web analytics
May 28, 2015 / 10 Sivan, 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
J-Street
J Street: The Jewish Enemy Within
Latest Judaism Stories
Leff-052215

There is a great debate as to whether this story actually took place or is simply a metaphor, a prophetic vision shown to Hoshea by Hashem.

Staum-052215

Every person is presented with moments when he/she must make difficult decisions about how to proceed.

Torat-Hakehillah-logo-NEW

One does not necessarily share the opinions of one’s brother. One may disapprove of his actions, values, and/or beliefs. However, with brothers there is a bond of love and caring that transcends all differences.

Torah

This Shavuot let’s give G-d a gift too: Let’s make this year different by doing just 1 more mitzvah

Question: Should we wash our hands in the bathroom with soap and water, or by pouring water from a vessel with handles three times, alternating hands? I have heard it said that a vessel is used only in the morning upon awakening. What are the rules pertaining to young children? What is the protocol if […]

God and the divine origin of His Torah are facts even though we do not fully comprehend them.

So if we basically live the same life, why should he get eternal reward and not me?”

The question is: What about pidyon haben? Can one give the five sela’im required for pidyon haben to a kohen’s daughter?

In Parshas Pinchas the Torah introduces the Mussaf for Shavuos by describing it as Yom HaBikurim when we bring the new offering.

Rachel was thrown by the sight and began to caringly think whom this person might be.

The desert, with its unearthly silence & emptiness, is the condition in which the Word can be heard

The census focused on the individual, proving each is created as irreplaceable, unique images of God

Jewish survival in a dysfunctional world requires women assuming the role Hashem gave them at Sinai

The Honor Of Reading The Kesubah
‘Witnesses Sign Only After Reading…’
(Kesubos 109a)

Why does the Torah use two different words for “to count,” and what does each indicate?

From Bemidbar on and in Nevi’im, the nation is viewed primarily by its component parts, the tribes

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

The question is: What about pidyon haben? Can one give the five sela’im required for pidyon haben to a kohen’s daughter?

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

The mitzvah that parents must give their son a bris milah is a mitzvah that they must perform for someone else – namely their son.

The Bach writes that he mentioned his insights to many of the leading gedolim and no one disproved him.

The Bais Halevi answers that we must properly define what is considered to be “in the middle of a mitzvah.”

In this case one could reason that by applying halach achar harov we could permit the forbidden bird as well.

Why would it not be sufficient to simply state lehoros from which we derive that in such a state one may not issue any psak?

The Netziv answered that there is a difference between a piece of bread that was cut already in front of you, and one that was cut from beforehand.

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

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: