Makos 6b Shiur 08/26/14

Thanks to Eli Chitrik

Makos 6b

1. We mentioned that if two groups of witnesses who are able to see each other, than they are considered one group, and therefore cannot become “Muzum” unless you are “Mazim” all of them.

The Rishonim ask, for one of these groups to have been found Zomemin, it means that witnesses must have come forward and testified that they saw them elsewhere at the time the crime was committed. But this presents a problem. For in our case, the members of the second group – whose testimony was not discredited – say that they saw the members of the first group standing at a window overlooking the scene of the crime!

There is thus a “Hakchoshah” contradiction, between the Hazamah witnesses and the second group of witnesses whether the members of the first group were, or were not, at the scene of the crime. Since the Hazamah testimony itself has been contradicted, we cannot know whether to believe it. Hence, the members of the first group could not be punished as Zomemmin regardless of whether we considered the two groups one set of witnesses or two! How then can the Mishnah make their punishment dependent on this issue?

The Ritva answers that the Mishnah must therefore speak of a case in which only one member of each group saw someone in the other group. In such a case, there is only a single witness contradicting the testimony of Hazamah witnesses and the Hazamah witnesses would therefore be believed.

2. We spoke about “Eidus M’yuchedes” or isolated witnesses:

What is an “Eidus M’yuchedes”?



A set composed of two witnesses, one of whom watched from one window and the other from another window, without them seeing each other.

Are such witnesses valid?

The Gemara clarifies that in cases of Dinei Nefoshos – Life and Death – they are not considered valid witnesses, however regarding monetary cases ‘isolated witnesses’ are indeed valid.

What is the logical explanation for this?

3- We spoke about the two Rabbonim of Dvinsk. (Formerly Dinaburg דענעבורג  – and now Daugavpils). One,  R’ Meir Simcha Hakohen was the Misnagdisher Rov. (See here in English Hebrew)

The other, the Ragatchover was the Chasidisher Rov.

The Ohr Sameach, written by R’ Meir Simcha Hakohen present some logic to the above ruling:

He first asks: monetary cases and life and death cases are always compared to each another.

The Torah says “Mishpat Echod Yeeyeh Lahem”. Why in this case of ‘isolated witnesses’ should their laws be different?

(see original here, perek 4, halacha 1, ohr samayach eidus makos 6

He explains, that when someone kills someone and there are no witnesses Torah says that this man may not be put to death. When does he get the death penalty, when there are two witnesses who saw him in action.

If no valid witnesses witnessed the murder then even if he comes on his own to Beis Din and admits to the crime, he is considered a murderer and forfeits his place in Mizrach…… but he cannot be put to death.

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In other words, what makes a person “Chayav Misah” is not only the fact that two people saw the action of him killing. They need to come to Beis Din and testify that he is chayev miso because he killed someone and that two witnesses (themselves) saw the crime and therefore they are testifying against him.

Therefore you need proper witnesses and not isolated ones. If one saw the crime without knowing and seeing the other witness then he cannot come and testify that “two witnesses saw the act and therefore his is chayov miso”!

In simpler words: Two witnesses that see an act together create the chiyuv.


However, regarding monetary cases, when someone borrows money from someone whether he has witnesses or not he will always be obligated to pay back, it is just that if he does not have witnesses, Beis Din cannot force the other person to pay back.

In other words, Torah did not say; “only when you have witnesses then a person has to pay back”.  Absolutely not!  A person always has to pay back, but if he does not have witnesses, than Beis Din cannot enforce it. Therefore in this case, monetary – witnesses are not as essential and therefore isolated witnesses work.

Here you can read it from his most famous book on the Ramaba”m ‘Ohr Sameach’.



Makos 6a – Shiur 8/19/2014

Makos 6a

Shiur 8/19/2014 With Thanks to Eli Chitrik

1.  We continued to discuss the question of last week of the Rov of Vilna, Reb Chaim Oizer Grodzinsky regarding the concept of ‘toch ke’dai dibur’.

Either it takes effect immediately (at the beginning of the three second period) but it can reversed within three second .Or – it only takes effect at the conclusion of the three seconds. Before the end of the three second period nothing has been affected.

Reb Chaim Oizer brings a simple proof that it is the latter. Case of the fellow that tore ‘kriah’ before his relative actually passed away. But within 3 seconds of him tearing ‘kriah’ the relative did actually pass on. The Gemora states clearly that he is ‘yotze’ the chiyuv of ‘kriah’.

Now if we were to say that it takes effect right when he did it, then he tore ‘kriah’ prior to the chiyuv!

