סקר
עם סיום מס' שבת





 

Steinsaltz

was the testimony contradicted with regard to ownership of the ancestors?

The Gemara asks: Shall we say that Rava and Rav Naḥman disagree in the dispute between Rav Huna and Rav Ḥisda?

As it was stated concerning two groups of witnesses that contradict each other, that Rav Huna says: This one comes to court on its own and testifies, and that one comes to court on its own and testifies. Despite the fact that one group certainly testified falsely, which should serve to disqualify one of the groups, each group is able to testify in another case. And Rav Ḥisda says: Why do I need these lying witnesses? In other words, they are all disqualified to testify in another case until it is clarified which of them had testified falsely. The Gemara asks: Shall we say that Rav Naḥman is the one who says his ruling in accordance with the opinion of Rav Huna, and Rava says his ruling in accordance with the opinion of Rav Ḥisda?

The Gemara explains: According to the opinion of Rav Ḥisda, who holds that the witnesses are disqualified, everyone agrees that the testimony concerning ancestral ownership is not accepted, as the witnesses were contradicted concerning their testimony of usage of the land, and Rav Naḥman’s ruling cannot accord with his opinion. When Rav Naḥman and Rava disagree it is according to the opinion of Rav Huna, who does not disqualify the witnesses. The ruling of Rav Naḥman is in accordance with the opinion of Rav Huna, and he therefore accepts the testimony with regard to ancestral ownership, and Rava would say: Rav Huna says that the witnesses are accepted only for another testimony, i.e., in a different case. But they are not accepted for the same testimony, as in this incident, where both testimonies concerned ownership of the same land.

The Gemara relates the continuation of the case above. The one who had brought witnesses only to his having profited from the land then brought witnesses that it had belonged to his ancestors, thereby balancing the evidence for the two litigants. Therefore, Rav Naḥman said: We previously brought down to the land the one who initially had evidence of ancestral ownership to take possession of it, and we now bring him up from it, removing him from the land. And we are not concerned about the possible contempt of court that might result from perceived indecisiveness.

Rava, and some say it is Rabbi Zeira, raises an objection from a baraita. If there was a married man whose fate was unknown, and two witnesses say: This married man died, and two witnesses say: He did not die; or if two witnesses say: This woman was divorced, and two witnesses say: She was not divorced, this woman may not marry, as there is not unequivocal testimony that she is no longer married, but if she marries, the marriage is valid and she need not leave her husband. Rabbi Menaḥem, son of Rabbi Yosei, says: She must leave her husband.

Rabbi Menaḥem, son of Rabbi Yosei, said: When do I say that she must leave her husband? She must leave him in a case where witnesses came to testify that she is still married and she then married despite their testimony. But if she married and the witnesses then came to testify that she is still married, this woman is not required to leave her husband based on the uncertainty created by contradictory witnesses. The fact that she is not required to leave her marriage in light of the new testimony seems to indicate an unwillingness to reverse the court’s ruling that she may marry, contrary to the ruling of Rav Naḥman.

Rav Naḥman said to him: I had thought to perform an action and reverse the court’s ruling, but now that you raised an objection against me, and Rav Hamnuna also raised a similar objection against me in Syria, I will not perform an action in this matter.

The Gemara relates that Rav Naḥman then went out and performed an action, taking away the land from the litigant in whose favor he had previously ruled. One who saw what he did thought that he made a mistake, but that is not so. Rather, he performed an action despite the objections that had been raised because the matter depends on great authorities [ashlei ravrevei]. Since, as the Gemara will demonstrate, this issue is subject to dispute between great authorities, he relied on those that supported his opinion.

As we learned in a mishna (Ketubot 23b): Rabbi Yehuda says: One is not elevated to the presumptive status of priesthood on the basis of the testimony of one witness. Two witnesses are required for that purpose. Rabbi Elazar says: When is that the halakha? In a case where there are challengers to his claim that he is a priest. But in a case where there are no challengers, one is elevated to the presumptive status of priesthood on the basis of the testimony of one witness. Rabban Shimon Ben Gamliel says in the name of Rabbi Shimon, son of the deputy High Priest: One is elevated to the presumptive status of priesthood on the basis of the testimony of one witness.

The Gemara asks: The opinion of Rabban Shimon Ben Gamliel is identical to the opinion of Rabbi Elazar, as they agree that one is elevated to the presumptive status of priesthood on the basis of one witness when there are no challengers. What is their dispute? And if you would say that there is a practical difference between them in a case where there is a challenge posed by one person, as Rabbi Elazar holds: A challenge posed by one person is sufficient to undermine one’s presumptive status of priesthood, and two witnesses are required to overcome that challenge;

Talmud - Bavli - The William Davidson digital edition of the Koren No=C3=A9 Talmud
with commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz Even-Israel (CC-BY-NC 4.0)
אדם סלומון
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