The 281st prohibition is that a judge is forbidden from hearing the claims of one of litigants if the other is not present.

The source of this prohibition is G‑d's statement,1 "Do not accept a false report."

The reason for this prohibition is that the majority of claims brought by one litigant without the other being present are false. The Torah therefore prohibited the judge from hearing such words, in order to keep him from having false and improper ideas in his mind.

The Mechilta2 says, "The verse, 'Do not accept a false report,' prohibits a judge from hearing the claim of one litigant without the other being present, and prohibits the litigant from speaking to the judge without the other litigant being present." Regarding this same prohibition the Torah commands,3 "Keep away from anything false," as explained in the 4th chapter of tractate Shavuos.4

Our Sages said that this prohibition also includes the prohibition against speaking loshon hora, listening to loshon hora, and giving false testimony, as explained in tractate Makkos.5