On the other hand, if we say that it only takes effect at the conclusion of the 3 second period, so at the time it actually took effect his relative has already passed on and he was obligated to do tear ‘kriah’ and therefore he is yotze.

There is more to it but that’s enough for today.

2. The Mishnah/Gemora discusses the Gezeiras Hakosuv that if a group of witnesses ‘join together’ they form one entity. Therefore if even a single member of this group is found to be a relative (to the plaintiff or defendant) or unqualified to be a witness (e.g. a gambler) the entire group is disqualified.

The Gemora initially thought that anyone witnessing the act becomes part of the ‘witnessing group’.

So it asks a simple (funny) question: A group of people witness a murder. The poor victim who was murdered also saw himself being murdered. He thus belongs to the ‘group’ of witnesses. And he is obviously disqualified to testify for himself (see further as to why).  If this logic holds true then we can never convict a murder since the ‘group of witnesses’ is disqualified because of the victim who by witnessing is part of the group!

Can you please tell us who murdered you?

The Gemorah answers that this Torah rule applies only to the people seeing/witnessing the act, but not to actual players, such as the murderer or murdered.

Back to the original question: The Gemora assumed that the victim is disqualified to testify against his murderer. Rashi explains that since a person is his own relative and relatives are disqualified to testify (for their relatives). Tosfos adds another answer: The victim is obviously not a friend of his killer. He therefore is disqualified because of the rule that a hater or enemy cannot testify against his enemy.

We mentioned the opinion of the famous Rishon, Reb Mordechai ben Hillel 1250–1298. (See here in English Hebrew)  Known simply as the Mordechai his writings served as one of the basic Halocho seforim which the Bais Yosef wrote his Shulchan Oruch. He had a tragic life, dying as a martyr when he and his entire family were killed in a pogrom.


See more information about the series of massacres here and here. Ed.

His original Pesak is that the relatives of someone who was murdered are not considered “Kerovim” relatives and they are permitted to give testimony against the murderer.

If a murder victim is not considered his own relative then why did the Gemorah want to disqualify the entire group of witnesses due to the murdered seeing his own execution?

The Mordechai answers (and it is indeed fascinating) that the Gemora was talking in a case where the victim was killed….but didn’t die yet…. He is a ‘treifa…and he comes to Beis Din to testify against his killer. He is disqualified to testify because a ‘treifa’ cannot be a witness and thereby he disqualifies the entire group!


3. Tosfos raises and interesting question: A divorce is not valid unless it takes place before qualified witnesses. Since relatives are often present and therefore witnesses to the proceeding, why do these relatives not invalidate all the other witnesses? By being present they become part of ‘the witness group’. See above #2. This is especially problematic according to R’ Yossi who automatically considers everyone who sees an event part of the set of witnesses. However, it is a problem even according to Rebbi, since it is possible that one of the relatives will unwittingly intend to view the proceedings as witness, which would make part of the set and disqualify all the witnesses.

We discussed the custom in many communities that avoid this issue by announcing at a Chupa that the selected witnesses are “to the exclusion of all others”.

Tosfos answers that a disqualified witness invalidates the rest of the testimony only if he actually testifies in court.  The mere presence of relatives at a divorce would not disqualify the set of witnesses even if the relatives intended to serve as witnesses.

The Ketzos Hachosen (See here in English Hebrew) comes up with a unique explanation. Unlike all other cases where the witnesses are just present for verification, at a wedding or divorce they are not only witnesses but part of the process.

 He writes that at a wedding or divorce due to the importance of the witnesses, the man and woman have in mind particular witnesses to observe the ceremony and become part of the ceremony. It is thus obvious they are designating only people who are permitted to testify. They automatically exclude relatives.

The Ketzos does conclude that it is best to designate specific witnesses so that there be no question about the validity of the divorce or marriage proceeding.


Makos 5b (2) Shiur 8/12/14

Makos 5b (2)

1-      We spoke about the concept that the Torah gives equal validity to a set of two witnesses as much as to  one hundred witnesses.   The source of this idea is from the verse “two or three witnesses”.  Meaning to say that two is equal to three or more. Both are equally valid.

R Chaim Soloveitchik (Brisker)

R Chaim Brisker as a simple question: The above verse talks about ‘zomemim’, where the entire concept of believing the latter set is not logical – ‘gezeiras hakosuv’.  Thus one can say that (the second set of) two are just as powerful as one hundred (of the first set).

Where is the source of  the Rambam extrapolating this idea (that two equals one hundred) also by ‘hakchasha’?

