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“Years ago, I granted the institution a 10-year loan,” Mr. Gold said. “A decade has passed, but it refuses to repay the loan.”

“What do you have to say?” Rabbi Dayan asked Mr. Schorr, director of Torah Institute. “Is there any reason you shouldn’t have to pay?”


“We borrowed the money,” replied Mr. Schorr. “However, two years later we had a meeting with Mr. Gold, and he agreed to forego the loan.”

“Do you have any evidence of this?” asked Rabbi Dayan.

“We have a document signed by witness attesting to this fact,” said Mr. Schorr, “and we also asked them to come today to testify.”

“Who are the witnesses?” asked Rabbi Dayan.

“One is Rabbi Weiss; he was a member of the kollel then,” replied Mr. Schorr. “The other is Mr. Green; he used to work for the institution as an accountant, but has since moved on.”

“I object to their testimony,” said Mr. Gold. “Both Rabbi Weiss and Mr. Green were associated with the institution and are therefore partial towards it.”

“Do they have any remaining connection to Torah Institute?” asked Rabbi Dayan.

“None at all,” replied Mr. Schorr. “Rabbi Weiss became a teacher elsewhere five years ago, and Mr. Green left three years ago and has a new job.”

“Still, at the time of the loan and the subsequent meeting, both were associated with the institution,” objected Mr. Gold. “Rabbi Weiss received a monthly stipend and Mr. Green was a salaried employee. They had vested interest in exempting Torah Institute. How can their testimony be valid?”

“Indeed, a witness who has a monetary interest cannot testify,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “This disqualification is known as nogei’ah badavar.” [Choshen Mishpat 37:1]

“Is he like any other disqualified witness?” asked Mr. Gold.

“There are some differences,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “According to some authorities, a nogei’ah badavar is inherently disqualified from testifying, like a relative. However, according to most authorities, he is disqualified because of the practical concern that he will lie due to his vested interest (chashash meshaker).

“Therefore, unlike a relative, a nogei’ah badavar is disqualified only to testify in a manner that benefits him, but he can testify to his detriment since there is no concern that he would lie in this manner.” [Sma and Shach 37:1]

“Witnesses generally must be qualified both at the time the event occurred and at the time they testify,” continued Rabbi Dayan. “Nonetheless, Shulchan Aruch rules that someone who was a nogei’ah badavar at the time of an event but later has no vested interest can testify since there is no concern he will lie.” [Choshen Mishpat 33:15]

“The Shach, however, cites many other authorities who rule that a nogei’ah badavar at the time of the event remains disqualified even after he no longer has a vested interest,” added Rabbi Dayan. “He leaves the issue inconclusive, but, even according to him, if the witness testifies on behalf of the defendant who is in possession of the money, his testimony is accepted.” [Shach 37:32]

“Is the document Rabbi Weiss and Mr. Green signed also valid?” asked Mr. Schorr. “If so, perhaps there is no need for them to testify now.”

“When a witness signs on a document, his testimony is considered focused at that time,” answered Rabbi Dayan. “Therefore, since they had a vested interest when they signed the document, it is void.” [Pischei Teshuva 33:9]

“But can they testify now?” asked Mr. Gold.

“Yes,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “Since they no longer have a vested interest and there is no concern they will lie on behalf of the institution, they can testify.” [Pischei Choshen, Eidus 2:34, 37]

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Rabbi Meir Orlian is a faculty member of the Business Halacha Institute, headed by HaRav Chaim Kohn, a noted dayan. To receive BHI’s free newsletter, Business Weekly, send an e-mail to [email protected]. For questions regarding business halacha issues, or to bring a BHI lecturer to your business or shul, call the confidential hotline at 877-845-8455 or e-mail [email protected].