Translation:Shulchan Aruch/Choshen Mishpat/69
Paragraph 1- If one produced the handwriting of another stating that the defendant owes him money, the plaintiff may collect from unsold properties, whether the document said, “I, so and so, the signatory on this document, confess that I owe so and so a maneh” and he signed below or the document was written in another’s handwriting and the defendant signed below. The same would apply if he did not sign below but wrote “I so and so the son of so and so owe you a maneh” except that in such a case there is a distinction. If he signed below, the plaintiff may collect, even if the entire text above was written in another’s handwriting. If, however, he signed above, the entire document must have been written in his handwriting because perhaps he signed the document at the top and someone else found it and wrote the bottom. In a case where the entire document in his handwriting, however, there is no concern of forgery. Even if the defendant did not write his name but wrote, “I owe so and so such amount,” he is obligated to pay because it is his handwriting. Therefore, notes that partners produce against one another can be used to collect from unsold properties because it is their handwriting, even if there is no signature at all but it says “I accepted on such and such date.” The partner would not be believed to say the incident never occurred. Even if a party wrote in his handwriting that my signature below should testify against me like 100 witnesses, it would only function as any other handwriting.
Paragraph 2- Even if the handwriting was verified in court, it only has the status of an oral loan in front of witnesses and if the borrower confesses, the lender cannot collect from inheritors or buyers but only from the borrower. If, however, the borrower claims he paid back, he would be believed and would take a heses oath and be exempt. The lender cannot say what is your document doing in my possession because the borrower was not afraid to leave it there considering it is not a formal document. If the borrower confesses on a portion of the debt, he would take a biblical oath. If the borrower denies the loan and says this is not his handwriting and the handwriting was verified in court or witnesses testify that it is his handwriting, the borrower is established as a liar and he must pay. If it has not been verified, the borrower would take a heses oath and be exempt. There are those that say that a borrower cannot claim he paid back on a handwritten obligation. In such a case, a judge can only judge based on what he observes. If the borrower claims that this is indeed his signature but he never signed on a loan confession, and that he forgot and signed his name at the end of a document and it’s possible this plaintiff found it and wrote on top- this claim would only work where he claimed he definitely did not sign ever sign his name; if, however, he is unsure, it would not work- or the borrower claims my confession was written in the event I were to borrow but I never ended up borrowing, the borrower would be believed with a heses oath because he has a migu that he could have claimed he paid back. If the writing contains a believability clause and his signature was verified, the borrower is not believed to say he paid back because had he paid back he would never have left the writing in the lender’s possession due to the believability clause. If his signature was not verified and he claims he paid back, he would be believed with a heses oath. See later in 126:13-14 regarding whether he is believed to say he erred with a migu that he could have claimed he paid back.
Paragraph 3-If a handwritten letter was signed by witnesses after the borrower’s signature to verify the incident, but not the signature, the borrower would not be believed to say he paid back.
Paragraph 4-If the parties had signed on a ledger and a solo witness signed with them, the party is not believed to say he paid back so long as the ledger in his adversary’s possession.
Paragraph 5- If one produces the handwriting of a borrower against the borrower’s inheritors, we would claim on behalf of the inheritors that it may have been paid back, even if the inheritors admit that it is their father’s handwriting, and they would even be exempt from the inheritor-oath. We would, however, put a general cherem in the presence of the inheritors if any person is aware that their father did not pay back the debt. This is the primary ruling, not like those that disagree and say that the borrower’s inheritors need to swear that they are not aware that their father is still in debt. Nevertheless, the later generations have the custom to be stringent on the inheritors and have them swear if there is some basis to the matter and we are in doubt whether he owes the money. If it is prior to the due date of the debt, the obligated party confessed and instructed while sick that he owes the lender such and such amount in the handwritten debt or if a nidui was placed on the borrower to compel him to pay and he died while still in nidui, the borrower can collect from them because they admit it is their father’s handwriting or their father’s handwriting was verified. If they do not admit that it is their father’s handwriting and their father’s handwriting has not been verified, they would be exempt even if it was prior to the due date. We would, however, place a general cherem in the presence of the inheritors on any person that know that their father owed this debt and did not pay back. If, however, they placed a nidui on the borrower and he died while in nidui, there is no distinction and they would be obligated to pay in all cases.
Paragraph 6- If Reuven produces a ruling on Shimon’s inheritors that their father owed him an oath on a monetary claim and the inheritors say that perhaps he swore to you or paid you back, they are even exempt from an oath, but we would place a general cherem in the presence of the inheritors.