ז׳ במרחשון ה׳תשע״ד (October 11, 2013)

Pesaḥim 113a-b: One Who is Despised by God

The Gemara often makes use of a statement of aggada to segue to a broader discussion of non-halakhic matters. The teachings of Rabbi Akiva to his son, which appeared on yesterday’s daf, lead the Gemara to quote from a collection of statements made by individual Sages to their children, many of them referring to issues of a mystical and, on occasion, personal, nature.

One list that is presented tells us about three people who are loved by God, and three that are despised by Him.

The people who God loves include –
A person who does not get angry
A person who does not get drunk
Someone who is willing to concede his position

The people who God despises are –
Someone whose speech does not express his true feelings
Someone who withholds testimony on behalf of his fellow that he knows
A single individual who comes to testify about a sexual matter

The Maharsha points out that all of these cases – both the positive list and the negative one – are people whose actions and behaviors affect his relationship with his fellow man, teaching us that someone who gets along with others is loved by God and someone who does not get along with others is hated by Him.

The Gemara gives an example of the last case of someone despised by God.
This is like that incident where Tuveya sinned with immorality, and Zigud came alone to testify about him before Rav Pappa. Rav Pappa instructed that Zigud be lashed. Zigud said to him: Tuveya sinned and Zigud is lashed, an objection that became a popular saying. He said to him: Yes, as it is written: “One witness shall not rise up against a man” (Devarim 19:15), and you testified against him alone. You have merely given him a bad reputation.

The problem with a person testifying on his own is that Jewish law does not accept the testimony of a single witness, except in monetary cases where the testimony of a single witness will lead to a ruling that the accused must take an oath that he does not owe the money. In other cases, where the court cannot act based on the single witness, it is simply slander to tell stories about another (see Shulhan Arukh, Hoshen Mishpat 28:1).

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