web analytics
March 31, 2015 / 11 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Home » Judaism » Parsha »

When Is A Single Witness Believed?

At the end of parshas Metzora the Torah discusses the halachos of when a woman becomes a niddah. The Torah says that a woman who becomes a niddah must count seven days from when she stops seeing blood, and then becomes tahor by immersing in a mikveh. The Gemara in Kesubos 72a says that a woman is believed when she counts the seven days on her own. Tosafos in Gittin 2b says that this is the source from the Torah for the rule that eid echad ne’eman b’issurim (one person is believed concerning issurim). Rashi in Yevamos 88a says that the source for this halacha is due to the fact that if the aforementioned rule was not so, no one would be able to eat from his fellow or even from his own household (and apparently that is not possible).

Testimony of two witnesses is always believed, even when it contradicts a chazakah – a halachic rule that states that when there is an unknown we should assume that everything remained status quo. There is a machlokes Rishonim whether the testimony of one person is accepted when it contradicts a chazakah. For example, a live animal is prohibited to be eaten since it is not shechted. If one person will testify that it was shechted, his testimony will contradict the chazakah that it was not shechted. Tosafos, the Rush, and the Mordechai hold that one witness is not believed against a chazakah. The Rashba believes that one witness is believed, even when contradicting a chazakah.

The Shev Shmeitza 6:7 asks the following question: the Gemara (Yevamos 119b) says that when determining a doubt one should follow the rov (majority) over a chazakah. This is known as ruba v’chazakah, ruba adif. Mathematically, since a rov is greater than a chazakah and a chazakah is greater than one witness (according to some Rishonim), we should infer that a rov is greater than one witness. Therefore if three pieces of meat get mixed up (two non-kosher and one kosher) and one witness says that he knows which is the kosher piece, he should not be believed. Since there is a doubt as to which piece is kosher and the halacha of following the rov is telling us that the selected piece is from the majority (non-kosher), one witness cannot contradict the rov and testify which piece is kosher. But today’s norm dictates that this is not the correct halacha. Why? Because it is common for marketplaces to contain a majority of non-kosher meat and only a minority of kosher meat, and the seller is to be believed when saying which pieces are kosher.

The Chelkas Yoev writes that there is an explicit tosefta in Pesachim at the end of the fifth perek that says that one witness is believed over a rov. The Pnei Yehoshua (Kiddushin 63b) also says that one witness will be believed over a rov. He explains that the rule that one witness is not believed against a chazakah only applies when the chazakah is foolproof. However when the chazakah is weakened prior to the testimony of the witness, the witness will be believed. The Pnei Yehoshua adds that a chazakah that is not weakened is even stronger than a rov. Based on this there is no longer any indication that a rov is stronger than one witness. Thus in the case of the marketplace that contains a majority of non-kosher meat, one witness will be believed.

The Shev Shmeitza disagrees with the Pnei Yehoshua and offers another suggestion. The only case where one witness is not believed against a chazakah is when even according to his testimony, the item was forbidden at one point and he is attempting to remove it from its current status. However, if according to his testimony the item was never forbidden, his testimony is not considered contradictory to the chazakah and thus he is believed. The same would apply when one witness testifies about a case that has a rov. As a result, in the case of the pieces of meat that were mixed up, the witness testified that he always knew which piece was kosher; therefore, according to his testimony, there is no mixture and thus there is no rov. If the pieces are not mixed, a rov does not apply since there is no doubt. Therefore his testimony is not contradicting the rov. Hence he is believed.

If a single witness would testify that he found an animal to be treif, his testimony would directly contradict the rov that states that the majority of animals are not treif. He may be believed on a different merit but, according to the Rishonim that say that a single witness is not believed against a chazakah, he would not be believed against a rov as well.

About the Author: For questions or comments, e-mail RabbiRFuchs@gmail.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “When Is A Single Witness Believed?”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Talks between Iran and the P5+1 at Lausanne are likely to be extended beyond Obama's self-imposed deadline.
Iran Likely to Force Obama to Back Down on ‘Deadline Threat’
Latest Judaism Stories
Bodenheim-032715

Our ability to teach is only successful if done by example.

Torat-Hakehillah-logo-NEW

Outside of the High Holidays, Pesach is probably the most celebrated biblical holiday for the majority of Jews.

Business-Halacha-logo

“If I notify people, nobody will buy the matzos!” exclaimed Mr. Mandel. “Once the halachic advisory panel ruled leniently, why can’t I sell the matzos regularly?”

The-Shmuz

So what type of praise is it that Aaron followed orders?

Her Children, Her Whim
‘Kesubas Bnin Dichrin’
(Kesubos 52b)

Question: Must one spend great sums of money and invest much effort in making one’s home kosher for Passover? Not all of us have such unlimited funds.

Name Withheld
(Via E-Mail)

Yachatz is not mentioned in the Gemara. What is the foundation for yachatz?

First, the punishment for eating chametz on Pesach is karet, premature death at the Hand of God.

Why is it necessary to invite people to eat from the korban Pesach?

How was I going to get to Manhattan? No cabs were going, we didn’t have a car, and many people who did have cars had no gas.

Did you ever notice that immediately upon being granted our freedom from Egypt, the Jewish people accepted upon themselves the yoke of a new master – Hashem?

Why does Torah make the priests go through a long and seemingly bizarre induction ceremony?

Often people in important positions separate from everyday people & tasks-NOT the Kohen Gadol

You smuggled tefillin into the camp? How can they help? Every day men risked their lives to use them

Rambam: Eating blood’s forbidden because connected to idolatry;Ramban: We’re affected by what we eat

Rambam warns that a festival meal without taking care of the needy isn’t fulfilling simchat yom tov

More Articles from Rabbi Raphael Fuchs
Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

Why is it necessary to invite people to eat from the korban Pesach?

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

The Ran asks why the Gemara concludes that since we are unsure which two of the four we must recline for, that we must recline for all four.

The Chasam Sofer answers that one of only prohibited from wearing a garment that contains shatnez if he does so while wearing the garment for pleasure purposes.

The Aruch Laner asks: How can Rashi say that the third Beis Hamikdash will descend as fire from heaven when every Jew prays several times a day for the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash?

The Ohr Hachayim rules that one may not manipulate the system; rather he must state his opinion as he see the ruling in the case; not as he would like the outcome of the verdict to become.

He suggests that the general admonition only dictates that a father may not actively enable his son to perform an aveirah.

Rather than submit to this fate and suffer torture and humiliation, Shaul decided to fall on his sword.

And if a person can take steps to perform the mitzvah, he should do so (even if he won’t be held accountable for not performing it due to circumstances beyond his control).

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/when-is-a-single-witness-believed/2012/04/25/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: