Thursday, October 08, 2009

The Witnesses have an Interest in the Case

By: Meoros HaDaf HaYomi

The Reinterment of HaGaon Rav Mordechai Benet zt”l

The Gemora, here and often elsewhere, disqualifies anyone suspected of having an interest in a case from serving as a witness or dayan.

The Chasam Sofer zt”l was known for his sensitivity to this issue, which he expressed at the burial of HaGaon Rav Mordechai Benet. The Gaon, whom the Chasam Sofer called the “teacher of all Israel” (Responsa, VI, Likutim, 37), passed away in 5589 far from his town of Nikolsburg, Moravia – now in the Czech Republic – and was buried in Lichtenstadt. His family and members of his community claimed he had instructed them to bury him in Nikolsburg or, at least, Prague and asked the Chasam Sofer’s permission to move the body. The Chasam Sofer, though, replied that all Nikolsburg were unfit to be witness, as they had an interest in the affair, wanting to pray at his grave especially as he had assured them that whenever they needed anything they should pray at his grave. Still, he allowed the reinterment since they claimed he had asked to be buried alternatively in Prague and this admission showed they had no personal interest (Responsa, ibid, and see Responsa Shoel Umeshiv, I, 231).