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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Kethuboth
Because [the condition of the relations between] Judaea and Galilee is usually as in time of lawlessness.1 But let him teach: R. Joshua admits [that] when one says to his fellow, 'I borrowed from you a maneh and paid it [back] to you.' he is believed!2 — Because he would have [in that case] to teach [in] the last clause: 'If there are witnesses that he borrowed from him [a maneh] and he says. "I have paid it [back]" he is not believed', but it is established for us3 [that] if one lends [money] to his fellow before4 witnesses, he need not pay it [back] to him before witnesses.5 — But let him [then] teach: R. Joshua admits [that] if one says to his fellow, 'I owed to your father a maneh6 and I returned to him half'7 he is believed!8 — According to whose opinion?9 If according to the opinion of the Rabbis. surely they say [that he is regarded as] one who returns a lost thing;10 [and] if according to R. Eliezer b. Jacob. surely he says that he must take an oath!11 For it has been taught:12 R. Eliezer b. Jacob says: Sometimes [it may happen] that a man has to take an oath because of his own statement. How [is it]? [If one says to his fellow]. 'I owed to your father a maneh and I returned to him half,' he must take an oath.13 And this is [a case] where one takes an oath because of one's statement.14 But the Sages say: He is [regarded] only as one who returns a lost thing and he is free. And does not R. Eliezer b. Jacob hold [that] one who returns a lost thing is free?15 — Rab said: [It speaks here of a case] when a minor claimed from him.16 But did not a Master say: One does not take an oath because of a claim by a deaf-mute, an imbecile, or a minor?17 — What is [meant by] 'minor'? A grown-up person, and why does he call him 'minor'? Because with regard to the affairs of his father he is [regarded as] a minor. If so, [how can you say] 'his own statement?' It is a claim [made] by others! — It is a claim [made] by others and [also] his own admission. But all claims [consist of] a claim [made] by others and one's own admission!18 — They differ here with regard to [an opinion of] Rabbah, for Rabbah said: Why did the Torah say [that] he who admits a part of the claim must take an oath? [Because] it is a presumption [that] no man is insolent in the face of his creditor. He would [indeed] like to deny the whole [debt]. but he does not do it19 because no one is [so] insolent.
[Indeed] he would like to admit the whole of it,1 only he does not do it in order to slip away from him [for the present].2 and he thinks, 'as soon as I will have money I will pay it'.3 And [therefore] the Divine Law4 said: Impose an oath on him, so that he should admit the whole of it.5 [Now] R. Eliezer b. Jacob holds [that] he is not insolent against him nor against his son, and therefore he is not [regarded as] one who returns a lost thing. And the Rabbis hold [that] against him he is not insolent, but against his son he might be insolent, and since he is not insolent,6 he is [regarded as] one who returns a lost thing.7
MISHNAH. IF WITNESSES SAID, 'THIS8 IS OUR HANDWRITING, BUT WE WERE FORCED,9 WE WERE MINORS, WE WERE DISQUALIFIED WITNESSES,10 THEY ARE BELIEVED.11 BUT IF THERE ARE WITNESSES THAT IT IS THEIR HANDWRITING, OR THEIR HANDWRITING COMES OUT FROM ANOTHER PLACE,12 THEY ARE NOT BELIEVED.13
GEMARA. Rami b. Hama said: They taught14 this15 only when they16 said: We were forced [by threats] with regard to money.17 but [if they said]. we were forced [by threats] with regard to [our] life, they are believed. Raba said to him: Is it so? After he has once testified. he cannot again testify!18 And if you will say [that] this applies only to an oral testimony but not to testimony In a document — did not Resh Lakish say: If witnesses are signed on a document it is as if their testimony had been examined in court?19 No; if it has been said,20 it has been said with regard to the first clause, [where it is stated:] THEY ARE BELIEVED. Whereupon Rami b. Hama said: They taught this21 only when they22 said, 'We were forced [by threats] with regard to [our] life.' but if they said, 'we were forced [by threats] with regard to money. they are not believed. because no one makes himself [out to be] a wicked man.23
Our Rabbis taught: They24 are not believed to disqualify25 it.26 This is the view of R. Meir; but the Sages say [that] they are believed. This is right according to the Rabbis,27 who follow28 their principle29 'the mouth that bound is the mouth that loosened,'30 but what is the reason of R. Meir?31 I grant you [with regard to] 'DISQUALIFIED WITNESSES.'32 [because] the creditor himself examines well [the witnesses] beforehand and [then] lets [them] sign.33 [With regard to] 'MINORS' also [it can be explained] according to R. Simeon b. Lakish. for Resh Lakish34 said:
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