We have thus found that 'fathers'1 [cannot testify] for the sons [of each
other], and vice versa; and all the more, 'fathers' [cannot testify] in respect
of each other.2 But whence is derived
[the inadmissibility of] 'sons' [to give evidence] in respect of
'sons'?3 — If so [sc. that such evidence
is admissible], the text should have read, The fathers shall not be put to
death on account of [the evidence of] a
'sons'?5 [To teach] that they too [are
ineligible] in respect of each other. Thus we have found that 'sons' [are
inadmissible] for each other. Whence do we know their inadmissibility [as
joint witnesses] concerning
others?6 — Said Rami b. Hama: It is
deduced by logic. For it has been taught: Witnesses cannot be declared
Zomemim7 until both are proved
Zomemim.8 Now, should you think that
kinsmen9 are eligible [to testify in
cases] concerning strangers, a witness declared a
Zomem10 might suffer death because
of his brother's evidence [which supported his
own].11 Raba demurred: But according
to your argument, what of that which we learnt: If three brothers are
[separately] supported by another
witness,12 they count as three separate
sets of witnesses. But they count as one set in respect of being proved
Zomemim.13 It thus results that the
perjured witness must pay money on account of the evidence given by his
brother?14 Hence [it must be assumed
that the penalty for] false testimony is brought about through
outsiders;15 so here too, [the penalty
for] false testimony comes about through
strangers!16 — But if
so,17 the text should have read: and
a son on account of fathers, or, and they on account of the fathers. Why
and sons? — To show that 'sons'18 [are not eligible] in respect of strangers.
We have thus deduced [the exclusion of] paternal relations. Whence do we
know [the same] of maternal relations? — Scripture says, 'fathers'
twice.19 Since [the repetition] is
unnecessary in respect to paternal relations, we may refer it to maternal
relations.20 Now, we have thus learnt
[the exclusion of relatives' evidence] for
condemnation.21 Whence do we know
[the same] of acquittal? — Scripture states, they shall be put to death,
twice. Since that [the repetition] is unnecessary in respect of condemnation,
refer it to acquittal. Again, we have learnt [the exclusion of relatives]
in capital cases. Whence is the same known of civil suits? — Scripture says,
Ye shall have one manner of
law,22 meaning that the law must be
administered similarly in all cases.
Rab said:23 My paternal uncle, his
son and his son-in-law may not bear testimony for
me;24 nor may I, my son nor my son-in-law
testify for him. But why so? Does not this involve relationships of the third
and the first degrees?25 whereas we
learnt that a relative of the second
degree26 [may not testify] for a relative
of the second degree; and also that one of the second degree cannot testify
for one of the first;27 but not that
a relative of the third degree may not bear testimony for one of the first?
— What is meant by HIS SON-IN-LAW, stated in the Mishnah, is the son-in-law
of his [the uncle's] son.28 But should
he not include [instead] his [the uncle's]
grandson?29 — He [the Tanna] teaches
us incidentally that the husband bears the same relationships as his
wife.30 But what of that which R.
Hiyya taught: [The Mishnah enumerates] eight chief
relations31 who make up the number
of twenty-four.32 But these [on the
assumption that a son-in-law of the uncle's son ranks as a relative of the
third degree] amount to
thirty-two!33 — But in fact, SON-IN-LAW
is literally meant.34 Why then does
he [Rab] designate him the son-in-law of his [the uncle's]
son?35 — Because since his relationship
comes from without,36 he is regarded
as one degree further removed.37 If
so, it is a case of the third degree vis a vis the
second38 [which is forbidden], whereas
Rab allowed [the testimony of] the second degree to the
third!39 — But Rab agrees with R.
Eleazar.40 For it has been taught:
R. Eleazar said: Just as my paternal uncle, his son and son-in-law may not
testify for me so the son of my paternal uncle, his son and son-in-law may
not testify for me. But still, that includes relatives of the third and the
second degrees,41 whereas Rab permitted
the testimony of such
relatives!42 — Rab agrees with R.
Eleazar in one point,43 but differs
from him in another.44
What is Rab's reason? — Scripture states, Fathers shall not be put to death
for sons ['al banim]; and sons …
:45 this [the 'and'] teaches the inclusion
of another generation [as ineligible to testify]. And R.
