Why does the Gemara ask that she should be believed because of the Migu? It
is clear that we are not afraid that she is lying, so it should not matter
that she had the opportunity to lie and say a better claim!
Furthermore, if the logic of Migu can be applied when she testifies that her
husband is dead, then why do we say that in a time of war or famine she is
not believed? In those cases, also, she should be believed because of a
Migu -- if she was lying she would have said a better claim: in a time of
war, that her husband died upon his bed, and in a time of famine, that her
husband died and she buried him!
(a) TOSFOS (114b, DH Mi) writes that the Gemara is not actually suggesting
that she should be believed because of a Migu. Indeed, we are not afraid
that she is lying, and thus a normal Migu cannot apply in order to give her
trustworthiness. Rather, the Gemara is saying that this Migu is proving that
the woman was very careful to *verify the facts* of her testimony even
though it was a time of war.
How does the Migu prove that she was careful to verify the facts?
This woman could have come to Beis Din and said simply that her husband
died. She did not have to add any details. However, she added pertinent
details to her testimony which Beis Din did not ask her about (i.e. that
there was a war, and that her husband died from the war). We would not have
known these details without her testimony. Since we see that she was so
careful to point out the details because she was afraid that it might affect
the outcome of her testimony, we may assume that she was careful about her
testimony and is not adding anything based on conjecture.
That is the question of the Gemara in our Sugya -- does her addition of
facts in her testimony prove that she is telling the truth (like a Migu), or
In contrast, in the case where it is already known that there is a war or
famine and the woman says simply that her husband died, she has no Migu that
she could have said that he died upon his bed, or that he died and she
buried him, because we know that she is not trying to lie and a Migu only
helps a person whom we suspect of trying to lie. Likewise, we have no proof
that she verified the details of her testimony, because she is adding no
pertinent details to her testimony, and therefore we suspect that she is
testifying based on conjecture, "bid'Dami."
(b) The RASHBA, RITVA, and TOSFOS CHAD MI'KAMAI explain the Migu of the
Gemara slightly differently than Tosfos. They do not consider the Migu to be
proof that she verified the details by the mere fact that she informed us
that there was a war. Rather, she is believed for a different reason.
The Migu is not that if she is lying, she could have said a better lie.
Rather, the Migu we are discussing is that she did not have to say a lie at
all; she could have just said nothing about the war! Not mentioning that
there was a war in progress is not a lie, yet it would cause us to believe
her to say that her husband died. Since she could have been believed
*without lying* at all, when she mentions that there was a war in
progress -- a fact which will be to her detriment (because she knows that
the Beis Din will say that she is only conjecturing, "bid'Dami," since there
is a war) -- she should be believed. She told us about the war only because
she knows that she is *not* based on conjecture and that what she is saying
is absolutely true.
This also answers why there is no Migu when a woman says that her husband
died in a normal case of war or famine. When she says that her husband died,
the Migu that she could have said that her husband died on his bed, or that
he died and she buried him, does not enable us to believe her now, because
the woman does not want to use those claims since she has no desire to lie.
(c) TOSFOS CHAD MI'KAMAI cites RABEINU MOSHE BAR YOSEF who says that the
woman has no Migu to say that the husband died on his bed during a war,
because it will look very suspicious if she says that he died a natural
death during a time of war. (Tosfos also mentions this, apparently as a
second answer to his question.)
However, Tosfos Chad me'Kamai (and the HAGAHOS MAYIM CHAYIM on Tosfos) asks
that even if this is true, it will not answer why she has not Migu to say
"he died and I buried him." Both is cases of war and famine she should have
a Migu that she could have said that she buried him! There is no reason for
her to be afraid to say that, and thus it should be a good Migu!
The answer might be as follows. If a woman knows that the Beis Din does not
believe her in a time of war or famine, it is not because she thinks that
they suspect her of conjecturing ("bid'Dami"). Rather, she thinks that Beis
Din does not trust her in a time of war because they assume that she is
using the war as an excuse to claim that her husband died. She does not
reason that they do not suspect her of lying and that they do not accept her
testimony because she says "bid'Dami." If so, when she says "he died and I
buried him," there is no more reason to believe her than when she says
simply that he died, because she thinks that it makes no difference what she
says, and that is why she did not mention that she buried him! (This might
also explain why Tosfos did not ask the question from the Migu of "he died
and I buried him" but only from the Migu of "he died on his bed.")
Regarding why the Gemara suggests that she has a Migu in the first place if
she is not trying to lie at all, perhaps Rabeinu Moshe bar Yosef learns that
even when she is saying "bid'Dami" and thinks that she is telling the truth,
she knows that she is not saying the facts *exactly* as they are. She is
saying that she saw her husband dead, when really she only saw him *almost*
dead; it is just that she is so certain that he is dead that she is willing
to exaggerate so that no one will doubt what she says. As such, she should
be believed with a Migu, because once she knows that she is altering the
facts, she might alter the facts even more so that they will accept her
testimony with no questions.
(Why, according to this, is she believed to say "he died and I buried him?"
Once we suspect her of lying, she might lie about his burial as well! The
answer is that a woman will not lie about what happened after her husband's
death (i.e. about his burial) in order to strengthen her testimony, because
she does not realize that it will affect her testimony.) (M. Kornfeld)