But if this is true, and the Torah
has ultimate trust in a single witness in matters of immorality (after warning and seclusion),...
דמדאורייתא עד אחד מהימן אידך היכי מצי מכחיש ליה
But if a single witness is believed, how may another
witness contradict him?
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,
considered as if he were two, and the words of
witness are of no consequence against the
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.
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:
עולא תני לא היתה שותה
Rather, Ullah taught that
וכן אמר רבי יצחק לא היתה שותה
And so too Rabbi Yitzchak said that she would not drink
But others taught the original text! How would they answer?
ורבי חייא אמר היתה שותה
But Rabbi Chiya said that
לרבי חייא קשיא
The Gemara Answers:
There is no contradiction:
testify at the same time,
כאן בזה אחר זה
after the other
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
said that if one witness
and two said that she was
she would drink
הא חד וחד לא היתה שותה
תיובתא דרבי חייא
Which disproves Rabbi Chiya's
Who said that we reject contradictory testimony.
The Gemara Answers:
אמר לך רבי חייא
וליטעמיך אימא סיפא
But Rabbi Chiya said Mishna
the latter part of the
שנים אומרים נטמאת ואחד אומר לא נטמאת לא היתה שותה
and one said
she would not drink
הא חד וחד היתה שותה
That had there been only one witness's
against the other, she
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:
ור' נחמיה היא
following the opinion of Rabbi Nechemia:
דתניא רבי נחמיה אומר כל מקום
שהאמינה תורה עד אחד הלך אחר רוב דעות
the majority of
Rabbi Nechemia said that whenever the
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
two women against one man
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
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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