THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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1) REDEEMING "BATEI HA'CHATZERIM" FOR "TWELVE MONTHS"
QUESTION: The Mishnah teaches that Batei ha'Chatzerim (houses in unwalled
cities) have the laws that are most advantageous for the seller from the
laws of both Batei Arei Chomah and Sedeh Achuzah. The Mishnah explains that
they may be redeemed immediately after the sale, for twelve months (like
Batei Arei Chomah. They return to the original owner at Yovel, and they are
redeemed based on Gira'on Kesef (like Sedeh Achuzah).
However, one statement in the Mishnah seems to be phrased in an odd way. The
Mishnah says that "they may be redeemed immediately and for all twelve
months like houses." Why does the Mishnah need to tell us that they may be
redeemed for twelve months? Once the Mishnah says that they may be redeemed
immediately after the sale, it is obvious that this includes the entire
first year, as we have no reason to limit the time for redemption to less
than a year! Moreover, once we are told that Batei ha'Chatzerim have the
best terms for the seller, we know that he may redeem his house after the
first year as well, like a Sedeh Achuzah. Why, then, does the Mishnah not
say that he may redeem the house "*after* twelve months"? Indeed, when the
RAMBAM (Hilchos Shemitah 12:10) records this Halachah, he writes that the
house may be redeemed immediately, and "after twelve months." What is the
reason for this seemingly odd wording of the Mishnah?
(a) The RASHASH suggests that Batei Chatzerim *cannot* be redeemed during
the second year at all, although it can be redeemed during the first year,
before the second year, and it can be redeemed *after* the second year.
There is a logical basis for this. The Mishnah compares Batei ha'Chatzerim
to Batei Arei Chomah and Sedeh Achuzah. Neither of these can be redeemed
during the second year after the sale.
However, the Rashash rejects this proposal based on the Gemara later (Rav
Papa's explanation), TOSFOS (DH Mishum), and the MAHARSHA in Kidushin (21a).
The OLAS SHLOMO and SEFAS EMES similarly propose this idea but conclude that
Batei ha'Chatzerim can be redeemed in the second year after the sale as
(b) The Rashash concludes that the Mishnah is teaching that during the first
year, the house is redeemed like Batei Arei Chomah, which are not redeemed
through Gira'on Kesef. We do not reduce the price of the house based on the
fact that the buyer has lived there for nearly one year. Only after the
first year does the redemption price of the house go down due to Gira'on
Kesef. This explanation is also suggested by the Olas Shlomo and the LIKUTEI
HALACHOS. (Y. Montrose)
2) THE REDEMPTION OF BOAZ
QUESTIONS: The Gemara derives from the verse (Vayikra 25:33) that the rights
of permanent redemption applies to a Levi who buys a house from another
Levi. The verses teaches that there is no time limit within which a Levi
must redeem his house, and that, nevertheless, a house that was sold by a
Levi and not redeemed by the Yovel year returns to the Levi.
3) MAKING A "MIGRASH" OF A YISRAEL INTO A "SADEH"
The RAMBAN on this verse proposes a novel meaning for the term "redemption,"
which he uses to explain a difficulty in the account of the redemption of
the property of Elimelech that was sold by Naomi.
The verses in Megilas Ruth (4:3-10) relate that "he (Boaz) said to the
redeemer, 'Naomi, who has returned from the fields of Moav, has sold the
portion of land that belonged to our brother, Elimelech.... If you will
redeem [the property], redeem it, and if not, then inform me, so that I may
know, because there is no one else [with rights to redeem it] before you,
and I am after you....' Boaz said to the elders and to all the people, 'You
are witnesses this day that I have purchased all that was Elimelech's and
all that was Machlon's and Kilyon's from the ownership of Naomi.'"
The accepted practice was that the nearest of kin has priority when
redeeming property of a relative. Elimelech, Naomi's husband, had a living
brother who was his next of kin. Boaz, however, was only a nephew to
Elimelech (his father, Salmon, was Elimelech's brother). This is what Boaz
meant when he told the potential redeemer, " If you will redeem [the
property], redeem it, and if not, then inform me, so that I may know,
because there is no one else [with rights to redeem it] before you, and I am
There are several difficulties, however, with the account of the redemption
of the property of Elimelech.
