1

If [both] or one of [the plaintiff's] witnesses was unacceptable, a relative,1 or even one of those disqualified from testifying by Rabbinic decree, the king - who is not fit to give testimony2 - was one of his witnesses, or the witnesses heard the testimony from other witnesses,3 [although] they both denied [knowing testimony] and took an oath, they are not liable for a sh'vuat haedut,4 for had they testified, they would not have obligated [the defendant] to pay.5

א

הָיוּ עֵדָיו אוֹ אֶחָד מֵהֶן פָּסוּל אוֹ קָרוֹב וַאֲפִלּוּ מִפְּסוּלֵי עֵדוּת שֶׁל דִּבְרֵיהֶם. אוֹ שֶׁהָיָה הַמֶּלֶךְ אֶחָד מֵעֵדָיו שֶׁאֵינוֹ רָאוּי לְהָעִיד. אוֹ שֶׁהָיוּ עֵד מִפִּי עֵד וְכָפְרוּ וְנִשְׁבְּעוּ פְּטוּרִין מִשְּׁבוּעַת הָעֵדוּת שֶׁאִלּוּ (הוֹדוּ) הֵעִידוּ לֹא הָיוּ מְחַיְּבִין בְּעֵדוּתָן מָמוֹן:

2

[If the plaintiff said:] "I am administering an oath to you that you come and testify on my behalf that so-and-so promised to give me 200 zuz, but he did not," and [the witnesses] denied [knowledge of the matter] and took an oath, they are not liable for a sh'vuat haedut. For even if they would testify concerning the matter, the defendant would not be liable financially because of his statement.6 Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.

ב

מַשְׁבִּיעַ אֲנִי עֲלֵיכֶם שֶׁתָּבוֹאוּ וְתָעִידוּ לִי שֶׁאָמַר אִישׁ פְּלוֹנִי שֶׁיִּתֵּן לִי מָאתַיִם זוּז וְלֹא נָתַן וְכָפְרוּ הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ פְּטוּרִין מִשְּׁבוּעַת הָעֵדוּת. שֶׁאִם הֵעִידוּ בְּדָבָר זֶה לֹא יִתְחַיֵּב הַנִּתְבָּע מָמוֹן בַּאֲמִירָתוֹ. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה:

3

If one charged [witnesses] with testifying that he was a priest or a Levite, or that he was not the son of a woman who underwent divorce or chalitzah,7 and [the witnesses] denied [knowledge of the matter] and took an oath, they are not liable for a sh'vuat haedut. For this is not a financial claim.

ג

תְּבָעָן לְהָעִיד לוֹ שֶׁהוּא כֹּהֵן אוֹ לֵוִי אוֹ שֶׁאֵינוֹ בֶּן גְּרוּשָׁה אוֹ בֶּן חֲלוּצָה וְכָפְרוּ וְנִשְׁבְּעוּ פְּטוּרִין מִשְּׁבוּעַת הָעֵדוּת שֶׁאֵין כָּאן עֵדוּת מָמוֹן:

4

[Similarly, although the witnesses] denied [knowledge of the matter] and took an oath, they are not liable for a sh'vuat haedut [if the plaintiff] charges them with testifying [with regard to the following claims]:

his son inflicted a wound upon him,

so-and-so kindled his grainheap on the Sabbath,

so-and-so raped or seduced his virgin daughter who had been consecrated.

[The rationale is that] if they were to give this testimony the defendant would be liable for execution by the court8 and not for making financial recompense as we explained in Hilchot Na'arah.9 Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.

ד

תְּבָעָן שֶׁיָּעִידוּ לוֹ שֶׁחָבַל בּוֹ בְּנוֹ וְשֶׁהִדְלִיק פְּלוֹנִי גְּדִישׁוֹ בְּשַׁבָּת וְשֶׁאָנַס פְּלוֹנִי אוֹ פִּתָּה בִּתּוֹ הַמְאֹרָסָה וְכָפְרוּ וְנִשְׁבְּעוּ פְּטוּרִין מִשְּׁבוּעַת הָעֵדוּת. שֶׁאִם הֵעִידוּ עֵדוּת זוֹ יִתְחַיֵּב הַנִּתְבָּע מִיתַת בֵּית דִּין וְאֵינוֹ חַיָּב תַּשְׁלוּמִין כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ בְּהִלְכוֹת נַעֲרָה. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה:

5

If there was [only] one witness, he denied [knowledge of a financial claim], and an oath was administered to him, he is not liable for a sh'vuat haedut. [The rationale is that] the testimony of one witness does not obligate financial payment.10

ה

הָיָה עֵד אֶחָד וְכָפַר וְהִשְׁבִּיעוֹ פָּטוּר מִשְּׁבוּעַת הָעֵדוּת שֶׁאֵין עֵדוּת עֵד אֶחָד מְחַיֶּבֶת מָמוֹן:

6

If one charged two witnesses with testifying that his wife committed adultery and they denied [knowledge of the matter] and took an oath to that effect, they are liable for a sh'vuat haedut. For if they had testified, they would have caused her to forfeit [the money due her by virtue of] her ketubah.11 Thus the one who charged them with testifying would be freed from liability. Hence the witnesses have denied a financial claim.

ו

תָּבַע אֶת שְׁנֵי עֵדָיו שֶׁיָּעִידוּ לוֹ שֶׁזִּנְּתָה אִשְׁתּוֹ וְכָפְרוּ וְנִשְׁבְּעוּ הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ חַיָּבִין בִּשְׁבוּעַת הָעֵדוּת. שֶׁאִלּוּ הֵעִידוּ הָיוּ מַפְסִידִין לָהּ כְּתֻבָּתָהּ וְיִפָּטֵר זֶה שֶׁתְּבָעָן וַהֲרֵי כָּפְרוּ בְּעֵדוּת מָמוֹן:

7

If [a husband] charges witnesses - [either witnesses] who observed him administering a [sotah] warning12 or those who observed her entering into privacy with the man concerning whom she was warned - with testifying, and they denied [knowledge of the matter] and took an oath to that effect, they are not liable for a sh'vuat haedut. [The rationale is that] even if they had testified, [the testimony] would not result in a financial claim only in the obligation to have her drink [the sotah] waters. Although this testimony [can] cause her to forfeit [the money due her by virtue of] her ketubah if she does not drink [the sotah waters],13 a matter that could lead to a financial claim is not considered as a financial claim. For it is possible that she will drink the waters and not invalidate her ketubah.

ז

תָּבַע עֵדֵי קִנּוּי אוֹ עֵדֵי סְתִירָה וְכָפְרוּ וְנִשְׁבְּעוּ פְּטוּרִין מִשְּׁבוּעַת הָעֵדוּת שֶׁאִלּוּ הֵעִידוּ אֵין חִיּוּב מָמוֹן כָּאן אֶלָּא לְהַשְׁקוֹתָהּ בִּלְבַד. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁעֵדוּת זוֹ גּוֹרֶמֶת לָהּ שֶׁתַּפְסִיד כְּתֻבָּתָהּ אִם לֹא תִּשְׁתֶּה דָּבָר שֶׁגּוֹרֵם לְמָמוֹן אֵינוֹ כְּמָמוֹן שֶׁהֲרֵי אֶפְשָׁר שֶׁתִּשְׁתֶּה וְלֹא תִּשְׁבֹּר כְּתֻבָּתָהּ:

8

[A witness] is liable for a sh'vuat haedut [in the following situation. A man] issued a [sotah] warning to his wife. She entered into privacy [as observed by] two witnesses and then committed adultery, [as observed by] one witness after being warned and entering into privacy. If [the husband] administered an oath to this witness that he come and testify and he denied knowledge [of the matter], he is liable. Although he is only one witness, if he would have delivered this testimony, the woman would have been divorced without receiving [the money due her by virtue of] her ketubah as explained in Hilchot Sotah.14

ח

הֲרֵי שֶׁקִּנֵּא לְאִשְׁתּוֹ וְנִסְתְּרָה בְּעֵדִים וְזָנְתָה בְּעֵד אֶחָד אַחַר הַקִּנּוּי וְהַסְּתִירָה וְהִשְׁבִּיעַ עֵד זֶה שֶׁיָּבוֹא וְיָעִיד וְכָפַר חַיָּב בִּשְׁבוּעַת הָעֵדוּת שֶׁאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא עֵד אֶחָד אִלּוּ הֵעִיד עֵדוּת זוֹ הָיְתָה יוֹצְאָה בְּלֹא כְּתֻבָּה כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ בְּהִלְכוֹת סוֹטָה:

9

Similarly, in any other instance where the testimony of one witness creates a financial obligation, if that witness denies knowledge [of the matter] and took an oath or an oath was administered to him in court supporting his denial, he is liable for a sh'vuat haedut.

ט

וְכֵן כָּל עֵד אֶחָד שֶׁמְּחַיֵּב מָמוֹן בְּעֵדוּתוֹ אִם כָּפַר וְנִשְׁבַּע אוֹ שֶׁהִשְׁבִּיעוֹ בְּבֵית דִּין וְכָפַר חַיָּב מִשּׁוּם שְׁבוּעַת הָעֵדוּת:

10

What is implied? Both the plaintiff and the defendant were reputed [to take false] oaths15and hence they are not given the opportunity to take oaths, [the plaintiff] administered an oath to one witness that he should come and testify that so-and-so owes him a maneh and he denied [knowledge of the matter], he is liable for a sh'vuat haedut. For were he to have testified, the defendant would have been required to pay because of his testimony, as will be explained in Hilchot To'en.16 Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.

י

כֵּיצַד. כְּגוֹן שֶׁהָיָה הַתּוֹבֵעַ וְהַנִּתְבָּע חֲשׁוּדִין עַל הַשְּׁבוּעָה שֶׁאֵין מַשְׁבִּיעִין אוֹתָם וְהִשְׁבִּיעַ לְעֵד אֶחָד שֶׁיָּבוֹא וְיָעִיד לוֹ שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ בְּיַד זֶה מָנֶה וְכָפַר הֲרֵי זֶה חַיָּב מִשּׁוּם שְׁבוּעַת הָעֵדוּת שֶׁאִלּוּ הֵעִיד הָיָה הַנִּתְבָּע הַזֶּה מְשַׁלֵּם מָמוֹן בְּעֵדוּתוֹ כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּהִלְכוֹת טוֹעֵן. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה:

11

When a woman administers an oath to one witness that he testify regarding the death of her husband and he denies [knowledge of the matter], he is liable for a sh'vuat haedut. Were he to have testified, she would have married and received [the money due her by virtue of] her ketubah.17

יא

הָאִשָּׁה שֶׁהִשְׁבִּיעָה עֵד אֶחָד שֶׁיָּעִיד לָהּ בְּמִיתַת בַּעְלָהּ וְכָפַר חַיָּב בִּשְׁבוּעַת הָעֵדוּת שֶׁאִלּוּ הֵעִיד הָיְתָה נִשֵּׂאת וְנוֹטֶלֶת כְּתֻבָּתָהּ:

12

When does the above apply? When she could have collected [the money due her by virtue of] her ketubah from movable property.18 If, however, she could only have collected [this sum] by expropriating landed property, [the witness] is not liable for a sh'vuat haedut. This also applies if there are two witnesses, for when one administers an oath [to witnesses for claims] involving landed property, they are not liable [for a sh'vuat haedut,] as we explained.19

יב

בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים כְּשֶׁהָיָה לָהּ לִגְבּוֹת כְּתֻבָּתָהּ מִן הַמִּטַּלְטְלִין. אֲבָל אִם אֵין לָהּ לִגְבּוֹת כְּתֻבָּתָהּ אֶלָּא מִן הַקַּרְקַע הֲרֵי זֶה פָּטוּר מִשְּׁבוּעַת הָעֵדוּת. וְכֵן אִם הָיוּ שְׁנַיִם. שֶׁהַמַּשְׁבִּיעַ עֵדֵי קַרְקַע פְּטוּרִין כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ:

13

When a person administers an oath to witnesses in a court and both denied [knowledge of the matter] at once, e.g., the second witness began his denial immediately after the statements of his colleague,20 they are both liable for a sh'vuat haedut. Each one of them must bring a sin offering21 for his oath. If the first one denied [knowledge of the matter] and the second witness waited longer than the appointed time period and then denied [knowledge of the matter], the first [witness] is liable for a sh'vuat haedut and the second is exempt. For even if the second had acknowledged [the obligation], his testimony would not have obligated [the defendant] financially.22

