שורך נרבע והלה שותק נאמן ותנא תונא ושנעבדה בו עבירה ושהמית על פי עד אחד או ע"פ הבעלים נאמן האי ע"פ עד אחד היכי דמי אי דקא מודו בעלים היינו ע"פ הבעלים אלא לאו דשתיק
Your ox was used by a man for an act of bestiality and is there-fore unfit for an offering, and the other, the owner of the ox, is silent, the witness is deemed credible. And the tanna of the mishna also taught (Bekhorot 41a): And with regard to an animal that was used for a transgression or that killed, if this is attested to by one witness or by the owner, he is deemed credible. The Gemara clarifies this case: What are the circumstances of this case of the mishna, where the knowledge is established by one witness? If the owner admits to the claim, this is the same as: By the owner. Rather, is it not referring to a case where the owner remains silent?
וצריכא דאי אשמעינן הך קמייתא אי לאו דקים ליה בנפשיה דעבד חולין בעזרה לא הוה מייתי
The Gemara comments: And each of these statements of Abaye is necessary. As, had he taught us only that first case, where the witness said someone ate forbidden fat, one might have said that he is deemed credible for the following reason: Were it not for the fact that he himself was convinced that he had committed a transgression, he would not commit the transgression of bringing a non-sacred animal to the Temple courtyard on the basis of the testimony of one witness. Consequently, his silence is evidently an admission.
אבל נטמאו טהרותיך מימר אמרינן האי דשתיק דסבר חזי ליה בימי טומאתו
But if the witness said: Your ritually pure foods were rendered ritually impure, and the accused was silent, we would say: The reason that he is silent and refrains from denying the claim is that he thinks he is not suffering any significant loss, as the food is fit for him to eat on his days of ritual impurity, because he is not required to destroy ritually impure foods.
ואי אשמעינן הא משום דקא מפסיד ליה בימי טהרתו אבל שורו נרבע מימר אמר כל השוורים לאו לגבי מזבח קיימי צריכא
And had Abaye taught us only the case of: Your ritually pure food was rendered ritually impure, one might have said that the reason this witness is deemed credible is that he causes him a loss on his days of ritual impurity, and therefore his silence is tantamount to a confession. But in the case of: His ox was used by a man for an act of bestiality, the owner of the ox can say with regard to his animal: Not all the oxen stand ready to be sacrificed as an offering on the altar. Perhaps one would think that the owner does not bother denying the claim because he merely forfeits the possibility of sacrificing his ox as an offering, which he considers an inconsequential matter. It is only if there were two witnesses to the act that the animal is put to death, whereas here there was only one witness. It is therefore necessary for Abaye to specify all these cases.
איבעיא להו אשתו זינתה בעד אחד ושותק מהו אמר אביי נאמן רבא אמר אינו נאמן הוי דבר שבערוה ואין דבר שבערוה פחות משנים
§ A dilemma was raised before the Sages: If a husband is told by one witness that his wife committed adultery, and the husband remains silent, what is the halakha? Abaye said: The witness is deemed credible. Rava said: He is not deemed credible. Why not? Because it is a matter involving forbidden relations, and there is no matter of testimony for forbidden sexual relations that can be attested to by fewer than two witnesses.
אמר אביי מנא אמינא לה דההוא סמיא דהוה מסדר מתנייתא קמיה דמר שמואל יומא חד נגה ליה ולא הוה קאתי שדר שליחא אבתריה אדאזיל שליח בחדא אורחא אתא איהו בחדא כי אתא שליח אמר אשתו זינתה אתא לקמיה דמר שמואל א"ל אי מהימן לך זיל אפקה ואי לא לא תפיק
Abaye said: From where do I say this claim of mine? It happened that there was a certain blind man who would review mishnayot before Mar Shmuel. One day the blind man was late for him and was not arriving. Mar Shmuel sent a messenger after him to assist him. While the messenger was going to the blind man’s house by one way, the blind man arrived at the house of study by a different route, and therefore the messenger missed him and reached his house. When the messenger came back, he said that he had been to the blind man’s house and saw that his wife committed adultery. The blind man came before Mar Shmuel to inquire whether he must pay heed to this testimony. Mar Shmuel said to him: If this messenger is trusted by you, go and divorce her, but if not, do not divorce her.
מאי לאו אי מהימן עלך דלאו גזלנא הוא ורבא אי מהימן לך כבי תרי זיל אפקה ואי לא לא תפקה
Abaye comments: What, is it not correct to say that this means that if he is trusted by you that he is not a thief but is a valid witness, you must rely on him? This would prove that a single witness can testify in a case of this kind. And Rava explains that Mar Shmuel meant: If he is trusted by you like two witnesses, go and divorce her, but if not, do not divorce her. Consequently, Rava maintains that this episode affords no proof.
ואמר אביי מנא אמינא לה דתניא מעשה בינאי המלך שהלך לכוחלית שבמדבר וכיבש שם ששים כרכים ובחזרתו היה שמח שמחה גדולה וקרא לכל חכמי ישראל אמר להם אבותינו היו אוכלים מלוחים בזמן שהיו עסוקים בבנין בית המקדש אף אנו נאכל מלוחים זכר לאבותינו והעלו מלוחים על שולחנות של זהב ואכלו
And Abaye said: From where do I say this claim of mine? As it is taught in a baraita: An incident occurred with King Yannai, who went to the region of Koḥalit in the desert and conquered sixty cities there. And upon his return he rejoiced with a great happiness over his victory. And he subsequently summoned all the Sages of the Jewish people and said to them: Our ancestors in their poverty would eat salty foods when they were busy with the building of the Temple; we too shall eat salty foods in memory of our ancestors. And they brought salty food on tables of gold, and ate.
