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Shabbat Parashat Vayeishev | 5770

Hemdat HaDaf HaYomi: Judging Monetary Cases at Night (113b)

Rav Ofer Livnat

 Kislev 19- 25, Baba Batra 107-113


This week in the Daf Yomi we begin the chapter Yesh Nochlin, which deals with the laws of inheritance. The Gemara states that the distribution of an inheritance is considered to be an act of judgment, and the procedures of judging monetary cases apply. The Gemara mentions two ramifications to this. One is that three judges are required, and the second is that it must be done during daylight.

The law that monetary cases must be judged during daylight is found in Sanhedrin (32a, 34b). There it is stated that, if the judges started judging during daylight, then they can complete the case at night. This is in opposition to capital punishment cases that must also be completed during daylight.

However, due to difficulties that arose while trying to maintain an organized court system in the exile, the need to judge at night arose. The Poskim searched for ways to permit judging court cases at night. The S'ma (Choshen Mishpat 5, 7) offered two ways by which it would be permitted to judge monetary cases at night. The first option is if the two sides agree that the case be tried at night. The S'ma's second suggestion is to light candles, and if the room will be well lit, it will be possible to judge at night. This idea is based on the understanding that the problem with judging at night is the darkness. The advantage of this method is that it can be used even if one of the sides does not agree.

The Shach (5, 4) rejects the S'ma's second solution. He claims that one cannot judge monetary cases at night, regardless of the quality of the lighting. However, he agrees to the first solution, that the assent of both sides will permit judging at night.

From the wording of the S'ma it appears that if the sides were invited to come at night, and they came of their own free will, it is considered that they agreed to be judged at night. However, the Sha'ar Mishpat disagrees and claims that they must explicitly agree to be judged at night.


Summary and Ruling:

Monetary cases cannot be tried at night. However, if the judges started judging during daylight they can complete the case at night (Shulchan Aruch 5, 2). If both sides agree, they can judge at night (S'ma 7 and Shach 4). According to the Sha'ar Mishpat (2), the agreement must be explicit.  


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R' Meir ben
Yechezkel Shraga 


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