[include] themselves1 and the space between them or, perhaps, themselves [only] and not the space between them? — R. Nahman b. Isaac replied: It stands to reason that they and the space between them [were meant];2 for if it could be assumed [that only] they3 [were meant] and not the space between them, of what use4 [is such a narrow space]?5 Consequently it follows [that] they and the space between them [were meant]. This proves it.
R. Sabbathai said in the name of Hezekiah: The 'two lines' that were mentioned6 [are such as are] in the handwriting of the witnesses, not [in] the handwriting of the scribe.7 What is the reason? Because whoever [desires to] commit forgery does not go to a scribe to get it done.8 And how much [space]?9 — R. Isaac b. Eleazar said: As [much] for instance [as is required for the writing of] Lak Lak10 above one another. This shows that he is of the opinion [that the limit is] two [written] lines and four [intervening] spaces.11 R. Hiyya b. Ammi in the name of 'Ulla said: As [much] for instance [as is required for the writing of] a Lamed12 in the upper.13 and a [final] Kaph14 in the lower [line].15 [from this]16 it clearly follows that he is of the opinion [that the limit is] two [written] lines and three [intervening] spaces.17 R. Abbahu said: As [much] for instance [as is necessary for the writing of] Baruk b. Levi18 in one line; [for] he holds the opinion [that the limit is] one [written] line and two [intervening] spaces.
Rab said: What has been taught19 is only applicable [to the space] between the [signatures of the] witnesses and the text; but between the [signatures of the] witnesses and the legal attestation,20 even if [the blank space is] wider, [the deed] is valid. Why [is the limit] between the [signatures of the] witnesses and the text different [from the other]?21 Because, the witnesses having signed, [the holder of the deed] might commit forgery by entering [on it] whatever he desires! [In the case of the blank space] between the [signatures of the] witnesses and the attestation too, [could not] forgery be committed by entering whatever one desired and attaching the signature of witnesses?22 — [In the case]23 where [the blank space] is dotted with ink marks.24 If so, one [could] also dot with ink marks [any blank space] between the [signatures of the] witnesses and the [text of the] deed!25 — It might be assumed [that] the witnesses had confirmed26 the dotted [portion].27 [In the case of dotted ink marks] between the [signatures of the] witnesses and the attestation, [would it not] also be assumed [that] the court had confirmed28 the dotted portion? — A court does not confirm an ink dotted [space].29 Is [there no reason] to apprehend30 that the upper [portion of the deed], might be [entirely] cut off, the ink dots erased, any [terms] desired entered,31 and the signatures of witnesses [also] might be attached32 [and yet the deed would be regarded as valid], since Rab stated that a deed the text33 and the [signatures of the] witnesses of which appear on an erasure34 is legally valid?35
Original footnotes renumbered.
- I.e., the space occupied by the written lines.
- And that if space enough for the written lines only was left, the deed is valid.
- V. p. 707. n. 26.
- Current edd., 'one line without its space', is to be deleted. (CF. Rashb. and BaH, a.l.).
- No forgery could in such a case be committed with impunity. Whether the two lines would be inserted without the proper space between them or whether intervening space would be obtained by the use of a smaller hand, the forgery would be easily detected. Why, then, should a deed containing such a narrow blank space be invalid?
- CF. p. 707, n. 15.
- The characters in the handwriting of ordinary witnesses ate larger than those of a skilled scribe, and naturally occupy more space.
- Lit., 'and forge'. A forgery would be carried out in the secrecy of one's house and the unskilled writer would naturally draw big characters.
- Is implied by the limit of 'two lines'.
- [H] to thee, to thee, (or perhaps [H] get thee out, a clause from Gen. XII, 1). There must be sufficient space for allowing of the writing, in each of the two lines, of letters which extend upwards ([H]) and downwards ([H]) without their touching each other. These letters, furthermore, are to be in the larger kind of character as reported above in the name of Hezekiah. Cf. supra note 6.
- Two between the lines (for the [H] of the upper, and the [H] of the lower line), one above the upper line for the [H], and one space below the lower line for the [H]. Thus: [H]
- Lit., 'from above'.
- Lit., from below'.
- Since mention is only made of a [H] in the upper, and a [H] in the lower line.
- One above the upper line for the letters which, like a [H], extend upwards; another below the second line for the letters which like [H], extend downwards; and a third between the two written lines for the letters that run both downwards and upwards. Should a [H] happen to come below a [H], one could easily move the letter forward or backward to avoid coalescence.
- [H] contains two letters which extend downwards and one which runs upwards.
- Regarding the limit to two lines of the blank space allowed below the text of a deed.
