ERCHIN 28 (11 Tamuz) -ֲ in honor of the birthday of Yakira Linzer.
1) ONE WHO SANCTIFIES ALL OF HIS PROPERTY
QUESTION: The Mishnah teaches that when one dedicates as Cherem all of his property, the Cherem does not take effect and none of his property becomes sanctified. The Gemara derives this from the verse that discusses one who sanctifies "mi'Kol Asher Lo" -- "from all that he has" (Vayikra 27:28), implying that one may sanctify only "from all" but not "all" of his possessions.
The verse is discussing gifts dedicated to the Kohanim (the verse concludes, "... it shall not be sold or redeemed," and we know that Cherem to Kohanim is not redeemable). The Mishnah, accordingly, also must be referring to property dedicated to the Kohanim, because otherwise the Gemara would not have cited this verse as the source for the Mishnah's ruling. Why, then, does the Mishnah mention one who sanctifies things "l'Gavo'ah"? This word refers to sanctifying things to Hash-m, for use in the Beis ha'Mikdash, and not to Kohanim. If the Mishnah's ruling applies only to Chermei Kohanim, why does the Mishnah mention Chermei Gavo'ah? (TOSFOS DH Tanu Rabanan)
ANSWER: TOSFOS answers that although the Mishnah is discussing possessions dedicated to the Kohanim, such Cherem also has an element of Kedushas ha'Guf. The actual object itself becomes holy until it reaches the hands of the Kohen (Erchin 29a). Therefore, it is appropriate to refer to it as dedicated "l'Gavo'ah."
2) ONE WHO SANCTIFIES OBJECTS THAT ARE ALREADY SANCTIFIED
QUESTION: The Mishnah discusses different cases in which one sanctifies, for sacred use, an object that is already sanctified. For example, the Mishnah teaches that if one sanctifies an animal that has already been designated to be offered as a Korban Nedavah (a freewill offering), he must offer the animal as a Korban Nedavah (for which it was originally sanctified) and he must give to Hekdesh "the amount of money that a person would pay in order to bring the animal as an offering which he is not obligated to bring." (This amount represents the value of the Nedavah that he sanctified.)
If the owner of a Bechor sanctifies the Bechor -- which cannot be sold by its non-Kohen owner since it must be given to the Kohanim as a gift -- then we estimate "how much another Yisrael would pay the owner in order for the owner to give the Bechor [as a gift] to the Yisrael's grandson or nephew who is a Kohen." The owner must give that amount of money to Hekdesh. (We cannot judge its value by estimating how much the Kohen himself would offer the owner in order to receive the Bechor from him, since the Kohen himself is prohibited from offering any type of compensation to the owner for the Bechor, as Rashi mentions.)
What does the Mishnah mean when it mentions "the amount of money that a person would pay in order to bring the animal as an offering"? Why would a person be willing to pay money to bring a Korban that someone else was Makdish?
(a) RASHI here (DH Ela Bichdei) writes that the redemption value that one must pay is determined by the price that he would receive in the market for selling the animal to be offered by the buyer as a Korban Nedavah. Apparently, Rashi understands that a person is willing to bring a Korban that someone else already sanctified because he will receive the Kaparah, atonement, that the Korban provides. Even though he was not Makdish the Korban, since he paid for it with his own money and is presently the owner of the animal, the Kaparah will be his.
(b) RABEINU GERSHOM offers a novel explanation for the words of the Mishnah. He explains that the redemption value is not determined by the amount a Yisrael would pay to bring the Korban to the Beis ha'Mikdash and have it offered on the Mizbe'ach. Rather, it is determined by how much a Kohen would pay for a Yisrael to delay bringing his Korban until the time arrives for that Kohen's Mishmar to serve in the Beis ha'Mikdash, so that the Kohen may preside over the offering and thus be entitled to take the hide of the animal (or the other parts of the animal that are given to the Kohanim) for himself. (The hides of Olos and the Chazeh v'Shok of Shelamim are divided among the Kohanim of the Mishmar presently serving in the Beis ha'Mikdash.)
This also appears to be the opinion of RASHI in Bechoros (53b) and Temurah (32a), who explains that the evaluation of "Hekdesh Iluy" is based on how much a Yisrael would pay for this offering to be given to his grandson or nephew who is a Kohen to offer upon the Mizbe'ach and thus be entitled to take the hide. (See TOSFOS to Bechoros 53b, DH Hekdesh.)
According to this explanation, however, the words in the Mishnah, "even though he is not obligated [to bring a Korban]," are entirely irrelevant, because the Kohen's right to offer the Yisrael's Korban has nothing to do with the Korban's own obligation to offer any Korban. It seems that Rabeinu Gershom and other Rishonim did not have the words "Af Al Pi" -- "even though" in their text of the Mishnah (see SHITAH MEKUBETZES #13, and Tosfos ibid.). Their reading of the Mishnah is that the one who pledged to bring the offering does not have to pay the value of the entire animal "since he is not obligated" ("she'Eino Chayav") -- i.e. since he is not obligated to bring another Korban in its place if it dies or becomes lost.
According to this explanation, the reason why the valuation of a Bechor differs from the valuation of other Korbanos is not that the Bechor cannot be given a value based on the system used for other Korbanos (since it must be given to the Kohen as a gift and not sold, as mentioned above). Rather, the reason is that the Bechor has a greater value than other Korbanos, which will not be fairly represented by the small sum that a Kohen would pay to have the owner wait and offer his Korban during the Mishmar of the Kohen. Since the entire Bechor is given to the Kohanim, a Kohen (or, actually, his grandfather) will pay much more to have the Bechor given to him.