יג

הִשְׁבִּיעַ עֵדָיו בְּבֵית דִּין וְכָפְרוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם כְּאַחַת כְּגוֹן שֶׁהִתְחִיל הַשֵּׁנִי לִכְפֹּר בְּתוֹךְ כְּדֵי דִּבּוּרוֹ שֶׁל חֲבֵרוֹ שְׁנֵיהֶם חַיָּבִין בִּשְׁבוּעַת הָעֵדוּת וְכָל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד מֵבִיא חַטָּאתוֹ עַל שְׁבוּעָתוֹ. כָּפַר הָרִאשׁוֹן וְשָׁהָה הָעֵד הַשֵּׁנִי יוֹתֵר מִכְּדֵי דִּבּוּר וְאַחַר כָּךְ כָּפַר. הָרִאשׁוֹן חַיָּב בִּשְׁבוּעַת הָעֵדוּת וְהַשֵּׁנִי פָּטוּר מִשְּׁבוּעַת הָעֵדוּת. שֶׁאִלּוּ הוֹדָה זֶה הַשֵּׁנִי לֹא הָיְתָה עֵדוּתוֹ מְחַיֶּבֶת מָמוֹן:

14

If one of the witnesses acknowledged [the claim] and the other denied [knowledge of it], the one who denied is liable whether he made his denial before [the other witness' acknowledgement] or afterwards.23 If they both denied [knowledge of the matter] at the same time and then one took the initiative and acknowledged [the matter] immediately thereafter,24 he is exempt and the witness that persists in his denial is liable for a sh'vuat haedut.

יד

הוֹדָה אֶחָד וְכָפַר אֶחָד הַכּוֹפֵר חַיָּב בֵּין שֶׁכָּפַר בַּתְּחִלָּה בֵּין שֶׁכָּפַר בַּסּוֹף. כָּפְרוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם כְּאַחַד וְקָדַם הָאֶחָד וְהוֹדָה בְּתוֹךְ כְּדֵי דִּבּוּר הֲרֵי זֶה פָּטוּר וְהָעוֹמֵד בִּכְפִירָתוֹ חַיָּב בִּשְׁבוּעַת הָעֵדוּת:

15

When a person administered an oath to two pairs of witnesses who are both fit to deliver testimony and the first group denied [knowledge of the matter] and then the second pair denied knowledge of the matter, the first are not liable for a sh'vuat haedut. [The rationale is that] they are relying on the testimony of the second pair and that testimony is sufficient to expropriate money. Hence the defendant would not be liable to make financial restitution because of the testimony of these [witnesses] who denied [knowledge of the matter] alone.25

If the second pair of witnesses were related to the plaintiff or to the defendant by marriage and their wives were on their deathbeds, the first pair of witnesses are also liable. For at the time the first pair made their denial, the second pair were not fit to give testimony even though they will soon be fit to give testimony when [the women] on their deathbeds die.26 If the second pair make their denial after their wives die, they are liable for a sh'vuat haedut.

טו

הִשְׁבִּיעַ שְׁתֵּי כִּתֵּי עֵדִים וּשְׁתֵּיהֶן רְאוּיוֹת לְהָעִיד. וְכָפְרָה כַּת רִאשׁוֹנָה וְאַחַר כָּךְ כָּפְרָה כַּת שְׁנִיָּה. הָרִאשׁוֹנָה פְּטוּרָה מִשְּׁבוּעַת הָעֵדוּת מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהֵן סוֹמְכִין עַל עֵדוּת שְׁנִיָּה וְאֶפְשָׁר לְהוֹצִיא הַמָּמוֹן בְּעֵדוּת הַכַּת הָאַחֶרֶת וְנִמְצָא זֶה הַנִּתְבָּע אֵינוֹ חַיָּב לְשַׁלֵּם בְּעֵדוּת אֵלּוּ שֶׁכָּפְרוּ לְבַדָּהּ. הָיְתָה הַכַּת הַשְּׁנִיָּה קְרוֹבִין לַתּוֹבֵעַ אוֹ לַנִּתְבָּע בִּנְשׁוֹתֵיהֶן וַהֲרֵי הֵן גּוֹסְסוֹת אַף הָרִאשׁוֹנָה חַיֶּבֶת. שֶׁהֲרֵי הַשְּׁנִיָּה בְּעֵת כְּפִירַת הָרִאשׁוֹנָה לֹא הָיְתָה רְאוּיָה לְהָעִיד וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁבִּמְהֵרָה יִהְיוּ רְאוּיִין כְּשֶׁיָּמוּתוּ אֵלּוּ הַגּוֹסְסוֹת. וְאִם כָּפְרָה הַשְּׁנִיָּה אַחֲרֵי שֶׁמֵּתוּ נְשׁוֹתֵיהֶן חַיָּבִין בִּשְׁבוּעַת הָעֵדוּת:

