Sliding Down the Slippery Slope of Circumstantial Evidence

My weekly parashah lectures and halachah column for this past פרשת ויקרא discuss the acceptability (or lack thereof) of circumstantial evidence in halachic civil and criminal procedure. A central source is Rambam’s adamant insistence that anything short of eyewitness testimony is absolutely unacceptable in capital cases: המצווה המשלימה ר”צ האזהרה שהזהרנו מלהוציא לפועל את העונשים […]

Sotah and the Fifth Amendment

This past Shabbas, I noticed an utterly astounding passage in Abravanel’s commentary to the Parshah. The context is a Sotah whom we successfully pressure into confessing her guilt prior to the erasure of the Divine name; the standard view, implied by the Mishnah and Rambam’s codification thereof, is that the consequences to her are limited […]