His answer: The rule  the Torah establishes is (not directed at the concept of numbers – that they don’t apply in regard to witnesses, but rather) that the fundamental idea of believing 2 witnesses is that two and one hundred (100) have the same validity.


In other words: It’s not that the poskuk is telling us that despite logic telling us that 100 testifiers are to be believed more than two , nevertheless  it is a ‘gezeiras hakosuv’ to believe the latter pair despite their lesser numbers.


That is not what the Torah is trying to tell us:

Rather the posuk is telling us this: When it comes to the idea of witnesses two and one hundred have the same ‘ne’emonus’ or credibility; larger numbers add nothing to the witness verification process. Thus two is as powerful as 100.

Therefore, once this concept is established, we can apply it to hakchosho as well.


2- We touched upon an interesting logical and mind twisting trivia.

This question is discussed (among others) by the last great Rov of Vilna, Reb Chaim Oizer Grodzinky.

It is his book called Achiezer. See attached PDF.


First a few fundamental points:

a-      In most Halachos that involve talking, one can utter something and then change his mind, retract or change provided he does so within 3 seconds (approximately).


For example- when on Rosh Chodesh while saying Ya’le Veyovo one mistakenly says “Byom Chag Ha’matzos, he can correct himself within 3 seconds and say “Byom Rosh Chodesh Ha’ze”.


Another example: You pledge at an appeal $360 but then immediately change it to $180.  $180 is all you need to give.

b-      There are  a few  exceptions  to this rule of retraction. Such as if a Choson immediately after putting on the ring and saying “Ha’rei At Mekudeshes Li”   will say “I changed my mind” ….. this rule does not apply.


the happy Chosson and Kallah under the Chuppah with Rabbi Shaul Dovid Borstein

There is no reverse on Kidushin. There is a logic to this exception but we will leave this for another time.

Berel  Malachovsky can explain this better….. a pogrom is a …..

c-       Once witnesses utter their testimony they can change their minds within three seconds. it cannot  be retracted after 3 seconds. This is based on the Halocho of  “kivan shehigid, shuv eino choizer umaggid” .  Once recorded in Beis Din a testimony  can’t be retracted or even changed.

Testimony cannot be retracted.

d-      Now here comes the twist: When does the testimony take effect? One can say that it takes effect immediately (at the beginning of the three second period) but they can reverse within three second.
Or – it only takes effect at the conclusion of the three seconds. Before the end of the three second period nothing has been affected.

e-      Trivia? Or is there a practical difference, albeit in rare cases.

f-       Here is one: two witnesses come and testify on Shabbos that they witnessed a loan from Mr. A to Mr. B.  Within three seconds of their testimony they (C”V) light up a cigarette! Chilul Shabbos. They become “posul le’edus”.

g-      If we assume that their testimony takes effect immediately (they can reverse within three second- which they didn’t) then we can accept their testimony because the disqualification (due to the Chilul Shabbos)  came after the fact.

h-      On the other hand, if it does not take effect until after the three second period then the testimony is invalid since at that time they were disqualified!

i-        There are other cases where this puzzle would come into play. Next week bl”n.

Stay tuned…



The Aleppo Codex Shiur 8/5/14 – Tisha’a B’Av

The Aleppo Codex

Thanks to Eli Chitrik.

The topic of the Shiur is truly intriguing. We just touched the surface, Bli neder we will continue discussing it at a future date.

As you can see from the recent (June 2014) Tablet article (link below) it is a ongoing saga, right here in Brooklyn, on Ocean Parkway!

21693500_600.jpg (600×600)See the Rambam discussing the Sefer edited by Ben Asher.

 Here is some reading material.

1. A synopsis.

2. The Aleppo Codex introduction page from the Aleppo Codex org.:

3. A great NY Times article, full of interesting facts, including Ben-Asher, Ben-Tzvi (who traveled to Aleppo first in 1935 attempting to being the Codex to Israel), Friedman’s book and more:

Even Edmund Safra a”h got dragged into it…

The New York Times
July 29, 2012
The Route the Codex took.
Copyright 2012 The New York Times Company

Go to the NY Times article to see the above map in interactive format.

4. Matti Friedman’s book:

President of Israel, Yitzchak Ben-Zvi  (Yitzchak Shimshelevitch from Poltava) 

A fragment…

5. Latest article from Friedman in Tablet:

Where in the world is the rest of it?

6. Here is a very concise and interesting history of the Tosfos era / and Crusades 1-3, by Rabbi Wein, covering the exact period in Jewish History presented at the Shiur, and the story how they almost crucified Rabbeinu Tam: