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Nidah 50

    • Question: The Mishnah rules that whoever is valid to be a judge is valid to be a witness. We are told that Devorah was one of the Shoftim, or judges of Israel (Shoftim 4:4). Based on our Mishnah's rule that "whoever cannot testify as a witness cannot judge," she should have been disqualified for judging since a woman cannot testify as a witness (Shevuos 30)! (TOSFOS DH Kol)

    • Answer: TOSFOS offers three answers:
      1. Our Mishnah is referring specifically to men. All *men* who are valid judges are valid witnesses.
      2. Women are normally not valid to be judges at all. Devorah was allowed to judge by express prophetic authorization.
      3. Devorah did not judge at all. She served in an advisory capacity, advising male judges how to rule.

  2. BLIND JUDGES The Mishnah rules that not everyone who is a valid witness is a valid judge. The Gemara explains that this means to invalidate as a judge a person who is blind in one eye. The Gemara concludes that the Beraisa argues with our Mishnah, and the Halachah is in accordance with the ruling of the Beraisa.

    The NIMUKEI YOSEF rules that a person blind in both eyes is invalid to be a judge, and that is the ruling of the Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 7:2) as well. Since we reject the ruling of our Mishnah, why should a blind person not be a valid judge?

    1. RASHI (ad loc.) equates the Halachah of a blind person to the Halachah of judging at night, according to the Beraisa. We rule that it is only permissible to *conclude* a court case at night, but not to start one. If so, a blind person may not preside on the *beginning* of a court case. If he could see at the beginning of the case and became blind before it was concluded, he would be valid to *conclude* the case.

      The Nesivos ha'Mishpat points out that following this approach it must be concluded that if an unauthorized blind judge presides on a court case his decision is valid, just as a court case judged at night is upheld post facto.

    2. The Vilna Gaon argues. He explains that even though we reject the *latter* part of the Mishnah, we nevertheless retain the former part of the Mishnah which rules that to be a judge, a person must be a valid witness. A blind person is an invalid witness, since the verse says, "O Ra'ah" ("if the witness saw").

      Similarly, according to the Vilna Gaon if a blind person served as a judge, his decision would be rendered invalid even *after* the fact.

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