16

When a person charges his witnesses with testifying on his behalf and they deny [knowledge of the matter], he administers an oath and they answer Amen,27 he administers an oath four or five times and they respond to each oath outside the court, and when they come to the court, they acknowledge [the matter] and testify, they are not liable for a sh'vuat haedut, as we explained.28

If [when] they came to court, they persisted in their denial, they are liable for every one of the oaths [administered] outside the court.29

טז

הַתּוֹבֵעַ אֶת הָעֵדִים לְהָעִיד לוֹ וְכָפְרוּ וְהִשְׁבִּיעָן וְעָנוּ אָמֵן וְהִשְׁבִּיעָן אַרְבַּע וְחָמֵשׁ פְּעָמִים וְהֵן עוֹנִין אַחַר כָּל שְׁבוּעָה וּשְׁבוּעָה חוּץ לְבֵית דִּין וּכְשֶׁבָּאוּ לְבֵית דִּין הוֹדוּ וְהֵעִידוּ הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ פְּטוּרִין מִשְּׁבוּעַת הָעֵדוּת כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ. וְאִם בָּאוּ לְבֵית דִּין וְעָמְדוּ בִּכְפִירָתָן חַיָּבִין עַל כָּל אַחַת וְאַחַת מֵאוֹתָן הַשְּׁבוּעוֹת שֶׁחוּץ לְבֵית דִּין:

17

When does the above30 apply? When they answered Amen. If, however, they did not answer Amen, but [merely] denied [knowledge of the matter] after every oath, they are not liable unless the oath is administered in court, as we explained.31 [The rationale is that] they did not utter the oath themselves or answer Amen.

יז

בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בְּשֶׁעָנוּ אָמֵן. אֲבָל אִם לֹא עָנוּ אָמֵן אֶלָּא כָּפְרוּ עַל כָּל שְׁבוּעָה וּשְׁבוּעָה הוֹאִיל וְלֹא הוֹצִיאוּ שְׁבוּעָה מִפִּיהֶם וְלֹא עָנוּ אָמֵן הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ פְּטוּרִים עַד שֶׁיַּשְׁבִּיעֵם בְּבֵית דִּין וְיִכְפְּרוּ בּוֹ שָׁם כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ:

18

If [the plaintiff] administered an oath to [the witnesses] in court and they denied [knowledge of the matter] and then he administered an oath again four or five times and they deny [knowledge of the matter] each time, they are liable only once for a sh'vuat haedut.32 [This applies whether the oath was administered] in court or outside the court and even if they answered Amen or took the oath on their initiative time after time. [The rationale is that] after they denied [knowledge of the matter] in court, were they to retract and admit [knowledge of it], their testimony would no longer be effective.33

יח

הִשְׁבִּיעָן בְּבֵית דִּין וְכָפְרוּ וְחָזַר וְהִשְׁבִּיעָן אַרְבַּע וְחָמֵשׁ פְּעָמִים וְהֵן כּוֹפְרִין עַל כָּל אַחַת וְאַחַת בֵּין חוּץ לְבֵית דִּין בֵּין בִּפְנֵי בֵּית דִּין וַאֲפִלּוּ עָנוּ אָמֵן אוֹ נִשְׁבְּעוּ מִפִּי עַצְמָן פַּעַם אַחַר פַּעַם אֵינָן חַיָּבִין מִשּׁוּם שְׁבוּעַת הָעֵדוּת אֶלָּא אַחַת מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאַחַר שֶׁכָּפְרוּ בְּבֵית דִּין אִם חָזְרוּ וְהוֹדוּ אֵין עֵדוּתָן מוֹעֶלֶת כְּלוּם:

19

It can thus be derived that all the oaths that they take after denying [knowledge of the matter] in court involve a denial of testimony that would not obligate [the defendant] financially. [In that instance, the witnesses] are not liable for a sh'vuat haedut, but they are liable for a sh'vuat bitui, as we explained.34

יט

נִמְצֵאתָ לָמֵד שֶׁכָּל הַשְּׁבוּעוֹת שֶׁנִּשְׁבְּעוּ אַחַר שֶׁכָּפְרוּ בְּבֵית דִּין הֵן עַל כְּפִירַת עֵדוּת שֶׁאֵינָהּ מְחַיֶּבֶת מָמוֹן שֶׁהֵן פְּטוּרִין עָלֶיהָ מִשְּׁבוּעַת הָעֵדוּת וְחַיָּבִין בִּשְׁבוּעַת בִּטּוּי כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ: