BECHOROS 49 (2 Sivan) - This Daf has been dedicated in memory of Harry Bernard Zuckerman, Baruch Hersh ben Yitzchak (and Miryam Toba), by his children and sons-in-law.
1) REDEEMING THE FIRSTBORN SON WITHIN THIRTY DAYS OF BIRTH
OPINIONS: The Mishnah states that if a father redeemed his son before thirty days passed after his birth, and the son died before reaching thirty days, the Kohen must return the five Sela'im to the father. Why must the Kohen return the money?
(a) RASHI (DH Yachzir) explains that the money must be returned because it is apparent that the child was a Nefel (stillborn), since he died before reaching thirty days of age. The obligation to redeem the firstborn son applies only when thirty days have passed, because at that point it is clear that the baby will live. Consistent with his reasoning here, Rashi in Bava Kama (11b, DH Ein Podin) explains that a separate verse is needed to teach that if the baby was killed before thirty days passed, he still is exempt from Pidyon. One might have thought that since there is no reason to suspect that the baby is a Nefel, an obligation remains to perform the Pidyon, and therefore a separate verse is needed to teach that he is exempt from Pidyon even in such a case.
(b) TOSFOS (DH Mes) disagrees with Rashi's reasoning. Tosfos explains that even when the baby certainly is not a Nefel (for example, he was born after nine full months of gestation passed), the Torah teaches a Gezeiras ha'Kasuv, that has no apparent rational reason, that the obligation of Pidyon begins only at thirty days.
Tosfos in Bava Kama proves this from the Gemara here. The Gemara states that when the Pidyon money was given to the Kohen who spent it before thirty days passed, the Pidyon is not valid. Even though the baby lives past thirty days (making it clear that he is not a Nefel), the Pidyon is not valid retroactively. Obviously, the reason why the Pidyon is not valid is not that the baby is a Nefel, but rather it is a Gezeiras ha'Kasuv that the Mitzvah of Pidyon ha'Ben applies only after thirty days.
How, though, does Rashi understand the Gemara? Perhaps Rashi agrees that the reason for the requirement to wait thirty days is a Gezeiras ha'Kasuv and it applies under all situations. Nevertheless, Rashi maintains that there is a rational reason behind the Gezeiras ha'Kasuv, and that is to ensure that the baby is not a Nefel.
2) RECEIVING HIS MONEY BACK WHEN HE REDEEMED THE FIRSTBORN SON WITHIN THIRTY DAYS
QUESTION: Rav and Shmuel disagree about the law in a case in which a father redeems his firstborn son before thirty days have passed. Rav maintains that the Pidyon is valid, and Shmuel maintains that it is not valid. The Gemara explains that if the father specified at the time he gave the money to the Kohen that the Pidyon is to take effect "me'Achshav" ("from now"), then everyone agrees that the Pidyon is invalid. If the father stipulated that the Pidyon should take effect after thirty days, and when that time arrived the five Sela'im coins were still in the possession of the Kohen, then everyone agrees that the Pidyon is valid. The dispute between Rav and Shmuel involves a case in which the father specified that the Pidyon ha'Ben should take effect after thirty days, and at that time the coins were no longer present. In such a case, Rav says that the Pidyon does not take effect, while Shmuel says that it does.
RASHI (DH d'Kulei Alma) writes that in the first case, in which the father specifies that the Pidyon should take effect "from now," the father's condition shows that the money that he is giving is not for Pidyon, but it is merely a gift that the father is giving to the Kohen (since it is not possible to fulfill the Mitzvah of Pidyon ha'Ben before thirty days have passed).
Rashi's words imply that even Rav agrees that the five Sela'im, in such a case, are a gift to the Kohen. However, this seems inconsistent with the Gemara in Kidushin (46b) which states that when one gives money to his sister as Kidushin to marry her, Rav maintains that he is entitled to receive the money back, while Shmuel maintains that the sister keeps the money as a present. Rav's reasoning for why the brother receives the money back is that everyone knows that it is impossible to be Mekadesh one's sister, and thus presumably his intention was to give the money to his sister as a deposit for her to watch for some time. The reason why he did not tell her openly that he was giving her a deposit is that he thought that she would not agree to look after the money if she knew that she was responsible for it.
A similar case is discussed by the Gemara in Bava Metzia (15b). The buyer of a field knew that the field did not belong to the seller (and that the seller had stolen it), but, nevertheless, the buyer paid money for it. Rav rules that when the real owner reclaims his field from the seller, the buyer is entitled to claim his money back from the seller. Even though he knew that the field was stolen, it is assumed that his intention in giving the money to the seller was merely to give him a deposit.
Why does Rashi imply that everyone, including Rav, agrees that when a father gives the Kohen five Sela'im within thirty days of the birth of his son, it is assumed that he intended to give the money as a gift? According to Rav, since everyone knows that one cannot perform Pidyon ha'Ben prior to thirty days, he most likely gave the money to the Kohen as a deposit to safeguard, and not as a gift!
