only one letter. We do not, however, resolve a doubt regarding two letters in the lower portion from the upper portion.

יד

שְׁטָר שֶׁכְּתָבוֹ מִלְּמַעְלָה מָנֶה וּמִלְּמַטָּה מָאתַיִם מִלְּמַעְלָה מָאתַיִם וּמִלְּמַטָּה מָנֶה הַכּל הוֹלֵךְ אַחַר הַתַּחְתּוֹן. וְלָמָּה אֵין הוֹלְכִין אַחַר הַפָּחוּת שֶׁבִּשְׁנֵיהֶם לְפִי שֶׁאֵין הָאֶחָד תָּלוּי בַּחֲבֵרוֹ. שֶׁאִם הָיָה כָּתוּב בּוֹ מֵאָה שֶׁהֵן מָאתַיִם אוֹ מָאתַיִם שֶׁהֵן מֵאָה הָיָה נוֹטֵל מֵאָה. אֲבָל שְׁנֵי דְּבָרִים שֶׁאֵין הָאַחֲרוֹן תָּלוּי בָּרִאשׁוֹן הַלֵּךְ אַחַר אַחֲרוֹן. הָיָה בּוֹ מִלְּמַעְלָה שֵׁם וּלְמַטָּה שֵׁם קָרוֹב לוֹ הַלֵּךְ אַחַר הַתַּחְתּוֹן. אִם כֵּן לָמָּה כּוֹתְבִין אֶת הָעֶלְיוֹן שֶׁמָּא תִּמָּחֵק אוֹת אַחַת מִן הַתַּחְתּוֹן וְיִלְמַד מִן הָעֶלְיוֹן כְּגוֹן הָיָה בָּעֶלְיוֹן חֲנָנִי אוֹ עֲנָנִי וּבַתַּחְתּוֹן חָנָן אוֹ עָנָן בְּיָדוּעַ שֶׁהוּא הַשֵּׁם הָעֶלְיוֹן. אֲבָל לֹא יִלְמֹד תַּחְתּוֹן מֵעֶלְיוֹן בִּשְׁתֵּי אוֹתִיּוֹת:

15

If the upper portion of a promissory note speaks of a sefel and the lower portion speaks of a kefel, we follow the wording of the latter portion, for a kefel is less than a sefel.

If the upper portion of a promissory note speaks of a kefel and the lower portion speaks of a sefel, we suspect that perhaps a fly caused the left leg of the kuf to be rubbed out and made it appear like a samech. Hence, the bearer may expropriate only a kefel, the lesser measure. Similar principles apply in all analogous situations, for the bearer of the promissory note has the weaker position.

An incident occurred concerning a promissory note that stated: "600 and one zuz" This raised a doubt. Was the intent 601 zuz or was the intent 600 isteira and one zuz? The Sages said: "The bearer of the promissory note may collect only 600 isteira and a zuz, for the bearer of the promissory note has the weaker position."

If so, why did they not say that he should collect 600 p'rutot and a zuz? Because a scribe would count the p'rutot as zuzin before composing the promissory note. Similar principles apply in all analogous situations. In all times and in all places, we follow the accepted norms.

טו

כָּתוּב בּוֹ מִלְּמַעְלָה סֵפֶל וּמִלְּמַטָּה קֵפֶל הַכּל הוֹלֵךְ אַחַר הַתַּחְתּוֹן שֶׁהַקֵּפֶל פָּחוֹת מִן הַסֵּפֶל. כָּתוּב בּוֹ מִלְּמַעְלָה קֵפֶל וּמִלְּמַטָּה סֵפֶל חוֹשְׁשִׁין שֶׁמָּא זְבוּב הֵסִיר רֶגֶל הַקּוּף וְנַעֲשֵׂית סָמֶ''ךְ וְאֵינוֹ גּוֹבֶה אֶלָּא בְּמִדַּת קֵפֶל הַקְּטַנָּה. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה שֶׁיַּד בַּעַל הַשְּׁטָר עַל הַתַּחְתּוֹנָה. מַעֲשֶׂה בִּשְׁטָר שֶׁהָיָה כָּתוּב בּוֹ שֵׁשׁ מֵאוֹת וְזוּז אֶחָד וַהֲרֵי הַדָּבָר סָפֵק אִם שֵׁשׁ מֵאוֹת זוּז וְזוּז אֶחָד אוֹ שֵׁשׁ מֵאוֹת אַסְתִּירָא וְזוּז. אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים יִטּל שֵׁשׁ מֵאוֹת אַסְתִּירָא וְזוּז שֶׁיַּד בַּעַל הַשְּׁטָר עַל הַתַּחְתּוֹנָה. אִם כֵּן לָמָּה לֹא נֶאֱמַר שֵׁשׁ מֵאוֹת פְּרוּטָה וְזוּז לְפִי שֶׁהַפְּרוּטוֹת כּוֹלֵל אוֹתָן הַסּוֹפֵר זוּזִין וְאַחַר כָּךְ כּוֹתְבִין. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה בְּכָל זְמַן וּבְכָל מָקוֹם לְפִי דַּרְכָּם הַיָּדוּעַ עַל פִּיו עוֹשִׂין:

16

When a promissory note states: "Isteira 100 m'ie," or "100 m'ie isteira" one should follow the lesser of the phrases. The person should receive only one isteira. The rationale is that the bearer of the promissory note has the weaker position, because he is trying to expropriate property from a colleague, and a person can expropriate property only when there is no doubt regarding his claim.

Similarly, whenever a promissory note could be interpreted in either of two ways, either this way or that way, the bearer receives the lesser of the amounts. If, however, he seizes possession of the greater amount, the borrower may not expropriate the money from him unless he can clearly prove the legitimacy of his own claim.

טז

שְׁטָר שֶׁכָּתוּב בּוֹ אַסְתִּירָא מֵאָה מָעֵי אוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בּוֹ מֵאָה מָעֵי אַסְתִּירָא הַלֵּךְ אַחַר פָּחוּת שֶׁבַּלְּשׁוֹנוֹת וְאֵינוֹ נוֹטֵל אֶלָּא אַסְתִּירָא אַחַת. שֶׁיַּד בַּעַל הַשְּׁטָר עַל הַתַּחְתּוֹנָה מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא הַמּוֹצִיא מֵחֲבֵרוֹ וְאֵינוֹ מוֹצִיא אֶלָּא בְּדָבָר שֶׁאֵין בּוֹ סָפֵק. לְפִיכָךְ כָּל שְׁטָר שֶׁיֵּשׁ בּוֹ מַשְׁמַע שְׁתֵּי לְשׁוֹנוֹת שֶׁמָּא כָּךְ אוֹ שֶׁמָּא כָּךְ אֵינוֹ נוֹטֵל אֶלָּא הַפָּחוּת שֶׁבִּשְׁתֵּיהֶן. וְאִם תָּפַס בָּעֶלְיוֹנָה אֵין מוֹצִיאִין מִיָּדוֹ אֶלָּא בִּרְאָיָה בְּרוּרָה:

17

When a promissory note states: "a gold coin," we assume that the intent is no less than a golden dinar. If it states "gold of dinarim," or "dinarim of gold," we assume that the intent is no less than the value of two dinarim of gold. If it states "gold in dinarim" we assume that the intent is no less than the value in gold of two silver dinarim. Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.

Blessed be God, who grants assistance.

יז

כָּתוּב בּוֹ מַטְבֵּעַ זָהָב אֵין פָּחוֹת מִדִּינַר זָהָב. זָהָב דִּינָרִין אוֹ דִּינָרִין זָהָב אֵין פָּחוֹת מִשְּׁוֵה שְׁנֵי דִּינָרִין שֶׁל זָהָב. זָהָב בְּדִינָרִין אֵין פָּחוֹת מִשְּׁוֵה שְׁנֵי דִּינָרִין שֶׁל כֶּסֶף מִן הַזָּהָב. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה: סְלִיקוּ לְהוּ הִלְכוֹת מַלְוֶה וְלֹוֶה