Shimon Ben Shatach Said: "Examine The Witnesses Thoroughly; And Be Cautious With Your Words, Lest Through Them They [The Witnesses Or The Litigants] Learn To Speak Falsehood."
associate this teaching with a tragedy that occurred to Rabbi Shimon: his son was executed because of false testimony delivered in court.
Moreover, we find that Shimon ben Shatach reproved his colleague, Yehudah ben Tabbai, for executing a lying witness when Torah law did not require his death.
These two incidents intensified Rabbi Shimon's commitment to investigate testimony thoroughly before acting upon it.
There is also a homiletic dimension to this teaching. Our Sages say: "The walls of a person's house testify regarding his [character]." On the most simple level, it is possible to "examine the witnesses" and determine a person's character by studying the walls of his house - which books, whose pictures, and which art do they feature.
(Sichos Motzoei Shabbos Parshas Shemini, 5739; Sichos Shabbos Parshas Kedoshim, 5741)
- (Back to text) Midrash Shmuel, quoting the Rashbam.
- (Back to text) Rashi, Sanhedrin 44b, based on Yerushalmi, Sanhedrin 6:6.
- (Back to text) Makkos 5b.
- (Back to text) Taanis 11a.