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Shabbat Parashat Tzav| 5764
Shavuot(Oaths) - Part III - Those who Swear to Receive Payment
We saw that all three cases of a Torah level sh’vua are where the defendant swears in order to exempt himself from payment. However, the Rabbis instituted several cases of oaths prior to receiving payment. These, known as nishba’in v’notlin, are discussed in the 7th perek of Sh’vuot.
There are different categories of nishba’in v’notlin in regard to their purpose and logic. Some refer to cases where, according to Torah law, the plaintiff should have been entitled to receive payment without the need for a sh’vua to strengthen his claim. A few such scenarios involve the situation where the plaintiff possesses a shtar (document) that shows he is owed money. But Chazal required a sh’vua if the loan was partially paid, if one witness testified that the loan was paid, or even if the borrower demanded that the lender swear that he did not receive payment.
Another category is where, according to Torah law, the plaintiff does not have sufficient evidence to receive payment, but Chazal felt that there was reason to believe that he probably deserved it. An example is when we have proof that someone damaged his friend, but we cannot determine to what extent. According to the letter of the Torah law, he who wants to extract payment, must prove that he deserves all that he demands, which is often difficult to do. Thus, Chazal instituted that the one who was damaged (or, similarly, stolen from) would swear how much he deserves and receive the payment.
A third category is where there should have been an oath, but on the defendant. However, if the defendant is unfit to make the sh’vua or is unwilling to do so, the plaintiff may, according to certain opinions and under certain circumstances, make the sh’vua in his place.
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