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A מיגו is a logical argument used multiple times throughout the Rishonim and Achronim (for example, the Sha"Ch has a very long discussion about it here: https://www.sefaria.org.il/Siftei_Kohen_on_Shulchan_Arukh%2C_Choshen_Mishpat%2C_Dinei_Migo?lang=he)

The way the argument works is basically like this: if a claimant claims one thing, and he could have claimed something else that would have been advantageous to him, without any downside, then I believe him, seeing as if he had wanted to lie he could have lied in a 'better' way.

One example of a Migo is in Bava Basra (32b) in which a man goes to Rabbah Bar Nachmani with a bill. When the defendant claims it's forged, the man agrees, but claims he had a real bill beforehand and it had gotten lost. Rabbah Bar Nachmani said the man gets the money, Migo that he could have lied and said "it's not forged".

Seeing as some specific examples of Migos are readily available, and in theory a cheater or thief could learn them and use one to his advantage and claim the worse claim in order to remove any suspicion from himself, would we still use Migos today?

For example, in the gemara mentioned above, if the man had knowledge of Migos, we might worry that he actually had never had a bill, and now he's lying by saying that it was forged but he had a real one that got lost (knowing he'll be believed because of Migo). And he won't claim the 'better' lie, that it's a real bill, for any number of secondary reasons, which in classical Migo-rules wouldn't cancel the Migo (maybe he's worried that at some point in the future the bill will be revealed as a forgery, and he'd like to circumvent that, for example).

I've seen this potential problem discussed, I don't remember where. Does anybody know where this can be found, and what the mefarshim answer?


I don't know how to tag this, suggestions/ edits are appreciated.

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    How would claiming the worse claim be better for him and 'remove suspicion' any more than claiming the better claim? Wouldn't either claim be believed? And if so, doesn't the logic still apply?
    – Jay
    Nov 19, 2023 at 23:58
  • @Jay IIRC sometimes the "better claim" leads to reputation damage. For example, in some cases one can claim "I payed back the loan" and therefore if he says "I haven't paid back the loan but it isn't due for another year", we believe him. However, claiming "I payed back the loan" will make him less reputable than claiming he had more time. (This isn't enough to cancel the migo; IIRC, tosafos somewhere says that it's a grama), but once he knows that either claim works, he might prefer the 'worse' one in this case
    – Lo ani
    Nov 20, 2023 at 0:20
  • I learned this sugya at some point, I don't remember where, which is why I'm so confident that it exists
    – Lo ani
    Nov 20, 2023 at 0:22
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    It's been a while since I learned the sugya, so I don't have the mareh mekomos right away, but basically if there is an advantage to the secondary claim over the other one, there is no migo. For example, if the second claim requires less guts/chutzpah than the primary claim, it is invalid. This is often called a מיגו דהעזה.
    – N.T.
    Nov 20, 2023 at 6:19

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