ANSWER: The MAHARIT ALGAZI (#74, DH Hen) answers that the reason why Rashi writes that the money the father gave within thirty days is a gift is in order to stress that, in this case, one cannot say that a person does not know that he may redeem the son prior to thirty days and, as a result, the money should return to the father. The reason why one cannot say that the money should return to the father in such a case is that when the money is present in the Kohen's possession when thirty days pass, the Pidyon ha'Ben does take effect. However, this seems to be contradicted by the Gemara that says that when the father gave the money within thirty days and stipulated that the Pidyon should take effect only after thirty days, the Pidyon takes effect if the money is still extant. This implies that if the father specified that the Pidyon should take effect "me'Achshav," from now, then the Pidyon does not take effect even when the money is still present after thirty days. Therefore, Rashi explains that the money was given as a gift to the Kohen, because, otherwise, the Pidyon would take effect if the money is still present after thirty days!
The Maharit Algazi adds that perhaps Rashi means only that the money was given as a gift according to Shmuel, and Rashi agrees that according to Rav the money was given as a deposit. Rashi does not need to write this explicitly, however, because this is Rav's opinion everywhere in the Gemara, and thus it is obvious. Rashi's intention here is merely to stress that according to Shmuel, even if the money would be present after thirty days have passed, the son would not be redeemed because the money was acquired by the Kohen at the moment that it was given to him, and thus it cannot be used at the end of thirty days to effect a Pidyon. In contrast, if the father stipulates that the Pidyon should take effect after thirty days, then even Shmuel agrees that the son is redeemed if the money is still in the Kohen's possession. (D. BLOOM)
3) ONE WHO IS OBLIGATED TO REDEEM BOTH HIMSELF AND HIS SON
QUESTION: The Gemara discusses a situation in which an adult man who is a Bechor is obligated to redeem himself as well as to redeem his firstborn son, but he has only five Sela'im and nothing more. However, before his son was born, he sold land worth five Sela'im. That land is Meshubad (collateralized) to the debt of his own Pidyon (since that debt preceded the sale of the land). Consequently, if he does not have even five Sela'im, then the Kohanim may collect that land as payment for his Pidyon. The Gemara rules that the father should redeem his son with the five Sela'im in his possession, and then the Kohen may take the land worth five Sela'im from the buyer of the land as payment for the father's own Pidyon.
This ruling, however, does not seem fair to the buyer. Instead of telling the man to give the five Sela'im for his son's Pidyon, he should have to use the five Sela'im for his own Pidyon first. The buyer then may keep the land that he bought, because the debt of the son's Pidyon came after the sale, and thus the land is not a lien to that debt. Why does the Gemara rule that the Kohanim may benefit at the buyer's expense?
(a) RASHI in Kidushin (29b, DH k'Kesuvah) explains that the obligation to be Podeh one's son is a stronger obligation than the obligation to be Podeh oneself. Therefore, he may use the five Sela'im in his possession to redeem his son first. (This is difficult to reconcile with the fact that if a person has only five Sela'im and no mortgaged property, all agree that he must use the Sela'im to redeem himself and not his son.)
(b) TOSFOS in Kidushin (29b, DH v'Azil) answers by adding one detail to the case: the land in the hands of the buyer was made into an "Apotiki" for the father's Pidyon by his father. In the case of an Apotiki, the debtor designates a specific field that will be collected for the debt. In such a case, since the father's father (who is not alive) can still pay the debt "from his grave" in this manner by having the property that he designated taken as repayment for his debt, this mode of payment takes precedence over any other. This is what Rebbi Yehudah means when he says that "the father's debt is incumbent on his father [and not on himself]."
4) HALACHAH: HOW MUCH MONEY IS GIVEN FOR "PIDYON HA'BEN" TODAY?
QUESTION: The Torah (Bamidbar 18:16) teaches that the amount of money given to a Kohen in order to redeem a firstborn male child is five Sela'im. The Gemara discusses the exact value of the five Sela'im.
What is the value of five Sela'im that must be given today for Pidyon ha'Ben?
ANSWER: The RAMBAM (Perush ha'Mishnayos) and the ROSH (8:9) cite a tradition handed down from previous generations that the Perutah coin that the Chachamim discuss weighed half of a barley's weight of silver. The BI'UR HA'GRA (YD 305:5) proves that the value of the money that one gives for Pidyon ha'Ben depends upon the value of silver at the time and place of the Pidyon.
The Poskim have assessed the weight of half a barley to be equal to 1/40 of a gram. Accordingly, the value of the five Sela'im used for Pidyon ha'Ben can be calculated as follows:
Since there are 192 Perutos in 1 Dinar, and there are 4 Dinar in 1 Sela, there are 3,840 Perutos in 5 Sela'im: 192 (Perutos) X 4 (Dinarim) = 768 (Sela); 768 X 5 = 3,840 (Perutos).
Since one Perutah weighs 1/40 of a gram, 3,840 Perutos weigh 96 grams. The value of silver today is generally expressed as the price for one ounce of silver. 96 grams is equal to 3.086 ounces (there are 31.1042 grams in one ounce). Multiply the published price of one ounce per silver by 3.086 in order to get the value of 96 grams of silver, or five Sela'im. (For example, in 5760, when silver was approximately $5/ounce, five Sela'im were worth about $15.50. In 5771, when silver was approximately $40/ounce, five Sela'im were worth $123.) (See also MIDOS V'SHI'UREI TORAH, C. P. Benish, Bnei Brak, 5760, pp. 487-488. For other opinions regarding the calculation of the value of five Sela'im, see YOSEF DA'AS to Bechoros 50a.)