In yesterday’s section Resh Lakish ruled that a Hebrew maidservant goes free at the death of her father. Today R. Sheshet raises more difficulties on this halakhah that is not found in tannaitic literature.
Upon going free a slave receives a gift from his master. There are a total of four different ways of going free (to be listed below), three for a man and three for a woman. “Signs” of puberty free a woman but not a man and the death of the master of a slave who had his ear bored frees a man but not a woman (she cannot have her ear bored). But according to Resh Lakish there would be another way for a woman to go free—the death of her father.
The fact that R. Shimon specifies four means that there are no other ways for her to go free. He did not leave anything out.
We can’t say that he only teaches things that are fixed in time or amount because “signs” of puberty are not fixed.
We might have thought to say that R. Shimon taught “signs” because they have a lower amount, as we learned yesterday from R. Safra. But the problem is that the death of the master is assumed to be one of these “four ways” and yet it too does not have a fixed time.
The Talmud responds by saying the death of the master is also not taught.
The four does not include the death of the master. This can be shown by the end of the mishnah—for if the mishnah had meant to include this, there would be four ways for a female slave to go free.
Thus the mishnah omitted two ways of going free—death of the father and death of the master, and we have, for the time being, resolved the difficulty raised by R. Sheshet on Resh Lakish.
Resh Lakish, who said that a female slave goes out with the death of her father, is finally defeated. The fact that the baraita specifically taught the death of the master, means that this baraita did not leave anything out of the list.
Resh Lakish’s argument is based on a kal vehomer argument and thus if Resh Laskish is defeated, then what about his kal vehomer argument. The Talmud refutes it by pointing out a difference between “signs” of puberty and her father’s death. The former entails a physical change, and therefore she goes free. The latter does not, and therefore she remains a slave.
Today’s section deals with the gift granted a slave upon freedom. Who receives this gift? The slave or the father (in the case of a female slave)?
Who gets the gift granted a female slave when she goes free? According to the first baraita, she receives it herself. Whereas according to the second baraita, her father receives it. Indeed, the second baraita teaches that her father also has claim to anything she finds during her term of servitude, including things she finds. All the master would get is the loss of the amount of time it takes her to carry these findings to her father’s house. Note, that we are referring to a minor girl, and objects found by minors always belong to their parents.
The Talmud tries to resolve the two baraitot and at the same time revive Resh Lakish’s rule that she goes free at her father’s death. The first baraita, according to which she receives the gift, refers to a case where she went free by her father’s death. Her father cannot receive it because he is no longer alive. The second baraita, where her father receives the gift, refers to a case where she went free by “signs.” This explanation would accord with Resh Lakish.
There is another way to harmonize the baraitot—if she has a father, he receives the gift. If her father has died, and then she goes free by “signs,” then she receives the gift. But her father’s death does not cause her to go free.
The baraita teaches that the father’s rights in his daughter are not bequeathed to his sons. Thus a father’s right claim on his daughter’s gift on going free go to her if the father dies. They do not go to his sons.
The problem with the baraita is that it is obvious that the gift goes to the male slave. This slave is an adult (there is no way according to halakhah for a male child to become a slave). So who else would get it?
R. Joseph admits, this is a difficulty. It is like the letter yod, which is really small, that is made into a town. In other words, the tanna could have abbreviated his teaching. He made it longer for no reason.
Abaye says that R. Sheshet explained that the baraita follow a tanna named Totai. Totai ruled that the gift cannot be given to one of the slave’s creditors. This is why the tanna had to teach that the gift goes to the slave himself. It is not so obvious.
Today’s sugya clarifies more which type of slave receives a gift upon going free.
Some of this material we saw above. The new material is basically the issue of the runaway and the one who buys back his own freedom. All tannaim agree that the runaway does not receive the gift. But they disagree about the one who buys back his freedom.
The Torah directly states that one who goes free at the end of six years receives the gift. Through the repetition of the verse, the baraita adds the three other circumstances that according to the first opinion entail a gift from the master—Jubilee, master’s death and “signs” for a female slave.
This baraita excludes the runaway and one who buys his freedom. They are not “sent away”—they leave on their own.
To R. Meir, a runaway is not sent away and therefore does not receive a gift. But one who buys his own freedom is sent away, even though he can force this to occur. Therefore, he too receives a gift.
Why would we even think that a runaway receives a gift? On the contrary, he needs to complete his term of servitude. A slave must be present to work for six years. If he is sick, he still goes out in the seventh year. But not if he runs away.