[Avodah] two witnesses

Micha Berger micha at aishdas.org
Mon Oct 8 11:37:57 PDT 2018

On Mon, Oct 08, 2018 at 11:34:52AM +0300, Eli Turkel via Avodah wrote:
: 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
: past.

Chaqirah is the ability to answer specific questions about the when
and where of the event:
    1- Which shemitah cycle
    2- Which year in the cycle
    3- Which month
    4- Day of month
    5- Day of week
    6- Hour of day
    7- Where

And the SA discusses what we do now when we don't use 1&2 as the primary
means of identifying the year, if the person is off by a day in the month,
but has the correct day-of-week so that it's an obvious calendar mistake
not error, etc...

There is also the regular notion of cross examination, derishah.

Every question is asked at least three ways, and in different orders. AND,
asked of each eid separately.

And if we're talking about 2 eidim with regard to a sin/crime, the eidim
had to have given hasra'ah. So it's not simply relying on memory; they
had to at the time have participated in trying to stop the sin.

So let's talk more about dinei mamonos, where neither hasra'ah nor eid
echad neeman be'isurim apply.

Still, we confabulate memories. Especially emotionally laden ones like
something a heated argument is churning over.

But can two eidim confabulate identically when they can't hear eachothers'

But I would like to really focus on is:
: In halakha the highest level of trustworthiness in 2 witnesses.

I don't think the power of two eidim lies in trustworthiness.

If so, why would we hold terei kemei'ah? After all, if dozens of people
say the same thing, why would we believe two holdouts equally?

For that matter, what would eidus be more trustworthy than even "smoking
gun" level evidence?

I would put the ne'emanus of eidim in my pet theory about halakhah being
about reality-as-observed. Evidence isn't observation. Eidus is. Add
the ability to compare stories, and we have established something on
the level of metzi'us. (Which, I remind you, is phrased to be about that
which can be "found", not that which exists in principle.)

And metzi'us doesn't deal in more or less likely. Qol kavu'ah applies
to doubts that open in in once-observed realities.

But I fear that more than one paragraph on this topic would annoy people
who didn't go for the idea in prior iterations. So, unless there is
interest expressed, I will stop here.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 Life is complex.
micha at aishdas.org                Decisions are complex.
http://www.aishdas.org               The Torah is complex.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                                - R' Binyamin Hecht

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