Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Talmud and false witnesses

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: On Bearing False Witness. Talmudic rabbis debate what’s to be done with the liars who help hide crimes—and who to believe in such cases—in this week’s ‘Daf Yomi.’
But what about other kinds of punishments, which are not capable of being so symmetrically applied? Tractate Makkot begins by inquiring about a case in which witnesses falsely testify that a priest is ineligible for the priesthood because he is the son of a divorced woman. If their lie is exposed, does that mean that the witnesses should be declared ineligible for the priesthood? This is what a plain reading of the biblical verse might suggest, but in practice, this would make no sense—what if the witnesses were Israelites, not Kohanim, and therefore ineligible for the priesthood to begin with? To ensure that such conspiring witnesses don’t get off scot-free, the Mishna imposes a punishment of 40 lashes.
Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

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