For the week ending 24 July 2010 / 12 Av 5770

Shavuot 29 - 35

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • What is considered taking an oath in vain
  • The oath which Moshe required of his people in regard to allegiance to Heaven
  • The oaths which are relevant to all Jews and which one is limited to particular ones
  • Who is obligated to stand in court
  • Rules for the judge and for his disciple
  • Oath of reluctant witness taken out of court
  • How oath is administered to reluctant witnesses
  • Oath of a single reluctant witness
  • How many sacrifices are needed to atone for a false oath regarding multiple testimonies
  • Oaths of witnesses in non-financial matters
  • The limitations of circumstantial evidence
  • When one is considered a proven liar
  • Which oaths of witnesses do not require a sacrifice as atonement
  • Which names are considered sacred and cannot be erased

An Ingenious Solution

  • Shavuot 30b

Sitting at the head of a rabbinical court, Rabbi Nachman had a problem. One of the litigants scheduled to appear before the court was the wife of Rabbi Huna. Since she was the wife of a Torah Sage there was an obligation to stand up for her honor when she entered. But if he stood up for her this would appear to be favoring her above the other litigant, something which is forbidden for a judge to do.

His ingenious solution was to instruct the court attendant to set loose a bird in his direction when the woman entered, which would force him to stand up in order to avoid this flying object. He would thus fulfill his obligation to stand up in honor of the woman while the other party would not interpret it as such.

Tosefot raises the question as to whether standing up under such circumstances is considered a fulfillment of showing respect for a Torah scholar since it is not evident that he is indeed showing his wife honor by standing up for her. One of the resolutions Tosefot suggests is that while such standing may not be a positive expression of honor, the fact that he is already standing for any reason frees him of the responsibility of making an effort to actively show her the respect she deserves.

What the Sages Say

"The wife of a Torah scholar must be shown the same respect as the scholar himself."

  • Rabbi Nachman - Shavuot 30b

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