- Confirmation by a court at the foot of a document.
- That between the signatures and the attestation of the court.
- And the attestation at the foot would be regarded as a confirmation of the entire deed inclusive of the spurious additions and signatures.
- I.e., more blank space than the 'two lines' maximum is allowed not in all cases but only in that particular case.
- So that nothing could be entered on that space. Aruk reads [H] ([H] to dot with ink); cur. edit. [H] ([H] to blot, smear).
- Why, then, was the blank space in this case restricted to the minimum of two lines?
- Lit., 'signed'.
- Not the text; and this would invalidate the deed (cf. Git. 87a). Hence, no dotted ink marks are permissible between the text of a deed and the signatures of the witnesses.
- V. p. 709. n. 10.
- And it would, therefore, be obvious that the attestation referred to the text of the deed. In the case of witnesses, however, such an assumption is not warranted, since not every witness knows the law and it is possible to assume that the holder of the deed had found some witnesses who consented to confirm with their signatures that a blank space was dotted with ink marks.
- If an unlimited blank space be allowed between the signatures of the witnesses and the attestation of the court.
- On the spot erased.
- Without their knowledge.
- Lit., 'it'.
- V. infra 163b seq.
- If the signatures are known. In the case, therefore, where an attestation of a court appears at the foot of the deed, the authenticity of the signatures of the witnesses would be taken for granted; and since, according to Rab, the fact that the deed is written on an erasure is no disqualification of its legality, the forgery would never be detected. How, then, could Rab state that the two lines limit does not apply to the space between the signatures of the witnesses and the attestation of the court?
Baba Bathra 163b
According to R. Kahana who reported it1 in the name of Samuel, this is quite right;2 according to R. Tabyumi. however, who reported it1 in the name of Rab, what is there to be said?3 — He4 is of the opinion that in any such case5 [a deed] is not confirmed by the attestation of the court that [may appear] on it but by the witnesses on it.6
R. Johanan, however, said: What has been taught7 is only applicable [to the space] between the [signatures of the] witnesses and the text; but between the [signatures of the] witnesses and the legal attestation8 even [if the blank space is limited to] one line9 [the deed is] invalid. Why [is the limit] between the witnesses and the attestation different [from the other]?10 Because the upper [portion of the deed] might be cut off and the text11 [of a new deed] and its witnesses might be written on the one line, and he12 is of the opinion that a deed the text and the witnesses of which appear on one line is valid! If so, [in the case of a space] between the witnesses and the text also, might not the upper [portion of the deed] be cut off and, the witnesses having signed, anything one desires might be entered? — He holds the opinion [that] a deed the text11 of which appears on one line and its witnesses on another is invalid.13 But is [there no reason] to apprehend that the text and the witnesses might be written in one line14 and [the holder of the deed might] plead, 'I did this15 in order to increase the number of witnesses'?16 — He12 holds the opinion [that] in any such case17 a deed is not confirmed by18 the witnesses that [appear] below but by18 the witnesses who [appear] above.19
[Reverting to the above] text. 'Rab stated [that] a deed the text and [the signatures of the] witnesses of which appear on an erasure is valid.'20
Original footnotes renumbered.
- The legality of a deed, the text and signatures on which are written on an erasure.
- No difficulty arises, since it may be claimed that, in the opinion of Rab, a deed on an erasure is invalid.
- In reply to the difficulty raised. Cf. supra note 8.
- Where the text of the deed and its witnesses are written on an erasure though an attestation of a court also appears on it.
- As the personal evidence of the witnesses, or that of those who knew their signatures, is thus required, a forgery on the lines suggested would, of course, be detected.
- V. supra p. 709. n. 3.
- V. l.c., n. 4.
- And even though that space is dotted with ink marks (Rashb.).
- That between the text and the witnesses.
- Lit., 'it'.
- R. Johanan.
- Because, as stated supra 162a, the last line cannot be taken as the determining factor.
- I.e., all the Original text of the deed would be cut away, leaving only the two lines' blank space above the signatures and, on one of these, a forged text and signatures would be written.
- Arranged for signatures of witnesses in more than one line.
- The genuine witnesses, though appearing in the second line, would not invalidate the deed, since the first line contains the text and witnesses, while for confirmation of the deed, the holder would not make use of the signatures of the fictitious witnesses in the first line but of those of the genuine witnesses in the second line.
- Where the text of a deed and the signatures of its witnesses appear in one and the same line, and these are followed by other witnesses in the next line.
- Lit., 'from'.
- Since the signatures of the witnesses in the first line, being fictitious, could not be attested, the forgery would be exposed.
- Supra 163a.