Thursday, May 15, 2008

Behar: Land Reverting to the Father After the Son Redeems It

In the beginning of parshas Behar, we read the laws of what happens when someone sells his field, which he inherited.

Two pesukim:
י וְקִדַּשְׁתֶּם, אֵת שְׁנַת הַחֲמִשִּׁים שָׁנָה, וּקְרָאתֶם דְּרוֹר בָּאָרֶץ, לְכָל-יֹשְׁבֶיהָ; יוֹבֵל הִוא, תִּהְיֶה לָכֶם, וְשַׁבְתֶּם אִישׁ אֶל-אֲחֻזָּתוֹ, וְאִישׁ אֶל-מִשְׁפַּחְתּוֹ תָּשֻׁבוּ. 10 And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof; it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.
and then later:
יג בִּשְׁנַת הַיּוֹבֵל, הַזֹּאת, תָּשֻׁבוּ, אִישׁ אֶל-אֲחֻזָּתוֹ. 13 In this year of jubilee ye shall return every man unto his possession.

Rashi writes, citing Toras Kohanim:
13. you shall return, each man to his property. But has this not already been stated, [when Scripture says], “ and you shall return, each man to his property” (verse 10 above)? However, [this clause is stated here,] to include one who sold his field, and his son arose and redeemed it, that it reverts to his father in the Jubilee. — [Torath Kohanim 25:28]
Meshech Chochma claims this is a scribal error in Toras Kohanim. To expand on this (hopefully correctly), of course it would revert back to the father, for sales always revert back to the original seller, no matter how many times it is sold until Yovel -- as is clear from the subsequent pesukim. Rather, it should read that one was makdish (consecrated) his field, rather than sold his field. And not only is it a scribal error in Torat Kohanim, but it is a scribal error in Rashi as well. And then he looked and found his correction in the text of the Yalkut, thus showing his correction miSevara was accurate.

The lesson being taught is as follows: generally, when one is makdish his field, he can redeem it. If he does not, hekdesh sells it, and uses the money. The purchaser does not keep the field forever, but rather at Yovel, it goes back to the kohanim, who get to keep it forever. Thus, the one who consecrated it loses his nachala forever. This statement in Toras Kohanim is teaching that a man's son redeeming it from hekdesh is still considered redeeming it, rather than purchasing it, and so it would go back to the man who was makdish, rather than the Kohanim, at Yovel.

If there was a taus sofer, seems is unlikely it would appear in two separate places identically -- unless someone corrected Rashi on the basis of an erroneous Toras Kohanim, which is certainly possible. But then I would want to look at different editions of Rashi. And I misplaced by Rashi al HaTorah from Mossad haRav Kook. Rather (and perhaps this is what he means), if it is a scribal error in Toras Kohanim, perhaps Rashi saw this and simply copied it as is. Which would mean he agrees to the plausibility of the scribal error as peshat or derash.

I could see the plausibility of it as well. Perhaps one might think that all that is required is that sold land goes back into the family, as an achuza. And so since the goel was the son of the seller, it now is in the family possession. This pasuk re-stresses that fact that it is a return specifically to the man, ish el achuzato. This is not necessarily the way the derasha works, but semantically what is being learned seems closer to the words of the pasuk than any expansion about being makdish.

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