More Discussions for this daf
1. A dead person has no value 2. Rav Gidel Amar Rav Twice 3. לא ידוע גילו
4. הנודר דמי ראשו

Mirko asked:

Dear rabbi --

Thank you for your explanation of the "palm tree"; it's clear for me now.

Would you mind, if I will ask you some other questions? And do you the

specialist for the Erchin only or do you know whole Talmud?

If I may, I have following question:

On Daf 20a (Erchin) it's written: 'If one said: 'I vow my worth' and died, the heirs need not give anything, because a dead man has no worth'. - Till when must he die? Till the paying his market value or till the estimating his market value? If you say, till the paying his market value, he was already meanwhile estimated and he has some worth? Rather it must be till the estimating his market value, but that's obvious? What do you mean?

Shalom, Mirko

The Kollel replies:

Excellent question. As Rashi says (DH Mechasra), we are discussing a situation when the person died before estimating his market value. The Chidush of the Mishnah is twofold:

1. Even a dead person does not have no worth. For example, his hair might be worth money to make into a wig (see Tosfos Bava Kama 10a, cited by Cheshek Shlomo here). The rule that "Ein Damim l'Meisim" is that Beis Din does not evaluate a dead person for giving his worth to Hekdesh after he is dead even if there is value to his body. (The reason might be that it is obvious that the person who pledged to Hekdesh did not have in mind this type of value at the time that he made his pledge, since one does not think of the value of a person in those terms, as opposed to the value of an animal, see Mishnah 20b.)

2. The second teaching of the Mishnah is that after a person is dead, Beis Din does not evaluate what he would have been worth when he was still alive. (See Tosfos DH Dami, who points out that we do evaluate a dead person for what he was worth when alive with regards to Kofer.)

Two reasons may be suggested for this practice:

(a) Either because we must evaluate a person's worth at the time of the evaluation , and not what he was once worth. (This seems to be the approach of the Perush ha'Mishnah, for the Mishnah on 20b, and Tosfos ibid.)

(b) Another possibility is that Beis Din cannot evaluate his past value accurately, and that is why we cannot obligate the person to pay that value. This might be the opinion of Rashi (DH she'Ein Damim).

Best wishes,