The Weekly Daf

For the week ending 7 March 2009 / 11 Adar I 5769

Bava Kama 72 - 78

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Whom Do We Believe

First Pair Of Witnesses
Second Pair Of Witnesses
"We saw Reuven steal an animal at ten o'clock on Monday from the Cooper farm." "On Monday at ten o'clock the first pair of witnesses were with us in Middletown a hundred miles away from the Cooper farm, and could not possibly have witnessed any theft there."

Had the two sets of witnesses clashed on whether Reuven had committed the crime we would consider it a standoff, giving absolute credence to neither and acquitting Reuven for lack of evidence. But since the second set is not disputing the facts of the case but challenging the credibility of the first set their testimony is given absolute credence. Not only is Reuven acquitted but also receives from the discredited witnesses compensation in the amount they wished to impose upon him with their false testimony.

The Talmud subtly refers to the problem of why the second set is believed when it is really only their word against that of the first. But the commentaries explain that once the status of the witnesses is challenged, it is as if they had been accused by the second set of being criminals who are ineligible to testify. In such an event they are defendants and incapable of testifying in their own defense.

  • Bava Kama 72b

Greet the Rabbi

How does one relate to the Rabbi who teaches him Torah? Is it disrespectful to initiate a greeting?

The Talmudic statement in Masechta Brachos about "one greeting his Torah teacher causing the Divine Presence to abandon Israel" would seem to indicate that it is indeed disrespectful to offer such a greeting. On the other hand, when the Talmud wishes to explain how long an interlude separates two sequential statements it uses the example of how long it takes (three Hebrew words) for a disciple to greet his teacher.

The resolution offered by the commentaries is that it is only considered disrespectful if one greets his Torah teacher in the some fashion as he greets a peer. But if he says "Shalom to you, my master" he is behaving in proper fashion.

  • Bava Kama 73b

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