Disqualified Testimony Due To Familial Relationship or a Woman or Slave, 18 Seifim: Paragraph 1- Any individual who is disqualified from judging is also disqualified from testifying with the exception of one who likes or hates a litigant who is qualified to testify notwithstanding his disqualification from judging.
2- The following are the rules of disqualifications: Brothers, whether paternal or maternal, are first connections to first connections. Their children are second to second. Their grandchildren are third to third. A third with a first is always valid, and certainly a third with a second is valid. A second and a second, however, and certainly a second and a first, are disqualified. Therefore, a grandfather with his grandsons is disqualified because a father and son are a first and first just like a person with his brother. A great-grandfather with his great-grandson is valid because it is a third with a first. The same rule applies to females. How so? Two sisters or a brother and sister, whether paternal or maternal, are first and first. Their children, whether male or female, are second and second. Their grandsons and granddaughters are third and third. (Tur) There are those that says a third and first are disqualified RAMA: and this is the appropriate ruling. There are those that say it is only a rabbinical disqualification, although the other disqualifications are biblical. The practical difference is in a case of witnesses to a marriage, as will be explained in Even Haezer Siman 42 (Mordechai). There are those that says that one’s mother’s relatives are also only rabbinically disqualified.
3- You are disqualified to the husband of any woman you are disqualified from and you are disqualified to the wife of any man you are disqualified from because a woman is like her husband. According to the view that a third and first are disqualified, his wife would be valid because that is far-fetched. (Nevertheless, if they are judging on a case where her husband will obtain a benefit from the ruling, he is disqualified from testifying for her because whatever a woman acquires is acquired by her husband.) (Mordechai)
4- The husbands of two women who are disqualified from one another as a second and a second may testify for one another because we do not use the principle of a woman is like her husband twice in a case of second and second. (However, they ideally should not sign together on a document). If, however, they were a first and a first, such as where one married a woman and the other married her daughter or where they married sisters, they cannot testify for one another because there we do use the principle of a woman is like her husband twice. We even use the principle of a woman is like her husband twice in a case of a first and a second in that just as he is disqualified from testifying for the son of his wife’s sister, so too is he disqualified from testifying for his wife’s sister’s daughter’s husband. He can, however, testify for the son of his wife’s sister’s husband that he had from another wife. There are those that say that we do not use the principle of a woman is like her husband twice in a case of a second and a first (and it seems to me to rule this way).
5- You may testify for the other relatives of a person that you cannot testify for because he is your relative’s husband, such as his sons and brothers. Similarly, you can testify for the other relatives of a woman you cannot testify for because she is your relative’s wife.
6- The father of the groom and father of the bride may testify for one another. RAMA: There are those that say that although they are valid for testimony, they are prohibited from judging because they are like those that like or hate a litigant. The litigant may say he does not accept him, even if he is an affixed judge (Hagahos Mordechai in the name of the Itur). It seems to me that his rulings are valid after the fact. (Mahari"k)
7- Stepbrothers may testify for one another because they are not related at all.
8- A man with his wife is a first with a first. Therefore, he cannot testify for her son, son’s wife, daughter, daughter’s husband, father, mother, mother’s husband or father’s wife.
9- An arus is disqualified from testifying for his bride (in the name of the Rambam). If, however, he testifies for her relatives, we would not disqualify the testimony. This is only with respect to actual erusin, but he would not be disqualified in the case of a mere engagement. However, if he plans to testify that she should obtain rights to money, he may have a stake in the matter. (Hagahos Ashiri)
10- This, that we disqualify the testimony of relatives, is not because we assume they like each other as we see that they are disqualified to testify whether for or against the relative. Even Moshe and Aharon are disqualified from testifying for one another. Rather, it is simply a rule from the Torah.
11- Converts have no familial relationship with each other. Even twin convert brothers may testify for one another because a convert is like a newborn child.
12- If the wife of someone you cannot testify for because he is your relative’s husband died, you are no longer related and are a valid witness, even if she is survived by children. RAMA: However, if the ruling was already given while he was still related, he cannot re-litigate with this testimony of the non-relative because once the ruling is given it is final. (Beis Yosef)
13- If someone knew testimony for a party before he became his son-in-law and he then subsequently became his son-in-law, he is disqualified. Similarly, if he knew the testimony while he was a son-in-law and the party’s daughter then died, he is disqualified. If, however, he knew testimony before he became a son-in-law, then he became a son-in-law and then the party’s daughter died, he is a valid witness because the beginning and end were in a valid state, notwithstanding the disqualification in the interim.
14- If someone is dying and distributes his property in front of witnesses that he is related to but are not related to his children, the distribution is meaningless since they were related at the time the testimony was given over. There are those that say they are valid witnesses.
15- The concept of the beginning and end being in a valid state does not apply to a monetary disqualification. If the witness had a stake in the matter at the time he witnessed the incident because of a benefit he would obtain, he is able to remove himself from the matter in a way that he will no longer obtain a benefit and then he may testify.
16- Witnesses that are related to a cosigner are disqualified from testifying for the borrower, whether the borrower wanted to exempt himself by denying the loan and they will testify that he did borrow the money or if the borrower claims he paid back and they will testify that the borrower confessed that he did not pay back. RAMA: The relatives of a murder victim can testify against the murderer. (Hagahos Ashiri; Mordechai). Similarly, the relatives of an assault victim can testify against the perpetrator to force him out of the synagogue or some other similar punishment because there is no gain for the victim in such a testimony.
17- Witness that are related to each other or to the judges are disqualified.
18- If the public appoints witnesses and institutes that no testimony is valid without them, they may testify for their relatives since they were accepted. (See later 37:22). RAMA: If, however, they appoint witnesses without specifying, the intention is not that they may testify for those they are otherwise disqualified from. Similarly, judges appointed in the city may not judge for their relatives (Rivash) and this is the custom.