First, why does Boaz say, "You are witnesses this day that I have purchased
all that was Elimelech's... from the ownership of Naomi" (verse 9)? He did
not purchase it from Naomi -- Naomi had already sold the property to someone
else (verse 3)? It is from the ownership of that other party that the
redemption was taking place, and not from the ownership of Naomi!
Second, redemption is not permitted until at least two years have passed
following the sale (Erchin 29b). The verses in Megilas Ruth (4:3) relate
that Naomi sold her husband's field upon returning destitute from Moav. We
learn (1:22) that Naomi and Ruth returned to Eretz Yisrael "at the beginning
of the barley harvest" (which precedes the wheat harvest, in early spring).
Ruth stayed at the field of Boaz until the end of the wheat and barley
harvests (2:23). During the winnowing process that followed the harvest,
Ruth approached Boaz and brought the redemption of the field to his
attention (3:2). Boaz acted upon his obligation of redemption the very next
day (3:18). This event must have taken place no longer than several months
after the beginning of the barley harvest, which was when Naomi sold the
property! Since two years had not passed, how was he permitted to redeem the
property that had been sold?
ANSWER: The RAMBAN (in his commentary to Vayikra 25:33), proposes that the
term "redemption" applies to a situation other than the one discussed by the
Gemara here. In former times, when a person found it necessary to sell his
ancestral property due to poverty, it was customary (although not
obligatory) for a relative of his to offer to buy the field *directly* from
him. This was done in order to keep the property in the family and to
prevent it from going into the hands of a non-relative. The Ramban asserts
that this, too, is referred to by the Torah as "redemption." The Ramban
tells us that although such "preventative redemption" was not a Mitzvah, it
was nevertheless an ancient custom, worthy of praise.
Accordingly, the Ramban suggests that the property being redeemed by Boaz
still belonged to Naomi -- she and Ruth had never sold the fields!
Nevertheless, the verses refer to Boaz's act as one of "redemption," because
he stepped in to ensure that the property would not be sold to a stranger.
This seems to be the opinion of Rashi as well (Ruth 3:9 and 4:5).
The Ramban's explanation clearly answers our questions. The sale indeed took
place directly from Naomi and Ruth to Boaz. It also explains how the
redemption could be carried out before the necessary two-year waiting period
had passed. It is obvious that the waiting period is necessary only when
redeeming a field from a purchaser, but not when buying a field directly
from one's relative in a "preventative" type of redemption. (For a more
extensive discussion of the redemption of Boaz, see Parshah Page, Shavuos
OPINIONS: The Tana Kama says that a Sadeh (a field for planting crops) may
not be made into a Migrash (a field for aesthetic purposes, such as a garden
or park), and a Migrash may not be made into a Sadeh. Similarly, a Migrash
cannot be made into an Ir (city), and an Ir cannot be made into a Migrash.
Rebbi Eliezer says that this applies only to the cities of the Leviyim.
Regarding cities of Yisrael, Rebbi Eliezer says, "Osin Sadeh Migrash (v'Lo)
Migrash Sadeh, Migrash Ir v'Lo Ir Migrash."
4) WALLED CITIES OF LEVIYIM
The second statement of Rebbi Eliezer is clear -- the Migrash of Yisrael may
be converted into a city, but the cities of Yisrael may not be made into a
Migrash. However, in his first statement, the word "v'Lo" ("and not")
appears in parentheses. The insertion of this word will change Rebbi
Eliezer's opinion entirely. If we read his statement with the word "v'Lo,"
then Rebbi Eliezer maintains that a Migrash of Yisrael may not be made into
a Sadeh. If we read his statement without the word "v'Lo," then he maintains
that a Migrash of a Yisrael may be made into a Sadeh. Is there any way to
prove what is the proper text of Rebbi Eliezer's statement?
