Translation:Shulchan Aruch/Choshen Mishpat/7

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Chapter 7 - This chapter contains twelve sections: 7:1 | 7:2 | 7:3 | 7:4 | 7:5 | 7:6 | 7:7 | 7:8 | 7:9 | 7:10 | 7:11 | 7:12


If one of the members of a court of three is a convert they are invalid to judge people who were born Jewish unless his mother (or father) is Jewish (Mordechai in the name of Tosfos, chapter 2, Mishna 8 [IS THIS SOURCE CORRECT?]). A convert can judge another convert even though his mother is not Jewish (See Yoreh Deah, chapter 269).


A mamzer, or even if all the judges are mamzerim - they are permitted to judge any case. If all of the judges are blind in one eye they are also permitted to judge (ur5). Howver, one blind in both eyes is disqualified.(BY9)


The primary opinion rules that it is not appropriate for one to be a judge until he is 18 years old and has shown signs of puberty (defined as ‘two hairs’). A dissenting opinion rules that he is permitted to judge from 13 years and above, even without signs of puberty (SM9) (ur8) (TM4).


A woman is invalid to serve as a judge.


There is an opinion that states that one who has drunk wine can judge monetary cases.

A witness cannot be a judge. This refers specifically to a witness that will testify in the case. For example, if one of the three judges testifies on an act he saw in the case before him he can no longer serve as judge on the case. If, however, they do not function as witnesses, as for example when three judges see the act in question, even intending to function as witnesses - if they saw the act in the daytime they can prosecute the case directly as judges who saw the incident, as is their right. If they saw the act at night, they cannot function as judges who saw the act and must rely on other witnesses' testimony.

If they are requested to testify, even when there are addtional witnesses that will testify, they cannot serve as judges. There is a dissenting opinion that states that they may serve as judges in this situation. (This is all regarding cases involving Biblical laws. If the law at stake in Rabbinic, a witness can serve as judge.) (Tosfos, chapter 2 of Gemara Kesuvos and Nimukei Yosef there [REST OF SOURCE?])


A scholar who is called to court in front of a judge of lesser status than himself is not forced to appear, rather the scholars in the city gather and look into the matter.


It is forbidden for one to act as a judge in a case involving one he loves, even if he is not one that would be close enough to be part of his wedding party or a friend he loves as his own soul. Nor can he judge one whom he hates, even though he is not a actual enemy whose downfall he seeks. Rather the two litigants should be equal in the eyes and hearts of the judges. When he does not recognize them personally or know of their behavior there is no more righteous judge than he. (Rema: If they judged these cases nevertheless the rulings stand (Hagaos Ashrei, beginning of Gemara Sanhedrin). There is an opinion that rules that in the case of an actual enemey - one he would not speak to for three days due to his hatred - or a friend who would be in his wedding party and is very close, any ruling is void (Tur). Conversely, there is an opinion that rules that if he is not a true enemy or friend it is acceptable to judge the case, and only as a matter of pious behavior should one demur. Therefore, it is permitted to be judge with a personal relationship to the litigants when each chooses his judge (See later the beginning of Chapter 13), since each will chose one he is close to. Certainly a Rabbi can judge a case involving his student (Maharik, Shoresh 16), and even a court whose members are invalid due to their love or hate may appoint another group of uninvolved judges in their place (Rulings of the Mahari, Siman 258 and Maharik, Shoresh 21).

One litigant who claims that the judge loves or hates his counter-litigant is not believed, and he needs to show proof of his charge (Tur). One who is excommunicated because he shamed his friend is able to judge after the ban expires, as he does not really hate him. (See later Chapter 33, Section 6).


Two scholar who are enemies cannot sit on the same court, as their intent will be to contradict each others' words.


All those who are invalid (to testify as a witness) because of familial relation or the commission of sins are likewise invalid to serve as judge. (See later chapters 33 and 34, where the laws of those invalid to testify are specified. The same laws would apply to judgeship, including the prohibition of having judges realted to each other or the witnesses) (Ran, 2nd Chpater of Gemara Kesuvos and Responsa of the Rashba, Siman 790)(See later chapter 33, section 17)


A judge who knows his fellow to be a robber or immoral cannot join with him to judge a case.


A court of three requires each of its judges to possess these seven qualities: Wisdom, humility, fear of G-d, hatred of pursuing financial gain, love of truth, be loved by the community and be the possessor of a good reputation. (See later, chapter 8, section 1)


In any situation where the outcome of case may benefit one of the judges he must be removed from the case. Therefore, if a city's Torah scroll was stolen the case may not be tried by the judges in the city, unless they have another Torah scroll to use. Similarly, if one says "give a maneh [monetary contribution] to the poor of my city" the case cannot be heard by the judges in that city. (See previously in chapter 4 regarding if one of the interested parties can take the law into his own hands [CORRECT?]. Also see chapter 37, section 19 and 20 for more on this topic.)

Therefore, communal tax levies cannot be judged by judges from the same city because they or their relatives have a share in the responsibility of its payment. (Unless it is a specific tax that part of the congregation can withdraw themselves from, where neither they nor the judges would derive benefit from the outcome of the case. (Responsa of the Rosh, Rule 6, Siman 18 states that removal does not help, although in Rule 99 he states that it does, and the difference is caused by the type of tax under discussion in each case.)

If a decree is enacted or a custom has held whereby the city's judges do judge their internal issues, they may even judge on tax issues. (See later, at the end of chapter 37, section 22 on this ruling.)

Reference Links[edit]

English - Judaica Press Tanach with Rashi

English - Daf Yomi Advancement Forum

Hebrew - Tanach with Rashi, Ramban, Rashbam, Ibn Ezra, Radak, and others

Hebrew - Rambam | (Bio) with commentaries

Hebrew - Shulchan Aruch, Chapter 7 | (Bio) with Sefer Mi'eros Anayim (Bio) and other commentaries

Hebrew - Nesivos haMishpat, Chapter 7 | (Bio)

Hebrew - Urim v'Tumim, Chapter 7 | (Bio)

Hebrew - Birkei Yosef, Chapter 7 | (Bio)

Hebrew - Levush, Chapter 7 | (Bio)