The Talmud continues to discuss inheritance laws among non-Jews.
The fact that God uses the word inheritance in the context of Esau’s descendants implies to R. Hiyya b. Abin, that non-Jews inherit from their father’s from biblical law.
The problem with Esau is that it is unclear whether he is considered a Gentile or an apostate Israelite. After all, his father was Jacob. Lot, on the other hand, is clearly not from Abraham’s line and therefore the fact that his descendants receive an inheritance proves that Gentiles inherit from their fathers.
Rava proved that a Gentile inherits from his father from the verse in Leviticus—and he shall reckon with his purchasers, and not his inheritors, proving that a Gentile has inheritors. R. Hiyya b. Abin did not use this verse because the words “and not with his inheritors” are not in the Torah.
Today’s section compares the laws for a male and female Hebrew slave.
These are the basic differences between the laws governing a female and male slave. The Talmud will now deal with them below.
The baraita above implies that a male slave goes out upon his master’s death but a female slave does not. But this clearly contradicts the mishnah which teaches that any way that he goes out, she does too. The only difference is that she also goes out with “signs” meaning she has hit puberty.
Rav Sheshet solves the contradiction by positing that the baraita refers to a case where the master designated, i.e. married off, the slave girl to his son. This seems to have been the point of the sale in the first place. However, as we shall see, this is not an easy solution.
Obviously, if the son married her she does not go out as a slave—she is a married woman who would require divorce!
The Talmud responds that this is not so obvious. We might have thought that the same laws remain—therefore the baraita teaches us that they do not.
The problem is that if the baraita refers to a case where she was designated, then how can she go out by signs? The Torah explicitly states that if she is designated she does not go out by signs!
The Talmud now has to emend the baraita to make it make sense. She only goes out by signs if he did not designate her. Clearly, this is not the original meaning of the baraita. Indeed, it does seem that the baraita and the mishnah do indeed disagree.
Today’s sugya discusses whether a slave can be sold, freed and resold. A female slave cannot. Once she goes free, there is essentially no longer anyone with the power to sell her, and women are not sold due to thievery or for debt recollection.
A Jew may be sold to recover the value of an item he stole. But if he cannot afford to pay the double payment owed by a thief, he is not sold for the double payment. If a Jew falsely testifies that another person stole, then the false witness must pay back the amount he accused the other of stealing. But if he cannot afford this payment, he is not sold to recover it. And if he was sold once, and then went free, he cannot be sold again.
Rava resolved the difficulty by claiming that although he may not be sold twice for two different thefts, he may be sold twice to recover one debt. Let’s say he stole a large amount of money. By selling him once, the theft might not be recovered. In such a case, he may be sold twice.
Abaye offers another resolution. If a person stole from one man, he may only be sold once. If this is not enough to recover the debt, then so be it. This is true even if he stole multiple times from the same man. But if he stole from two men, he may be sold twice.
This baraita has variant opinions about whether a thief can be sold at all, and whether he can be sold twice. Amazingly, R. Eliezer almost legislates this entire law out of existence. If the slave is not worth exactly what he stole, then he is not sold at all.
Rava points out that R. Eliezer is more consistent than the rabbis. According to the rabbis if his theft was worth five hundred and he is worth one thousand he is not sold because we cannot sell half of him. But so too we could read the other word in the the verse with precision—that he cannot be sold to recover half of his theft, not even once. Thus, according to R. Eliezer, unless the theft and purchase price are exactly the same, the slave cannot be sold.
The Talmud continues to explain ways in which a female slave is different from a male slave. The female slave may be redeemed “against his will” while a male slave may not. The question is “whose will?”
Rava assumes that when the mishnah teaches that he may redeem her against “his will”—“his” means the master. Abbaye reads this to mean that if she does not have the money to redeem herself, we can write an IOU document for her value and give it to her owner and force her to be freed. But why should we have this right? The master currently now owns a “pearl”—the slave. Why should we be able to force him to take a worthless shard (the document)?
Abaye therefore says we can redeem her against her father’s will to protect the family from being disgraced by the fact that her father sold her off into slavery.
The question is—why is this a difference between male and female slaves? Why not also force male slaves to be redeemed due to family disgrace? The answer is that the male slave can go sell himself again, whereas a female slave cannot be sold twice. So once we (the community) redeem her against her will, she can no longer be sold into slavery.
We should note that this opinion of Abaye and indeed of the other sages shows just how deeply discomforted they were by the very notion of a father selling his daughter into slavery.
According to the first opinion, once a man marries off his daughter, if she is divorced or widowed while still young, he can marry her off again. If he sold her to be a slave and she was freed while still young, he can sell her off again. And if he sold her to be a slave, and she was freed while still young, he can still marry her off. But if he sold her to be a wife, he cannot sell her later to be a slave. R. Shimon is more restrictive and rules that once sold into servitude, she cannot be sold again.
The Torah states that if he did not designate her to his son as a wife or marry her himself, he must set her free. He cannot sell her to non-Jews. The phrase used for “deal deceitfully” is “bevigdo bah.” Beged (bg”d) is the root for “dealing deceitfully” but it is also the root for the word “clothing.” R. Akiva reads the word as if it means “clothing”—once the master has “spread his clothing over her,” i.e. he has married her, can no longer sell her. Once she was married, the father can no longer sell her. R. Eliezer reads the word differently—since the father dealt deceitfully with her by selling her the first time, he can no longer sell her.