Eleazar?46 — Scripture states, 'al
banim,47 implying that the fathers'
disqualification is carried over to the
R. Nahman said: My mother-in-law's brother, his son, and my mother-in-law's
sister's son, may not testify for me. The Tanna [of the Mishnah] supports
this: A SISTER'S HUSBAND; THE HUSBAND OF ONE'S PATERNAL OR MATERNAL AUNT, … ALL THESE WITH THEIR SONS AND SONS-IN-LAW [ARE INELIGIBLE AS
R. Ashi said: While we were with
'Ulla,50 the question was raised by
us: What of one's father-in-law's brother, the father-in-law's brother's
son, and the father-in-law's sister's son? — He answered us: We learnt this:
A BROTHER, FATHER'S BROTHER, AND MOTHER'S BROTHER … ALL THESE WITH THEIR
SONS AND SONS-IN-LAW [ARE
It once happened that Rab went to buy
Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
I.e., who are brothers.
As the exclusion of 'sons' is due only to the kinship
of their fathers.
I.e., first cousins. Cf. Mishnah, PATERNAL UNCLE'S SON.
I.e., on the evidence of any brother's son.
In the plural.
I.e., that witnesses who are related to each other may
not join in giving evidence in a case concerning strangers.
In the sense that they are punished with the penalty
they sought to impose, v. Deut. XIX, 19.
Mak. 5b, cf. Tosef. VI. But otherwise, though their
evidence may be dismissed, no penalty is imposed upon the false witness.
In a murder case.
For had no one else supported him, he could not, according
to the above ruling, have been declared a Zomem. Consequently he would incur
the death penalty through his kinsman's testimony.
E.g., in support of a claim to the title of land; v.
V. B.B. 56b. Proof of three years' undisturbed possession
of land is sufficient to establish a claim to it (cf. B.B. 28a). The case
under consideration is one where each of three brothers testified to one
year only, while the other witness who joined them attested possession for
the three consecutive years. Thus the evidence of the three sets taken together
was adequate proof for establishing the possessor's claim. When, however,
collusion is discovered, the three pairs of witnesses are considered as one
set, since the evidence of all was necessary before the claim could be
established. Therefore no penalty is imposed unless they are all proved Zomemim.
Who would have helped to establish the claim had it
not been refuted.
So that it is not the brothers who cause the infliction
Hence the difficulty remains; — whence do we know
that two kinsmen are inadmissible as witnesses in cases of other persons?
That such evidence is admissible.
The verse might have been written, Fathers shall not
be put to death for sons nor they for them.
V. p. 368, n. 7, on this mode of exegesis.
Of which the text explicitly speaks.
Lev. XXIV, 22.
To understand Rab's statement and the others that follow
it is necessary to give some explanation of affinity and consanguinity in
Talmudic law. Relationships between persons are divided into two categories:
(a) relationships between persons governed by the ties of consanguinity,
i.e., persons of the same blood either lineally or collaterally; (b)
relationships through marriage, i.e., affinity. And on the principle that
man and wife are considered as one, the relatives of the one are related
to those of the other by affinity. Again, the rules by which kinsfolk are
excluded from bearing testimony for or against each other affect only certain
degrees of relationship, e.g., relatives in the first degree, such as father
and son, or brothers may not testify for or against each other; relatives
in the second degree may not testify for or against those of the first degree.
e.g., a nephew for his uncle; relatives in the second degree may not testify
for or against each other, e.g., first cousins. On the other hand, relatives
in the third degree may testify for or against relatives in the first, e.g.,
a grand-nephew in respect of an uncle (according to Raba in B.B. 128a, in
opposition to Rab's opinion here); and relatives in the third degree may
testify for or against relatives in the second degree, e.g., first cousins
for second cousins (Rab agrees with this opinion, but not R. Eleazar.) It
should be noted that the ineligibility is mutual.
Cf Mishnah. In all these passages, 'for someone' means
in a case where that person is a litigant, whether the evidence be in his
favour or not.
Rab's son is a grand-nephew' of Rab's uncle; hence,
Rab's son is a relative of the third degree to Rab's uncle, who is of the
first degree in relation to Rab's father. (N.B. 'First,' 'Second', and 'Third'
almost correspond to generations, but not quite, since a father vis a vis
his son ranks as first to first.)
I.e., a first cousin.
