י״א בטבת ה׳תשע״ח (December 29, 2017)

Shevuot 31a-b: Distance Yourself From a False Matter

Mi-devar sheker tirḥak – “Distance yourself from a false matter” (Shemot 23:7).

The Gemara on today’s daf offers a series of applications of this passage.

Among them we find:

When a teacher says to his student “you know that I would not lie, even if I was offered money; I have only a single witness to a loan that I made – please join the witness in testifying on my behalf” – how do we know it is forbidden to do so?

Mi-devar sheker tirḥak

When a judge hears testimony and know that the witnesses are lying, how do we know that he should not say “since the witnesses are testifying, I will rule accordingly and the responsibility will rest on their shoulders” (the language of the Gemara is that the kolar will be hung on the necks of the witnesses – a kolar being a metal chain that was put around the neck of prisoners)?

Mi-devar sheker tirḥak

When two litigants approach the court, one who is dressed in rags and the other dressed in expensive finery, how do we know that the court insists that the wealthy litigant either matches the clothing of the poor one or else must dress the poor man in appropriate garments?

Mi-devar sheker tirḥak

In this last case, the concern is that when the two litigants are dressed in radically different manners, the court will be unable to remain objective unless the discrepancy between them is minimized. The Ritva points out that the wealthy litigant will not be required to dress the poor man in an equivalent manner to himself, but the difference between them must be less obvious. The Ri”d argues that this ruling applies only if the wealthy litigant is the claimant, but if he is the defendant he will not be required to help his adversary with his dress; the Ri”az, however, disagrees with that position.

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