The Gemara rules that if you play poker but have a full time occupation, you can testify. My Rabbi looked into the Shulchan Aruch and it agrees. It says, however, that gambling is avak gezel, or Rabbinic theft, and is therefore prohibited.
Q: It seems that one can testify despite avak gezel. It seems that one would not be able to testify if he committed avak ribbis. Given that both are Rabbinic prohibitions of monetary law, 1) is this correct and 2) if so, why the distinction?
Barry Epstein, Dallas, USA
There are two basic approaches to this question:
The first approach is that Gezel mid'Rabanan only disqualifies a person from testifying when he actually benefits from the illicit money. (The reason for this is because it is not the sin that disqualifies him from testifying, but rather the fear that he will lie for monetary gain.) A part-time gambler does not use his winnings for his income, but rather to further his entertainment and to continue gambling. Therefore he is not Pasul. According to this approach someone who does supplement his income by gambling is also Pasul.
The other approach is that there is a difference between "Gezel Gamur" mid'Rabanan -- which is a full-fledged Isur mid'Rabanan and does disqualify a person from testifying -- and "Avak Gezel," which was only included in the prohibition of Gezel because of "Darchei Shalom" ("maintaining the peace") and therefore does not disqualify a person from testifying. "Avak Ribis," on the other hand, is on the level as "Gezel Gamur."