For the week ending 2 April 2016 / 23 Adar II 5776

Kiddushin 25 - 31

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • What is considered a visible part of the body whose damage grants freedom to a heathen slave
  • How large and small animals are acquired
  • How real estate and chattel are acquired separately or together
  • Rabban Gamliel's tithing during sea voyage
  • One oath in court pulling along another
  • Trading animals and other forms of chalipin
  • The special acquisition power of the Sanctuary
  • A father's obligations towards his son and the limits of a woman's responsibilities
  • When there is only enough money for one of two mitzvot or for support of Torah learning of father or son
  • The proper age for marriage
  • Teaching Torah to a grandson
  • Dividing up time for different kinds of Torah study
  • Torah as an antidote to the evil inclination
  • A child's obligations towards parents
  • The non-Jew's exceptional honoring of his father
  • The special behavior of some Sages towards their parents

How Much to Spend

A father has an obligation to redeem his first-born son by giving a kohen five selaim. If one was not thus redeemed by his father he has an obligation to later redeem himself. What if one has the obligation to both redeem himself and his son but has only five selaim — who takes priority?

Rabbi Yirmiyah makes it clear that there is a consensus that the father's redemption of himself comes first because this is a mitzvah relating to himself rather than one that he must do for his son.

The question arises, however, why a Jew in such a difficult financial situation is obligated to even redeem himself. The gemara (Bava Kama 9b) clearly indicates that it is not required of a person to spend everything he has in order to fulfill a positive commandment (as opposed to his obligation to spend everything he owns to avoid transgressing a negative commandment). Why then should a man with only five selaim to his name be required to fulfill the mitzvah of redemption of the first-born?

An answer to this is found in Mishneh Berurah (Biyur Halacha in 656a). The gemara in Bava Kama concerns a person who lives on his resources and giving them all away, or even a substantial portion of them, may reduce him to poverty. The fellow who has only five selaim is obviously someone who supports himself from his work and spending that much money will not affect his financial situation.

  • Kiddushin 29b

What the Sages Say

"There are three partners in the creation of a human: G-d, father and mother. When a person honors his father and mother, G-d says that He considers it as though He lived among them and was honored by him."

  • Beraita (Kiddushin 30b)

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