Monday, December 15, 2008

eid echad against a rov

Before I totally lose all continuity between posts I want to finish up the eid echad topic. The Pnei Yehoshua proved that an eid echad is believed against a rov by virtue of the fact that we believe our butcher that meat is kosher despite the fact that most meat in the world is treif. Another proof he offered was from the fact that we believe an eid echad who testifies as to the identity of the owner of a lost object even though most people in the world are not the object's owner.

R' Naftali Trop argued that this latter example is not a proof. Let's review what a classic case of rov is: 9 butcher stores sell kosher meat and 1 store sells trief meat. If I find a piece of meat, I can assume it is kosher based on the principle of rov. The case of a lost object is not comparable for two reasons:

1) As noted in a comment to the original post, the evidence of a large number of kosher stores directly contradicts the evidence of the single treif store in determining the status of the meat -- rov resolves that contradiction by telling us to follow majority. However, in the case of the lost object, the rov does not tell me anything about who the owner of the object is. There is no contradiction between the evidence that a single individual among many must be the owner and the evidence that a majority of individuals are not the object's owner. Therefore, rov has no bearing on this case.

2) The Tosfos RI"D explains that in the case of the kosher stores we don't need to identify which store the meat came from -- we simply need to identify if it came from any kosher store. In that case there is a cumulative effect created by the evidence of multiple stores that increases the statistical liklihood of the meat being kosher. However, in the case of a lost object, we need to identify exactly who the owner of the object is. There are equal odds for/against any individual being the owner, so there is no majority vs. minority with which to resolve identity.


  1. How are the two answers different?

    The only reason why majority tells us anything (answer #1) about the meat is because we don't need to identify which store, just that it has the property "sells kosher meat" (answer #2).


  2. Answer #1 says a rov does not exist except in contrast to a miyut. The fact that most people in the world are not the owner of an object is irrelevant because that fact does not contradict the fact that any single individual might be the owner.