(a) The TZON KODASHIM, SHACH (CM 155:12), and others assert that the word
"v'Lo" does not belong in the statement of Rebbi Eliezer. This is evident
from the Gemara in Bava Basra (24b). The Mishnah there states that one must
distance trees from a city. Ula explains that the reason for this
requirement is in order to beautify the city. (RASHI there (DH Marchikin)
explains that we do not want to clutter the city with trees, as it is nice
when a city has space.) The Gemara asks that Ula should not need this
reason; he should explain simply that since the first one thousand Amos next
to a city is called a Migrash (see Rashi here, DH Sedeh Migrash), it follows
that one cannot plant trees there, since it is prohibited to make a Migrash
into a Sadeh! (At this point the Gemara there assumes that trees cannot be
considered part of a Migrash.) The Gemara there answers that the Mishnah
there, that states that one must distance trees from a city, is necessary
according to Rebbi Eliezer, who says that one may make a Migrash into a
The Gemara there clearly says that according to Rebbi Eliezer, a Migrash of
a Yisrael may be made into a Sadeh, indicating that the word "v'Lo" in the
Mishnah here is incorrect. The Shach concludes that although there is such a
text in the Yalkut, the compiler of the Yalkut erred and overlooked the
Gemara in Bava Basra.
(b) However, we find the word "v'Lo" in the statement of Rebbi Eliezer not
only in the Yalkut, but also in the Mishnayos. It is not reasonable to
suggest that the printers of the Mishnayos also erred.
The HAFLA'AH SHEB'ERCHIN points out that the SHITAH MEKUBETZES quotes two
texts of the Gemara in Bava Basra, which explicit give a different
understanding of the Gemara there according to the text of "v'Lo."
Accordingly, "v'Lo" is not a mistake, but it is a valid alternative text,
consistent with the alternative text in the Gemara in Bava Basra. (Y.
QUESTION: The Mishnah says that the Leviyim have the right to redeem their
sold properties permanently; they have no time limit within which they must
redeem their properties. The Beraisa mentions three laws that do not apply
to Leviyim due to this special right of redemption that they have. One of
these laws is the law of Batei Arei Chomah -- a Levi has the right to redeem
his house in a walled city even after one year has passed.
The Gemara asks how can it be that a Levi owns a house in a walled city? The
Halachah is that Leviyim are not given walled cities, but rather they are
given medium-sized, unwalled cities! The Gemara answers that it is possible
for a Levi to live in a walled city if the city was settled before it was
walled, and later it was walled.
RASHI (DH Ein Osin, and DH v'Lo Kerachin Gedolim) explains that the reason
for why the Leviyim are not given small cities or large cities is based on
logic. The cities of the Leviyim serve as the Arei Miklat for accidental
murderers. Accordingly, they must be large enough for those extra
inhabitants to find places to live. However, they must not be so large that
it becomes easy for the victim's Go'el ha'Dam to slip in unnoticed and find
the murderer and kill him. The reason for why we do not give Leviyim walled
cities is based on the same logic (since the Gemara equates walled cities
with large cities, it must be that the same reasoning applies to both) -- we
want to make it easy for the accidental murderer to enter the city, and thus
it may not be walled.
However, this logic seems problematic. If the reason why Leviyim do not
receive walled cities is because it must be easy for accidental murderers to
enter the cities, then the same logic should prohibit building a wall around
the city even *after* it was settled! (MISHNEH L'MELECH, Hilchos Rotze'ach
ANSWER: Perhaps building a wall after the city is settled is not prohibited,
in order not to make life difficult for the inhabitants. Certainly the needs
of the residents of the city (such as security and livelihood), which
require the building of a wall, take precedence over the needs of the
murderers who flee to the city for refuge. Only when the city was originally
given to the Leviyim did the Chachamim require that it also satisfy the
needs of the murderers (and not be walled or excessively large). Since the
Chachamim were empowered with the right to choose what cities would be the
Arei Miklat, when first choosing the cities they were to choose
medium-sized, unwalled cities. (M. Kornfeld)