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Mishnayos Sanhedrin Perek 3 Mishnah 6

סנהדרין פרק ג׳ משנה ו׳


How do the judges examine the witnesses? They bring them into a room in the courthouse and intimidate them so that they will speak only the truth. And they take all the people, other than the judges, outside so that they should not tell the other witnesses the questions the judges ask and the answers the first witness gives, and they leave only the eldest of the witnesses to testify first. And they say to him: Say how exactly you know that this litigant owes money to that litigant, as the plaintiff claims. If he said: The defendant said to me: It is true that I owe the plaintiff, or if he says: So-and-so said to me that the defendant owes the plaintiff, the witness has said nothing and his testimony is disregarded. It is not valid testimony unless he says: The defendant admitted in our presence to the plaintiff that he owes him, e.g., two hundred dinars. By admitting to the debt in the presence of witnesses he renders himself liable to pay the amount that he mentioned. And afterward they bring in the second witness and examine him in the same manner. If their statements are found to be congruent the judges then discuss the matter. If the opinions of the judges are divided, as two judges say that the defendant is exempt from payment and one says he is liable to pay, he is exempt. If two say he is liable and one says he is exempt, he is liable. If one says he is liable and one says he is exempt, or even if two of the judges deem him exempt or two of them deem him liable, and the other one says: I do not know, the court must add more judges and then rule in accordance with the majority opinion. This is because the one who abstains is considered as though he is not a member of the court.

כֵּיצַד בּוֹדְקִים אֶת הָעֵדִים, הָיוּ מַכְנִיסִין אוֹתָן וּמְאַיְּמִין עֲלֵיהֶן וּמוֹצִיאִין אֶת כָּל הָאָדָם לַחוּץ, וּמְשַׁיְּרִין אֶת הַגָּדוֹל שֶׁבָּהֶן, וְאוֹמְרִים לוֹ אֱמֹר הֵיאַךְ אַתָּה יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁזֶּה חַיָּב לָזֶה. אִם אָמַר, הוּא אָמַר לִי שֶׁאֲנִי חַיָּב לוֹ, אִישׁ פְּלוֹנִי אָמַר לִי שֶׁהוּא חַיָּב לוֹ, לֹא אָמַר כְּלוּם, עַד שֶׁיֹּאמַר, בְּפָנֵינוּ הוֹדָה לוֹ שֶׁהוּא חַיָּב לוֹ מָאתַיִם זוּז. וְאַחַר כָּךְ מַכְנִיסִין אֶת הַשֵּׁנִי וּבוֹדְקִים אוֹתוֹ. אִם נִמְצְאוּ דִבְרֵיהֶם מְכֻוָּנִים, נוֹשְׂאִין וְנוֹתְנִין בַּדָּבָר. שְׁנַיִם אוֹמְרִים זַכַּאי, וְאֶחָד אוֹמֵר חַיָּב, זַכַּאי. שְׁנַיִם אוֹמְרִים חַיָּב, וְאֶחָד אוֹמֵר זַכַּאי, חַיָּב. אֶחָד אוֹמֵר זַכַּאי, וְאֶחָד אוֹמֵר חַיָּב, וַאֲפִלּוּ שְׁנַיִם מְזַכִּין אוֹ שְׁנַיִם מְחַיְּבִין וְאֶחָד אוֹמֵר אֵינִי יוֹדֵעַ, יוֹסִיפוּ הַדַּיָּנִין:


ומאיימין עליהם – we inform them that those who hire false witnesses despise them themselves and we call them “wicked,” as it is written concerning Naboth [and his vineyard] (I Kings 21:10): “And seat two scoundrels opposite him and let them testify against him: [You have reviled God and king!]...,” for the advisers of the king who were advisers who had been hired, we call them, “scoundrels.”

הוא אמר לי – the borrower said to me

לא אמר כלום – that a person does when he says “so-and-so loaned me” in order that people should not consider him rich.

הודה לו – for both of them were in our presence and to admit to him tha thtey they had the intention, to be for him witnesses in this matter.

אפילו שנים מזכין או מחייבים ואחד אומר איני יודע יוסיפו הדיינים – and even though that if he had disputed them, he would be nullified in his minority. For when he said, “I don’t know,” it is like he had not sat in judgment; it was found that the judgment was with two and we require three.

ומאיימין עליהם. מודיעים אותם שהשוכרים עדי שקר הן עצמן מבזין אותן וקוראים להן רשעים, דכתיב (במלכים א כ״א:י׳) בנבות, והושיבו שנים אנשים בני בליעל נגדו, שיועצי המלך שהיו יועצים לשכרן קוראים להן בני בליעל:

הוא אמר לי. הלוה אמר לי:

לא אמר כלום. דעביד איניש דאמר פלוני נושה בי, כדי שלא יחזיקוהו עשיר:

הודה לו. שהיו שניהם בפנינו ולהודות לו נתכוין, להיות לו עדים בדבר:

אפילו שנים מזכין או מחייבים ואחד אומר איני יודע יוסיפו דיינים. אע״ג דאי הוה פליג עלייהו הוה בטל במיעוטו, כי אמר איני יודע הוי כמו שלא ישב בדין, נמצא הדין בשנים ואנן שלש בעינן: