Dedicate Daf 31b to:



עדות אחרונה שאוסרתה איסור עולם הרי היא מתקיימת בעד אחד עדות הראשונה שאין אוסרתה איסור עולם אינו דין שתתקיים בעד אחד
A single
witness is believed for the "last testimony"
(immorality) (
which forbids her
to stay married to her husband
forever
)
, all the more so should a single witness be believed for the close
seclusion.
"original testimony"

The Mishna answers:
תלמוד לומר כי מצא בה ערות דבר
One verse says:
"When he finds a matter of immorality",

ולהלן הוא אומר על פי שנים עדים יקום דבר
And
another verse
says "Based on two witnesses is the matter established".

 
The Mishna learns a Gezeira Shava between the two verses:
 
 
מה להלן על פי שנים אף כאן פי שנים
Just as
regular testimony requires
two witnesses, so
does testimony of immorality
require two
witnesses.

 
 
 
עד אומר נטמאת ועד אומר לא נטמאת אשה אומרת נטמאת ואשה אומרת לא נטמאת היתה שותה
If
one witness
testified
that
she was immoral,
and
another witness testified that she was not,
or if a woman says that
the wife was immoral,
and another
female witness testified that she was not, she
would drink
the bitter waters,

 
As the witnesses cancel each other, her immorality is put back into doubt, so the bitter waters can verify her chastity.
 
 
אחד אומר נטמאת ושנים אומרים לא נטמאת היתה שותה
If
one
witness testified
that
she was immoral,
and two witnesses
testified
that she was not,
she
would drink
the bitter waters.

 
As the two witnesses are believed against the first, and we no longer assume that she was immoral.
 
However, it is possible that she had unwitnessed relations, so she must drink the bitter waters to prove her chastity.
 
 
שנים אומרים נטמאת ואחד אומר לא נטמאת לא היתה שותה:
If
two
witnesses
said that
she was immoral
and one
witness
said that she was not, she would not
be permitted to clarify her innocence through
drinking
the Sotah waters.

 
As one witness cannot override two, we believe that she was immoral and there is no point in her drinking the Sotah water.
 
 
Gemara
האי תלמוד לומר כי מצא בה ערות דבר
But
is
the law that a single witness is not believed that a Sotah was warned or was secluded
derived from
the verse
"They found a matter of impurity in her?"

ת"ל בה
Is it not
derived from
the extra word
"Her"

בה ולא בקינוי בה ולא בסתירה מיבעי ליה
"By her"
is a single witness believed
, but not about the warning. "By her"
is a single witness believed
, but not about the seclusion.

 
As the Gemara explained in .
 
 
The Gemara Answers:
הכי נמי קאמר תלמוד לומר בה בה ולא בקינוי בה ולא בסתירה
It is true,
the law that a single witness isn't believed regarding the
warning or seclusion is derived from "
There are no witnesses
about her".

וטומאה בעלמא בלא קינוי ובלא סתירה דלא מהימן עד אחד מנלן
But what is the source that a single witness is not believed to testify that someone was immoral if there
was no
warning or seclusion?

נאמר כאן דבר ונאמר להלן דבר מה להלן בשני עדים אף כאן בשני עדים
That is the Gezeira Shava between the word
"matter"
regarding a Sotah and the word
"matter"
regarding all criminal law.
Just as
all criminal law requires
two witnesses, so too
testimony of immorality
requires two witnesses.

 
 
 
 
:עד אומר נטמאת:
If a witness said that she was impure...

The Gemara Asks:
טעמא דקא מכחיש ליה הא לא קא מכחיש ליה עד אחד מהימן
This Mishna
implies that
a single witness' testimony is not believed
because it was contradicted
by another two witnesses.
However, had it
not
been contradicted,
the single witness
would have been believed.

מנהני מילי
What is the source
that a single witness is believed?

The Gemara answers from a Braisa:
דתנו רבנן
The Sages taught:

ועד אין בה בשנים הכתוב מדבר
The verse
"There are no witnesses about her" means that there were no
two
witnesses
of her immorality
.

The Braisa asks if this statement is true?
אתה אומר בשנים או אינו אלא באחד
Was
the verse
referring to two
witnesses
or to a single
witness?

The Gemara Answers:
תלמוד לומר לא יקום עד אחד באיש וגו'
So, the verse
says that "a single witness shall not rise against a man".

ממשמע שנאמר לא יקום עד איני יודע שהוא אחד
Can one not imply from "A witness shall not arise" that the verse refers to a single
witness
?

מה תלמוד לומר אחד
Why does the verse explicitly
say "one?"

זה בנה אב כל מקום שנאמר עד הרי כאן שנים עד שיפרוט לך הכתוב אחד
To teach that there's a general rule that unless the verse
modifies the word "witness" explicitly, it always means two
witnesses
.

 
So now that this rule is established, it can be applied to the above question - how many witnesses are required to testify that a woman was immoral?
 
 
ואמר רחמנא תרי לית בה אלא חד והיא לא נתפשה אסורה
And since the
verse says that there are no two
witnesses,
but there was one, and she wasn't forced
to have relations, she is
forbidden.

 
Which implies that a single witness is believed, as the Gemara explains in page .
 
 
But if this is true, and the Torah has ultimate trust in a single witness in matters of immorality (after warning and seclusion),...
 
 
וכיון דמדאורייתא עד אחד מהימן אידך היכי מצי מכחיש ליה
But if a single witness is believed, how may another
(single)
witness contradict him?

והא אמר עולא כל מקום שהאמינה תורה עד אחד הרי כאן שנים ואין דבריו של אחד במקום שנים
But Ullah said that when the Torah believes a single witness,
that witness is Halachically
considered as if he were two, and the words of
the
one
latter
witness are of no consequence against the
one earlier witness.

 
In most cases, the testimony of two witnesses is believed to the same level as testimony of a hundred (so even if a hundred witnesses contradict two, the court won't believe the hundred over the two).
 
Ullah extended this law to cases where a single witness is believed, that he's considered having ultimate trust. However, we won't believe a single witness who contradicts him, as the second witness was never given ultimate trust.
 
So:
 
1. Witnesses A and B testified that W was warned and secluded - W is now a full fledged Sotah and may drink the bitter waters to vindicate herself.
2. Witness C testified that W was immoral - He is believed, W is now presumed guilty of immorality, and may not vindicate herself by drinking the bitter waters.
3. Witness D testified that W was innocent - He's not believed since the Torah trusts C fully, and D is only a single witness, so we still stay with rule 2 - W is presumed guilty and shouldn't drink the bitter waters.
 
This contradicts the Mishna, though, which says that she would.
 
 
The Gemara Answers:
אלא אמר עולא תני לא היתה שותה
Rather, Ullah taught that
the Mishna really said that if a witness said that a woman was immoral, but a second witnesses contradicted him, the suspected woman
would
not
drink
the bitter water.

וכן אמר רבי יצחק לא היתה שותה
And so too Rabbi Yitzchak said that she would not drink
the bitter waters.

But others taught the original text! How would they answer?
ורבי חייא אמר היתה שותה
But Rabbi Chiya said that
the woman in the first case of the Mishna
would
drink.

לרבי חייא קשיא דעולא
But how does
Rabbi Chiya
answer
Ullah's question?

The Gemara Answers:
לא קשיא
There is no contradiction:

כאן בבת אחת
The second witness is believed
when
they
testify at the same time,
since the first witness never had an opportunity to be established.

כאן בזה אחר זה
But the second witness is not believed
if he
testified
after the other
finished.

 
Ullah's rule is true only when the court established a witness as valid. If the second witness contradicted him within a few seconds , they are considered equal and do eliminate each other, leaving the wife in her previous state - a suspected Sotah who may vindicate herself.
 
 
The Gemara Asks:
תנן עד אומר נטמאת ושנים אומרים לא נטמאת היתה שותה
The Mishna
said that if one witness
testified that she was immoral
and two said that she was
not immoral,
she would drink
the bitter water.

הא חד וחד לא היתה שותה
This clause implies that had there been only
one
earlier witness
and one
later witness,
she would
not
drink
the bitter water,

תיובתא דרבי חייא
Which disproves Rabbi Chiya's
statement .

 
Who said that we reject contradictory testimony.
 
 
The Gemara Answers:
אמר לך רבי חייא וליטעמיך אימא סיפא
But Rabbi Chiya said
that this logic doesn't make sense, since
the latter part of the Mishna
implies the opposite:

שנים אומרים נטמאת ואחד אומר לא נטמאת לא היתה שותה
The Mishna said that if
two
witnesses said that a wife was immoral
and one said
that she was not immoral,
she would not drink
the bitter waters, implying (as above)...

הא חד וחד היתה שותה
That had there been only one witness's
testimony
against the other, she
would
drink.

 
So the implications are contradictory. The first clause implies says that the court believes the first (single) witness against the second (single) witness, while the second clause implies that the court doesn't believe either testimony, and she'd drink the bitter waters.
 
So the Gemara re - interprets these clauses as not talking about regular single witnesses...
 
 
The Gemara will now cite two possibilities:
אלא כולה בפסולי עדות ור' נחמיה היא
1. But as
ineligible
"single" - witnesses,
following the opinion of Rabbi Nechemia:

דתניא רבי נחמיה אומר כל מקום שהאמינה תורה עד אחד הלך אחר רוב דעות
As
Rabbi Nechemia said that whenever the Torah believes
a single
witness,
the side with
the majority of
witnesses wins,

 
In contrast to the law of "real"-witnesses , where we have equal trust in two as a hundred.
 
 
ועשו שתי נשים באיש אחד כשני אנשים באיש אחד
And we believe
two women against one man
the same way we believe
two men against one man.

 
While women generally may not testify, there are cases where their testimony is believed (such as regarding a Sotah). Rabbi Nechemia said that since we're not following the typical rule of testimony (we trust a single witness, and follow the majority of witnesses), we also don't follow the rule that the testimony of men overrides that of women.
 
 
ואיכא דאמרי כל היכא דאתא עד אחד כשר מעיקרא אפי' מאה נשים נמי כעד אחד דמיין
2.
And some say that if a single proper witness testifies first, even a hundred women are considered like one man

 
And since that first witness was accepted, his testimony is considered as trustworthy as regular testimony, and we won't follow the "majority of opinions" rule after that.
 
 





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Dedicated in loving memory of Leah Rivka Bas Reb Dovid HaKohen A"H.
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