[Avodah] two witnesses

Eli Turkel eliturkel at gmail.com
Mon Oct 8 01:34:52 PDT 2018

In halakha the highest level of trustworthiness in 2 witnesses.
Nevertheless, scientific studies have shown that one's memory is colored by
many factors. This is especially true if the event occurred in the distant

For example, in the recent controversy over Judge Kavanaugh the following
appeared in a world street journal article

Christine Blasey Ford was believable and sincere when she told her story of
being assaulted by a young Brett Kavanaugh. So was Judge Kavanaugh when he
categorically denied her claims—and none of her purported eyewitnesses have
any memory of the gathering she describes. They can’t both be telling the
truth, but it is possible neither is deliberately lying.

The article then goes on to describe how one's memory is affected by
(unconscious) attempts to heal emotional wounds. This leads to repression
of embarrassing memories or memories becomes less clear over time

Furthermore, the adolescent brain (9 to 25) is not fully developed. Middle
adolescence (14 to 17) is a time when teens have little connection to the
past or future and think only of the present.

(In Israel at least 14-17 year olds are very conscious of their future and
especially army service at 18)

I don't personally agree with all the details of the article but the total
impression is that two people in their 50s testifying about an event in
their teen years should be taken with a big grain of salt. Nevertheless,
halacha would completely rely on their testimony. Note that Blasey Ford
gave details and was certain of her version and so would probably pass

As an aside I am aware of dayanim questioning witnesses. Is their
anyting in halacha about the defendant giving his version and being
questioned by the dayanim?

Eli Turkel
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