Pisqa’ 149

Pisqa’ 1491


“And it is reported to you, and you have heard it,2

then you shall seek it out3 diligently4 (Dt.17:4).

But elsewhere He says:

“Then you shall seek it out, and investigate.5

and inquire6 diligently” (Dt.13:15).

Diligently appears here (Dt.17:4),

and diligently appears elsewhere (Dt.13:15).7

The resulting exegetical inference8

teaches that:

we probe9 the witness

with seven investigations (khaqirot).10

I might infer [from the verses] only that

we mount investigations.

On what basis to we make probes in the first place?

The Teaching states:

“And, indeed, the report is true and well-founded” (Dt.17:4)—

[and requires thorough scrutiny].


But if we are eventually

going to include probes,

why does the Teaching

insist upon investigations (Dt.13:15)?

The term, investigations, implies that

if one witness testified,

“I don’t know”—

the testimonies of all [subsequent witnesses] are nullified.

The term, probes, implies that

if one witness testified:

“I don’t know”—

and even if two testified:

“we don’t know”—

the testimony of all is sustained.

Therefore, investigations and probes are alike

in that, when the witnesses contradict each other,

the testimony is nullified.11


“That this abomination was done in Israel” (Dt.17:4)—

I might infer only that

[native-born male] Israelites

are subject to inquest

[since they alone can serve as witnesses].

On what basis do we inquire about

[criminal charges against]

migrants, women, and slaves?

The Teaching states:

“That man or this woman” (Dt.17:5)—

[including slaves, women, and migrants].


“And you shall bring out . . . to your gates” (Dt.17:5).

Shall I infer that they are brought to

the place at which they were found sinning

and the place at which they are to be tried?

The Teaching states:

“Your gates” (Dt.17:2) and “Your gates” (Dt.17:5).

It thus permits an exegetical inference:

just as the term, your gates, elsewhere (Dt.17:2)

refers to the place at which they were found,

and not to the place at which they are to be tried,

so, too, the term, your gates, here (Dt.17:2)

refers to the place at which they were found,

and not to the place at which they are to be tried.12


That man” (Dt.17:5)—

but not if he is coerced

[into apostasy by a threat to his life],

nor if he did so unintentionally,

nor if he was misled [out of ignorance].13

“Or this woman” (Dt.17:5)—

but not if she is coerced,

nor if she did so unintentionally,

nor if she was misled [out of ignorance].

“And you shall pelt them with stones” (Dt.17:5).

Is it possible to say that

many stones should be used in the pelting?

The Teaching states elsewhere:

“With a stone” (Lv.20:27).

If you say a stone, is it possible to say that

the pelting is administered with a single stone?
The Teaching states here:

“With stones” (Dt.17:5)—

from this you may conclude:

if he doesn’t die from the first stone,

let him die from the second!

  1. H:187-188; JN2:13-14.
  2. Heb: sham`ata.
  3. Heb: darashta.
  4. Heb: heteiv.
  5. Heb: khaqarta.
  6. Heb: sha’alta.
  7. Cf. Pisqa’ 190.3 ad Dt.19:17.
  8. That is, the gezeirah shawah.
  9. Heb: bodqin.
  10. =M. San.5:1. As the Mishnah conceives matters, the “probe” (bediqah) is the larger process of legal inquest, while the seven “investigations” (khaqirot) examine the witnesses regarding the time and place of relevant facts of the case, as well as the nature of the crime.
  11. //M. San.5:1-2.
  12. See the virtually identical gezeirah shawah at 148.2
  13. Cf. Pisqa’ 155.1.