I heard a shiur where someone quoted Rambam as saying something to the effect of:

"We trust two witnesses not because we think what they are saying is truth, but rather because the Torah says we trust two witnesses".

I could not locate this quote. It is possible I misheard or the person was paraphrasing.

Does anyone know the source?


3 Answers 3


The quote is found in Yesodei Hatorah 7:7 and is repeated in 8:2.

Excerpt from 8:2

כְּמוֹ שֶׁצִּוָּנוּ לַחְתֹּךְ הַדָּבָר עַל פִּי שְׁנַיִם עֵדִים וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין אָנוּ יוֹדְעִין אִם הֵעִידוּ אֱמֶת אִם שֶׁקֶר.‏

  • In 7.7 he says that it's based on chazaka, chezkat neemanut. It's different from your assumption in the question
    – kouty
    Dec 18, 2019 at 7:07
  • I am almost sure that the answer is not right. in 7.7. The Rambam says that שבכך נצטוינו כמו שנצטוינו לחתוך את הדין ע"פ שני עדים כשרים ואע"פ שאפשר שהעידו בשקר הואיל וכשרים הם אצלינו מעמידין אותן על כשרותן. He means that witnesses who are Kasher men have a Chazakat Kashrut and it's enough to believe them despite than they are possibly liying. And in 8/2. he explains that the OT of the prophet is not a proof that what he says is right but there is a Mitsva to believe because Tora allows this similarly to the chezkat kashrut of witnesses that is accredited by Tora
    – kouty
    Dec 18, 2019 at 17:48

Rambam Edut 18.3

יח,ז אבל אם אמרו להם, אנו אין אנו יודעים אם זה הרג זה ביום זה בירושלים, כמו שאתם אומרין, או לא הרגו, ואנו מעידים, שאתם עצמכם הייתם עימנו ביום זה בבבל--הרי אלו זוממין, ונהרגין או משלמין: הואיל והעדים שהזימו אותם לא השגיחו על עצמה של עדות כלל, אם היא אמת או שקר. [ג] וזה שהאמינה תורה עדים האחרונים על העדים הראשונים, גזירת הכתוב היא.‏

The fact that the Torah accepted the word of the latter pair of witnesses instead of that of the first pair of witnesses is a Scriptural decree.

  • 1
    [Maybe the question is imprecise, but the OP spoke about a pair of witnesses in general] Nov 6, 2019 at 20:50
  • Yes I understand but the only Rambam is this
    – kouty
    Nov 6, 2019 at 20:53
  • I actually found the answer after looking for a while, but thanks for the attempt. Dec 18, 2019 at 0:50

Rambam states this perhaps even slightly more clearly in his Epistle to Yemen:

We require only a miracle as his credentials, although it may be wrought by stratagem or magic, just as we accept the evidence of witnesses although there is a possibility of perjury. It is because we are divinely commanded through Moses to render judgement in a suit of law in accordance with the testimony of two witnesses whom we believe, the possibility of false swearing notwithstanding.

(Halkin translation)


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