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eidut

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Witnesses – See and be Seen

עַל פִּי שְׁנַיִם עֵדִים אוֹ שְׁלֹשָׁה עֵדִים יוּמַת הַמֵּת לֹא יוּמַת עַל פִּי עֵד אֶחָד: By the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall the one liable to death be put to death; he shall not be put to death by the mouth of one witness. (Devarim-Deuteronomy 17:6) Earlier this summer, I wrote about witnesses in the post imaginatively called Witnesses. As Deuteronomy, restates many mitzvoth (commandments) introduced earlier, which is why it is also called Mishneh Torah – the repetition of Torah – the parshah Shoftim, which we read yesterday in Synagogues, restates the law of witnesses first introduced in in the book of Bamidbar-Numbers, parshat Massei. So we shall revisit this fascinating subject. The Judgment of the Sanhedrin: "He is Guilty!" (1892 painting by Nikolai Ge) I.     An accused criminal and a Schrödinger cat Most criminals are convicted [...]

Witnesses

Massei -- Bamidbar-Numbers 35 Whoever kills a person, based on the testimony of witnesses, he shall slay the murderer. A single witness may not testify against a person so that he should die. Bamidbar-Numbers 35:30 In this verse, the Torah states that a murderer can only be convicted based on testimony of live witnesses. Contrary to common law jurisprudence in the US and the UK, and civil law jurisprudence of most other western countries, circumstantial evidence cannot be used alone to convict according to the Torah law. (It may, however, be used to interrogate witnesses in order to ascertain their truthfulness or to acquit the accused.) The only basis for a Torah conviction is eye-witness testimony. This seems strange, though. Why, for example, may fingerprints or DNA evidence, which is, surely, incontrovertible, not be used to [...]