Thursday, February 15, 2007

definition of an eved ivri - part 2

The gemara (Makkos 2) tells us that eidim zomimim, whose punishment is usually ‘ka’asher zamam’, to suffer the consequences themselves of their false testimony, are not sold into slavery even if they attempted to cause someone else to suffer that fate. Instead, they receive the punishment of malkos. Most Rishonim understand the case of the gemara as one where two eidim zomimim testify that a destitute person is a thief. Even though a thief who has no money to make restitution would be sold into slavery, the Torah tells us 'v’nimkar b’gneivaso’ – only a thief, but not eidim zomimim, can receive such a punishment. The Rambam (eidus 20:8), however, presents the halacha using a different scenario: witnesses testify that someone is a slave - instead of transferring the status of slave to the witnesses, they receive the punishment of malkos.

The Sha’agas Arye asks: why according to the Rambam can we not carry out the punishment of ‘ka’asher zamam'? In the scenario offered by most Rishonim, the witnesses tried to cause the accused to be sold into slavery – the Torah excludes eidim zomimim from suffering the fate of being sold. However, in the Rambam’s case the eidim are testifying that someone is already a slave – all that would occur as a result of their testimony is the accused losing his wages.

If witnesses testify falsely that Shimon does not owe Reuvain $100 as Reuvain claims, they are liable to pay Reuvain back $100 for the loss they sought to cause. If witnesses testify that Reuvain is a slave and does not get $100 of wages for his work, why is this any different – the witnesses should simply be liable ot pay Reuvain $100 for depriving him of his wages. What is the difference between these cases? Understanding the distinction is the key to the whole sugya of avdus...

1 comment:

  1. Chaim Markowitz12:36 PM

    I assume it has to do with teh fact there is a kinyan haguf on an eved. THis kinyan haguf can not be imposed on the eidim zomimim. (much like the status of a chalal)