R. Elazar uses this verse to draw a gezerah shavah from one appearance of the word ear to another--both cases refer to the right ear.
The tanna kamma claims that the use of “his ear” and not just “ear” means that both derashot can be made.
R. Elazar counters that “his ear” does not exclude one who sells himself. It excludes a woman. A female slave does not have an option to get her ear bored and thereby extend her servitude.
The tanna kamma deduces that female slaves do not have their ears bored from the male form of slave.
R. Elazar counters that he uses this word to teach that the slave must make this declaration while still a slave.
The tanna kamma uses the extra “heh” in front of the word “slave” as the basis for the slave having to make the declaration while still a slave.
R. Elazar does not make anything out of the extra “heh.” And at a certain point, these conversations always have to end.
Today’s section continues to deal with the baraita that distinguished between the laws applicable to a Jew who sells himself into slavery and those applicable to one who is sold into slavery.
Deuteronomy 15 refers to a Jew sold into slavery by the court. The tanna kamma reads the word “him” as an exclusion. “He” receives a gift when he goes free. But one who sells himself into slavery does not.
R. Elazar, who says that one who sells himself into slavery also receives a gift when going free reads the word “him” as excluding his heirs. If the slave dies, his heirs do not receive this gift.
The Talmud rejects this reading of what the word “him” excludes. The heirs should receive the gift that was supposed to go to the slave himself.
The Talmud now offers a different reading of what the word “him” excludes. It excludes giving the gift to the slave’s creditor. In general if Reuven owes Shimon money, and Shimon owes Levi, the court can force Reuven to give to Levi. To counter this general teaching the word “him” comes to teach that this is not so with regard to the gift. The slave receives it and not his creditor.
The first opinion does not need the word “him” to exclude the creditor because the author of opinion does not agree with R. Natan’s general rule. Thus it is obvious that the creditor does not get the gift.
The Talmud continues to explicate the baraita about the differences between the slave who was sold into slavery by the court and the slave who sold himself into slavery.
This section is basically the same as the opening of yesterday’s section. The Torah says “him” in Exodus, a verse regarding one whom the court sold into slavery. He may be given a Canaanite slave as a wife, but not one who sells himself into slavery.
R. Elazar uses the word “him” to teach that the master can force his Hebrew slave to marry a Canaanite slave woman. The other rabbis learn this halakhah from the verse that teaches that a Hebrew slave works twice as hard as a hired servant. The hired servant works only by day, but the Hebrew slave works at night by having sex with the Canaanite slave woman given to him by his master. [Again, this is a theoretical halakhah, one that probably explains why the Hebrew slave’s offspring belong to his master. They follow the status of the mother. But such a halakhah was probably never enforced].
R. Elazar says that we need the word “him” to prove that this can be done against the Hebrew slave’s will. The other verse would only prove that he can take a Canaanite slave as a wife.
Today’s section explicates a line from yesterday’s section which said that the Torah had already taught that a slave whose ear was bored, meaning a slave who chose to remain a slave after seven years, goes free at the Jubilee. This essentially teaches that the laws of Leviticus 25 supersede the laws of Exodus 21/Deuteronomy 15. But where was this taught?
Leviticus 25:10 is a verse about the Yom Kippur of the Jubilee. It describes a return of every person to his possession and his family. But, the rabbis argue, this cannot refer to either a slave sold into slavery by the court or one who sells himself into slavery, because both of these types of slaves are already referred to (according to rabbinic interpretation) in the passage later in Leviticus 25 that refers directly to slaves. Therefore, this passage must refer to a slave whose ear has been bored, meaning he served his six year period and then chose to remain. He too goes free at the Jubilee.
Rava b. Shila explains that the word “man” indicates that Leviticus 25:10 refers to the slave who had his ear bored. According to rabbinic law, only male slaves have an option to extend their term of servitude. Women can serve no longer than six years.
Why does the Torah need to teach us that both one sold by the court and one whose ear was bored go free at the Jubilee?
If we had learned only that the one sold by the court goes free, I might have thought that this was because he did not choose to have his term of servitude lengthened. But the one who chose to remain a slave might not go free at the Jubilee, as a sort of punishment for choosing to remain a slave.
The Torah had to teach that one who was sold by the court goes free at the Jubilee despite the fact that he had not yet even served six years.
Exodus states that after having his ear bored, the slave serves forever, whereas Leviticus states that he returns to his family at the Jubilee. The Talmud now explains why both are needed. Had we only Exodus we would think that once his ear is bored, he literally serves forever. Thus it is clear why we need the Torah to teach that he goes free at the Jubilee. The harder question is why does the Torah state that he serves forever? What wrong supposition would I have without this word? The answer is that we might have thought that after having his ear bored, the slave serves another six years, but no more. Just as he served six years before, so he serves six years after. That is why the Torah teaches “forever” which in light of Leviticus means that he serves only until the Jubilee.
You might not have noticed but we still have not identified the tanna that does not learn from the repetition of the word “sakhir” in Leviticus and Deuteronomy in the context of the Hebrew slave. The search goes on!
Leviticus 25:54 refers to an Israelite sold to a Gentile. The Torah says that he may be redeemed by his relative. Rabbi [Judah Hanasi] rules that he does not go free after six years. Rabbi points out that we might have made a kal vehomer from a Hebrew slave sold to a Jew. He cannot be redeemed by his relatives and yet he does go free at six years. This proves that Rabbi does not learn from the repetition of the word “sakhir” for the word “sakhir” is used in both the context of a Jew sold to Gentiles and a Jew sold to other Jews. If Rabbi learned from “sakhir” then both types of slaves could be redeemed by their relatives.