THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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1) TESTIFYING ABOUT SOMETHING ONE SAW WHILE HE WAS A KATAN
QUESTION: The Mishnah lists the topics about which a person may testify when
he is an adult, even though he witnessed them when he was a Katan. If a
person is trusted to testify about these things that he witnessed when he
was a Katan, why does he have to be an adult to testify about them? He
should be able to testify about them while he is a Katan!
2) A CHILD TESTIFYING ABOUT AN ISUR D'RABANAN
(a) The RITVA and TOSFOS RID learn that the Mishnah is teaching that
although a witness must be a valid witness both at the time that he sees the
event, and at the time that he testifies about it, since the topics
mentioned in the Mishnah (such as Kiyum Shtaros) are mid'Rabanan, it
suffices that the witness be a valid witness at the time he testifies, even
if he was not a valid witness at the time that he saw the event. (See also
RAMBAM, Hilchos Edus 14:2.)
The TOSFOS RID says that we believe him only when he is an adult, because
once we see that he, as an adult, personally relies on what he saw as a
child, we may assume that he indeed carefully examined it as a child and
recognizes it well. This explains why the Rabanan were not lenient to accept
his testimony when he says it as a Katan.
(b) The RAMBAN (in MILCHAMOS, 8b in the pages of the Rif) explains that
testimony about the veracity of a Shtar differs from other types of
testimony. In other cases, the witness is testifying about what he
previously saw. If he was not a valid witness at the time that he saw the
event, we cannot accept his testimony even though he is a valid witness when
he testifies. In contrast, when testifying about the veracity of a Shtar,
the witness is testifying that he *presently* recognizes the signature, and
it does not matter to us when he first saw the signature, since his
testimony involves only what he sees now.
Our Gemara states that he is believed to testify about what he saw when he
was a Katan only because Kiyum Shtaros is mid'Rabanan. According to the
Ramban, it is unclear why we trust him only because it is mid'Rabanan; even
at the beginning of his testimony he was a valid witness!
It must be that even though the witness himself is a valid witness, there is
another problem with anything that a witness says based on that which he saw
when he was a Katan, since a Katan does not carefully examine what he sees.
Therefore, even though he is testifying on what he is seeing now, while he
is a Gadol, it still cannot be accepted for any d'Oraisa purpose, because it
is based on what he saw when he saw without carefully examining when he was
a Katan. This idea is implied in the Gemara that suggests that a witness is
believed to testify about something he saw when he was a Katan only when he
is testifying on his father's signature, or his Rebbi's signature, since he
indeed is more careful to study their signatures and to recognize them than
QUESTION: The Mishnah implies that a person may not testify, when he is an
adult, for something he saw when he was a Katan, even for an Isur that is
only d'Rabanan. TOSFOS asks that the Gemara in Pesachim (4b) contradicts
this when it says that we trust a Katan who says that Bedikas Chametz (which
is d'Rabanan) was performed in a certain house. How do we reconcile the two
(a) TOSFOS answers that the Rabanan permitted a Katan to testify only in the
case of Bedikas Chametz, since it is in his ability to search for Chametz
himself. In the cases of our Mishnah, though, the subject of his testimony
(such as Kehunah or Techum Shabbos) is not something that is within his
control; it is not "b'Yado."
(b) The RASHBA adds that in the case of Bedikas Chametz, the Katan is saying
that he himself searched for Chametz. We may trust him when he tells us
about something that he himself did because he is more careful about it when
he did it himself.
(c) The RASHBA further answers that Bedikas Chametz is something that is
done every year and it involves everyone. Therefore, a child knows what he
is talking about when he testifies that Bedikas Chametz was done (in
contrast to signatures and the like). (See also REMA, end of YD 127.)
3) BELIEVING A CHILD TO SAY A FAMILY IS "PASUL"
QUESTION: The Gemara cites a Tosefta that states that a child is believed to
testify that his father said a certain family is Kesheirah and that another
family is Pesulah.
Why do we believe this child? Our Mishnah states that a Katan is believed to
testify about certain things only after he becomes a Gadol!
(a) RASHI and the RASHBA learn that this Tosefta is also referring to when
the Katan testifies after he becomes a Gadol. (The words of the Tosefta,
"Ne'eman Tinok...," though, does not fit well with this explanation.)
(b) The RITVA and RAN in the name of the RA'AVAD say that the Tosefta refers
to a case where a Katan testifies when he is a Katan, and we do not accept
his testimony absolutely but we still must be wary for his words.
(c) The RITVA says further that the Tosefta is discussing a case where we
know that part of the families mentioned by the Katan is Pasul, and the
Katan is just clarifying which one is Kasher. Since he is merely clarifying
a situation that is already known, we accept what he says. We do not accept
what he says, though, to Pasul a family that we did not know, heretofore, to
The Ran suggests a similar explanation, but limits the trustworthiness of
the Katan, writing that for those whom he says are Kasher, we believe him,
but when he says that some are Pasul, we do not believe him at all.