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with the mishna remains: Why does the mishna state that which is obvious, that a document with a single witness’s signature is not valid?

The Gemara answers that the mishna teaches us this: That the case of two witnesses signed on a tied document is similar to the case of one witness signed on an ordinary document: Just as there, in the case of a single witness signed on an ordinary document, the disqualification is by Torah law, so too here, in the case of two witnesses signed on a tied document, the disqualification is by Torah law.

Ameimar added: Know that the signature of one witness on a document and the oral testimony of one person about it can be combined into a single testimony, as the colleagues of the academy sent a question from there, i.e., Eretz Yisrael, to Rabbi Yirmeya seeking clarification of a baraita. The baraita states that the first tanna holds that the testimony of two witnesses to an event can be combined into a single testimony only if both of them witnessed the event together, while Rabbi Yehoshua ben Korḥa holds that the testimony can be combined even if they saw the event one after the other. Furthermore, the first tanna holds that their testimony is accepted only if they both testify together. By contrast, Rabbi Natan holds that the testimony of one witness may be accepted today, and when the other witness comes the next day his testimony may be accepted, and the two testimonies may thereby be combined.

The dilemma they posed to Rabbi Yirmeya was this: In the case of a loan for which there is one witness in writing, signed on a promissory note, and one other witness who testifies to the loan orally, what is the halakha with regard to the possibility that the two of them will combine to testify as two witnesses?

The dilemma is clarified: According to the opinion of the first tanna of the baraita, who engages in a dispute with Rabbi Yehoshua ben Korḥa, you should not raise the dilemma, as according to his opinion there are situations where even two testimonies in writing or two oral testimonies are not combined into a single testimony. All the more so they are not combined when one is written and one is oral. Rather, when should you raise the dilemma? Raise it according to the opinion of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Korḥa. The dilemma is: Is it only testimonies of two witnesses in writing or two oral witnesses that are combined into a single testimony, but we do not combine testimony of one witness in writing and one orally? Or perhaps there is no difference between these cases.

Rabbi Yirmeya humbly sent back his response to the colleagues of the academy: I am not worthy of being the recipient of the query that you sent to me. But this is how the opinion of your student, i.e., himself, leans: That the testimonies should be combined. This exchange between Rabbi Yirmeya and his questioners indicates that Ameimar’s opinion is accepted.

Rav Ashi said to Ameimar: We teach this entire incident with Rabbi Yirmeya differently, as follows: That the colleagues of the academy sent this question to Rabbi Yirmeya: If there are two witnesses who testified, one in this court and one in that court, what is the halakha with regard to the possibility that the judges of one court could come to the other court and in this manner the two testimonies will be combined to become a valid testimony of two witnesses?

The dilemma is clarified: According to the opinion of the first tanna of the baraita, who also engages in a dispute with Rabbi Natan, you should not raise the dilemma, as according to his opinion, testimonies that are not given concurrently are not combined even in one court; all the more so when they are given in two different courts. Rather, when should you raise the dilemma? Raise it according to the opinion of Rabbi Natan. The dilemma is: Is it in one court that the two separate testimonies are combined, but when they are given in two separate courts they are not combined? Or perhaps there is no difference.

And Rabbi Yirmeya sent back his response to them: I am not worthy of being the recipient of the query that you sent to me. But this is how the opinion of your student leans: That they should be combined. According to this version of the exchange between Rabbi Yirmeya and his questioners there is no relevance to Ameimar’s statement.

Mar bar Ḥiyya said yet a third version, that the dilemma the colleagues of the academy sent to Rabbi Yirmeya is as follows: If there are two witnesses who testified in this court and then testified in that court, what is the halakha with regard to the possibility that one judge would come from each court to one location and relate the testimony he had heard to the other, and in this manner the two testimonies will be combined?

The dilemma is clarified: According to the opinion of Rabbi Natan you should not raise the dilemma. Now that he maintains that we combine two individual witnesses, is it necessary to ask if judges may be combined in this manner? They certainly can be combined. Rather, when should you raise the dilemma? Raise it according to the opinion of the first tanna of the baraita, who engages in a dispute with Rabbi Natan. The dilemma is: Is it only testimony of witnesses that we do not combine into a single testimony, but we do combine judges from two different courts? Or perhaps there is no difference.

Rabbi Yirmeya sent back his response to them: I am not worthy of being the recipient of the query that you sent to me. But this is how the opinion of your student leans: That they should be combined.

Ravina said a fourth version, that the dilemma the colleagues of the academy sent to Rabbi Yirmeya is as follows: If there were three judges who sat as a court to ratify a document, and, after verifying the signatures of the witnesses, one of the judges died, must they mention this in their statement of ratification, to account for why the declaration is signed by only two judges, and write: We were sitting in a group of three judges, and one of the judges is no longer alive? Or perhaps they are not required to write this.

Rabbi Yirmeya sent back his response to them: I am not worthy of being the recipient of the query that you sent to me. But this is how the opinion of your student leans: That they are required to write: We were sitting in a group of three judges, and one of the judges is no longer alive.

The Gemara relates: And it was because of this fitting answer, to whichever version of the dilemma that is adopted, that the Sages brought Rabbi Yirmeya into the study hall after he had been expelled, as related earlier in this tractate (23b).

MISHNA: If it is written in a document that someone owes: One hundred dinars, which are twenty sela, which is internally inconsistent since there are twenty-five sela in a hundred dinars, the holder of the document has the right to claim only twenty sela, the lower of the two amounts. If it is written that he owes: One hundred dinars, which are thirty sela, the holder of the document has the right to claim only one hundred dinars, again the lower of the two amounts.

If it is written that someone owes: Silver dinars that are, and the remainder of the text, where the number of dinars should be specified, was erased, the amount must be no less than two dinars, the lowest amount to which the plural word dinars can be referring. That is what the creditor can claim. Similarly, if it is written: Silver sela that are, and the remainder of the text was erased, the amount must be no less than two sela. And if it is written: Darics that are, and the remainder of the text was erased, the amount must be no less than two darics.

If it is written in the document above, in an earlier place in the document, that someone owes one hundred dinars, and below, toward the end of the document, it is written that the amount owed is two hundred dinars, or if above it is written two hundred dinars and below one hundred dinars, everything follows the bottom amount. If so, why does one write the information in the upper part of the document at all? It is a safety measure, so that if one letter is erased from the lower part of the document, thereby rendering it illegible, the information can be learned from the upper part of the document.

GEMARA: The Sages taught (Tosefta 11:2): If a document states that someone owes silver, without specifying which silver coin, the amount must be no less than a silver dinar. If it states: Silver dinars, or: Dinars silver, the amount must be no less than two silver dinars, the lowest amount to which that phrase can refer. If it states: Silver, in dinars, the amount must be no less than two golden dinars’ worth of silver.

The Gemara analyzes the beginning of the baraita. The Master says: If a document states that someone owes silver, without specifying which silver coin, the amount must be no less than a silver dinar. The Gemara asks: But why not say that the intention of the word silver is not to a coin at all, but to a small piece of silver? Rabbi Elazar said: The case of the baraita is where the word coin is written in the document. The Gemara asks further: But why not say that the intent is not a dinar, but smaller coins, such as perutot? Rav Pappa said: The halakha of the baraita is stated with regard to a place where silver perutot do not circulate.

The Sages taught in the continuation of the baraita: If it is written in a document that someone owes gold, the amount must be no less than a golden dinar. If it is written: Golden dinars, or: Dinars golden, the amount must be no less than two golden dinars. If it is written: Gold, in dinars, the amount must be no less than two silver dinars’ worth of gold.

The Gemara analyzes the beginning of this section of the baraita. The Master says: If it is written in a document that someone owes gold, the amount must be no less than a golden dinar. The Gemara asks: But why not say that the intention of the word gold is not to a coin at all, but to a small piece of gold? Rabbi Elazar said: The case of the baraita is where the word coin is written in the document.

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)
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