E. g., his uncle.
The Mishnah is therefore to be explained thus: ALL
THESE (which includes an uncle) WITH THEIR SONS AND THEIR (sc. THE SONS')
SONS-IN-LAW. Hence this teaches the inadmissibility of relatives of the third
'Which is a more direct way of stating a third degree
Just as the daughter of his uncle's son is a relation
of the third degree, so is her husband.
There are actually nine chiefs enumerated, apart from
the step-son who is counted by himself. This point will be raised later on;
v. infra 28b.
Since each is counted together with his son and son-in-law.
Eight fathers, eight sons, eight grandsons, and eight
sons-in-law of the sons.
The uncle's, not the uncle's son's.
[Thus Rashi, in accordance with the reading in our
texts which seems to assume that the answer given above, 'What is meant by
HIS SON-IN-LAW is the son-in-law of his son still stands as representing
the view of Rab. This assumption is however hardly justified. Yad Ramah's
text did not seem to contain the words, 'Why then … of his son', which
certainly makes the reading smoother.]
I.e., through marriage.
Hence, he ranks as a third degree relation, and thus
justifies Rab's ruling.
A man and his uncle's son-in-law are in the relationship
of the second to the third degree. Thus: If A and B are brothers, then C,
A's son, and B are second and first degrees; C and D, B's sons, are two seconds;
therefore C and E, B's sons-in-law, rank as second and third (since a son-in-law,
according to the last answer, is one degree further removed than a son).
In that he said: I, my son and my son-in-law (a relative
of the third degree) may not bear testimony against my uncle; from which
it may be inferred that Rab's son (third degree) may bear testimony against
the uncle's son (second degree).
In truth, he does not regard the son-in-law as a relative
of the third degree, and so the Mishnah does, in fact, contradict him, as
explained above. His view, however, is based on R. Eleazar.
C and F (B's grandson) are second and third degrees.
As stated above, v. n. 1.
In that he disqualifies the evidence of a relative
of the third degree for a relative of the first.
That of disqualifying a relative of the third degree
for one of the second degree.
[H] Deut. XXIV, 16.
Why does he rule that even second and third degrees
[H], 'upon', or 'for sons'. [H] means upon or for.
I.e., all who are disqualified in respect of the fathers,
are likewise disqualified is respect of the sons. Therefore, just as the
first and third are ineligible (for R. Eleazar accepts Rab's exegesis of
'and'), so are the second (i.e., the son of the first) and the third
To his sister's son-in-law he is his mother-in-law's
brother, to his paternal aunt's son-in-law he is his mother-in-law's brother's
son, and to his maternal aunt's son-in-law he is his mother-in-law's sister's
[Read with Ms.M. Rab 'Ulla.]
To his brother's son-in-law he is his father-in-law's
brother; to his father's brother's son-in-law he is his father-in-law's brother's
son; and to his maternal uncle's son-in-law he is his father-in-law's sister's
him3 whether a man may testify for
his step-son's wife.4 [Rab answered:]
In Sura they say that a husband is as his
wife;5 in Pumbeditha, that the wife
is as her husband,6 For R. Huna said
in Rab [Nahman]'s7 name: Whence do
we know that a woman is as her husband? — From the verse: The nakedness
of thy father's brother thou shalt not uncover; thou shalt not approach to
his wife, she is thine aunt.8 But is
she not actually thy uncle's
wife?9 Hence we infer that a woman
is as her husband.10
AND A STEP-FATHER, HE, HIS SON AND SON-IN-LAW. HIS SON! But that is his
brother!11 — R. Jeremiah said: This
is only added to indicate [the exclusion of] a brother's
brother.12 R. Hisda declared a brother's
brother eligible. Said the Rabbis to him: Are you unaware of R. Jeremiah's
dictum? — 'I have not heard it,'he answered, that is to say, 'I do not accept
it.'13 If so, [the difficulty remains,] he [i.e., his step-father's son]
is HIS BROTHER! — He [the Tanna] enumerates both a paternal and a maternal
R. Hisda said: The fathers of the bride and bridegroom may testify for each
other; their inter-relationship is no more than that of a lid to a
Rabbah b. Bar Hana said: One may testify for his betrothed
wife.15 Rabina remarked: That is only
where his evidence is to her
disadvantage;16 but if it is to her
advantage, he is not to be
believed.17 But [in reality] that
is not so: it makes no difference whether his evidence is to her advantage
or disadvantage; in neither case is he to be believed. [For] on what [do
you base] your opinion [that you do not regard him as a relative]? On R.
Hiyya b. Ammi's dictum stated on the authority of 'Ulla, viz.: When the betrothed
wife [of a Priest dies], he is not obliged to mourn as an
Onen18 nor may he defile
himself.19 Similarly, she is not bound
to mourn as an Oneneth20 [if he dies]
nor to defile herself.21 If she dies,
he does not inherit from her;22 but
if he dies, she receives her
Kethubah!23 But there, the Divine
law has made it all24 depend on the
fact that she is 'she'ero' [his
wife],25 a designation which cannot
be applied to a betrothed wife.26
Whereas here [the evidence of a relative is inadmissible] because of mental
affinity; and such mental affinity does exist here [in the case of a betrothed
woman and her groom].27
ONE'S STEP-SON HIMSELF. Our Rabbis taught: A step-son himself. R. Jose said:
A brother-in-law.28 Another [Baraitha]
has been taught: A brother-in-law himself. R. Judah said: A step-son. What
does this mean? Shall we assume it to mean as follows: A step-son himself,
and the same applies to a brother-in-law; whereas R. Jose reversed this:
A brother-in-law himself, and the same applies to a
step-son?29 If so, when our Mishnah
states: A BROTHER-IN-LAW, HIS SON AND SON-IN-LAW, whose view is this? It
is neither R. Judah's nor R.
Jose's!30 But [again] if this is its
meaning: A step-son himself; while as for a brother-in-law, [the exclusion
extends to] his son and son-in-law; whereas R. Jose reversed this: A
brother-in-law himself; while as for a step-son, [the exclusion extends to]
his son and son-in-law too: in that case, what R. Hiyya taught, viz., that
the Mishnah enumerates eight chief relations which [together with the sons
and sons-in-law] involve twenty-four in
all,31 is neither the opinion of R.
Judah nor that of R. Jose! — 32 Hence this must be the meaning: A step-son
himself; but as for a brother-in-law, his son and son-in-law too [are included];
whereas R. Jose ruled: A brother-in-law himself, and a fortiori his step-son.
The Mishnah33 therefore agrees with
R. Judah; while [the view expressed in] the
Baraitha34 is R.
Rab Judah said in the name of Samuel; The halachah rests with R.
A certain deed of gift had been attested by two brothers-in-law. Now, R.
Joseph thought to declare it valid, since Rab Judah said in Samuel's name:
The halachah rests with R. Jose. But Abaye said to him: How do we know that
[he referred to] the ruling of R. Jose as stated in the Mishnah which permits
the evidence of a brother-in-law: perhaps he meant the ruling of R. Jose
in the Baraitha, which disqualifies a brother-in-law? — One cannot think
so, for Samuel said:37 'E.g., I and
Phinehas, who are brothers and brothers-in-law (are inadmissible);'38 hence
others who are only brothers-in-law are
admissible.39 But [Abaye retorted]
may it not be that Samuel, in saying, 'e.g., I and Phinehas,' meant only
to illustrate the term
'brothers-in-law'?40 Thereupon [R.
Joseph] said to him:41 Go and establish
your title through those who witnessed the
delivery,42 in accordance with R.
Eleazar.43 But did not R. Abba say:
Even R. Eleazar agrees that a deed bearing its own
disqualification44 is invalid? —
Thereupon R. Joseph said to him: Go your way; they do not permit me to give
R. JUDAH SAID etc. R. Tanhum said in the name of R. Tabla in the name of
R. Beruna in Rab's name: The halachah rests with R. Judah. Raba said in R.
Nahman's name: The halachah is not in agreement with R. Judah. Rabbah b.
Bar Hana said likewise in R. Johanan's name: The halachah does not rest with
R. Judah. Some refer this dictum of Rabbah b. Bar Hana to the following:
R. Jose the Galilean gave the following exposition: And thou shalt come unto
the Priests, the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those
days.45 Is it then conceivable that,
one could go to a judge who does not exist in his lifetime? But the text
refers to a judge who was formerly a relative but who subsequently ceased
to be one.46 [Whereon] Rabba b. Bar
Hana said: The halachah rests with R. Jose the Galilean.
The sons of Mar 'Ukba's father-in-law who
Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
Cf. J. Sanh. 17a, where it is related that Rab went
to buy skins for R. Hiyya the Great, his uncle (cf. supra 5a) who needed
them for parchment on which to write scrolls of the Torah. V. also Keth.
103b, how far R. Hiyya distinguished himself in the promotion of learning.
In J. loc. cit. Rab heard R. Johanan raise the question.
In a case where her personal estate is involved.
This answer is here irrelevant; probably it was given
in answer to the question whether one may testify for or against his
step-daughter's husband. Cf. J. Sanh. ibid.
Hence the evidence is inadmissible.
Some versions rightly omit the word in brackets.
Lev. XVIII, 14.
The term aunt is usually applied to a father's sister.
Which justifies her being referred to as an avuncular
relative, dodah (the word translated 'aunt') being the feminine of dod (uncle).
Who has already been mentioned.
I.e., the son of his step-father by another wife; though
he is not related to him at all, but only through his brother.
I.e., he holds that one who is related neither by blood
nor by marriage, but merely through an intermediary brother, is not excluded.
Which is not fastened thereto, but merely lies upon
it. I.e., they have a neighbourly but not an intimate relationship.
V. p. 34 n. 3.
Lit., 'to draw away from her.'
Though he is not a relation yet, nevertheless, he is
not believed, since what is to her advantage will be to his too, when the
marriage is completed.
ibut. One deeply grieved. Designation given to a mourner
during the time between death and burial, when he is not permitted to eat
consecrated things. Cf. Deut. XXVI, 14.
According to the exegesis of Lev. XXI, 2, a Priest
is obliged to defile himself for his wife. Yeb. 22b. Here, however, there
is no obligation, and hence he is forbidden too.
[H] fem. of [H].
This latter law is only incidentally stated since even
a wife by marriage, or even the daughter of a Priest, has no restriction
imposed upon her as regards contact with the dead. Cf. Sot. 23b.
Whilst a husband inherits from the wife. Cf. B.B. 111b.
Provided he has written her one. Hence, since he may
not defile himself for her, it proves that there is no real relationship
The compulsory defilement and inheritance.
[H]. E.V., 'his kin that is near unto him,' Lev. XXI,
The root meaning of [H] is 'flesh relationship,' and
hence excludes a betrothed wife. Cf. Mek. on Ex. XXI, 10: [H] means marital
Therefore his evidence might be biassed.'
The husband of the wife's sister.
Thus differing, not in the application of the law,
but in expression. On this hypothesis, the difference lies in which is to
be regarded as fundamental and which as derivative.
Both agreeing that only a brother-in-law himself is
V. supra 28a.
For according to both of them there will be nine chief
relations. According to R. Judah, the brother-in-law is included in the list;
according to R. Jose there is to be added, the step-son.
That the exclusion of one's brother-in-law is extended
to his son and son-in-law.
That there are eight chief relations, involving twenty-four
Who does not extend the exclusion of a brother-in-law
to his son and son-in-law too. However, it must not be taken that R. Jose
differs from the Mishnah to the extent of admitting a brother-in-law's son,
since he has already been excluded by the ruling: 'The husband of his mother's
sister,' which, in other words, means that one may not give evidence for
or against his sister-in-law's son, with which ruling he is in agreement,
since he supports the view in the Baraitha, that there are twenty-four relations
in all, and the above-named is included in that number. He differs however
from the Mishnah in that he admits the evidence of one's brother or
sister-in-law's son-in-law, since the ruling in the Mishnah, 'one's mother's
sister's husband', is not irreconcilable with this opinion. The Mishnah excludes
only a mother's sister's husband, not a mother-in-law's sister's husband.
V. Rashi and Tosaf. a.l.
Here the reference is assumed to be to R. Jose, in
the Mishnah, who excludes only such relations as are eligible to be heirs,
which brothers-in-law are not.
In illustration of a brother-in-law who is disqualified.
They must have married two sisters.
In accordance with R. Jose in the Mishnah.
And so the fact that they were also brothers was
immaterial. Hence brothers-in-law are ineligible as witnesses, so that the
deed was invalid.
The man who had produced the contract.
Of the deed of gift to you,
That it is the witnesses who saw the delivery of the
document who establish its validity. In fact, according to R. Eleazar, a
document unsigned by witnesses is also valid. Cf. Git. 3b.
I.e., which is signed by incompetent witnesses.
Deut. XVII, 9.
I.e., at the time the litigation is brought before
him. Such a judge is eligible.