These two baraitot express precisely the disagreement between the sages and R. Shimon over whether one may borrow and redeem or redeem half of a house in a walled city.
This week’s daf continues with the same subject that we dealt with last week—borrowing and redeeming or redeeming half of a field consecrated to the Temple.
R. Aha son of Rava argues that one cannot derive the laws regarding redeeming a consecrated field from the laws governing redeeming half of a house in a walled city. The latter may not be redeemed in halves because he has less power in general—it must be redeemed within a year. But one who consecrates a field can redeem it until the Jubilee. So maybe he should be able to redeem it in halves. This is the opposite of what the baraita at the end of last week’s daf stated.
Consecrating an ancestral field is both similar and different to the case of selling an ancestral field and selling a house in a walled city. Since there is something different from both, we cannot use either one to prove that one cannot borrow and redeem or redeem half of a consecrated ancestral field. But together, the commonality can be used to prove that just as in the other two cases one cannot borrow and redeem or redeem half, so too one cannot borrow and redeem or redeem half of a consecrated ancestral field.
We should note that this is a common midrashic technique—it is easier to learn one unknown from two knowns then from one known.
To refute the above argument, we would need to find a feature common to the two known cases (selling an ancestral field, selling a house in walled city) that is not shared by the unknown (consecrating an ancestral field). And this is exactly what Mar Zutra does. The first two have an impaired power, in that they cannot be redeemed in the second year—the one who sells an ancestral field cannot redeem it during the first two years, whereas the one who sells a walled house cannot redeem it after the first year. But one who consecrates an ancestral field can redeem it during the second year. So maybe he can also borrow and redeem or redeem it in halves.
Ravina brings in yet another case to compare, one that is further removed from the issue of selling/consecrating ancestral lands. A Hebrew slave sold to a non-Jew may be redeemed in the second year, and yet he cannot borrow and redeem or redeem half. This is a law we learned earlier on the last daf. So too we could say about the one who consecrates an ancestral field. Just because he can redeem in the second year, does not mean that he redeem half or borrow and redeem.
Our sugya is about whether a house sold in a walled city can be redeemed by relatives.
Again, I am quoting here the relevant verses from Leviticus 25:29-30:
If a man sells a dwelling house in a walled city, it may be redeemed until a year has elapsed since its sale; the redemption period shall be a year.
If it is not redeemed before a full year has elapsed, the house in the walled city shall pass to the purchaser beyond reclaim throughout the ages; it shall not be released in the jubilee.
In last week’s daf we learned that a like an ancestral field, a house in a walled city cannot be half redeemed. Leviticus 25:25 explicitly says that the ancestral field can be redeemed by relatives. So the question is does the comparison of the two carry over for that issue as well. Or does it only teach that neither can be redeemed in halves.
The midrash reads Leviticus 25:24 as teaching that relatives may redeem houses and Hebrew slaves. The assumption is that this refers to a house in a walled city.
The Talmud then rejects this and posits that it refers to a house sold in a village that does not have a wall.
The Torah seems to explicitly say that houses in open villages are not classed as houses in walled cities, and thus can be redeemed by relatives. So why would need a midrash to teach this.
The Talmud responds that the similarity between houses in a walled city and open fields is that relatives have an obligation to redeem both of them (as long as they have the ability to do so). This accords with R. Eliezer, who holds that whenever relatives can redeem land or houses sold by their family, they must do so. R. Joshua holds that it is an option, not an obligation.
This allows us to restore R. Sheshet’s answer—relatives may not redeem houses in walled cities.
Leviticus 25:24 uses the word “in all.” This inclusive phrase should mean that even houses in walled cities and not just even house in villages can be redeemed by relatives. But to R. Sheshet, who held that they can’t, what does “in all” come to include? After all, we already know that houses in villages can be redeemed by relatives.
Abaye raises another difficulty against R. Sheshet who held that houses in walled cities cannot be redeemed by relatives.
A midrash reads the repetition of the word “he shall redeem him” as indicating that all cases of redemption have the same “order of redemption” that appears in connection with a Hebrew slave sold to a Gentile—first the brother should redeem him, next the uncle or some other relative and if not, then anyone else. So too, Abaye argues, when it comes to houses in walled cities or Hebrew slaves sold to Jews.
The Talmud resolves Abaye’s difficulty by saying that the midrash refers only to houses in villages and ancestral fields.
But again, there is a problem, same as above. We have a verse that explicitly teaches that houses in villages have the same rule as ancestral fields. So why would we need a midrash to teach that.
The Talmud solves this by referring to a statement made in another context—that the nearest relative has the first obligation to redeem the house in the village. That is what this midrash teaches. But neither midrash need be read as teaching that houses in walled cities can be redeemed by relatives.
Yesterday’s section concluded with the statement of R. Nahman b. Yitzchak, that the closer a relative is, the more he takes precedence in the obligation to redeem a field, a slave or a house. Today’s section examines where he made this statement.
Note that the structure and content of this section is very similar to yesterday’s. So my comments here will be a bit briefer.
The Talmud shifts to the question of whether a Hebrew slave sold to an Israelite, and not a Gentile, can be redeemed. Rabbi clearly holds that he cannot, but what about the rabbis. The rabbis could employ either of two midrashic techniques. They could expound on the use of the word “sakhir” and say that the laws referring to being sold to a non-Jew apply to the case of a slave sold to a Jew. Or they could read the word “may redeem him” exclusively—relatives may redeem “him,” the one sold to a non-Jew. But they may not redeem the one sold to a Jew.
Again, the Talmud invokes a term read as inclusive—“in all.” This is read as teaching that Hebrew slaves can be redeemed by relatives. The initial assumption is that this refers even to Hebrew slaves sold to other Jews. But then the Talmud rejects this and says it refers only to slaves sold to non-Jews.
The Torah explicitly states that a Hebrew slave may be redeemed by a relative. So why would we need a special midrash to teach this elsewhere?
The answer is that the verse “in all” comes to add that redeeming a Hebrew slave sold to a non-Jew is obligatory, even according to R. Joshua who holds that redeeming land is optional. We have now rejected the first answer to the question as to whether Hebrew slaves sold to Jews may be redeemed. We need another source to find an answer.