והיה שם אחד איש לץ לב רע ובליעל ואלעזר בן פועירה שמו ויאמר אלעזר בן פועירה לינאי המלך ינאי המלך לבם של פרושים עליך ומה אעשה הקם להם בציץ שבין עיניך הקים להם בציץ שבין עיניו
And there was one person present, a scoffer, a man of an evil heart and a scoundrel called Elazar ben Po’ira. And Elazar ben Po’ira said to King Yannai: King Yannai, the hearts of the Pharisees, the Sages, are against you. In other words, they harbor secret resentment against you and do not like you. The king replied: And what shall I do to clarify this matter? Elazar responded: Have them stand by wearing the frontplate between your eyes. Since the frontplate bears the Divine Name, they should stand in its honor. Yannai, who was a member of the priestly Hasmonean family, also served as High Priest, who wears the frontplate. He had the Pharisees stand by wearing the frontplate between his eyes.
היה שם זקן אחד ויהודה בן גדידיה שמו ויאמר יהודה בן גדידיה לינאי המלך ינאי המלך רב לך כתר מלכות הנח כתר כהונה לזרעו של אהרן שהיו אומרים אמו נשבית במודיעים ויבוקש הדבר ולא נמצא ויבדלו חכמי ישראל בזעם
Now there was a certain elder present called Yehuda ben Gedidya, and Yehuda ben Gedidya said to King Yannai: King Yannai, the crown of the monarchy suffices for you, i.e., you should be satisfied that you are king. Leave the crown of the priesthood for the descendants of Aaron. The Gemara explains this last comment: As they would say that Yannai’s mother was taken captive in Modi’in, and she was therefore disqualified from marrying into the priesthood, which meant that Yannai was a ḥalal. And the matter was investigated and was not discovered, i.e., they sought witnesses for that event but none were found. And the Sages of Israel were expelled in the king’s rage, due to this rumor.
ויאמר אלעזר בן פועירה לינאי המלך ינאי המלך הדיוט שבישראל כך הוא דינו ואתה מלך וכהן גדול כך הוא דינך ומה אעשה אם אתה שומע לעצתי רומסם ותורה מה תהא עליה הרי כרוכה ומונחת בקרן זוית כל הרוצה ללמוד יבוא וילמוד
And Elazar ben Po’ira said to King Yannai: King Yannai, such is the judgment of a common person in Israel. In other words, merely expelling a slanderer is appropriate if the subject of the slander is a commoner. But you are a king and a High Priest. Is this your judgment as well? Yannai replied: And what should I do? Elazar responded: If you listen to my advice, crush them. Yannai countered: But what will become of the Torah? He retorted: Behold, it is wrapped and placed in the corner. Anyone who wishes to study can come and study. We have no need for the Sages.
אמר רב נחמן בר יצחק מיד נזרקה בו אפיקורסות דהוה ליה למימר תינח תורה שבכתב תורה שבעל פה מאי מיד ותוצץ הרעה על ידי אלעזר בן פועירה ויהרגו כל חכמי ישראל והיה העולם משתומם עד שבא שמעון בן שטח והחזיר את התורה ליושנה
The Gemara interjects: Rav Naḥman bar Yitzḥak says: Immediately, heresy was injected into Yannai, as he should have said to Elazar ben Po’ira: This works out well with regard to the Written Torah, as it can be studied by all on their own, but what will become of the Oral Torah? The Oral Torah is transmitted only by the Sages. The baraita continues: Immediately, the evil arose and caught fire through Elazar ben Po’ira, and all the Sages of the Jewish people were killed. And the world was desolate of Torah until Shimon ben Shataḥ came and restored the Torah to its former glory. This completes the baraita.
היכי דמי אילימא דבי תרי אמרי אישתבאי ובי תרי אמרי לא אישתבאי מאי חזית דסמכת אהני סמוך אהני
Abaye asks: What are the circumstances of this case? How did those who conducted the investigation refute the rumor that Yannai’s mother had been taken captive? If we say that two witnesses said that she was taken captive, and two others said that she was not taken captive, what did you see that you rely on these who said that she was not taken captive? Instead, rely on these who said that she was taken captive. In such a scenario, one cannot say definitively that the matter was investigated and found to be false.
אלא בעד אחד וטעמא דקא מכחשי ליה בי תרי הא לאו הכי מהימן
Rather, it must be referring to one witness who testified she was taken captive, and two testified that she was not taken captive. And the reason that the lone witness is not deemed credible is only that he is contradicted by the other two, from which it may be inferred that if not for that fact, he would be deemed credible. This supports Abaye’s claim that an uncontested lone witness is deemed credible in a case of this kind.
ורבא לעולם תרי ותרי וכדאמר רב אחא בר רב מניומי בעדי הזמה הכא נמי בעדי הזמה
And Rava could reply that this incident affords no proof, for the following reason: Actually, one can say that there were two witnesses who testified that she was captured and two who testified that she was not, and the case was decided in accordance with that which Rav Aḥa bar Rav Minyumi says in a different context, that it is referring to conspiring witnesses. The second pair of witnesses did not contradict the testimony of the first pair but established them as liars by stating that the first pair were not there to witness the event. This serves to disqualify the testimony of the first pair altogether. Here too, it is referring to witnesses who rendered the first set conspiring witnesses.
ואיבעית אימא כדרבי יצחק דאמר רבי יצחק שפחה הכניסו תחתיה
And if you wish, say that this is in accordance with the version of the story stated by Rabbi Yitzḥak, as Rabbi Yitzḥak says: They replaced Yannai’s mother with a maidservant. The first witnesses saw that Yannai’s mother was about to be taken captive, but the second pair revealed that she had actually been replaced with a maidservant, thereby negating the testimony of the first set.