Shabbat Parashat Terumah| 5763
Kiddushin – What Invalidates a Witness? – I
One straightforward factor which invalidates a witness is family relationship. This is not as simple as it sounds, as I am aware of cases where mistakes have been made. At a wedding, time is a factor, and not always are all necessary questions asked. The mesader kiddushin may be delayed and may rely on the family not to make such a basic mistake. Other times, a planned witness doesn't come and needs to be replaced at the last minute.
The full list of relatives who are too close to testify is found in Sanhedrin 27b-28b and Choshen Mishpat 33. We will suffice with a basic framework. Brothers are called rishon b’rishon; cousins are sheini b'sheini (second generation with second generation). Both are clearly pasul to testify, whereas second cousins are kosher. In general, if a woman is too close to someone, her husband cannot testify either (Shulchan Aruch, ibid.:3). Half brothers are like brothers (ibid.:2).
The invalidation of relatives is manifested in two ways. Witnesses cannot be related to the bride or groom (the likely parties to future court cases on matters affected by the kiddushin). Some people are unaware that even if neither witness is related to the parties.
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