DAF DISCUSSIONS - KESUVOS 54

How much money is 200 zuz (in today's terms, such as dollars)? Or, how do we contemporanize the value of 200 zuz?

1) First method: The intrinsic value of silver 200 zuz = 200 dinar = 50 shekel 1 shekel is about 1 ounce of silver 1 ounce of silver is about \$10 today. So 200 zuz is about \$500

2) Second method: Value of a man 200 zuz = 200 dinar = 50 shekel 1 shekel is about 1 ounce of silver Value of a man (erech) is 20 shekel So 200 zuz is about 2.5 times the value of man I imagine the value of a man would be at least net income for one year, which would be at least tens of thousands of dollars.

3) Third method: From the Haggadah A kid cost 2 zuz. 200 zuz would buy 100 kids Today a kid costs perhaps \$30 So 200 zuz is about \$3,000

What other ways are there to get an intuitive understanding of the value of 200 zuz in the time of the Talmud?

The Kollel replies:

The standard way is your method number #1. However there were two different weights for Shekalim in the Gemara: Kesef Tzuri, which is the one you used, and Kesef Medinah, in which the measurements were one eighth the size. All d'Oraisa measurements are in Kesef Tzuri, d'Rabanan in Kesef Medinah. Notwithstanding, most Poskim hold that even the Kesuvah of an Almanah (which is d'Rabanan) is also figured in Kesef Tzuri.

As for your second method, the Erech was a set amount set by the Torah which was universal for every person in that age group and was not determined by earning power, nor by any other value of the person.

As for your third method, there were those poskim who suggested such an approach. (It is accepted that the first to propose this is the Sema (Choshen Mishpat 88:2) but the Shach (Yoreh De'ah 294:16) attributes this opinion to Rema.) However, there is no need to wait until Pesach to find out what a Zuz could buy (e.g. four Se'ah of wheat, Kesuvos 64b, or one fourth of day's work, Bava Metzia 82, among others).

Dov Zupnik