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Shabbat Parashat Yitro| 5763
Kiddushin – Discovery of an Invalid Witness – I
What happens if one of the appointed witnesses at a wedding turns out to be invalid? Can we rely on people in the audience as witnesses?
There is a concept that if there is a group of more than two witnesses and one turns out to be invalid, then the testimony of the entire group is invalid (Makkot 6a). Since there are always invalid witnesses at a wedding (especially, relatives), we elevate some of those present above the others by appointing them specifically as witnesses, and, by so doing, they do not get negatively affected by others (see Ritva, Kiddushin 43a). But if one of those witnesses is invalid, then many poskim feel that the testimony of everyone present is not valid and the couple is not married (see Shut Mahari Veil 7). Others disagree, saying that the appointed witnesses are indeed separate from the audience, and just as others don’t affect their testimony, they don’t ruin the testimony of people in the general audience (Shut Maharan Shick, CM 57). The Avnei Miluim (42:6) agrees with the opinion of the Rosh and other rishonim that only when witnesses testify together in court, does one invalidate the others. In contrast, if the joining together of invalid witnesses was only at the stage of witnessing the event, then the concept of one spoiling everyone else doesn’t apply. Therefore, any two “kosher” witnesses present and aware of the goings-on at the wedding can validate it.
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