Shabbat Parashat Ki Tisa| 5763
Kiddushin – What Invalidates Witnesses? – III
Last time we discussed which sins invalidate witnesses. Is one who commits one of those sins automatically disqualified? The answer is somewhat complicated.
According to several Rishonim, a person’s status can be changed to pasul (invalid) only by a formal, legal process (see opinions in Beit Yosef, Even Haezer 42). This entails kosher witnesses coming to court to testify about the sins in front of the sinner. Thus, if we want to rule that a wedding was invalid because of invalid witnesses and allow the woman to remarry without a get, we would have problems if the witnesses have not been formally invalidated. However, it is still not permissible to use witnesses who have sinned but have not been officially invalidated. First of all, that which we require testimony to pasul is, according to almost all opinions (Tumim 87:27 may argue), only to clarify that the witness is pasul, not to create the p’sul. All agree that once the testimony comes in, the witness is pasul retroactively from the time of the sin (Bava Kama 73a). It would make no sense to use witnesses who are, in fact, pasul and hope that no one will prove that the wedding was halachically meaningless or, at least, questionable (see previous weeks’ discussion about a case where both kosher and pasul witnesses are present).
Furthermore, the consensus of Poskim is that we don’t require testimony about the p’sul if the sins are known to the public, certainly including those who desecrate Shabbat publicly (Igrot Moshe, E.H. I, 82.3). This is helpful in some agunah cases.
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