- Question: How would a rabbi teach a litigant to lie if before the court case he heard his side and not the other side and then wrote down his thoughts on the case although not writing a final decision (see Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 17:5 in the Rema)?
A. The Vilna Gaon (note 11) says this ruling is based on a Mishna in Pirkay Avos (1:9) “Shimon ben Shetach says: Interrogate the witnesses extensively; and be cautious with your words, lest they learn to lie.
B. The Artscroll footnote in the siddur on this Mishna says: “Speak carefully to witnesses and litigants, lest the direction of your interrogation gives them a hint on how to fabricate their testimony to tell you what they think you are looking for.
C. The Rema say the same issue would be if the sage would tell the litigant after he explains his side of the case, “if so then this is how it should turn out…”
Answer: Because now this litigant can use what he heard from the rabbi or what the sage wrote up to strengthen his defense whether it is right or wrong since the rabbi only heard one side of the argument.